The fire-tender. I confess women do a great deal for the appearance of things. When the mistress is absent, this room, although everything is here as it was before, does not look at all like the same place; it is stiff, and seems to lack a soul. When she returns, I can see that her eye, even while greeting me, takes in the situation at a glance. While she is talking of the journey, and before she has removed her traveling-hat, she turns this chair and moves that, sets one piece of furniture at a different angle, rapidly, and apparently unconsciously, shifts a dozen little knick-knacks and bits of color, and the room is transformed. I couldn’t do it in a week.
The mistress. That is the first time I ever knew a man admit he couldn’t do anything if he had time.
Herbert. Yet with all their peculiar instinct for making a home, women make themselves very little felt in our domestic architecture.
The mistress. Men build most of the houses in what might be called the ready-made-clothing style, and we have to do the best we can with them; and hard enough it is to make cheerful homes in most of them. You will see something different when the woman is constantly consulted in the plan of the house.
Herbert. We might see more difference if women would give any attention to architecture. Why are there no women architects?
The fire-tender. Want of the ballot, doubtless. It seems to me that here is a splendid opportunity for woman to come to the front.
The young lady. They have no desire to come to the front; they would rather manage things where they are.
The fire-tender. If they would master the noble art, and put their brooding taste upon it, we might very likely compass something in our domestic architecture that we have not yet attained. The outside of our houses needs attention as well as the inside. Most of them are as ugly as money can build.
The young lady. What vexes me most is, that women, married women, have so easily consented to give up open fires in their houses.
Herbert. They dislike the dust and the bother. I think that women rather like the confined furnace heat.
The fire-tender. Nonsense; it is their angelic virtue of submission. We wouldn’t be hired to stay all-day in the houses we build.
The young lady. That has a very chivalrous sound, but I know there will be no reformation until women rebel and demand everywhere the open fire.
Herbert. They are just now rebelling about something else; it seems to me yours is a sort of counter-movement, a fire in the rear.
The mistress. I’ll join that movement. The time has come when woman must strike for her altars and her fires.