The Darling and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 267 pages of information about The Darling and Other Stories.

I asked:  “Why generalise?  Why judge of all women from Ariadne alone?  The very struggle of women for education and sexual equality, which I look upon as a struggle for justice, precludes any hypothesis of a retrograde movement.”

But Shamohin scarcely listened to me and he smiled distrustfully.  He was a passionate, convinced misogynist, and it was impossible to alter his convictions.

“Oh, nonsense!” he interrupted.  “When once a woman sees in me, not a man, not an equal, but a male, and her one anxiety all her life is to attract me—­that is, to take possession of me—­how can one talk of their rights?  Oh, don’t you believe them; they are very, very cunning!  We men make a great stir about their emancipation, but they don’t care about their emancipation at all, they only pretend to care about it; they are horribly cunning things, horribly cunning!”

I began to feel sleepy and weary of discussion.  I turned over with my face to the wall.

“Yes,” I heard as I fell asleep—­“yes, and it’s our education that’s at fault, sir.  In our towns, the whole education and bringing up of women in its essence tends to develop her into the human beast —­that is, to make her attractive to the male and able to vanquish him.  Yes, indeed”—­Shamohiri sighed—­“little girls ought to be taught and brought up with boys, so that they might be always together.  A woman ought to be trained so that she may be able, like a man, to recognise when she’s wrong, or she always thinks she’s in the right.  Instil into a little girl from her cradle that a man is not first of all a cavalier or a possible lover, but her neighbour, her equal in everything.  Train her to think logically, to generalise, and do not assure her that her brain weighs less than a man’s and that therefore she can be indifferent to the sciences, to the arts, to the tasks of culture in general.  The apprentice to the shoemaker or the house painter has a brain of smaller size than the grown-up man too, yet he works, suffers, takes his part in the general struggle for existence.  We must give up our attitude to the physiological aspect, too—­to pregnancy and childbirth, seeing that in the first place women don’t have babies every month; secondly, not all women have babies; and, thirdly, a normal countrywoman works in the fields up to the day of her confinement and it does her no harm.  Then there ought to be absolute equality in everyday life.  If a man gives a lady his chair or picks up the handkerchief she has dropped, let her repay him in the same way.  I have no objection if a girl of good family helps me to put on my coat or hands me a glass of water—­”

I heard no more, for I fell asleep.

Next morning when we were approaching Sevastopol, it was damp, unpleasant weather; the ship rocked.  Shamohin sat on deck with me, brooding and silent.  When the bell rang for tea, men with their coat-collars turned up and ladies with pale, sleepy faces began going below; a young and very beautiful lady, the one who had been so angry with the Customs officers at Volotchisk, stopped before Shamohin and said with the expression of a naughty, fretful child: 

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The Darling and Other Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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