Oreola Williams Haskell.

Banner bearers; tales of the suffrage campaigns online

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in the pulpit while Alice Bradley, who ranked high as an
organist, even in New York, brought a surprising amotmt


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of music out of the most primitive of musical instruments.

Mason was pleased at the brave showing n^ide by his
impromptu audience. He was also amused at the fact that
the men who had taken up his chivalric challenge rather
tepidly, supposing that they were called upon to champion a
more or less freakish creature, were now obviously amazed and
interested in the pulchritude of the speaker of the evening.

The quality of the majority of the people present would,
he knew, make a stronger impression upon the High Authority
than one more rural, and he verified this conjecture by placing
himself in a position where the face of the tmwelcome visitor
could be easily seen. Mason rejoiced in its expression of
mingled amazement and disappointment. When a further
survey of the church revealed several seats full of stout
and sensible middle-aged women, evidently summoned by
telephone by the masculine portion of the native contingent
and whom he had every reason to suspect were Aids,
prompted by very natural curiosity to disobey the injunc-
tions of their Head, he felt that the situation had worked
out as perfectly as human beings could expect and he fer-
vently thanked his lucky stars for his luminous idea.

When Mary Norris rose to speak, her first words, delivered
in the rich full tones of the trained speaker, immediately
put an end to the whispering and fluttering movements
of the audience. For the better part of an hour she gripped
their attention while she alternately moved them to a laugh-
ing disdain of the arguments of the opposition and hammered
into their minds with strong and relentless logic the main
points advanced by the advocates of equal suffrage. She
added to her reasoning, emotional power, and so played upon
their fancies and feelings with a skill that held them spell-
bound, verifying at every turn Samuel Bunsey's homely
verdict, "There aint the human can resist her.'*


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But while Mason enjoyed keenly the handling of the
argtunents, he sat up veiy straight and alert when after a
little pause, most effective from the dramatic standpoint,
she went on to a different theme.

"Since I have been in Highcliff," she said. **I have heard
strange ideas expressed. I have been pitied because I travel
alone, travel alone in this glorious simmier weather through
a region famed for its beauty, have an opportunity to see
these great mountains in all their morning, midday and even-
ing splendor, a wonderful experience that I shall never forget.

'*I have been mourned over, also, because I am giving my
days of youth, those that should be sacred to song and dance
and flirtation, to carrying a great message to the minds and
hearts of people far from the big centers of population;
because I am bringing to them tidings of liberty, that mighty
thing for which men and women have died; because I am
preaching freedom for thousands of human beings, the
assumption of responsibilities that will make them strong,
and because I am showing the way to a true democracy, the
hope of the world.

"Then, too, there are those who lament over what they
choose to call the absence of romance in my life. They say
this of one who is in daily touch with the romance of a great
cause. No one says to boys and young men that there is
but one romance in the world for them, the romance of a
personal love. Otu* books are full of men's romances of
adventure and of high emprise. We have had the knight,
the crusader, the explorer, the inventor, the martyr and the
Seeker for the Holy Grail. To-day, woman may enter
this larger life of mingled thought, fancy and fact. She
may have her pretty hearthfire love just as the women did
of old, but she may have also the romance of adventure and
of big enterprise to fire her imagination, stir her pulses, spur


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her on to heroic effort and to touch the spiritual forces of her

* 'Let me give you just a glimpse, my friends, of the romance
in the woman suffrage cause. If it were all dry theory, dull
fact, something merely of the reason and the mind, there
would not be thousands of women devoting their time,
energy and money to it, for few of us are attracted and held
by mere abstract principles. These have to be colored by
fancy and emotion.

"Here then are some of the thoughts that awake the thrill
in us. All over the world the spirit of liberty is stirring in
the hearts of women. In India and Egypt, we see our sisters
preparing to discard the veil, the outward sign of their
subjection; in Japan and China, we behold them making
their first timid demands for social and legal justice; while
in coimtries more permeated with progress, we watch them
surging through the doors of learning, taking into their
eager grasp legal responsibilities, entering the marts of the
world with the tmtried treasures of their brains and skill,
and at length attaining the ballot-box at whose side they win
the freedom and power of a voting citizenship.

"To go with them down the long road of emancipation,
to note their first timid awakening, their feeble and frightened
stand for the right, to bear with them the brunt of the battle,
the scorn, the persecution, the callous misunderstanding
that is the price of progress, to sorrow and rejoice with them
in defeat and victory, to rise up anew to fresh struggles,
greater efforts, this is like taking part in a great world drama
upon the big stage of human life To tmderstand and to
play the part right one must be a bit of an historian, some-
thing of a psychologist, a patient reformer and a cheerful
philosophy. But the results are well worth the efforts and
as actors we are held to otir roles thrcnigh an intense interest


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"There is another thing that appeals, also. We are helping
in the growth of a great sisterhood, not of one country but
of noiany countries. It is given to us to watch the hostile
glance of the isolated woman at war with her sex for the few
prizes of life vouchsafed her, change into the glowing glance
of friendship and at last into the sympathetic love of those
who have fought big battles as comrades in arms. We see,
too, the strong stretch out helping hands to the weak, the
experienced guide the inexperienced and those of high
vision spur on the narrow nwnded. We see, too, the wonder
of development, of growth, see latent talents come into active
play, so that she who was tongue-tied and diffident becomes
the orator, she whose mind conceived little and planned
nothing becomes the busy executive, and she who was blimt
and decisive becomes under the stimulus of the work the
tactful diplomat.

*'Then, too, there is love, the love of a great idea which has
always been a powerful factor in the world's history. We
rejoice as suffragists that we have a cause that uplifts us and
brings forth the devotion that only a really great principle
can evoke.

"These are our big appeals, but there are many others that
stir the single worker pursuing her little purpose along humble
paths of endeavor. As one of those thousands of workers, I
know what feelings keep us strong. There is first the great
leader imder whom we serve. No n^itter where I go,
through petty hardships, through disappointments, through
fatigue, loneliness, sickness, or persecution, her influence
is with me. When I would rest, I remember that she never
rests; when my heart grows faint, I remember that her
courage never flags; when my work seems foolish and futile,
as it does sometimes, I remember that she holds in her hands
a big plan and that my neglect of a little of that plan may


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spoil the whole; and when discouragement assails me and
failtire comes, I remember how she has gone on and on for
thirty years, facing, without flinching, scorn, defeat, and mad-
dening delay, wrenching victory after victory from fate
through the power of an invincible determination. Is not
this new love of woman for the leader of her sex as romantic
as that of the young soldier who dreams of his general or of
the artist who dreams of the master?

"There is, too, for the humble worker the romance to be
found in constant association with the masses of the people
who show to us their humor and their pathos, their meannesses
and their nobilities, glimpses of the human heart, illuminating
flashes of mental power, deep wells of instinct and emotion.
Working with the people, trying to imderstand them, loving
them, that is a constant occupation, a constant delight.

"And then for the quiet worker there comes at times
another thought that is inspiring. This is the wonder of
assisting an idea to spread, from brain to brain, from city to
city, from state to state, from country to country until the
whole world is aflame with what was bom, perhaps, in some
obscure place to some unknown human being.

"Romance, my friends — the suffrage cause rides upon
waves of it like a ship upon the seas. For the worker it
constantly lightens the drudgery, colors the hours and makes
the long days pass swiftly.

"To those who know, then, woman suffrage has a double
appeal — that of reason and romance. Because in its argu-
ments there is the logic of progress and the spirit of democracy,
I ask you as good Americans, as up-to-the-minute thinkers,
to support it. Because it is full of the romance which will
light up your lives, relieve your days of the monotony of
aimless drifting, enrich your fancy, stir your feelings and
bind you in thought with peoples all through the world.


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I tirge you to work for it. No matter what you give it of
thought, of money, of self-sacrifice, it will give you back
more in deep and lading satisfaction. I hope to-night then
we shall forge another human link in the great suffrage chain
that is stretching across our own cotmtry and across the whole
civilized world."

For a moment after the rich, vibrant voice ceased there
was a breathless silence, the best tribute that could be paid,
and then the applause came, loud, enthusiastic, prolonged.
After it the young girls in the audience rose in a body and
waved their handkerchiefs and so great was their fervor
that the older women joined tmtil the church became a sea
of fluttering white signals. The men, not to be outdone,
cheered lustily and then Alice Bradley, springing to her post,
struck the chords of *The Battle Hymn of the RepubUc,"
through which the audience vented their emotions in vigorous

At its conclusion, there was a general surging toward the
speaker, who had come modestly down the pulpit steps
and was making for a side door. It was a small-sized ovation
before it was over, haughty dowagers clasping Mary Norris's
hand with unexpected warmth, young women ejaculating
and gesticulating, even men sheepishly adding laconic notes
of praise. Suffrage interest in Highcliff seemed assured.

Mason, witnessing the scene from a spot of vantage, was
filled with complete joy. He felt like a general who has
just won a battle and vanquished the enemy through strategy.
One person only, he noted, did not applaud, one person only
did not advance to shake hands, one person only went down
the aisle to the door with a face that was frowning and for-
bidding. As he joined Miss Norris after the last woman in
the church had reluctantly said good-night, Mason was
exultant over the whole affair.


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"Sometimes High Authorities must feel very low in their
minds," he said joyously. "We have pulled off the Suffrage
Waterloo of one of them."

This indeed seemed to be the case, for although Mary
Norris stayed in Highcliff for two days longer for the purpose
of organizing a club of a size that made the Suffrage Com-
mittee giddy with astonishment and pleasure, there was no
word from the Vanquished. Not until the third day f oimd.
her in the pale morning light standing on the small platform
of the station, waiting for the train that was to carry her to
her next town and her next engagement, did she hear from
the person about whose feelings she felt a little curious.

It was M'ria Bunsey who brought a note to her, a note
written in the bold script she knew so well.

"It seems right I should bring this here letter to you,"
said M'ria Bunsey valiantly. "It was me aided and abetted
him, not out of meanness neither, jest out of blindness. Pa'n
me thought beaux and furbelows was all there was to romance
and now we both know better. Maybe Somebody Else
knows too; leastways he looked like a mashed potato when
he gave this to me to hand on to you as you was leaving.
Good-bye Miss Norris. I hope ydull forgive me. . I feel
like a repentant sinner and I mean to work out my salvation
by boosting suffrage for all I'm worth.'*

Mary Norris thanked her and forgave her, and then she
drew Mason away from the Committee Women. and the
Club members and the stragglers who had congregated to
see her depart.

"It seems to me you have a right to see this,*' she said to
him, tearing open the envelope. Then they both read:
"Mary Dear,

"I don't agree with you and I can't feel as you do, but
somehow, the other night, you got the idea over me for the


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first time. I see yotar side, and I see more. I see what I'm
tip against, all kinds of facts and fancies that a stock broker
can't compete with. So I guess it's back to the bonds for
me. I resign in favor of that blamed suffrage leader. There
may be something in this business you're so strong for.
Anjrway you've made me feel like a bonehead Spaniard
jeering at Christopher Columbus or like an idiotic English-
man piling fagots around Joan of Arc. God bless you, and
ff you ever take a vacation from Liberty, Equality and
Democracy, remember that you have an uncle.
Yours — ^just departing,

James Norris."

"Good for the High Authority," said Mason heartily. **He's
weakening. Some day he'll be a convert and a Stock and
Bond Convert is a help to any cause."

Just then the train thimdered into the station and the good-
byes were said ,shrilly by the women present, and silently
by the men. If Mason had not had a promise of letters to
come, the occasion, as he wonderingly confessed to himself,
would have been a sad one. But fortified by the thought
of future meetings, he was able to wave a cheerful farewell
as the train slowly gathered its forces, and pulling away
from the station platform, vanished at length through a cut
in the hills, leaving behind a thin stream of smoke, the rural
silence, and a little company that dispersed to go rather
soberly to their homes.


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A PRETTY, ELDERLY WOMAN in the hall of the suffrage head-
qtiarters asked John Ardsley what she could do for him.
He answered her in a lifeless tone, the tone of rigid repres-
sion that he had adopted to keep himself from the mental
and emotional breakdown that he secretly feared.

"I wotdd like to buy a banner or a pennant," he said. "As
pretty a one as you have. It is for my wife. She is sick in
the hospital, and it would comfort her to have it on the
wall near the bed. You see, the suffrage cause has meant a
good deal to her; she's been a kind of orator.''

A huskiness came into his voice in spite of his self-control.

The pretty woman, sensing greater unhappiness than his
simple explanation displayed, was at once all sympathy.

"It is too bad that she is sick just before the big suffrage
parade," she said softly. "I know that she feels it, not to
march with us, and we feel it too to have one of our workers
ill at ^uch a time. Of course you shall have the nicest pen-
nant I can find, and you must give it to her with our love
and our best wishes for her recovery. Will you teU me her

"Helen Ardsley," he answered, and felt a little flicker of
pride when she exclaimed:

"Helen Ardsley, one of our best street speakers! Why we
all know her and admire her. You tell her she has been the
greatest help. Why, I know personally more than a dozen
people she's converted. I suppose now she worries because
she has to fall out a while from the ranks, while the fight is



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at its hottest. But she needn't. She's already done the work
pf three or fotir. She can rest a while ii;i perfect content-

"If it is only for a little while," repeated John A^dsley in a
low tone, and bit his lip tintil it bled.

The pretty woman did not hear him. She had gone ii;ito
the busy front office of headqtiarters where the **shop" kept
its w^es in twp large oak cabinets that reached from floor
to peiling and through whose glass doors he saw arranged
o;a wide shelves books and calendars, suffrage favors, baskets
of buttons, flags, pennants, writing paper, handkerchiefs, all
the dainty articles that trade had been quick to stajoap
^Hith the naagic words "Votes for Women" to Itire the femi-
nine customer. Within this room, a telephone rang con-
stantly, a group of women were seated at a table assiduously
directing envelopes for piles of folded leaflets, visitors were
coming and going, two stenographers were busy at their
typewriters and all was bustle and commotion. Down the
hall, he caught a glimpse of a restaurant in full swing from
which crowds of women came and went. Up and down the
broad stairs, every now and then girls and women ran nimbly,
carrying papers, going into rooms, calling down directions^
He heard an explanation of a meeting to which a flock of
watnen shortly came, watched the postman deliver stacks of
letters under whose weight he pretended to stagger, and he
got the general impression of a house himmiing with life and
overflowing with energetic human beings caught in swift
whirls of the suffrage current. Ordinarily he would have
enjoyed the spectacle like any other idle onlooker, but to-day
his instant thought was to contrast all this cheerful commotion
with that other place where his thoughts constantly hovered,
the plain and quiet room where she lay, white and silent,
save for occasional moans of pain.


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In a few moments the pretty woman came back with the
pennant, its gay blue, white and yellow folds neatly furled
into a compact bundle. Very sweetly she gave it to him,
refused all compensation, and sent him away with a few
cordial words that vaguely comforted him.

"And you must let us know how Mrs. Ardsley fares," she
said. "We are, of course, so rushed we hardly get time to
eat and sleep, but we do want to hear about her if you will
be so kind. I am sure the women of her district keep in
touch with her, but we would like to do this, too, at head-
quarters. You know she is one of our stars."

The word stuck in his mind, and when he was admitted
softly into the presence of a white-capped ntirse who bent
solicitously over a bed whereon the slender form of a young
woman lay with a kind of rigidity, he stood for a moment
thinking of her tenderly as "a fallen star." For she had
dropped just as suddenly out of the heaven of their happy
and busy life as he had seen a star fall from the firmament
through the black curtains of the night.

"A little better to-day, Mr. Ardsley," said the nurse
encouragingly, pitying the white tragedy of his face.

The patient stirred a little and opened a pair of large
dark eyes that shone resplendent in a small worn face. She
had never failed to give him a look and ^ smile save when
actual unconsciousness blotted from her love as well as pain.
He knew, too, at what a cost she often gave him his little bit
of recognition, and he treasured each glance and each fleeting
smile as he had never treastired even the sweetest of their
love tokens in their short and blissful life together.

Now with heroic effort she smiled again and did naiore,
reaching out to him a frail white hand. He took it gently
and closed the fragile fingers aroimd the pennant. Then,


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seeing her little look of interest and of curiosity, he unfurled
it, and held it up against the wall where she could see it.

*'I'll get you some tacks, Mr. Ardsley,'* said the nurse
with quick sympathy and left the room.

**It's the pennant the suffs will carry when they march,*'
he explained in a low tone, and gave the little message from
Headquarters. She seemed pleased, as he had known she
wotild be if she were well enough to tmderstand.

"This is the pennant that you will use,'* he added. **For
you are going to march, too."

"Yes, I am going to march," she said slowly, and with
great effort. "Even if the pain is very bad — now — it won't
be long before I'll throw it off. And I have two weeks yet.
When you've lived a thing — so long — you can't miss the big
moments — ^no matter what happens."

She stopped, tired by her effort at conversation, the longest
she had made since she had come, white and inert, from under
the surgeon's knife. She sighed and closed her eyes and he
knew that their interview was over for the day. Yet he
lingered, holding her hand, knowing that she liked to have
him near her even if she could not speak. So deep was his
love and his yearning pity and anguish that for them both
the room seemed full of the sweetness and the sympathy of
his thoughts, all the more felt by them both because the
ordinary avenues of communication were barred to them.
When the nurse came back with some thumbtacks and put
the peririant carefully up on the white wall, she said:

"I didn't know she was a suffragette, though I suppose
I might have guessed, with all the flowers sent her being
yellow. And I remember now there was a yellow button
on her dress when she came in, but she was such a bad case
then, I didn't notice it much. When she's better, she can
do some good work here converting me — I'm supposed to


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be an anti, but I'm not one really, just a bit indiflferent."
"But," she said, lowering her voice, "I think you had better
go now. You know the understanding."

"Yes, yes," he said hastily. "I know I must not stay
too long." He bent over the bed and kissed the whit^ brow
that was whiter than the immaculate pillow, and with a
silent pressure of the inert hand he went out of the room.
The ntu-se followed him into the hall.

"She is really better, isn't she?" he asked eagerly. "And
there is no doubt of her recovery; we must just be patient
and wait."

For the first time, the ntu-se avoided his eyes.

"Yes," she said slowly. "She seems better to-day. Came,
ajjain soon. I can't leave her long."

She went back into the room with soft-gliding steps.

For a moment he stood rigidly still. His nerves were
keyed so high that he sensed things with what seemed to be
a new sense. There had been an odd inflection in her tone,
and as he thought of it, she had only answered half of his
question. A pang of angtiish went thro' his heart. Down
the hall was an oflBce where Dr. Lang sometimes stayed for
brief business conferences, and Dr. Lang would know. Heed-
less of an attendant or two who tried to stop his headlong
progress he rushed to the door, opened it without knocking
and went in. Dr. Lang was there talking to a nurse. One
look at Ardsley's face, and the doctor dismissed the nurse.

"You are friend as well as physician," said Ardsley thickly.
"And I must know the truth. Helen — "

The doctor rose and came up to him with a face full of
sympathy and pity. He laid a kind and comforting hand on
his shoulder. There was no need for words. For a moment
or two, they stood in a tense silence. Then the doctor
grasped his hand firmly.


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''Science has conquered one thing," he said. "But it
cannot conquer all. There is just a week or two. You
must help her live them through. The pain will go shortly,
the rest will not be so hard. And you must be her heart arid
soul. You must not fail her.''

Ardsley tried to speak, but no words came. The doctor
studied him a moment, and a great pity shone in his eyes.

"You will be alone here for fifteen minutes," he said gently,
"Pull yourself together, John."

He went out softly and a deep silence seemed to fall upon
the room. At the end of fifteen minutes, a man passed out
the door, but whereas an obviously young man had entered

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Online LibraryOreola Williams HaskellBanner bearers; tales of the suffrage campaigns → online text (page 17 of 26)