The Land of Contrasts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 289 pages of information about The Land of Contrasts.

Among the most searching tests of the state of civilisation reached by any country are the character of its roads, its minimising of noise, and the position of its women.  If the United States does not stand very high on the application of the first two tests, its name assuredly leads all the rest in the third.  In no other country is the legal status of women so high or so well secured, or their right to follow an independent career so fully recognised by society at large.  In no other country is so much done to provide for their convenience and comfort.  All the professions are open to them, and the opportunity has widely been made use of.  Teaching, lecturing, journalism, preaching, and the practice of medicine have long been recognised as within woman’s sphere, and she is by no means unknown at the bar.  There are eighty qualified lady doctors in Boston alone, and twenty-five lady lawyers in Chicago.  A business card before me as I write reads, “Mesdames Foster & Steuart, Members of the Cotton Exchange and Board of Trade, Real Estate and Stock Brokers, 143 Main Street, Houston, Texas.”  The American woman, however, is often found in still more unexpected occupations.  There are numbers of women dentists, barbers, and livery-stable keepers.  Miss Emily Faithful saw a railway pointswoman in Georgia; and one of the regular steamers on Lake Champlain, when I was there, was successfully steered by a pilot in petticoats.  There is one profession that is closed to women in the United States—­that of barmaid.  That professional association of woman with man when he is apt to be in his most animal moods is firmly tabooed in America—­all honour to it!

The career of a lady whose acquaintance I made in New York, and whom I shall call Miss Undereast, illustrates the possibilities open to the American girl.  Born in Iowa, Miss Undereast lost her mother when she was three years old, and spent her early childhood in company with her father, who was a travelling geologist and mining prospector.  She could ride almost before she could walk, and soon became an expert shot.  Once, when only ten years of age, she shot down an Indian who was in the act of killing a white woman with his tomahawk; and on another occasion, when her father’s camp was surrounded by hostile Indians, she galloped out upon her pony and brought relief.  “She was so much at home with the shy, wild creatures of the woods that she learned their calls, and they would come to her like so many domestic birds and animals.  She would come into camp with wild birds and squirrels on her shoulder.  She could lasso a steer with the best of them.  When, at last, she went to graduate at the State University of Colorado, she paid for her last year’s tuition with the proceeds of her own herd of cattle.”  After graduating at Colorado State University, she took a full course in a commercial college, and then taught school for some time at Denver.  Later she studied and taught music, for which she had a marked

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The Land of Contrasts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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