Beyond the City (Chapter 9, page 1 of 6)

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Chapter 9

Little did poor Doctor Walker imagine as he sat at his breakfast-table
next morning that the two sweet girls who sat on either side of him were
deep in a conspiracy, and that he, munching innocently at his muffins,
was the victim against whom their wiles were planned. Patiently they
waited until at last their opening came.

"It is a beautiful day," he remarked. "It will do for Mrs. Westmacott.
She was thinking of having a spin upon the tricycle."

"Then we must call early. We both intended to see her after breakfast."

"Oh, indeed!" The Doctor looked pleased.

"You know, pa," said Ida, "it seems to us that we really have a very
great advantage in having Mrs. Westmacott living so near."

"Why so, dear?"

"Well, because she is so advanced, you know. If we only study her ways
we may advance ourselves also."

"I think I have heard you say, papa," Clara remarked, "that she is the
type of the woman of the future."

"I am very pleased to hear you speak so sensibly, my dears. I certainly
think that she is a woman whom you may very well take as your model. The
more intimate you are with her the better pleased I shall be."

"Then that is settled," said Clara demurely, and the talk drifted to
other matters.

All the morning the two girls sat extracting from Mrs. Westmacott her
most extreme view as to the duty of the one sex and the tyranny of the
other. Absolute equality, even in details, was her ideal. Enough of the
parrot cry of unwomanly and unmaidenly. It had been invented by man
to scare woman away when she poached too nearly upon his precious
preserves. Every woman should be independent. Every woman should learn a
trade. It was their duty to push in where they were least welcome.

Then they were martyrs to the cause, and pioneers to their weaker sisters.
Why should the wash-tub, the needle, and the housekeeper's book be
eternally theirs? Might they not reach higher, to the consulting-room,
to the bench, and even to the pulpit? Mrs. Westmacott sacrificed her
tricycle ride in her eagerness over her pet subject, and her two fair
disciples drank in every word, and noted every suggestion for future
use. That afternoon they went shopping in London, and before evening
strange packages began to be handed in at the Doctor's door. The plot
was ripe for execution, and one of the conspirators was merry and
jubilant, while the other was very nervous and troubled.

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