As Edith and her mother quietly read, and ate grapes, and lolled in a delightfully feminine way, voices were heard,—Mae’s and Norman’s. They were in the middle of a conversation. “Yes,” Mae was saying, “you do away with individuality altogether nowadays, with your dreadful classifications. It is all the same from daffodils up to women.”
“How do we classify women, pray?”
“In the mind of man,” began Mae, as if she were reading, “there are three classes of women; the giddy butterflies, the busy bees, and the woman’s righters. The first are pretty and silly; the second, plain and useful; the third, mannish and odious. The first wear long trailing dresses and smile at you while waltzing, the second wear aprons and give you apple-dumplings, and the third want your manly prerogatives, your dress-coat, your money, and your vote. Flirt with the giddy butterflies, your first love was one. First loves always are. Marry the busy bee. Your mother was a busy bee. Mothers always are. And keep on the other side of the street from the woman’s righter as long as you can. Alas! your daughter will be one.”
“Well, isn’t there any classifying on the other side? Aren’t there horsemen and sporting men and booky men, in the feminine mind?”
“Perhaps so. There certainly are the fops, and nowadays this terrible army of reformers and radicals, of whom my brother Albert here is the best known example.”
“What is it?” asked Albert, looking up abstractedly from his book, for he and Eric had sauntered up the stairs too, by this time.
“They are the creatures,” continued Mae, “who scorn joys and idle pleasures. They deal with the good of the many and the problems of the universe, and step solemnly along to that dirge known as the March of Progress. And what do they get for it all? Something like this. Put down your book, I’m going to prophesy,” and Mae backed resolutely up against the railing and held her floating scarfs and veils in a bunch at her throat, while she prophesied in this way:
“Behold me, direct lineal descendant of Albert Madden, speaking to my children in the year 1995: ’What, children, want amusement? Want to see the magic lantern to note the effects of light? Alas! how frivolous. Listen, children, to the achievements of your great ancestor, as reported by the Encyclopedia. “A. Madden—promoter of civilization and progress, chiefly known by his excellent theory entitled The Number of Cells in a Human Brain compared to the Working Powers of Man, and that remarkable essay, headed by this formula: Given—10,000,000 laboring men, to find the number of loaves of bread in the world.” Here, children, take these works. Progressimus, you may have the theory, while Civilizationica reads the essay. Then change about. Ponder them well, and while we walk to the Museum later, tell me their errors. Then I will show you the preserved ears of the first man found in Boshland by P. T. Barnum,