She was always initiating petty breaches of discipline. Her greatest exploit was the howling before the mid-day meal. This was an imitation of the noises made by the carnivora at the Zoological Gardens at feeding-time; the idea was taken up by prisoner after prisoner until the whole place was alive with barkings, yappings, roarings, pelican chatterings, and feline yowlings, interspersed with shrieks of hysterical laughter. To many in that crowded solitude it came as an extraordinary relief. It was better even than the hymn-singing. But it annoyed Ann Veronica.
“Idiots!” she said, when she heard this pandemonium, and with particular reference to this young lady with the throaty contralto next door. “Intolerable idiots!...”
It took some days for this phase to pass, and it left some scars and something like a decision. “Violence won’t do it,” said Ann Veronica. “Begin violence, and the woman goes under....
“But all the rest of our case is right.... Yes.”
As the long, solitary days wore on, Ann Veronica found a number of definite attitudes and conclusions in her mind.
One of these was a classification of women into women who are and women who are not hostile to men. “The real reason why I am out of place here,” she said, “is because I like men. I can talk with them. I’ve never found them hostile. I’ve got no feminine class feeling. I don’t want any laws or freedoms to protect me from a man like Mr. Capes. I know that in my heart I would take whatever he gave....
“A woman wants a proper alliance with a man, a man who is better stuff than herself. She wants that and needs it more than anything else in the world. It may not be just, it may not be fair, but things are so. It isn’t law, nor custom, nor masculine violence settled that. It is just how things happen to be. She wants to be free—she wants to be legally and economically free, so as not to be subject to the wrong man; but only God, who made the world, can alter things to prevent her being slave to the right one.
“And if she can’t have the right one?
“We’ve developed such a quality of preference!”
She rubbed her knuckles into her forehead. “Oh, but life is difficult!” she groaned. “When you loosen the tangle in one place you tie a knot in another.... Before there is any change, any real change, I shall be dead—dead—dead and finished—two hundred years!...”