Oreola Williams Haskell.

Banner bearers; tales of the suffrage campaigns online

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sense and appeal. And with great acumen, too, she kept
the letter locked in her drawer.

"It must be a last hour appeal," she said shrewdly, "with
no time for her to talk thii^ over with biassed relatives.
She must act on impulse, wholly. Of course, it maybe she
cannot come. But I must chance that. She is my only

The thought of the hidden letter acted like a tonic on her
for days, although in the presence of daughter or grand-^
daughter she felt like the veriest criminal.

"Granny, you are bracing up, you're a wond«*," com-'
mented Ina happily, and went forth, much encouraged, to
the fray.

Through a crowded calendar she pushed her way, now
supervising the erection of huge bill boards that smote upon
the public eyesight through the medium of flaring black
letters which brazenly announced suflErage truths; now
holding outdoor concerts where intermissions betwreea


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orchestral and vocal selections were 4evoted to the propa-
ganda of arguments; now planning street fetes and now
introducing unique features into street naeetings — ^the Qxhibii-
tion of lantern slides, the feats of an artist who illustrated
her talks with hastily drawn pictures, and the use of the lively
bugle and the sumnioning drum. Jn between larger duties^
she sandwiched rehearsals for the pageant, and innocently
entertained Phoebe Caldwell with accounts of these latter
as being far less exciting than larger and mone stirring events.
That they were not, a more discerning eye would have
noted, sino^ they left their auditor with fltuihed cheeks, eyei
overbright, a heart that fluttered wildly and a brain that
schemed to the accompaniment of emotions alternately
full of exultation or of guilty shame.

On the night of the pageant, Jna Blake showed herself to
"Granny" in all the glory of her Greek draperies before sbQ
started at an early hour for the opera bouse, Mrs. Blake,
also, assigned to a niinor role, eidiibited herself and kissed
h^r mother fondly good'-bye, adinonishing her to ratine at
an early hour. Neither mother nor daughter noticed
grandmother's unwonted splendor of attire, discreetly covered
by a voltuninous shawl, nor dreamed that ahe had spent the
entire day making her troubling hands bit by bit perform
th^ various duties of her toilette. The general effect, hqw*
ever, repaid her fcM- her heroic eflEorts. Frqm the piles and
puffs of snowy hair to th^ discreet touches of real lace and the
shinmier of black satin, Phoebe Caldwell wa$ a picture well
worth seeing.

**A young woman may call upon me later," she told the
upstairs maid with dignity. "Show her at onc^ tP my room
if ahe comes."

The waiting was mercifully short, since the constant
reiteratipn in her brain of the questions, Will ghe come?


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Won't she come ? would have excited her to a kind of nervous
hysteria if it had gone on too long. However, within a half
hour of the departure of the family, Phoebe Caldwell sta-
tioned at the window saw the little yellow car of her dreams
whirl up to the curb. In a few minutes, her door opened,
and a smiling face, framed in blond hair, looked into herfe.

"Where is the pioneer I'm to run away with? Is it you.?
You are sure it is all right? I acted on impulse and came;
your letter touched me. But I'm in the pageant and time
is precious. I must get back. Took a friend to the opera
house first, then ran over here for you. You are sure you are
equal to the occasion, not going to faint or get overtired?"

"Never fainted in my life," declared Phoebe Caldwell
sturdily. "Don't know how it feels. I'm all ready now,
might take a fan, never felt stronger. When you come to
think of it, eighty-six isn't so very old."

"Not with some people," agreed the Lady of the Yellow Car,
and then, like two conspirators, they made a quiet exit from
the house, the maid, in the belief that the visitor would stay
during the evening, having gone down to the kitchen to talk
with her fellows.

To Phoebe Caldwell, there never was a more exhilarating
ride than that through the city streets in the yellow car that
had crossed a continent; there never was a more thrilling
moment than the one when she entered a box in state and
was placed by her escort in the best seat, with the words to
the other occupants:

"Girls, here's a real live pioneer. Treat her well."

And she was treated well. While the house was filling,
she was petted and asked questions, and the reminiscences
that immediately began to flow from her lips were listened
to with respectful and gratifying interest. She spoke of
"Susan" and "Elizabeth" with tender familiarity as befits


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one who had campaigned with Miss Anthony and Mrs.
Stanton in the days when audiences were not above hissing
and catcalls, or the throwing of pepper on country school-
house stoves, the turning out of lights, or even the careless
manipulation of eggs. "I was one of them, though much
younger,'* she said proudly. **And I got my share of the

They brought then many of the order of "Veterans** to
meet her, those who came after the pioneers but who worked
against heavy odds before the cause became popular. Har-
riet May Moores related for her benefit little incidents
when she went as field organizer up and down the state,
starting little clubs and fanning the faint flames of their
existence in town after town and village after village. Every-
where ridiculed by the press, she knew a little of what her
forerunners had endured. Mrs. Belle Demira and Mrs. Frank
Lathing and many others came forward to clasp her hand
as only veterans can clasp the hands of pioneers. And just
before the curtain went up on the pageant, they tinned to
praise of the modem workers, speaking of their tiresome
canvassing, "400,000 men visited in one city in just one
campaign,*' of the tons of literature they gave out, and of
their countless demonstrations. Yet though their praise
was genuine, at the end they whispered to Phoebe Cald-

"They will win the victory without doubt, But they
have lost a great thing, the feeling that only pioneers and
veterans can have, those who suffered for the cause in the
days of unpopularity and persecution. That feeling, that
experience are for us alone a blessed and sacred memory."

Through the pageant, Phoebe Caldwell lived the past over
again, She caught the full force of the modem spirit of the
campaigning suffragist, she was lifted up to the promise


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of the final victofy aiid to what it would meaa to women.
With tense nerves, with parted Hps, with nervous hands
that clutched the arms of those nearest her at critical mo*
ments, she went through scene after scene of the beautiful
story told in living figtures. Pleasure she felt that was so
sharp it was a kind of pain, ecstasy that was a bit of agony.
After the abnormal quiet of her life for many months, she
felt Uke (me out in the scorching heat of the midday sun and
amid the crash of whirling worlds. Dimly she realized that
she had risen to the crest c^ a great wave of emoticm and
thought on whose top she felt helpless, and ihsA she must go
crashing down at length into the slough.

To her the pageant went oB. without a hitch. But on the
stage those directing behind the scenes had their troubles*
Some of the stars were late, some of the costtmies were not
delivered, there was nervousness, and detey, and finally
as the last scene came on, a woman about whom was to be
posed a most picturque group had not arrived,

"What can be the matter with Mrs. Glade?" asked the
stage manager in a distracted tone, going from group to group,
**As the center of the pioneer group she is indisp»i«abte.
Where can she be?"

No one knew. At length a reassuring voice cried:

**If yoti want a pioiwer, there's one in the audience/'

"But Mrs. Glade's white hair was wonderful, and she's
used to public appearances and has rehearsed."

"White hair," scoffed the voice. "This pioneer has oceans
of it. I'll get her. And she's used to public life» too."

And so it came to pass that the Lady of the Yellow Car
brought Phoebe Caldwell, palpitating and protesting, to the
stage. But her protests were drowned in a delighted chorus
when they all saw how perfectly she looked the part. Deft
hands draped h^ in white cheesecloth, she was rehearsed


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hastily in a comer and responded to suggestions and orders
like a veteran, and when at length the curtain rose no one
posed more proudly and impressively than she. This feeling
took her through all her scenes with a superb aplomb,
which was all the more commendable since in one she gazed
into the amazed and horrified face of her grandchild and in
the other into the astotmded and frightened countenance of
her daughter, who had supposed her to be sleeping the quiet
and gentle sleep of the well-behaved aged. So uplifted was
her spirit, however, that at the time the expressions she saw
seemed tmreal, as though seen in a dream.

When she had retired from the stage and stood in the wings
to see and hear the grand finale, dtuing which the magnifi-*
cent voice of the world-famed prima donna sang the national
anthem with dramatic fervor, while the singer posed tall and
statuesque and beautiful against the silken folds of the
American flag, it came to Phoebe Caldwell that there must
be unpleasant consequences of her escapade. In imagina-»
tion, she could hear the family voices: ^

"Granny, Granny, how could you?"

**Mother, Mother, how wild."

"You win be sick."

"You will be fagged out."

"At your age — "

"It is terrible^"

"I'll put it off as long as I can," thought Phoebe CaldweD,
and began to edge toward the back of the stage. She would
find the Lady of the Yellow Car, beg to be t^en home, and
receive her voluble and protesting family in state in the safe
and familiar precincts of her own room.

As she passed by the rows of white robed amateur actresses
crowded together in the wings, one after another put out a
hand to press hers, and whi^ser after whisper of praise and


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admiration fell upon her ears. She was making a triumphant
exit, and she did it like any well-applauded thespian. At the
very rear of the stage there were only a few workmen in
overalls. She could not see the Lady of the Yellow Car,
not at first; then she thought she saw her disappear down a
dimly lit corridor. Unheeded, in dire haste, Phoebe CaldweU
hurried after her apparition. On and on she went, the pas-
sage getting darker and darker, tmtil finally it seemed to end
abruptly, and her footing grew uncertain. Were there stairs?
A sudden fear swept over her, and all at once she lurched,
and fell down, down, down into black oblivion. After
centuries, it seemed she floated back to hear as from vast
distances voices and the sound of weeping. Even semi-
consciousness was agony so that again she drifted out to a
blessed blankness. It was night no longer when she finally
came back to a sense of living. Slowly and by long degrees,
she took in the fact that she was in bed, that a white-capped
ntu-se was in attendance and that Ina, white-faced and
haggard, often hung over her in an anxious scrutiny.

Unconsciousness and a pain-racked consciousness held
possession of her alternately, for what seemed to her eons of
time. Finally, as she drifted into sensibiUty one day, she
heard a man's voice say softly but with decision:

"It won't be long now."

She knew at once what "it" meant. Her first reaction to it
was a sense of relief. There would come an end then to this
helplessness, the periods of agony, the overwhelming weak-
ness. She was very tired, worn and spent; it was good to
think of perfect qtiiet, of absence of sensation. But an
tmeasy feeling fought with that of relief. There was some-
thing, some reason why "it" could not be. What was it?
What was it that haunted her, something that would keep
her, something that held her captive?


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One day she heard a sobbing voice and then she knew.

It was Ina, and she could not go because she had promised
her to stay for the victory, to live until the great hour
struck, tMitil she a pioneer should receive her reward. In her
ludd intervals she pondered over this. At last she was
driven to prayer. God grant that she would not go until
she explained, until she could say what gradually had come
into her mind, until she could make it all right. The child
must not feel deserted, must not take it as failure, as disap-
pointment, must not suffer from pity all her life. No, the
cause and its ultimate triimiph must be a radiant thing,
unclouded, glorious.

There came a day when her prayer was answered, when she
awoke painless, with all her senses keen and alert, her mind
as clear as a bell. To be sure there was incredible weakness,
but the spirit would overcome that. It was quite a strong
whisper that arrested Ina's attention.

**I'mgoing,''itsaid. 'Ina, child, thetide'sebbingouttosea.'*

"But Granny you promised me — the cause — how can you
go without reward, without the hour of victory?'*

Phoebe Caldwell rallied her sinking forces.

**I have had my reward already," she said, and this time
she spoke out loud. "Do not feel sorry, Ina, that the pioneers
cannot stay to the end. We blazed the trail. We did a
glorious thing. To make possible the rest. That is our
reward. The victory — 1 11 — I *11 know it wherever I am — ' *

A wave of rushing waters seemed to sweep over her. She
put out a frail and shaking hand. But she never felt the
warm and living hand that grasped it, never heard the sob-
bing voice that called her. Suddenly and serenely, Phoebe
Caldwell passed over into the invisible company of the women
who through many years of earth life fought for that greatest
of all blessings, freedom.


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A few short weeks after she found her final resting^plaoe, a
night was ushered in of great excitement and elation for Ina
and her kind^ rince over hundreds of telegraph wires flashed
magic figures that showed how a great state had enfranchised
its womenkind, not in niggardly fashion but with the over*
whelming generosity of thousands of votes. Music, speeches,
cheers, crowds, marked the celebration of the big victory
at Headquarters. After the great lexers had spoken, the
lesser lights were allowed their turn. But many Were
puzzled by Ina Blake's words:

"To-night I am happy for four generations of women/'
she said. **Both happy and sad, sad for our sakes that all
who worked are not here to share otir triumph, glad that they
had the privilege of being the trail blaizers for a great cause."

And though she sat through the evening with a face of
white radiance, her eyes were wet with tears. For in the
hov^r of victory, Ina Blake s^med to feel the pressure of
frail, invisible hands.


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As THE door of the little d^ at the end of Mrs. Penrose
Halfert^s spacious hall closed behind hiin» Governor Lenox
sank into a capacious chair with an audible sig^ of relief.
Members of his staff and scmie of his aids, who had accom-
panied him, lined up behind him in solemn state.

"It's an infernal shame,'* declared Penrose Hatfert, his
host, in a booming bass. **To think of having to hustle the
Qiief Executive of this state out of a drawing room where
he is the honored guest because two factions of fanatical
women are possessed to interview him dramatically on a
question of no importance. How in the deuce did they get
in here? Funny my wife knew nothing about it. Or did
she ? It's getting so you don't trust your nearest and dearest.
I can't make her out, she's so non-commital. But, anyway,
Hortense and I owe you the deuce of an apology. Wotddn't
have had this happen in my house for a fortune."

"That's all right, Halfert,'* returned the Governor sooth-
ingly. "It hasn't happened really. I've just had to make
an escape. These be terrifying times for Governors any-
way, what with Clesent of Vairmont prodded on aU sides,
but making a magnificent stand, and Relcom of Consecut,
a prisoner in his own state, held there by a lieutenant-
governor who vows he will act in the affirmative the minute
Relcom leaves his domain. This wiU go down in history
as the great Suffrage Siege."

The Governor paused for breath, and then asked in turn
for his coat, his hat and his car, and that word be smuggled



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to Mrs. LfCnox, still in the crowded reception rooms, that
his departure was imminent. Aids and staff members
hastened to execute his orders, and he was left alone with
Halfert, who again put into forcible expression his dis-
approval and chagrin.

** Never mind, never mind,'* counseled the Governor.
"Of course, the order is not to see the women at all, but if
it were not for the local organization of the d — d old Party,
I'm not sure I wouldn't-^*'

He stopped abruptly and with a guilty air, as an elderly
man, with white hair and a quiet ,authoritative manner,
came into the room.

"Favored sons backed by the Party are bound by Party
purposes,'* the new comer said significantly. "You are
going, Lenox?"

"Presently," returned the Governor, in a rebellious tone.
"This elusive business wears me out. I'd rather face the
music. Moreover, I doubt the wisdom of this stand.
The whole thing is inevitable. We delay it by an infinitesi-
mal moment. They lose nothing in the long nm. We gain
their ill-will, and when they vote, who knows what they will
remember. But, of course, Flint, you want me to bow
unquestioningly to Party nmndates and to help keep up the
farce — ^high-sounding resolutions in pubUc, and evasion,
delay and denial in private. This is the old way, hoary
with custom. Fm not sure that the time is not ripe for a
new way."

His voice grew bitter. Parker Flint gave him what was
known among the highbrow initiated as "a State Chairman
look," and among the low brows of the inner circles as "the
Boss's scowl," a look that rarely failed to subdue those who
temporarily, if punily, rebelled against his rulings. But it
made little impression on John Lenox, who returned it un-


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flinchingly. Halfert, watching and listening, privileged to
do so because he was high in the Party's favor as one of its
greatest campaign contributors, felt a thrill of excitement.
Various rumors had reached him of a breach between the
Old Boss and this man that he had made. He felt he was
about to see the thing materialize. Perhaps Lenox was
tired of being cartooned regularly in an opposition paper as
"the Boss's Puppet"; perhaps he had gone over to Alec
Baily, whose triumphs as a political maniptilator had been
made manifest at the last election.

But Flint was too wise to provoke an open quarrel.

"Of course, if you can make pronaises to the women that
you can fulfill," he said evenly. "Otherwise it might be as
well to hurry."

The Governor paused for a moment, hesitating and scowl-
ing. But the point had gone home. He was not prepared
yet to fight alone. With a muttered exclamation, he strode
to the door, and threw it open, stepping out so quickly that
Halfert had to rush to follow him. In a second there came
the sotmd of a feminine voice, oratorically impressive. At
the first words uttered, Flint hastened to the doorway, where
he could look out on the wide spaces and luxurious vistas
of Mrs. Halfert's hall. He gazed upon a dramatic scene.
For the Governor had stopped abruptly and stood at rigid
attention, facing a solid phalanx of women drawn up before
him, some bearing on their breasts the red roses of the antis,
others the yellow flowers of the conservative suflEragists,
and others the varicolored ribbons of the militant workers.

"Caught," whispered Flint to himself, and discreetly
withdrew into the Uttle den, closing the door softly behind
him. He decided to wait until the scene was over, since,
when the story was flashed to the press across the cotmtry,
it would never do to have the name of Parker Flint pronai-


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nently displa3red as among those present. A sarcastic
amile wreathed his lips and lightened his sardonic face as he
thought of the women outside wasting their energies on a
mere figurehead, while the man of power sat safely concealed
within earshot of their impassioned appeals. None of them
knew enough to come to him, none of them.

His attention caught the sound of a closing door and he
looked up alertly. A woman in a gray dress, a tall, slender
woman, whose face was shaded by a black hat, came into the
room and stood before him, looking down silently at him as
he leaned back in his big armchair.

"Mr. Flint," she said quietly. "I am Harriet Grayle of
the Strffrage Emergency Corps, and I have come to ask you
to permit the Governor of this state to call a special session
of the Legialature to ratify the Suffrage Amendment."

Flint looked at her with approving interest. Here was
someone with brains, not inclined to mince matters, simple,
direct and forcible. While she waited for his reply, she took
off her hat, threw it on a table, drew up a chair and sat down
confronting him. The light in the littleroom, shiningthrough
rose-colored shades, was dim and it was not tmtil she actually
faced him that Flint got a good look at her features. Then
he gave an audible gasp of astonishment. He leaned for-
ward and stared at her eagerly, noting the big gray eyes that
were now the eyes of the dreamer, the idealist, and now
those of the executive, the doer of deeds, the auburn hair
with a tawny fire in its rich luxtuiance, and the tints of a
skin that was a ltn*e for the discerning eye. Across the room
Seemed to come the heavy odor of apple blossoms and he
heard, mingled with the music of a stream, a girl's voice

"It is ideals I love, principles. You could never tmder-
stand, never sympathize. I want to give my life to some


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great cause, I don't know what, but it will come. And
you, you want to walk close to the earth and you will never
soar. So there can never be love between us."

"Who are you?" he asked hoarsely of his visitor.

She smiled with engaging frankness.

"I hoped you would see the likeness. I am Harriet Dean's
daughter. You knew her when she was young. Yes, this
is her native state, and native town. Of course, you know
she became celebrated, working for this cause. No native
son has a greater reputation, they tell me. But now that
she has gone" — her lip quivered — **I take up the work and
do what I can. 'From failing hands we throw the torch,' "
she quoted solemnly. "Because you knew my mother, I
thought you might listen more kindly to me. So that is
why I let the others do the grandstand play out in the hall,
and I came direct to you to do the real work that cotmts.
Mr. Flint, how about a special session? Won't you line up
your own state on the side of progress? We need only a few
more states now to make up our necessary thirty-six, and it
would be a fine tribute to Harriet Dean Grayle for her state
to put itself on the honor roll and help to enfranchise
twenty-seven million American women."

He looked at her with sarcastic mirth. That she should
come to him of all men — ^he who had suffered the humiliation
of scorned love — and ask him in the name of the one who had
dealt the blow to repudiate the habits of a lifetime and stand
firmly, not for expediency, but for a principle, strudc him
as the height of irony. Almost he pitied her innocence.

"The Governor will do what he thinks best about the
special session," he answered her warily. "If he wishes to
defy his Party in this state, that is his privilege. As for me,
what am I but a private citizen, high in the councils of the
Party, but with no position of trust? I regret to have to


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disappoint so fair a petitioner, but, young lady, I can do

Harriet Grayle sprang to her feet in indignation.

"Of course, you can refuse, Mr. Flint, but do not think you
deceive me. We shall know where to place the responsi-
bility for this."

She made a hasty movement and put on her hat. Flint
rose with exaggerated respect, and was about to open the
door for her, when someone else performed that oflBce, and a
tall man, strong and alert, in his early thirties, came in

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Online LibraryOreola Williams HaskellBanner bearers; tales of the suffrage campaigns → online text (page 25 of 26)