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Chapter 12

  • AS I look over my mass of notes, of hastily jotted down or wholl_econstructed conversations, and some of Ellador's voluminous papers, I a_istressingly conscious of the shortcomings of this book. There is no time no_o improve it, and I wish to publish it, as a little better than no report a_ll of the long visit of my wife from Herland to the world we know.
  • In time I hope, if I live, and if I come back again, to make a far mor_ompetent study than this. Yet why trouble myself to do that? She will do it, I am sure, with the help of her friends and sisters, far better than I could.
  • I had hoped that she could go blazing about our world, lecturing on th_onders and beauties of Herland, but that was all dropped when they decide_ot to betray their strange geographical secret—yet. I am allowed to print th_revious account of our visit there—even that will set explorers on thei_rack; but she did not wish to answer specific questions while here, nor t_efuse to answer.
  • They were quite right. The more I see of our world, the surer I am that the_re right to try to preserve their lovely country as it is, for a while a_east.
  • Ellador begs that I explain how inchoate, how fragmentary, ho_isproportionate, her impressions necessarily were.
  • "The longer I stay," she said, "the more I learn of your past ard understan_f your present, the more hopeful I feel for you. Please make that ver_lear." This she urged strongly.
  • The war did not discourage her, after a while. "What is one more—among s_any?" she asked, with a wry smile. "The very awfulness of this is its bes_ope; that, and the growing wisdom of the people. You'll have no more, I'_ure; that is, no more except those recognized as criminal outbreaks, an_unitive ones; the receding waves of force as these turbulent cross-current_ie down and disappear.
  • "But, Van, dear, whatever else you leave out, be sure to make it as strong a_ou can about the women and children."
  • "Perhaps you'd better say it yourself, my dear. Come, you put in a chapter," _rged. But she would not.
  • "I should be too abusive, I'm afraid," she objected; "and I've talked enoug_n the subject—you know that."
  • She had, by this time, gone over it pretty thoroughly. And it is not ver_ifficult to give the drift of it—we all know the facts. Her position, as _erlander, was naturally the maternal one.
  • "The business of people is, of course, to be well, happy, wise, beautiful, productive and progressive."
  • "Why don't you say 'good,' too," I suggested.
  • "Don't be absurd, Van. If people are well and happy, wise, beautiful, productive and progressive, they must incidentally be good; that's being good.
  • What sort of goodness is it which does not produce those effects ? Well, these
  • 'good' people need a 'good' world to live in, and they have to make it; _lean, safe, comfortable world to grow in.
  • "Then, since they all begin as children, it seems so self-evident that the wa_o make better people and a better world is to teach the children how."
  • "You'll find general agreement so far," I admitted.
  • "But the people who train children are, with you, the mothers," she pursued,
  • "and the mothers of your world have not yet seen this simple truth."
  • "They talk of nothing else," I suggested. "They are always talking of th_onderful power and beauty of motherhood, from the most ancient morality t_llen Key."
  • "Yes, I know they talk about it. Their idea of motherhood, to what it ought t_e, is like a birchbark canoe to an ocean steamship, Van. They haven't seen i_s a whole—that's the trouble. What prevents them is their dwarfed condition, not being people, real, world-building people; and what keeps them dwarfed i_his amazing relic of the remote past— their domestic position."
  • "Would you 'destroy the home,' as they call it, Ellador?"
  • "I think the home is the very loveliest thing you have on earth," sh_nexpectedly replied.
  • "What do you mean, then?" I asked, genuinely puzzled. "You can't have home_ithout women in them, can you? And children?"
  • "And men," she gravely added. "Why, Van—do not men have homes, and love the_early? A man does not have to stay at home all day, in order to love it; wh_hould a woman ?"
  • Then she made clear to me, quite briefly, how the home should be to the woma_ust what it was to a man, and far more to both, in beauty and comfort, i_rivacy and peace, in all the pleasant rest and dear companionship we s_rize; but that it should not be to him a grinding weight of care and expense, or an expression of pride; nor to her a workshop or her sole means of persona_xpression.
  • "It is so pathetic," she said, "and so unutterably absurd, to see great city- size and world-size women trying to content themselves and express themselve_n one house; or worse, one flat. You know how it would be for a man, surely.
  • It is just as ridiculous for a woman And your city-size and world-size men ar_ll tied up to these house-size women. It's so funny, Van, so painfully'
  • funny, like a horse harnessed with an eohippus."
  • "We haven't got to wait for Mrs. Eohippus to catch up to Mr. Horse, I hope ?"
  • "You won't have to wait long," she assured me. "They are born equal, your boy_nd girls; they have to be. It is the tremendous difference in cultura_onditions that divides them; not only in infancy and youth; not only in dres_nd training; but in this wide gulf of industrial distinction, this permanen_ivision which leaves one sex free to rise, to develop every social power an_uality, and forcibly restrains the other to a laborlevel thousands of year_ehind. It is beginning to change, I can see that now, but it has to b_omplete, universal, before women can do their duty as mothers."
  • "But I thought— at least I've always heard—that it was their duty as mother_hich kept them at home."
  • She waved this aside, with a touch of impatience. "Look at the children," sh_aid; "that's enough. Look at these girls who do not even know enough abou_otherhood to demand a healthy father. Why, a—a—sheep would know better tha_o mate with such creatures as some of your women marry.
  • "They are only just beginning to learn that there are such diseases as the_ave been suffering and dying from for all these centuries. And they are s_oor) They haven't any money, most of them; they are s_isorganized—unorganized— apparently unconscious of any need of organization."
  • I mentioned the growth of trade unions, but she said that was but a tiny step —useful, but small; what she meant was Mother Union.  .  .  .
  • "I suppose it is sex," she pursued, soberly. "With us, motherhood is s_imple. I had supposed, at first, that your bi-sexual method would mean _etter motherhood, a motherhood of two, so to speak. And I find that men hav_o enjoyed their little part of the work that they have grown to imagine it a_uite a separate thing, and to talk about 'sex' as if it was wholly distinc_rom parentage. Why, see what I found the other day"—and she pulled out a cop_f a little yellow medical magazine, published by a physician who specialize_n sex diseases, and read me a note this doctor had written on
  • "Sterilization," wherein he said that it had no injurious effect on sex.
  • "Just look at that!" she said. "The man is a doctor—and thinks the removal o_arental power is no loss to 'sex'! What men—yes, and some women, too— seem t_ean by sex is just their preliminary pleasure… . When your women are reall_wake and know what they are for, seeing men as the noblest kind o_ssistants, nature's latest and highest device for the improvement o_arentage, then they will talk less of 'sex' and more of children."
  • I urged, as genuinely as I could, the collateral value and uses of se_ndulgence ; not the common theories of "necessity," which any well-traine_thlete can deny, but the more esoteric claims of higher flights of love, an_f far-reaching stimulus to all artistic faculty: the creative inpulse in ou_ork.
  • She listened patiently, but shook her head when I was done.
  • "Even if all those claims were true," she said, "they would not weigh as a_unce to a ton beside the degradation of women, the corruption of the body an_ind through these wholly unnecessary diseases, and the miserable misbor_hildren. Why, Van, what's 'creative impulse' and all its 'far-reachin_timulus' to set beside the stunted, meager starveling children, the million_f poor little sub-ordinary children, children who are mere accidents and by- products of this much-praised 'sex'?  It's no use, dear, until all th_hildren orf the world are at least healthy; at least normal; until th_verage man and woman are free from taint of sex-disease and happy in thei_ove—lastingly happy in their love—there is not much to boast of in thi_opular idea of sex and sex indulgence.
  • "It can not be changed in a day or a year," she said. "This is evidently _atter of long inheritance, and that's why I allow three generations to ge_ver it. But nothing will help much till the women are free and see their dut_s mothers."
  • "Some of the 'freest' women are urgirig more sex freedom," I teminded her.
  • "They want to see the women doing as men have done, apparently."
  • "Yes, I know. They are almost as bad as the antis—but not quite. They ar_erely a consequence of wrong teaching and wrong habits; they were ther_efore, those women, only not saying what they wanted. Surely, you neve_magined that all men could be unchaste and all women chaste, did you?"
  • I shamefacedly admitted that that was exactly what we had imagined, and tha_e had most cruelly punished the women who were not.
  • "It's the most surprising thing I ever heard of," she said; "and you bred an_rained plenty of animals, to say nothing of knowing the wild ones. Is ther_ny case in nature of a species with such a totally opposite traits in the tw_exes?"
  • There wasn't, that I knew of, outside of their special distinctions, o_ourse.
  • All these side issues she continually swept aside, all the minor points an_iscussable questions, returning again and again to the duty of women.
  • "As soon as the women take the right ground, men will have to follow suit,"
  • she said, "as soon as women are free, independent and conscientious. They hav_he power in their own hands, by natural law."
  • "What is going to rouse them, to make them see it?" I asked.
  • "A number of things seems to be doing that," she said, meditatively. "From m_oint of view, I should think the sense of maternal duty would be th_trongest thing, but there seem to be many forces at work here. The economi_hange is the most imperative, more so, even, than the political, and both ar_oing on fast. There's the war, too, that is doing wonders for women. It i_pening the eyes of men, millions of men, at once, as no arguments ever coul_ave."
  • "Aren't you pleased to see the women working for peace ?" I asked.
  • "Immensely, of course. All over Europe they are at it — that's what I mean."
  • "But I meant the Peace Movement."
  • "Oh, that? Talking for peace, you mean, and writing and telegraphing. Yes, that's useful, too. Anything that brings women out into social relation, int_ sense of social responsibility, is good. But all that they say and write an_rge will not count as much as what they do.
  • "Your women will surely have more sense than the men about economics," sh_uggested. "It does not seem to me possible for business women to mishandl_ood as men do, or to build such houses. It is all so—unreasonable: to mak_eople eat what is not good, or live in dark, cramped little rooms."
  • "You don't think they show much sense in their own clothes?" I offered, mischievously.
  • "No, they don't. But that is women as they are, the kind of women you men hav_een so long manufacturing. I'm speaking of real ones, the kind that are ther_nderneath, and sure to come out as soon as they have a chance. And what _lorious time they will have—cleaning up the world! I'd almost like to sta_nd help a little."
  • Gradually it had dawned upon me that Ellador did not mean to stay, even i_merica. I wanted to be sure.
  • "Like to stay ? Do you mean that you want to go back—for good ?"
  • "It is not absolutely clear to me yet," she answered. "But one thing I'_ertain about. If I live here I will not have a child."
  • I thought for a moment that she meant the distress about her would have som_eleterious effect and prevent it; but when I looked at her, saw the folde_rms, the steady mouth, the fixed determination in her eyes, I knew that sh_eant "will not" when she said it.
  • "It would not be right," she added, simply. "There is no place in all you_orld, that I have seen or read of, where I should be willing to raise _hild."
  • "We could go to some lovely place alone," I urged; "some island, clean an_eautiful——"
  • "But we should be 'alone' there. That is no place for a child."
  • "You could teach it — as they do in Herland," I still urged. "I teach it ? I ?
  • What am I, to teach a child?"
  • "You would be its mother," I answered.
  • "And what is a mother to teach a solitary little outcast thing as you suggest?
  • Children need the teaching of many women, and the society of many children, for right growth. Also, they need a social environment—not an island!"
  • "You see, dear," she went on, after a little, "in Herland everything teaches.
  • The child sees love and order and peace and comfort and wisdom everywhere. N_hild, alone, could grow up so—so richly endowed. And as to these countries _ave seen—these cities of abomination—I would die childless rather than t_ear a child in this world of yours."
  • In Herland to say "I would die childless" is somewhat equivalent to our saying
  • "I would suffer eternal damnation." It is the worst deprivation they can thin_f.
  • "You are going to leave me!" I cried. It burst upon me with sudden bitterness.
  • She was not "mine," she was a woman of Herland, and her heavenly country, he_till clear hope of motherhood, were more to her than life in our land wit_e. What had I to offer her that was comparable to that upland paradise?
  • She came to me, then, and took me in her arms—strong, tender, loving arms— an_ave me one of her rare kisses.
  • "I'm going to stay with you, my husband, as long as I live—if you want me. I_here anything to prevent your coming back to Herland?"
  • As a matter of fact, there was really nothing to prevent it, nothing I migh_eave behind which would cost me the pain her exile was costing her; an_specially nothing which could compensate for losing my wife.
  • We began to discuss it, with eager interest. "I don't mean to forsake thi_oor world," she assured me. "We can come back again—later, much later. M_ind is full of great things that can be done here, and I want to get all th_isdom of Herland at work to help. But let us go back now, while we are young, and before this black, stupid confusion has—has hurt me any worse. Perhaps i_s no harm, that I have suffered so. Perhaps our child will have a heart tha_ches for all the world — and will do more than any of us to help it.
  • Especially if it is—a Boy."
  • "Do you want a boy, darling?"
  • "Oh, do I not! Just think—none of us, ever, in these two thousand years, ha_ad one. If we, in Herland, can begin a new kind of men!" …
  • "What do you want of them?" I said, teasingly. "Surely you women alone hav_ccomplished all that the world needs, haven't you?"
  • "Indeed, no, Van. We haven't begun. Ours is only a—a sample: a little bit of _ocal exhibit. If what we have done is the right thing, then it becomes ou_learest duty to spread it to all the world. Such a new life as you hav_pened to us, Van, you Splendid Man!"
  • "Splendid Man! Splendid! I thought you thought we were to blame for all th_isery in the world? Just look at the harm we've done!"
  • "Just look at the good you've done, too! Why, my darling, the harm you hav_one is merely the result of your misunderstanding and misuse of Sex; and th_ood you have done is the result of the humanness of you, the big, nobl_umanness that has grown and grown, that has built and lifted and taught th_orld in spite of all the dragging evil. Why, dear, when I see the courage, the perseverance, the persistent growth you men have shown, cumbered as yo_ave been from the beginning by the fruits of your mistakes, it seems as i_ou were almost more than human?"
  • I was rather stunned by this. No man who had seen Herland and then come bac_o our tangled foolishness, waste and pain, could be proud of his manmad_orld. No man who had solidly grasped the biological facts as to the initia_se of his sex, and his incredible misuse of it, could help the further sham_or the anomalous position of the human male, completely mistaken, an_roducing a constant train of evils.
  • I could see it all plainly enough. And now, to have her talk like this!
  • "Remember, dear, that men never meant to do it, or any part of it," sh_enderly explained. "The trouble evidently began when nobody knew much; i_ecame an ironclad 'custom' even before religion took it up, and law.
  • Remember, too, that the women haven't died— they are here yet, in equa_umbers. Also, even the unjust restrictions have saved them from a great dea_f suffering which the men met. And then nothing could rob them of thei_nheritance. Every step the men really made upward lifted the women, too. An_on't forget Love, ever. That has lived and triumphed even through all th_ust and slavery and shame."
  • I felt comforted, relieved.
  • "Besides," she went on, "you men ought to feel proud of the real world wor_ou have done, even crippled as you were by your own excessive sex, and b_hose poor, dragging dead-weights of women you had manufactured. In spite o_t all, you have invented and discovered and built and adorned the world. Yo_ave things as far along as we have, even some things better, and man_ciences and crafts we know nothing about. And you've done it alone—just men!
  • It's wonderful."
  • In spite of all the kindness and honest recognition she showed, I could no_elp a feeling of inner resentment at this tone. Of course, we three men ha_een constantly impressed with all that they had done in Herland—just women, alone— but that she thought it equally wonderful for men to do it was no_holly gratifying.
  • She went on serenely.
  • "We had such advantages, you see. Being women, we had all the constructive an_rganizing tendencies of motherhood to urge us on and, having no men, w_issed all that greediness and quarreling your history is so sadly full of.
  • Also, being isolated, we could just grow—like a sequoia in a sheltere_ountain glade.
  • "But you men, in this mixed, big world of yours, in horrid confusion of min_nd long ignorance, with all those awful religions to mix you up and hold yo_ack, and with so little real Happiness—still, you have built the world ! Van, dear, it shows how much stronger humanity is than sex, even in men. All that _ave had to learn, you see, for we make no distinction at home—women ar_eople, and people are women. "At first I thought of men just as males—_erlander would, you know. Now I know that men are people, too, just as muc_s women art; and it is as one person to another that I feel this big love fo_ou, Van. You are so nice to live with. You are such good company. I never ge_ired of you. I like to play with you, and to work with you. I admire an_njoy the way you do things. And when we sit down quietly, near together—i_akes me so happy, Van!"
  • * * * * * * * *
  • There were still a few big rubies in that once fat little bag she so wisel_rought with her. We made careful plans, which included my taking a set o_horough lessons in aviation and mechanics; there must be no accidents on thi_rip. By a previous steamer we sent the well-fitted motorboat that shoul_arry us and our dissembled aeroplane up that long river.
  • Of baggage, little could be carried, and that little, on Ellador's part, consisted largely of her mass of notes, all most carefully compressed, an_one on the finest and lightest paper. She also urged that we take with us th_ightest and newest of encyclopaedias. "We can leave it in the boat, i_ecessary, and make a separate trip," she suggested. Also photographs sh_ook, and a moving picture outfit with well-selected films. "We can make them, I'm sure," she said; "but this one will do to illustrate." It did.
  • After all, her requirements did not weigh more than the third passenger who_e might have carried.
  • The river trip was a growing joy; day after day of swift gliding through thos_ark, drooping forests and wide, reedy flats; and when at last we shot ou_pon the shining silver of that hidden lake, and she saw above her the height_f Herland — my calm goddess trembled and cried, stretching her arms to i_ike a child to its mother.
  • But we set swiftly to work on our aeroplane, putting it all soundly togethe_nd fastening in the baggage, and then sealed up the tight sheathed boat lik_ trim cocoon.
  • Then the purr of our propeller, the long, skating slide on the water, and up— and up—in a widening spiral, Ellador breathless, holding fast to the supports, till we topped the rocky rim, rose above the forest, her forest — and saile_ut over the serene expanse of that fair land. "O, let's look," she begged;
  • "let's look at the whole of it first—it's the whole of it that I love!" So w_wept in a great circle above, as one might sweep over Holland: the gree_ields, blossoming gardens, and dark woods, spread like a model of heave_elow us, and the cities, the villages—how well I remembered them, in thei_cattered loveliness, rich in color, beautiful in design, everywhere fringe_nd shaded by dean trees, lit and cheered by bright water, radiant wit_lowers.
  • She leaned forward like a young mother over her sleeping child, tender, proud, gloating.
  • "No smoke!" she murmured; "no brutal noise, no wickedness, no disease. Almos_o accidents or sickness—almost none." (This in a whisper, as if she wer_pologizing for some faint blemish on the child.)
  • "Beauty!" she breathed. "Beauty! Beauty!—everywhere. Oh, I had forgotten ho_eautiful it was'"
  • So had I. When I first saw it I was still too accustomed to our commo_gliness to really appreciate this loveliness.
  • When we had swung back to the town where we had lived most, and made ou_mooth descent in a daisied meadow, there were many to meet us, with my Well- remembered Somel, and, first and most eager, Jeff and Celis, with their baby.
  • Ellador seized upon it as eagerly as her gentle tenderness would allow, wit_everent kisses for the little hands, the rosy feet. She caught Celis to he_rms and held her close. She even kissed Jeff, which he apparently liked, an_obody else minded. And then—well, if you live in a country of about thre_illion inhabitants, and love them all; if you have been an envo_xtraordinary—very extraordinary, indeed — to a far-off, unknown world, an_ave come back unexpectedly—why, your hands are pretty full for a while.
  • * * * * * * * *
  • We settled back into the smooth-running Herland life without a ripple. N_rouble about housing; they had always a certain percentage of vacancies, t_llow for freedom of movement. No trouble about clothes; those perfec_arments were to be had everywhere, always lovely and suitable. No troubl_bout food; that smooth, well-adjusted food supply was available wherever w_ent.
  • No appeals for deserving charity—no need of them. Nothing to annoy an_epress, everything to give comfort and strength; and under all, mor_erceptible to me now than before, that vast, steady, onmoving current o_efinite purpose, planning and working to make good better and better best.
  • The "atmosphere" in the world behind us is that of a thousand mixed currents, pushing and pulling in every direction, controverting and opposing on_nother.
  • Here was peace—and power, with accomplishment.
  • Eagerly she returned to her people. With passionate enthusiasm she poured out, in wide tours of lecturing, and in print, her report of world conditions. Sh_aw it taken up, studied, discussed by those great-minded over-mothers of th_and. She saw the young women, earnest eyed, of boundless hope and hig_urpose, planning, as eager missionaries plan, what they could do to spread t_ll the world their proven gains. Reprints of that encyclopaedia wer_cattered to every corner of the land, and read swiftly, eagerly, to crowdin_roups of listeners. There began to stir in Herland a new spirit, pushing, seeking, a new sense of responsibility, a larger duty.
  • "It is not enough," they said, "that we should be so happy. Here is the whol_ound world—millions and hundreds of millions of people—and all their babies!
  • Not in a thousand years will we rest, till the world is happy!"
  • And to this end they began to plan, slowly, wisely, calmly, making no haste; sure, above all, that they must preserve their own integrity and peace if the_ere to help others.
  • * * * * * * * *
  • When Ellador had done her utmost, given all that she had gathered and seen th_reat work growing, she turned to me with a long, happy sigh.
  • "Let's go to the forest," she said. And we went.
  • We went to the rock where I had first landed and she showed me where thre_aughing girls had been hidden. We went to the tree where they had slippe_way like quicksilver. We went to a far-off, quiet place she knew, a place o_uge trees, heavy with good fruit, of smooth, mossy banks, of quiet pools an_inkling fountains. Here, unexpected, was a little forester house, still an_lean, with tall flowers looking in at the windows.
  • "I used to love this best of all," she said. "Look—you can see both ways."
  • It was on a high knoll and, through the great boughs, a long vista opened to _right sunlight in the fields below.
  • The other side was a surprise. The land dropped suddenly, fell to a rock_rink and ended. Dark and mysterious, far beyond, in a horizon-sweeping gloo_f crowding jungle, lay—the world.
  • "I always wanted to see—to know—to help," she said. "Dear—you have brought m_o much! Not only love, but the great new spread of life—of work to do for al_umanity.
  • "And then—the other new Hope, too, —perhaps—perhaps—a son !"
  • And in due time a son was born to us.
  • **The End**