‘I agree,’ she said. ’As, unlike the Japanese, we haven’t the moral courage of suicide, I shall get used to the idea of being an Englishman’s wife; of living in a calm routine of sport, bridge, week-ends, and small-talk—entertaining people who bore you, and in turn helping to bore those who entertain you. In time I’ll forget that I was born, as most women are, with a fine perception of life’s subtleties, and settle down to living year in and year out with no change except that each season you’re less attractive and more petty. After a while I shall even get to like the calm level of being an Englishman’s wife, and if I see any girl thinking as I do now, I’ll know what a little fool she is. That’s what happens to us—we get used to things. Those of us who don’t, either get a divorce, or go to the devil, or just live out our little farce. It is a real tragedy of English life that women are losing through disuse the qualities that were given them. That is why an American like you comes here and says we do not edit ourselves cleverly.’
The rapid succession of sentences came to an end, and the colour which had mounted to her cheeks slowly subsided.
‘I feel,’ he said, ’that I can only vaguely understand what you mean. But is it not possible that you are looking at it too much from the standpoint of an individualist?’
‘Women are all individualists,’ she broke in; ’or they are until society breaks their spirit. This lumping of people into generations and tuning your son’s brain to the same pitch as his medieval ancestors’ doesn’t interest women—that’s man’s performance. The great thing about a woman is her own life, isn’t it? And the great event in a woman’s life is when she has a child—because it’s hers. This class and family stuff comes from men, because their names are perpetuated, not ours. There is no snobbery equal to men’s; it is more noticeable with women, because it isn’t instinctive with them, and they have to talk to show it.’
‘Then,’ said Selwyn, ’in addition to an Irish Rebellion, we may look for one from English women?’
‘Yes. I don’t know when, but it will come.’
He produced a cigarette-case. ‘Would you care for a cigarette now?’ he asked.
‘No, thanks. But you smoke.’
‘Poor England!’ he said in pretended seriousness, tapping the table with the end of the cigarette, ’with two revolutions on her hands, and neither party knowing what it wants.’
‘We may not know what we want,’ she said, ’but, as an Irishman said the other day, “we won’t be satisfied till we get it.” If the rebellion of our women doesn’t come, I prophesy that in a couple of thousand years, when the supermen inhabit the earth, they will find a sort of land mermaid with an expressionless face, perpetually going through the motion of dealing cards or drinking tea. Then some old fogy will spend ten years in research, and pronounce her an excellent example of the extinct race “Femina Anglica."’