“Say the rest here,” drawled a lazy, mellow voice. “For Heaven’s sake, stir us up. If I could get a kick out of anything I’d bless it.”
“Carley, go on the stage,” advised another. “You’ve got Elsie Ferguson tied to the mast for looks. And lately you’re surely tragic enough.”
“I wish you’d go somewhere far off!” observed a third. “My husband is dippy about you.”
“Girls, do you know that you actually have not one sensible idea in your heads?” retorted Carley.
“Sensible? I should hope not. Who wants to be sensible?”
Geralda battered her teacup on a saucer. “Listen,” she called. “I wasn’t kidding Carley. I am good and sore. She goes around knocking everybody and saying New York backs Sodom off the boards. I want her to come out with it right here.”
“I dare say I’ve talked too much,” returned Carley. “It’s been a rather hard winter on me. Perhaps, indeed, I’ve tried the patience of my friends.”
“See here, Carley,” said Geralda, deliberately, “just because you’ve had life turn to bitter ashes in your mouth you’ve no right to poison it for us. We all find it pretty sweet. You’re an unsatisfied woman and if you don’t marry somebody you’ll end by being a reformer or fanatic.”
“I’d rather end that way than rot in a shell,” retorted Carley.
“I declare, you make me see red, Carley,” flashed Geralda, angrily. “No wonder Morrison roasts you to everybody. He says Glenn Kilbourne threw you down for some Western girl. If that’s true it’s pretty small of you to vent your spleen on us.”
Carley felt the gathering of a mighty resistless force, But Geralda Conners was nothing to her except the target for a thunderbolt.
“I have no spleen,” she replied, with a dignity of passion. “I have only pity. I was as blind as you. If heartbreak tore the scales from my eyes, perhaps that is well for me. For I see something terribly wrong in myself, in you, in all of us, in the life of today.”
“You keep your pity to yourself. You need it,” answered Geralda, with heat. “There’s nothing wrong with me or my friends or life in good old New York.”
“Nothing wrong!” cried Carley. “Listen. Nothing wrong in you or life today—nothing for you women to make right? You are blind as bats—as dead to living truth as if you were buried. Nothing wrong when thousands of crippled soldiers have no homes—no money—no friends—no work—in many cases no food or bed? . . . Splendid young men who went away in their prime to fight for you and came back ruined, suffering! Nothing wrong when sane women with the vote might rid politics of partisanship, greed, crookedness? Nothing wrong when prohibition is mocked by women—when the greatest boon ever granted this country is derided and beaten down and cheated? Nothing wrong when there are half a million defective children in this city? Nothing wrong when there are not enough schools and teachers