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Among the Suffragettes —————:o:—————


Among the Suffragettes —————:o:————— Pax's Appearance at a Ladies' Meeting. Homes were forsaken, and lodgings left empty on Thursday evening last (writes Pax ') when their fair occupants followed the tune of the pied-piperess of 'Votes for Women.' Into no mountain-cavern were the franchise-seekers led; merely into the Co-operative Hall—an unadorned structure—where, in conclave, wise and otherwise, the nimble wits and martyrs in the cause of the suffragette assembled to denounce the vagaries, idiosyncracies, and shortcomings of mere man. The erstwhile brave pioneeresses of this movement, of which Miss Barrett, B.Sc., with true scientific aplomb, said was of the very greatest importance to the country, and to humanity as a whole," evi- dently feared the male sex, for the notice of meeting expressly and quaintly stated "Women only," though up to the present moment one cannot see how the frail mortals who did assemble at the meeting could have prevented an influx of males should they like at Sennach- erib, 'corae down like wolveupon the fold." There were no policemen there, but if there had been, their ears would have tingled at Miss Adela Pankhurst's biting sarcasm. Indeed, it was a paradox to see the fair damsels trusting to a man's honour in not intruding upon the privacy of the meeting, and, at the same time, mistrusting his every action. But one male did get in by an unexplained circumstance. Looking around for reasons, the result is either flattering, or the reverse—either that intruder looked too inoffensive to cause any disturbance, or, perhaps, was thought to be a believer in the women's suffrage movement. When the pressman went to the door of the hall, he little expected to see such a concourse, and the tentative step into the room was at first retraced, as it required a large amount of ffmrftcm- fictitious or otherwise, to face that -0-" -7 audience. However, safely esconced behind a Tate's sugar-box in the rear of the hall, the intruding male was probably consigned to the limbo of forgotten things, for just at that moment a clear, high-pitched voice had com- menced a declamation, and simultaneously, of course, with Eve-like curiosity, the majority of the audience rose-to have a look at the owner of the voice, which, after the hum consequent upon the discussion of the lady in question had subsided, could be heard in heroic accents saying, We are here to tell you what it is we are FIGHTING for." Fighting was truly an [amusing term to use, especially seeing that the audience had rigidly excluded combatant male offenders. Now, when considering the ques- tion (Miss Barrett proceeded) they must remem- ber that modern life was quite different from the life of 100 years ago. Of course, the single male present remembered a few slight changes such as the railway, the telegraph, the phono- graph, the telepath, and the suffragette, and by silence gave assent. Woman's sphere was not now the home, as it had been 100 years ago (continued the speaker), and women had to pay taxes, and work under the same conditions as men. Then applying the final link of the syllogism with a hydraulic compression, she said that women should, theiefore, rank equal with men, and share the votes. Strange to say, her statement met no contradictory answer, though a few unbelievers present smiled. And much else in a similar strain, Miss Barrett gave utterance to in a lucid and bell-like tone. But all this was prefatory to the heroine of the evening. Having only seen caricatures of suffragettes in cartoons, the male expected no Venus-like suffragette in excelsis," but after the front portion of the audience had sat down, after their usually lengthy examination of the features and dress of the new-comer, one was agreeably sur- prised to find that the cause of all this commo- tion was a modest, petite young lady, who looked as if she would not harm a fly, let alone assault a policeman. Thus appearances are oftentimes deceptive. The speaker, Miss Adela Pankhurst, was attired in a pale-pink blouse- or was it blue ?-and after a few preliminary glances around the room, started her verbal crusade against the lord of creation-man —and all his works. With a well-modulated voice, which made itself felt in every part of the room, she proceeded with the history of the famous little Party-the Women's Social and Political Union. With a characteristic naivette, and an almost girlish eagerness she said, "There can be no one here to say that women have no right to votes. For," she proceeded, speaking to one part of the audience, then to the other, women are just as much human beings as men." Describing the state of women years ago, she said that a woman then bad no right to her earnings. Now this was changed-then a pause-and proceeding with the nearest possible approach to a chuckle, she said that although present day politicians had given a women the right to her own earnings, they had forgotten to alter the law which made a man liable for what his wife spent. This rich tit- bit of the way in which the woman had scored over man was appreciated by the audi- ence as a great victory Continuing, she said, with the simulation of modesty, that the men did not seem to bother much about it, but it was mainly due to the high sense of duty which a woman had that she did not take advantage of this. One was getting to understand why the men were not admitted to the meeting For the next quarter of an hour or so, Miss Pankhurst, in a graphic word picture, pour- trayed the evil conditions under which many women worked, and pointed out the dire effect on posterity with an earnestness which showed true sympathy with the sufferings of her fellow-beings. One bad, perforce, to assent in every fact and word she uttered in this place, but the conclusion at which she was driving could be seen. It was towards the grand consummation, in which selfish man,who only looked after his own welfare, was the arch-fiend, and the woman, with the all-power- ful franchise, the only means of overcoming this evil. With a woman's way of harking back, she shewed the parallel between the working-man's state in the thirties and the woman's state at the present time. They (the women) were the weaker sex (what an astound- ing admission') and ought really to have a vote as much as men. The applause here was deafening, and one blushes to repeat that stamping of feet was freely resorted to—proba- bly to frighten the mice away She pointed out the Elysian benefits derived from this acquisi- tion, and stated that in New Zealand and Aus- tralia, where women had been given votes, the result had been an all-round raising of the minimum wage for both men and women. All these marvels had been accomplished by the act of granting the women of those countries the franchise What a tempting and alluring prospect for British politicians to settle all the ills, present and prospective, that the flesh is heir to, simply by giving women votes Then, of course, came the inevitable history of the riotous and tortuous path of the Women's r:- Social and Political Union, their 'shabby' treatment by Sir Edward Grey, the retort courteous, and its result. Not one whit tired, and with the same vigour and earnestnes as she possessed at the start. Miss Adela Pank- hurst, with a biting sarcasm one would not have expected from so timid-looking a person, epitomised, in a racy and telling fashion, the course of events in the suffragette world up to the present. Fancy (she said) me assaulting a policeman who was twice as tall as I Why, the idea is absurd." And on the face of it, it did appear absurd, but her hysteria would account for it. For simply saying 'Votes for women' (she said) we were ituprisoued:on the charge of using abusive language." "They say our methods are unwomanly (was the beginning of another sparkle of satire), but we say our methods are essentially womanly. When men wanted votes, they attacked men, and shed blood, but we women are;Cattacked by men." Poor Mr Asquith was anathematised, andjwith a suspicion of scorn the Premier's sympathy with the movement, and his protest of inability to effect anything, was referred to. Mr Glad- stone bad expressed himself unfavourable to women's suffrage, but if he had been favourable to it, she (the speaker) ventured to say that the Grand Old Man would have overcome all obstacles in the way of unsympathetic Cabinet Ministers, and women would now be possessors of votes. Here the applause was punctuated as hitherto. One ventures to thank Gladstone for being opposed to the women's suffrage movement, else there would not have been an opportunity of hearing a Miss Adela Pankhurst give mankind such a downright slating. She had a convincing style, a knack of using the right expression, and throughout her unbroken speech of one hour, epigrams and satire scintil- lated. After a little more talk, the auditors wended their ways home, some to prepare their hus- bands' suppers, doubtless, and others to form plans for future action, but, in the meantime, the menfolk of Barry may here be assured that, for the present, notwithstanding Thursday night's eventful meeting, the words "love, honour, and OBEY," still remain on the Statute Book.

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