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- Press Cuttings - 6/9 -
fireplace. Lady Corinthia takes the chair on the opposite side of the table with equal aplomb.)
MITCHENER. Im extremely sorry. You really do not know what I have to put with. This imbecile, incompetent, unsoldierly disgrace to the uniform he should never have been allowed to put on, ought to have shown you in fifteen minutes ago.
THE ORDERLY. All I said was--
MITCHENER. Not another word. Attention. Right about face. March. (The Orderly sits down doggedly.) Get out of the room this instant, you fool, or Ill kick you out.
THE ORDERLY (civilly). I dont mind that, sir. Its human. Its English. Why couldnt you have said it before? (He goes out).
MITCHENER. Take no notice I beg: these scenes are of daily occurrence now that we have compulsory service under the command of the halfpenny papers. Pray sit down.
LADY CORINTHIA AND MRS. BANGER (rising). Thank you. (They sit down again.)
MITCHENER (sitting down with a slight chuckle of satisfaction). And now, ladies, to what am I indebted?
MRS. BANGER. Let me introduce us. I am Rosa Carmina Banger--Mrs. Banger, organizing secretary of the Anti-Suffraget League. This is Lady Corinthia Fanshawe, the president of the League, known in musical circles--I am not myself musical--as the Richmond Park nightingale. A soprano. I am myself said to be almost a baritone; but I do not profess to understand these dis- tinctions.
MITCHENER (murmuring politely). Most happy, Im sure.
MRS. BANGER. We have come to tell you plainly that the Anti- Suffragets are going to fight.
MITCHENER (gallantly). Oh, pray leave that to the men, Mrs. Banger.
LADY CORINTHIA. We can no longer trust the men.
MRS. BANGER. They have shown neither the strength, the courage, nor the determination which are needed to combat women like the Suffragets.
LADY CORINTHIA. Nature is too strong for the combatants.
MRS. BANGER. Physical struggles between persons of opposite sexes are unseemly.
LADY CORINTHIA. Demoralizing.
MRS. BANGER. Insincere.
LADY CORINTHIA. They are merely embraces in disguise.
MRS. BANGER. No such suspicion can attach to combats in which the antagonists are of the same sex.
LADY CORINTHIA. The Anti-Suffragets have resolved to take the field.
MRS. BANGER. They will enforce the order of General Sandstone for the removal of all women from the two mile radius--that is, all women except themselves.
MITCHENER. I am sorry to have to inform you, Madam, that the Government has given up that project, and that General Sandstone has resigned in consequence.
MRS. BANGER. That does not concern us in the least. We approve of the project and will see that it is carried out. We have spent a good deal of money arming ourselves; and we are not going to have that money thrown away through the pusillanimity of a Cabinet of males.
MITCHENER. Arming yourselves! But, my dear ladies, under the latest proclamation women are strictly forbidden to carry chains, padlocks, tracts on the franchise, or weapons of any description.
LADY CORINTHIA (producing an ivory-handled revolver and pointing it at his nose). You little know your countrywomen, General Mitchener.
MITCHENER (without flinching). Madam: it is my duty to take possession of that weapon in accordance with the proclamation. Be good enough to put it down.
MRS. BANGER (producing an XVIII century horse pistol). Is it your duty to take possession of this also?
MITCHENER. That, madam, is not a weapon; it is a curiosity. If you would be kind enough to place it in some museum instead of pointing it at my head, I should be obliged to you.
MRS. BANGER. This pistol, sir, was carried at Waterloo by my grandmother.
MITCHENER. I presume you mean your grandfather.
MRS. BANGER. You presume unwarrantably.
LADY CORINTHIA. Mrs. Banger's grandmother commanded a canteen at that celebrated battle.
MRS. BANGER. Who my grandfather was is a point that has never been quite clearly settled. I put my trust not in my ancestors, but in my good sword, which is at my lodgings.
MITCHENER. Your sword!
MRS. BANGER. The sword with which I slew five Egyptians with my own hand at Kassassin, where I served as a trooper.
MITCHENER. Lord bless me! But was your sex never discovered?
MRS. BANGER. It was never even suspected. I had a comrade--a gentleman ranker--whom they called Fanny. They never called ME Fanny.
LADY CORINTHIA. The suffragets have turned the whole woman movement on to the wrong track. They ask for a vote.
MRS. BANGER. What use is a vote? Men have the vote.
LADY CORINTHIA. And men are slaves.
MRS. BANGER. What women need is the right to military service. Give me a well-mounted regiment of women with sabres, opposed to a regiment of men with votes. We shall see which will go down before the other. (rises) No: we have had enough of these gentle pretty creatures who merely talk and cross-examine ministers in police courts, and go to prison like sheep, and suffer and sacrifice themselves. This question must be solved by blood and iron, as was well said by Bismarck, whom I have reason to believe was a woman in disguise.
MITCHENER. Bismarck a woman?
MRS. BANGER. All the really strong men of history have been disguised women.
MITCHENER (remonstrating). My dear lady!
MRS. BANGER. How can you tell? You never knew that the hero of the charge at Kassassin was a woman: yet she was: it was I, Rosa Carmina Banger. Would Napoleon have been so brutal to women, think you, had he been a man?
MITCHENER. Oh, come, come! Really! Surely female rulers have often shown all the feminine weaknesses. Queen Elizabeth, for instance. Her vanity, her levity.
MRS. BANGER. Nobody who has studied the history of Queen Elizabeth can doubt for a moment that she was a disguised man.
LADY CORINTHIA (admiring Mrs. Banger). Isnt she splendid?
MRS. BANGER (rising with a large gesture). This very afternoon I shall cast off this hampering skirt for ever; mount my charger; and with my good sabre lead the Anti-Suffragets to victory. (She strides to the other side of the room, snorting.)
MITCHENER. But I cant allow anything of the sort, madam. I shall stand no such ridiculous nonsense. Im perfectly determined to put my foot down.
LADY CORINTHIA. Dont be hysterical, General.
MRS. BANGER. Do you think we are to be stopped by these childish exhibitions of temper. They are useless; and your tears and entreaties--a man's last resource--will avail you just as little. I sweep them away, just as I sweep your plans of campaign "made in Germany--"
MITCHENER (flying into a transport of rage). How dare you repeat that infamous slander? (He rings the bell violently.) If this is the alternative to votes for women, I shall advocate giving every woman in the country six votes.
The Orderly comes in.
Remove that woman. See that she leaves the building at once.
The Orderly forlornly contemplates the iron front presented by Mrs. Banger.
THE ORDERLY (propitiatorily). Would you av the feelin art to step out, madam.
MRS. BANGER. You are a soldier. Obey your orders. Put me out. If I got such an order, I should not hesitate.
THE ORDERLY (To Mitchener). Would you mind lendin me a and,
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