‘As one of the tyrants who wishes you well,’ said Selwyn, after a laugh in which she joined, ’may I be permitted to know what women want—or think they want?’
’Mr. Selwyn, revolutions never come from people who think. That is why they are so terrible. The unhappiness of so many Englishwomen comes from the life which does not demand or permit the use of half the powers they possess. Nor does it satisfy half their longings. Such a condition produces either stagnation or revolution. Our ultimatum is—give us a life which demands all our resources and permits women unlimited opportunity for self-development.
‘And if the men cannot do this?’
‘The women will have to take charge.’
‘And when does the ultimatum expire?’
She shrugged her shoulders.
‘When will the next great earthquake be?’
The noise of the party in the cabinet particulier had been growing apace with the reinforcement of champagne-bottles. The strident laughter of the women dominated the lower level of men’s voices, and there was a constant clinking of glasses, punctuated by the occasional drawing of a cork, which always whipped the gaiety to a feverish pitch. Monsieur Beauchamp rubbed his hands rather anxiously. He would have preferred a little more intrigue and not quite so much noise. But, then, was it not a testimony to his wine?—and certainly there would be an excellent bill.
One of the men in the party called on some one for a song. There was a hammering on the table, a promise of a kiss in a girl’s voice that trailed off into a tipsy giggle, the sound of shuffling chairs and accompanying hilarity as the singer was apparently hoisted on to the table. There came a crash of breaking glass as his foot collided with some dinner-things.
Monsieur Beauchamp winced, but consoled himself with the reflection that he could charge what he wished for the damage. The voices were hushed at the order of the singer, who was trying to enunciate the title of his song.
‘I shall shing,’ he said, with considerable difficulty, ’"Moon, Moon, Boo—(hic)—Booful Moon,” composhed by myself at the early age of sheven months. It ish very pash—pashesh—it ish very shad, so, if ye have tearsh, pre—(hic)—pare to shed ’em now.’
There was loud applause, which the singer interrupted by commencing to sing in a bass voice that broke into falsetto with such frequency that it was difficult to tell which voice was the natural one. He started off the verse very stoutly, but was growing rather maudlin, when, reaching the chorus, he seemed to take on a new lease of vitality and bellowed quite lustily:
’Moon, Moon, boo-oo-oo-ooful Moon,
Shining reshplendantly, radiant an’ tenderly;
Moon, Moon, boo-oo—(hic)—booful Moon—
Tell her I shy for her, tell her I die for her,
Booful, BOO-OO-ooful Moon.