“Yes! Yes! Yes!” cried the Italian. “Most men want it so. Most men want only, that a woman shall want them, and they shall then play up to her when she has roused them. Most men want only this: that a woman shall choose one man out, to be her man, and he shall worship her and come up when she shall provoke him. Otherwise he is to keep still. And the woman, she is quite sure of her part. She must be loved and adored, and above all, obeyed, particularly in her sex desire. There she must not be thwarted, or she becomes a devil. And if she is obeyed, she becomes a misunderstood woman with nerves, looking round for the next man whom she can bring under. So it is.”
“Well,” said Lilly. “And then what?”
“Nay,” interrupted Aaron. “But do you think it’s true what he says? Have you found it like that? You’re married. Has your experience been different, or the same?”
“What was yours?” asked Lilly.
“Mine was the same. Mine was the same, if ever it was,” said Aaron.
“And mine was EXTREMELY similar,” said Argyle with a grimace.
“And yours, Lilly?” asked the Marchese anxiously.
“Not very different,” said Lilly.
“Ah!” cried Del Torre, jerking up erect as if he had found something.
“And what’s your way out?” Aaron asked him.
“I’m not out—so I won’t holloa,” said Lilly. “But Del Torre puts it best.—What do you say is the way out, Del Torre?”
“The way out is that it should change: that the man should be the asker and the woman the answerer. It must change.”
“But it doesn’t. Prrr!” Argyle made his trumpeting noise.
“Does it?” asked Lilly of the Marchese.
“No. I think it does not.”
“And will it ever again?”
“And then what?”
“Then? Why then man seeks a pis-aller. Then he seeks something which will give him answer, and which will not only draw him, draw him, with a terrible sexual will.—So he seeks young girls, who know nothing, and so cannot force him. He thinks he will possess them while they are young, and they will be soft and responding to his wishes.—But in this, too, he is mistaken. Because now a baby of one year, if it be a female, is like a woman of forty, so is its will made up, so it will force a man.”
“And so young girls are no good, even as a pis-aller.”
“No good—because they are all modern women. Every one, a modern woman. Not one who isn’t.”
“Terrible thing, the modern woman,” put in Argyle.
“Then man seeks other forms of loves, always seeking the loving response, you know, of one gentler and tenderer than himself, who will wait till the man desires, and then will answer with full love. —But it is all pis-aller, you know.”
“Not by any means, my boy,” cried Argyle.