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Title: Herland
Author: Gilman, Charlotte Perkins
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Herland" ***

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HERLAND

by Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman



CHAPTER 1. A Not Unnatural Enterprise


This is written from memory, unfortunately. If I could have brought with
me the material I so carefully prepared, this would be a very different
story. Whole books full of notes, carefully copied records, firsthand
descriptions, and the pictures--that’s the worst loss. We had some
bird’s-eyes of the cities and parks; a lot of lovely views of streets,
of buildings, outside and in, and some of those gorgeous gardens, and,
most important of all, of the women themselves.

Nobody will ever believe how they looked. Descriptions aren’t any good
when it comes to women, and I never was good at descriptions anyhow. But
it’s got to be done somehow; the rest of the world needs to know about
that country.

I haven’t said where it was for fear some self-appointed missionaries,
or traders, or land-greedy expansionists, will take it upon themselves
to push in. They will not be wanted, I can tell them that, and will fare
worse than we did if they do find it.

It began this way. There were three of us, classmates and friends--Terry
O. Nicholson (we used to call him the Old Nick, with good reason), Jeff
Margrave, and I, Vandyck Jennings.

We had known each other years and years, and in spite of our differences
we had a good deal in common. All of us were interested in science.

Terry was rich enough to do as he pleased. His great aim was
exploration. He used to make all kinds of a row because there was
nothing left to explore now, only patchwork and filling in, he said. He
filled in well enough--he had a lot of talents--great on mechanics and
electricity. Had all kinds of boats and motorcars, and was one of the
best of our airmen.

We never could have done the thing at all without Terry.

Jeff Margrave was born to be a poet, a botanist--or both--but his folks
persuaded him to be a doctor instead. He was a good one, for his age,
but his real interest was in what he loved to call “the wonders of
science.”

As for me, sociology’s my major. You have to back that up with a lot of
other sciences, of course. I’m interested in them all.

Terry was strong on facts--geography and meteorology and those; Jeff
could beat him any time on biology, and I didn’t care what it was they
talked about, so long as it connected with human life, somehow. There
are few things that don’t.

We three had a chance to join a big scientific expedition. They needed
a doctor, and that gave Jeff an excuse for dropping his just opening
practice; they needed Terry’s experience, his machine, and his money;
and as for me, I got in through Terry’s influence.

The expedition was up among the thousand tributaries and enormous
hinterland of a great river, up where the maps had to be made, savage
dialects studied, and all manner of strange flora and fauna expected.

But this story is not about that expedition. That was only the merest
starter for ours.

My interest was first roused by talk among our guides. I’m quick at
languages, know a good many, and pick them up readily. What with that
and a really good interpreter we took with us, I made out quite a few
legends and folk myths of these scattered tribes.

And as we got farther and farther upstream, in a dark tangle of rivers,
lakes, morasses, and dense forests, with here and there an unexpected
long spur running out from the big mountains beyond, I noticed that more
and more of these savages had a story about a strange and terrible Woman
Land in the high distance.

“Up yonder,” “Over there,” “Way up”--was all the direction they could
offer, but their legends all agreed on the main point--that there was
this strange country where no men lived--only women and girl children.

None of them had ever seen it. It was dangerous, deadly, they said, for
any man to go there. But there were tales of long ago, when some brave
investigator had seen it--a Big Country, Big Houses, Plenty People--All
Women.

Had no one else gone? Yes--a good many--but they never came back. It was
no place for men--of that they seemed sure.

I told the boys about these stories, and they laughed at them. Naturally
I did myself. I knew the stuff that savage dreams are made of.

But when we had reached our farthest point, just the day before we all
had to turn around and start for home again, as the best of expeditions
must in time, we three made a discovery.

The main encampment was on a spit of land running out into the main
stream, or what we thought was the main stream. It had the same muddy
color we had been seeing for weeks past, the same taste.

I happened to speak of that river to our last guide, a rather superior
fellow with quick, bright eyes.

He told me that there was another river--“over there, short river, sweet
water, red and blue.”

I was interested in this and anxious to see if I had understood, so I
showed him a red and blue pencil I carried, and asked again.

Yes, he pointed to the river, and then to the southwestward.
“River--good water--red and blue.”

Terry was close by and interested in the fellow’s pointing.

“What does he say, Van?”

I told him.

Terry blazed up at once.

“Ask him how far it is.”

The man indicated a short journey; I judged about two hours, maybe
three.

“Let’s go,” urged Terry. “Just us three. Maybe we can really find
something. May be cinnabar in it.”

“May be indigo,” Jeff suggested, with his lazy smile.

It was early yet; we had just breakfasted; and leaving word that we’d
be back before night, we got away quietly, not wishing to be thought
too gullible if we failed, and secretly hoping to have some nice little
discovery all to ourselves.

It was a long two hours, nearer three. I fancy the savage could have
done it alone much quicker. There was a desperate tangle of wood and
water and a swampy patch we never should have found our way across
alone. But there was one, and I could see Terry, with compass and
notebook, marking directions and trying to place landmarks.

We came after a while to a sort of marshy lake, very big, so that the
circling forest looked quite low and dim across it. Our guide told us
that boats could go from there to our camp--but “long way--all day.”

This water was somewhat clearer than that we had left, but we could not
judge well from the margin. We skirted it for another half hour or so,
the ground growing firmer as we advanced, and presently we turned the
corner of a wooded promontory and saw a quite different country--a
sudden view of mountains, steep and bare.

“One of those long easterly spurs,” Terry said appraisingly. “May be
hundreds of miles from the range. They crop out like that.”

Suddenly we left the lake and struck directly toward the cliffs. We
heard running water before we reached it, and the guide pointed proudly
to his river.

It was short. We could see where it poured down a narrow vertical
cataract from an opening in the face of the cliff. It was sweet water.
The guide drank eagerly and so did we.

“That’s snow water,” Terry announced. “Must come from way back in the
hills.”

But as to being red and blue--it was greenish in tint. The guide seemed
not at all surprised. He hunted about a little and showed us a quiet
marginal pool where there were smears of red along the border; yes, and
of blue.

Terry got out his magnifying glass and squatted down to investigate.

“Chemicals of some sort--I can’t tell on the spot. Look to me like
dyestuffs. Let’s get nearer,” he urged, “up there by the fall.”

We scrambled along the steep banks and got close to the pool that foamed
and boiled beneath the falling water. Here we searched the border and
found traces of color beyond dispute. More--Jeff suddenly held up an
unlooked-for trophy.

It was only a rag, a long, raveled fragment of cloth. But it was a
well-woven fabric, with a pattern, and of a clear scarlet that the water
had not faded. No savage tribe that we had heard of made such fabrics.

The guide stood serenely on the bank, well pleased with our excitement.

“One day blue--one day red--one day green,” he told us, and pulled from
his pouch another strip of bright-hued cloth.

“Come down,” he said, pointing to the cataract. “Woman Country--up
there.”

Then we were interested. We had our rest and lunch right there and
pumped the man for further information. He could tell us only what the
others had--a land of women--no men--babies, but all girls. No place for
men--dangerous. Some had gone to see--none had come back.

I could see Terry’s jaw set at that. No place for men? Dangerous? He
looked as if he might shin up the waterfall on the spot. But the guide
would not hear of going up, even if there had been any possible method
of scaling that sheer cliff, and we had to get back to our party before
night.

“They might stay if we told them,” I suggested.

But Terry stopped in his tracks. “Look here, fellows,” he said. “This
is our find. Let’s not tell those cocky old professors. Let’s go on home
with ‘em, and then come back--just us--have a little expedition of our
own.”

We looked at him, much impressed. There was something attractive to a
bunch of unattached young men in finding an undiscovered country of a
strictly Amazonian nature.

Of course we didn’t believe the story--but yet!

“There is no such cloth made by any of these local tribes,” I announced,
examining those rags with great care. “Somewhere up yonder they spin and
weave and dye--as well as we do.”

“That would mean a considerable civilization, Van. There couldn’t be
such a place--and not known about.”

“Oh, well, I don’t know. What’s that old republic up in the Pyrenees
somewhere--Andorra? Precious few people know anything about that, and
it’s been minding its own business for a thousand years. Then there’s
Montenegro--splendid little state--you could lose a dozen Montenegroes
up and down these great ranges.”

We discussed it hotly all the way back to camp. We discussed it with
care and privacy on the voyage home. We discussed it after that, still
only among ourselves, while Terry was making his arrangements.

He was hot about it. Lucky he had so much money--we might have had to
beg and advertise for years to start the thing, and then it would have
been a matter of public amusement--just sport for the papers.

But T. O. Nicholson could fix up his big steam yacht, load his
specially-made big motorboat aboard, and tuck in a “dissembled” biplane
without any more notice than a snip in the society column.

We had provisions and preventives and all manner of supplies. His
previous experience stood him in good stead there. It was a very
complete little outfit.

We were to leave the yacht at the nearest safe port and go up that
endless river in our motorboat, just the three of us and a pilot; then
drop the pilot when we got to that last stopping place of the previous
party, and hunt up that clear water stream ourselves.

The motorboat we were going to leave at anchor in that wide shallow
lake. It had a special covering of fitted armor, thin but strong, shut
up like a clamshell.

“Those natives can’t get into it, or hurt it, or move it,” Terry
explained proudly. “We’ll start our flier from the lake and leave the
boat as a base to come back to.”

“If we come back,” I suggested cheerfully.

“‘Fraid the ladies will eat you?” he scoffed.

“We’re not so sure about those ladies, you know,” drawled Jeff. “There
may be a contingent of gentlemen with poisoned arrows or something.”

“You don’t need to go if you don’t want to,” Terry remarked drily.

“Go? You’ll have to get an injunction to stop me!” Both Jeff and I were
sure about that.

But we did have differences of opinion, all the long way.

An ocean voyage is an excellent time for discussion. Now we had no
eavesdroppers, we could loll and loaf in our deck chairs and talk and
talk--there was nothing else to do. Our absolute lack of facts only made
the field of discussion wider.

“We’ll leave papers with our consul where the yacht stays,” Terry
planned. “If we don’t come back in--say a month--they can send a relief
party after us.”

“A punitive expedition,” I urged. “If the ladies do eat us we must make
reprisals.”

“They can locate that last stopping place easy enough, and I’ve made a
sort of chart of that lake and cliff and waterfall.”

“Yes, but how will they get up?” asked Jeff.

“Same way we do, of course. If three valuable American citizens are lost
up there, they will follow somehow--to say nothing of the glittering
attractions of that fair land--let’s call it ‘Feminisia,’” he broke off.

“You’re right, Terry. Once the story gets out, the river will crawl with
expeditions and the airships rise like a swarm of mosquitoes.” I laughed
as I thought of it. “We’ve made a great mistake not to let Mr. Yellow
Press in on this. Save us! What headlines!”

“Not much!” said Terry grimly. “This is our party. We’re going to find
that place alone.”

“What are you going to do with it when you do find it--if you do?” Jeff
asked mildly.

Jeff was a tender soul. I think he thought that country--if there was
one--was just blossoming with roses and babies and canaries and tidies,
and all that sort of thing.

And Terry, in his secret heart, had visions of a sort of sublimated
summer resort--just Girls and Girls and Girls--and that he was going to
be--well, Terry was popular among women even when there were other men
around, and it’s not to be wondered at that he had pleasant dreams of
what might happen. I could see it in his eyes as he lay there, looking
at the long blue rollers slipping by, and fingering that impressive
mustache of his.

But I thought--then--that I could form a far clearer idea of what was
before us than either of them.

“You’re all off, boys,” I insisted. “If there is such a place--and there
does seem some foundation for believing it--you’ll find it’s built on a
sort of matriarchal principle, that’s all. The men have a separate cult
of their own, less socially developed than the women, and make them an
annual visit--a sort of wedding call. This is a condition known to have
existed--here’s just a survival. They’ve got some peculiarly isolated
valley or tableland up there, and their primeval customs have survived.
That’s all there is to it.”

“How about the boys?” Jeff asked.

“Oh, the men take them away as soon as they are five or six, you see.”

“And how about this danger theory all our guides were so sure of?”

“Danger enough, Terry, and we’ll have to be mighty careful. Women of
that stage of culture are quite able to defend themselves and have no
welcome for unseasonable visitors.”

We talked and talked.

And with all my airs of sociological superiority I was no nearer than
any of them.

It was funny though, in the light of what we did find, those extremely
clear ideas of ours as to what a country of women would be like. It
was no use to tell ourselves and one another that all this was idle
speculation. We were idle and we did speculate, on the ocean voyage and
the river voyage, too.

“Admitting the improbability,” we’d begin solemnly, and then launch out
again.

“They would fight among themselves,” Terry insisted. “Women always do.
We mustn’t look to find any sort of order and organization.”

“You’re dead wrong,” Jeff told him. “It will be like a nunnery under an
abbess--a peaceful, harmonious sisterhood.”

I snorted derision at this idea.

“Nuns, indeed! Your peaceful sisterhoods were all celibate, Jeff, and
under vows of obedience. These are just women, and mothers, and where
there’s motherhood you don’t find sisterhood--not much.”

“No, sir--they’ll scrap,” agreed Terry. “Also we mustn’t look for
inventions and progress; it’ll be awfully primitive.”

“How about that cloth mill?” Jeff suggested.

“Oh, cloth! Women have always been spinsters. But there they
stop--you’ll see.”

We joked Terry about his modest impression that he would be warmly
received, but he held his ground.

“You’ll see,” he insisted. “I’ll get solid with them all--and play one
bunch against another. I’ll get myself elected king in no time--whew!
Solomon will have to take a back seat!”

“Where do we come in on that deal?” I demanded. “Aren’t we Viziers or
anything?”

“Couldn’t risk it,” he asserted solemnly. “You might start a
revolution--probably would. No, you’ll have to be beheaded, or
bowstrung--or whatever the popular method of execution is.”

“You’d have to do it yourself, remember,” grinned Jeff. “No husky black
slaves and mamelukes! And there’d be two of us and only one of you--eh,
Van?”

Jeff’s ideas and Terry’s were so far apart that sometimes it was all
I could do to keep the peace between them. Jeff idealized women in the
best Southern style. He was full of chivalry and sentiment, and all
that. And he was a good boy; he lived up to his ideals.

You might say Terry did, too, if you can call his views about women
anything so polite as ideals. I always liked Terry. He was a man’s man,
very much so, generous and brave and clever; but I don’t think any of
us in college days was quite pleased to have him with our sisters. We
weren’t very stringent, heavens no! But Terry was “the limit.” Later
on--why, of course a man’s life is his own, we held, and asked no
questions.

But barring a possible exception in favor of a not impossible wife, or
of his mother, or, of course, the fair relatives of his friends, Terry’s
idea seemed to be that pretty women were just so much game and homely
ones not worth considering.

It was really unpleasant sometimes to see the notions he had.

But I got out of patience with Jeff, too. He had such rose-colored halos
on his womenfolks. I held a middle ground, highly scientific, of course,
and used to argue learnedly about the physiological limitations of the
sex.

We were not in the least “advanced” on the woman question, any of us,
then.

So we joked and disputed and speculated, and after an interminable
journey, we got to our old camping place at last.

It was not hard to find the river, just poking along that side till we
came to it, and it was navigable as far as the lake.

When we reached that and slid out on its broad glistening bosom, with
that high gray promontory running out toward us, and the straight white
fall clearly visible, it began to be really exciting.

There was some talk, even then, of skirting the rock wall and seeking
a possible footway up, but the marshy jungle made that method look not
only difficult but dangerous.

Terry dismissed the plan sharply.

“Nonsense, fellows! We’ve decided that. It might take months--we haven’t
got the provisions. No, sir--we’ve got to take our chances. If we get
back safe--all right. If we don’t, why, we’re not the first explorers to
get lost in the shuffle. There are plenty to come after us.”

So we got the big biplane together and loaded it with our scientifically
compressed baggage: the camera, of course; the glasses; a supply of
concentrated food. Our pockets were magazines of small necessities, and
we had our guns, of course--there was no knowing what might happen.

Up and up and up we sailed, way up at first, to get “the lay of the
land” and make note of it.

Out of that dark green sea of crowding forest this high-standing spur
rose steeply. It ran back on either side, apparently, to the far-off
white-crowned peaks in the distance, themselves probably inaccessible.

“Let’s make the first trip geographical,” I suggested. “Spy out the
land, and drop back here for more gasoline. With your tremendous speed
we can reach that range and back all right. Then we can leave a sort of
map on board--for that relief expedition.”

“There’s sense in that,” Terry agreed. “I’ll put off being king of
Ladyland for one more day.”

So we made a long skirting voyage, turned the point of the cape which
was close by, ran up one side of the triangle at our best speed, crossed
over the base where it left the higher mountains, and so back to our
lake by moonlight.

“That’s not a bad little kingdom,” we agreed when it was roughly drawn
and measured. We could tell the size fairly by our speed. And from what
we could see of the sides--and that icy ridge at the back end--“It’s a
pretty enterprising savage who would manage to get into it,” Jeff said.

Of course we had looked at the land itself--eagerly, but we were too
high and going too fast to see much. It appeared to be well forested
about the edges, but in the interior there were wide plains, and
everywhere parklike meadows and open places.

There were cities, too; that I insisted. It looked--well, it looked like
any other country--a civilized one, I mean.

We had to sleep after that long sweep through the air, but we turned out
early enough next day, and again we rose softly up the height till
we could top the crowning trees and see the broad fair land at our
pleasure.

“Semitropical. Looks like a first-rate climate. It’s wonderful what a
little height will do for temperature.” Terry was studying the forest
growth.

“Little height! Is that what you call little?” I asked. Our instruments
measured it clearly. We had not realized the long gentle rise from the
coast perhaps.

“Mighty lucky piece of land, I call it,” Terry pursued. “Now for the
folks--I’ve had enough scenery.”

So we sailed low, crossing back and forth, quartering the country as we
went, and studying it. We saw--I can’t remember now how much of this we
noted then and how much was supplemented by our later knowledge, but we
could not help seeing this much, even on that excited day--a land in a
state of perfect cultivation, where even the forests looked as if they
were cared for; a land that looked like an enormous park, only it was
even more evidently an enormous garden.

“I don’t see any cattle,” I suggested, but Terry was silent. We were
approaching a village.

I confess that we paid small attention to the clean, well-built roads,
to the attractive architecture, to the ordered beauty of the little
town. We had our glasses out; even Terry, setting his machine for a
spiral glide, clapped the binoculars to his eyes.

They heard our whirring screw. They ran out of the houses--they gathered
in from the fields, swift-running light figures, crowds of them. We
stared and stared until it was almost too late to catch the levers,
sweep off and rise again; and then we held our peace for a long run
upward.

“Gosh!” said Terry, after a while.

“Only women there--and children,” Jeff urged excitedly.

“But they look--why, this is a CIVILIZED country!” I protested. “There
must be men.”

“Of course there are men,” said Terry. “Come on, let’s find ‘em.”

He refused to listen to Jeff’s suggestion that we examine the country
further before we risked leaving our machine.

“There’s a fine landing place right there where we came over,” he
insisted, and it was an excellent one--a wide, flat-topped rock,
overlooking the lake, and quite out of sight from the interior.

“They won’t find this in a hurry,” he asserted, as we scrambled with the
utmost difficulty down to safer footing. “Come on, boys--there were some
good lookers in that bunch.”

Of course it was unwise of us.

It was quite easy to see afterward that our best plan was to have
studied the country more fully before we left our swooping airship and
trusted ourselves to mere foot service. But we were three young men. We
had been talking about this country for over a year, hardly believing
that there was such a place, and now--we were in it.

It looked safe and civilized enough, and among those upturned, crowding
faces, though some were terrified enough, there was great beauty--on
that we all agreed.

“Come on!” cried Terry, pushing forward. “Oh, come on! Here goes for
Herland!”



CHAPTER 2. Rash Advances


Not more than ten or fifteen miles we judged it from our landing rock to
that last village. For all our eagerness we thought it wise to keep to
the woods and go carefully.

Even Terry’s ardor was held in check by his firm conviction that there
were men to be met, and we saw to it that each of us had a good stock of
cartridges.

“They may be scarce, and they may be hidden away somewhere--some kind of
a matriarchate, as Jeff tells us; for that matter, they may live up
in the mountains yonder and keep the women in this part of the
country--sort of a national harem! But there are men somewhere--didn’t
you see the babies?”

We had all seen babies, children big and little, everywhere that we had
come near enough to distinguish the people. And though by dress we could
not be sure of all the grown persons, still there had not been one man
that we were certain of.

“I always liked that Arab saying, ‘First tie your camel and then trust
in the Lord,’” Jeff murmured; so we all had our weapons in hand, and
stole cautiously through the forest. Terry studied it as we progressed.

“Talk of civilization,” he cried softly in restrained enthusiasm. “I
never saw a forest so petted, even in Germany. Look, there’s not a dead
bough--the vines are trained--actually! And see here”--he stopped and
looked about him, calling Jeff’s attention to the kinds of trees.

They left me for a landmark and made a limited excursion on either side.

“Food-bearing, practically all of them,” they announced returning. “The
rest, splendid hardwood. Call this a forest? It’s a truck farm!”

“Good thing to have a botanist on hand,” I agreed. “Sure there are no
medicinal ones? Or any for pure ornament?”

As a matter of fact they were quite right. These towering trees were
under as careful cultivation as so many cabbages. In other conditions
we should have found those woods full of fair foresters and fruit
gatherers; but an airship is a conspicuous object, and by no means
quiet--and women are cautious.

All we found moving in those woods, as we started through them, were
birds, some gorgeous, some musical, all so tame that it seemed almost
to contradict our theory of cultivation--at least until we came upon
occasional little glades, where carved stone seats and tables stood in
the shade beside clear fountains, with shallow bird baths always added.

“They don’t kill birds, and apparently they do kill cats,” Terry
declared. “MUST be men here. Hark!”

We had heard something: something not in the least like a birdsong, and
very much like a suppressed whisper of laughter--a little happy sound,
instantly smothered. We stood like so many pointers, and then used our
glasses, swiftly, carefully.

“It couldn’t have been far off,” said Terry excitedly. “How about this
big tree?”

There was a very large and beautiful tree in the glade we had just
entered, with thick wide-spreading branches that sloped out in lapping
fans like a beech or pine. It was trimmed underneath some twenty feet
up, and stood there like a huge umbrella, with circling seats beneath.

“Look,” he pursued. “There are short stumps of branches left to climb
on. There’s someone up that tree, I believe.”

We stole near, cautiously.

“Look out for a poisoned arrow in your eye,” I suggested, but Terry
pressed forward, sprang up on the seat-back, and grasped the trunk. “In
my heart, more likely,” he answered. “Gee! Look, boys!”

We rushed close in and looked up. There among the boughs overhead was
something--more than one something--that clung motionless, close to the
great trunk at first, and then, as one and all we started up the tree,
separated into three swift-moving figures and fled upward. As we climbed
we could catch glimpses of them scattering above us. By the time we had
reached about as far as three men together dared push, they had left the
main trunk and moved outward, each one balanced on a long branch that
dipped and swayed beneath the weight.

We paused uncertain. If we pursued further, the boughs would break under
the double burden. We might shake them off, perhaps, but none of us was
so inclined. In the soft dappled light of these high regions, breathless
with our rapid climb, we rested awhile, eagerly studying our objects
of pursuit; while they in turn, with no more terror than a set of
frolicsome children in a game of tag, sat as lightly as so many big
bright birds on their precarious perches and frankly, curiously, stared
at us.

“Girls!” whispered Jeff, under his breath, as if they might fly if he
spoke aloud.

“Peaches!” added Terry, scarcely louder.
“Peacherinos--apricot-nectarines! Whew!”

They were girls, of course, no boys could ever have shown that sparkling
beauty, and yet none of us was certain at first.

We saw short hair, hatless, loose, and shining; a suit of some light
firm stuff, the closest of tunics and kneebreeches, met by trim gaiters.
As bright and smooth as parrots and as unaware of danger, they swung
there before us, wholly at ease, staring as we stared, till first one,
and then all of them burst into peals of delighted laughter.

Then there was a torrent of soft talk tossed back and forth; no savage
sing-song, but clear musical fluent speech.

We met their laughter cordially, and doffed our hats to them, at which
they laughed again, delightedly.

Then Terry, wholly in his element, made a polite speech, with
explanatory gestures, and proceeded to introduce us, with pointing
finger. “Mr. Jeff Margrave,” he said clearly; Jeff bowed as gracefully
as a man could in the fork of a great limb. “Mr. Vandyck Jennings”--I
also tried to make an effective salute and nearly lost my balance.

Then Terry laid his hand upon his chest--a fine chest he had, too,
and introduced himself; he was braced carefully for the occasion and
achieved an excellent obeisance.

Again they laughed delightedly, and the one nearest me followed his
tactics.

“Celis,” she said distinctly, pointing to the one in blue; “Alima”--the
one in rose; then, with a vivid imitation of Terry’s impressive manner,
she laid a firm delicate hand on her gold-green jerkin--“Ellador.” This
was pleasant, but we got no nearer.

“We can’t sit here and learn the language,” Terry protested. He beckoned
to them to come nearer, most winningly--but they gaily shook their
heads. He suggested, by signs, that we all go down together; but again
they shook their heads, still merrily. Then Ellador clearly indicated
that we should go down, pointing to each and all of us, with
unmistakable firmness; and further seeming to imply by the sweep of a
lithe arm that we not only go downward, but go away altogether--at which
we shook our heads in turn.

“Have to use bait,” grinned Terry. “I don’t know about you fellows,
but I came prepared.” He produced from an inner pocket a little box of
purple velvet, that opened with a snap--and out of it he drew a long
sparkling thing, a necklace of big varicolored stones that would have
been worth a million if real ones. He held it up, swung it, glittering
in the sun, offered it first to one, then to another, holding it out as
far as he could reach toward the girl nearest him. He stood braced
in the fork, held firmly by one hand--the other, swinging his bright
temptation, reached far out along the bough, but not quite to his full
stretch.

She was visibly moved, I noted, hesitated, spoke to her companions.
They chattered softly together, one evidently warning her, the other
encouraging. Then, softly and slowly, she drew nearer. This was Alima,
a tall long-limbed lass, well-knit and evidently both strong and agile.
Her eyes were splendid, wide, fearless, as free from suspicion as a
child’s who has never been rebuked. Her interest was more that of
an intent boy playing a fascinating game than of a girl lured by an
ornament.

The others moved a bit farther out, holding firmly, watching. Terry’s
smile was irreproachable, but I did not like the look in his eyes--it
was like a creature about to spring. I could already see it happen--the
dropped necklace, the sudden clutching hand, the girl’s sharp cry as he
seized her and drew her in. But it didn’t happen. She made a timid reach
with her right hand for the gay swinging thing--he held it a little
nearer--then, swift as light, she seized it from him with her left, and
dropped on the instant to the bough below.

He made his snatch, quite vainly, almost losing his position as his
hand clutched only air; and then, with inconceivable rapidity, the three
bright creatures were gone. They dropped from the ends of the big boughs
to those below, fairly pouring themselves off the tree, while we climbed
downward as swiftly as we could. We heard their vanishing gay laughter,
we saw them fleeting away in the wide open reaches of the forest, and
gave chase, but we might as well have chased wild antelopes; so we
stopped at length somewhat breathless.

“No use,” gasped Terry. “They got away with it. My word! The men of this
country must be good sprinters!”

“Inhabitants evidently arboreal,” I grimly suggested. “Civilized and
still arboreal--peculiar people.”

“You shouldn’t have tried that way,” Jeff protested. “They were
perfectly friendly; now we’ve scared them.”

But it was no use grumbling, and Terry refused to admit any mistake.
“Nonsense,” he said. “They expected it. Women like to be run after. Come
on, let’s get to that town; maybe we’ll find them there. Let’s see, it
was in this direction and not far from the woods, as I remember.”

When we reached the edge of the open country we reconnoitered with our
field glasses. There it was, about four miles off, the same town, we
concluded, unless, as Jeff ventured, they all had pink houses. The broad
green fields and closely cultivated gardens sloped away at our feet, a
long easy slant, with good roads winding pleasantly here and there, and
narrower paths besides.

“Look at that!” cried Jeff suddenly. “There they go!”

Sure enough, close to the town, across a wide meadow, three bright-hued
figures were running swiftly.

“How could they have got that far in this time? It can’t be the same
ones,” I urged. But through the glasses we could identify our pretty
tree-climbers quite plainly, at least by costume.

Terry watched them, we all did for that matter, till they disappeared
among the houses. Then he put down his glass and turned to us, drawing
a long breath. “Mother of Mike, boys--what Gorgeous Girls! To climb like
that! to run like that! and afraid of nothing. This country suits me all
right. Let’s get ahead.”

“Nothing venture, nothing have,” I suggested, but Terry preferred “Faint
heart ne’er won fair lady.”

We set forth in the open, walking briskly. “If there are any men, we’d
better keep an eye out,” I suggested, but Jeff seemed lost in heavenly
dreams, and Terry in highly practical plans.

“What a perfect road! What a heavenly country! See the flowers, will
you?”

This was Jeff, always an enthusiast; but we could agree with him fully.

The road was some sort of hard manufactured stuff, sloped slightly to
shed rain, with every curve and grade and gutter as perfect as if it
were Europe’s best. “No men, eh?” sneered Terry. On either side a double
row of trees shaded the footpaths; between the trees bushes or vines,
all fruit-bearing, now and then seats and little wayside fountains;
everywhere flowers.

“We’d better import some of these ladies and set ‘em to parking the
United States,” I suggested. “Mighty nice place they’ve got here.” We
rested a few moments by one of the fountains, tested the fruit that
looked ripe, and went on, impressed, for all our gay bravado by the
sense of quiet potency which lay about us.

Here was evidently a people highly skilled, efficient, caring for their
country as a florist cares for his costliest orchids. Under the soft
brilliant blue of that clear sky, in the pleasant shade of those endless
rows of trees, we walked unharmed, the placid silence broken only by the
birds.

Presently there lay before us at the foot of a long hill the town or
village we were aiming for. We stopped and studied it.

Jeff drew a long breath. “I wouldn’t have believed a collection of
houses could look so lovely,” he said.

“They’ve got architects and landscape gardeners in plenty, that’s sure,”
 agreed Terry.

I was astonished myself. You see, I come from California, and there’s no
country lovelier, but when it comes to towns--! I have often groaned
at home to see the offensive mess man made in the face of nature, even
though I’m no art sharp, like Jeff. But this place! It was built mostly
of a sort of dull rose-colored stone, with here and there some clear
white houses; and it lay abroad among the green groves and gardens like
a broken rosary of pink coral.

“Those big white ones are public buildings evidently,” Terry declared.
“This is no savage country, my friend. But no men? Boys, it behooves us
to go forward most politely.”

The place had an odd look, more impressive as we approached. “It’s like
an exposition.” “It’s too pretty to be true.” “Plenty of palaces, but
where are the homes?” “Oh there are little ones enough--but--.” It
certainly was different from any towns we had ever seen.

“There’s no dirt,” said Jeff suddenly. “There’s no smoke,” he added
after a little.

“There’s no noise,” I offered; but Terry snubbed me--“That’s because
they are laying low for us; we’d better be careful how we go in there.”

Nothing could induce him to stay out, however, so we walked on.

Everything was beauty, order, perfect cleanness, and the pleasantest
sense of home over it all. As we neared the center of the town the
houses stood thicker, ran together as it were, grew into rambling
palaces grouped among parks and open squares, something as college
buildings stand in their quiet greens.

And then, turning a corner, we came into a broad paved space and
saw before us a band of women standing close together in even order,
evidently waiting for us.

We stopped a moment and looked back. The street behind was closed by
another band, marching steadily, shoulder to shoulder. We went
on--there seemed no other way to go--and presently found ourselves quite
surrounded by this close-massed multitude, women, all of them, but--

They were not young. They were not old. They were not, in the girl
sense, beautiful. They were not in the least ferocious. And yet, as I
looked from face to face, calm, grave, wise, wholly unafraid, evidently
assured and determined, I had the funniest feeling--a very early
feeling--a feeling that I traced back and back in memory until I caught
up with it at last. It was that sense of being hopelessly in the wrong
that I had so often felt in early youth when my short legs’ utmost
effort failed to overcome the fact that I was late to school.

Jeff felt it too; I could see he did. We felt like small boys, very
small boys, caught doing mischief in some gracious lady’s house. But
Terry showed no such consciousness. I saw his quick eyes darting here
and there, estimating numbers, measuring distances, judging chances of
escape. He examined the close ranks about us, reaching back far on every
side, and murmured softly to me, “Every one of ‘em over forty as I’m a
sinner.”

Yet they were not old women. Each was in the full bloom of rosy health,
erect, serene, standing sure-footed and light as any pugilist. They had
no weapons, and we had, but we had no wish to shoot.

“I’d as soon shoot my aunts,” muttered Terry again. “What do they
want with us anyhow? They seem to mean business.” But in spite of that
businesslike aspect, he determined to try his favorite tactics. Terry
had come armed with a theory.

He stepped forward, with his brilliant ingratiating smile, and made low
obeisance to the women before him. Then he produced another tribute, a
broad soft scarf of filmy texture, rich in color and pattern, a lovely
thing, even to my eye, and offered it with a deep bow to the tall
unsmiling woman who seemed to head the ranks before him. She took it
with a gracious nod of acknowledgment, and passed it on to those behind
her.

He tried again, this time bringing out a circlet of rhinestones, a
glittering crown that should have pleased any woman on earth. He made a
brief address, including Jeff and me as partners in his enterprise, and
with another bow presented this. Again his gift was accepted and, as
before, passed out of sight.

“If they were only younger,” he muttered between his teeth. “What on
earth is a fellow to say to a regiment of old Colonels like this?”

In all our discussions and speculations we had always unconsciously
assumed that the women, whatever else they might be, would be young.
Most men do think that way, I fancy.

“Woman” in the abstract is young, and, we assume, charming. As they get
older they pass off the stage, somehow, into private ownership mostly,
or out of it altogether. But these good ladies were very much on the
stage, and yet any one of them might have been a grandmother.

We looked for nervousness--there was none.

For terror, perhaps--there was none.

For uneasiness, for curiosity, for excitement--and all we saw was what
might have been a vigilance committee of women doctors, as cool as
cucumbers, and evidently meaning to take us to task for being there.

Six of them stepped forward now, one on either side of each of us, and
indicated that we were to go with them. We thought it best to accede, at
first anyway, and marched along, one of these close at each elbow, and
the others in close masses before, behind, on both sides.

A large building opened before us, a very heavy thick-walled impressive
place, big, and old-looking; of gray stone, not like the rest of the
town.

“This won’t do!” said Terry to us, quickly. “We mustn’t let them get us
in this, boys. All together, now--”

We stopped in our tracks. We began to explain, to make signs pointing
away toward the big forest--indicating that we would go back to it--at
once.

It makes me laugh, knowing all I do now, to think of us three
boys--nothing else; three audacious impertinent boys--butting into an
unknown country without any sort of a guard or defense. We seemed to
think that if there were men we could fight them, and if there were only
women--why, they would be no obstacles at all.

Jeff, with his gentle romantic old-fashioned notions of women as
clinging vines. Terry, with his clear decided practical theories that
there were two kinds of women--those he wanted and those he didn’t;
Desirable and Undesirable was his demarcation. The latter as a large
class, but negligible--he had never thought about them at all.

And now here they were, in great numbers, evidently indifferent to
what he might think, evidently determined on some purpose of their own
regarding him, and apparently well able to enforce their purpose.

We all thought hard just then. It had not seemed wise to object to going
with them, even if we could have; our one chance was friendliness--a
civilized attitude on both sides.

But once inside that building, there was no knowing what these
determined ladies might do to us. Even a peaceful detention was not to
our minds, and when we named it imprisonment it looked even worse.

So we made a stand, trying to make clear that we preferred the open
country. One of them came forward with a sketch of our flier, asking by
signs if we were the aerial visitors they had seen.

This we admitted.

They pointed to it again, and to the outlying country, in different
directions--but we pretended we did not know where it was, and in
truth we were not quite sure and gave a rather wild indication of its
whereabouts.

Again they motioned us to advance, standing so packed about the door
that there remained but the one straight path open. All around us and
behind they were massed solidly--there was simply nothing to do but go
forward--or fight.

We held a consultation.

“I never fought with women in my life,” said Terry, greatly perturbed,
“but I’m not going in there. I’m not going to be--herded in--as if we
were in a cattle chute.”

“We can’t fight them, of course,” Jeff urged. “They’re all women,
in spite of their nondescript clothes; nice women, too; good strong
sensible faces. I guess we’ll have to go in.”

“We may never get out, if we do,” I told them. “Strong and sensible,
yes; but I’m not so sure about the good. Look at those faces!”

They had stood at ease, waiting while we conferred together, but never
relaxing their close attention.

Their attitude was not the rigid discipline of soldiers; there was no
sense of compulsion about them. Terry’s term of a “vigilance committee”
 was highly descriptive. They had just the aspect of sturdy burghers,
gathered hastily to meet some common need or peril, all moved by
precisely the same feelings, to the same end.

Never, anywhere before, had I seen women of precisely this quality.
Fishwives and market women might show similar strength, but it was
coarse and heavy. These were merely athletic--light and powerful.
College professors, teachers, writers--many women showed similar
intelligence but often wore a strained nervous look, while these were as
calm as cows, for all their evident intellect.

We observed pretty closely just then, for all of us felt that it was a
crucial moment.

The leader gave some word of command and beckoned us on, and the
surrounding mass moved a step nearer.

“We’ve got to decide quick,” said Terry.

“I vote to go in,” Jeff urged. But we were two to one against him and he
loyally stood by us. We made one more effort to be let go, urgent, but
not imploring. In vain.

“Now for a rush, boys!” Terry said. “And if we can’t break ‘em, I’ll
shoot in the air.”

Then we found ourselves much in the position of the suffragette trying
to get to the Parliament buildings through a triple cordon of London
police.

The solidity of those women was something amazing. Terry soon found that
it was useless, tore himself loose for a moment, pulled his revolver,
and fired upward. As they caught at it, he fired again--we heard a
cry--.

Instantly each of us was seized by five women, each holding arm or leg
or head; we were lifted like children, straddling helpless children, and
borne onward, wriggling indeed, but most ineffectually.

We were borne inside, struggling manfully, but held secure most
womanfully, in spite of our best endeavors.

So carried and so held, we came into a high inner hall, gray and bare,
and were brought before a majestic gray-haired woman who seemed to hold
a judicial position.

There was some talk, not much, among them, and then suddenly there fell
upon each of us at once a firm hand holding a wetted cloth before mouth
and nose--an order of swimming sweetness--anesthesia.



CHAPTER 3. A Peculiar Imprisonment


From a slumber as deep as death, as refreshing as that of a healthy
child, I slowly awakened.

It was like rising up, up, up through a deep warm ocean, nearer
and nearer to full light and stirring air. Or like the return to
consciousness after concussion of the brain. I was once thrown from a
horse while on a visit to a wild mountainous country quite new to me,
and I can clearly remember the mental experience of coming back to life,
through lifting veils of dream. When I first dimly heard the voices of
those about me, and saw the shining snowpeaks of that mighty range, I
assumed that this too would pass, and I should presently find myself in
my own home.

That was precisely the experience of this awakening: receding waves of
half-caught swirling vision, memories of home, the steamer, the boat,
the airship, the forest--at last all sinking away one after another,
till my eyes were wide open, my brain clear, and I realized what had
happened.

The most prominent sensation was of absolute physical comfort. I was
lying in a perfect bed: long, broad, smooth; firmly soft and level; with
the finest linen, some warm light quilt of blanket, and a counterpane
that was a joy to the eye. The sheet turned down some fifteen inches,
yet I could stretch my feet at the foot of the bed free but warmly
covered.

I felt as light and clean as a white feather. It took me some time to
conscientiously locate my arms and legs, to feel the vivid sense of life
radiate from the wakening center to the extremities.

A big room, high and wide, with many lofty windows whose closed blinds
let through soft green-lit air; a beautiful room, in proportion, in
color, in smooth simplicity; a scent of blossoming gardens outside.

I lay perfectly still, quite happy, quite conscious, and yet not
actively realizing what had happened till I heard Terry.

“Gosh!” was what he said.

I turned my head. There were three beds in this chamber, and plenty of
room for them.

Terry was sitting up, looking about him, alert as ever. His remark,
though not loud, roused Jeff also. We all sat up.

Terry swung his legs out of bed, stood up, stretched himself mightily.
He was in a long nightrobe, a sort of seamless garment, undoubtedly
comfortable--we all found ourselves so covered. Shoes were beside each
bed, also quite comfortable and goodlooking though by no means like our
own.

We looked for our clothes--they were not there, nor anything of all the
varied contents of our pockets.

A door stood somewhat ajar; it opened into a most attractive bathroom,
copiously provided with towels, soap, mirrors, and all such convenient
comforts, with indeed our toothbrushes and combs, our notebooks, and
thank goodness, our watches--but no clothes.

Then we made a search of the big room again and found a large airy
closet, holding plenty of clothing, but not ours.

“A council of war!” demanded Terry. “Come on back to bed--the bed’s all
right anyhow. Now then, my scientific friend, let us consider our case
dispassionately.”

He meant me, but Jeff seemed most impressed.

“They haven’t hurt us in the least!” he said. “They could have killed
us--or--or anything--and I never felt better in my life.”

“That argues that they are all women,” I suggested, “and highly
civilized. You know you hit one in the last scrimmage--I heard her sing
out--and we kicked awfully.”

Terry was grinning at us. “So you realize what these ladies have done to
us?” he pleasantly inquired. “They have taken away all our possessions,
all our clothes--every stitch. We have been stripped and washed and put
to bed like so many yearling babies--by these highly civilized women.”

Jeff actually blushed. He had a poetic imagination. Terry had
imagination enough, of a different kind. So had I, also different.
I always flattered myself I had the scientific imagination, which,
incidentally, I considered the highest sort. One has a right to a
certain amount of egotism if founded on fact--and kept to one’s self--I
think.

“No use kicking, boys,” I said. “They’ve got us, and apparently they’re
perfectly harmless. It remains for us to cook up some plan of escape
like any other bottled heroes. Meanwhile we’ve got to put on these
clothes--Hobson’s choice.”

The garments were simple in the extreme, and absolutely comfortable,
physically, though of course we all felt like supes in the theater.
There was a one-piece cotton undergarment, thin and soft, that reached
over the knees and shoulders, something like the one-piece pajamas some
fellows wear, and a kind of half-hose, that came up to just under the
knee and stayed there--had elastic tops of their own, and covered the
edges of the first.

Then there was a thicker variety of union suit, a lot of them in the
closet, of varying weights and somewhat sturdier material--evidently
they would do at a pinch with nothing further. Then there were tunics,
knee-length, and some long robes. Needless to say, we took tunics.

We bathed and dressed quite cheerfully.

“Not half bad,” said Terry, surveying himself in a long mirror. His
hair was somewhat longer than when we left the last barber, and the
hats provided were much like those seen on the prince in the fairy tale,
lacking the plume.

The costume was similar to that which we had seen on all the women,
though some of them, those working in the fields, glimpsed by our
glasses when we first flew over, wore only the first two.

I settled my shoulders and stretched my arms, remarking: “They have
worked out a mighty sensible dress, I’ll say that for them.” With which
we all agreed.

“Now then,” Terry proclaimed, “we’ve had a fine long sleep--we’ve had a
good bath--we’re clothed and in our right minds, though feeling like a
lot of neuters. Do you think these highly civilized ladies are going to
give us any breakfast?”

“Of course they will,” Jeff asserted confidently. “If they had meant to
kill us, they would have done it before. I believe we are going to be
treated as guests.”

“Hailed as deliverers, I think,” said Terry.

“Studied as curiosities,” I told them. “But anyhow, we want food. So now
for a sortie!”

A sortie was not so easy.

The bathroom only opened into our chamber, and that had but one outlet,
a big heavy door, which was fastened.

We listened.

“There’s someone outside,” Jeff suggested. “Let’s knock.”

So we knocked, whereupon the door opened.

Outside was another large room, furnished with a great table at one
end, long benches or couches against the wall, some smaller tables
and chairs. All these were solid, strong, simple in structure, and
comfortable in use--also, incidentally, beautiful.

This room was occupied by a number of women, eighteen to be exact, some
of whom we distinctly recalled.

Terry heaved a disappointed sigh. “The Colonels!” I heard him whisper to
Jeff.

Jeff, however, advanced and bowed in his best manner; so did we all, and
we were saluted civilly by the tall-standing women.

We had no need to make pathetic pantomime of hunger; the smaller tables
were already laid with food, and we were gravely invited to be seated.
The tables were set for two; each of us found ourselves placed vis-a-vis
with one of our hosts, and each table had five other stalwarts nearby,
unobtrusively watching. We had plenty of time to get tired of those
women!

The breakfast was not profuse, but sufficient in amount and excellent in
quality. We were all too good travelers to object to novelty, and this
repast with its new but delicious fruit, its dish of large rich-flavored
nuts, and its highly satisfactory little cakes was most agreeable. There
was water to drink, and a hot beverage of a most pleasing quality, some
preparation like cocoa.

And then and there, willy-nilly, before we had satisfied our appetites,
our education began.

By each of our plates lay a little book, a real printed book, though
different from ours both in paper and binding, as well, of course, as in
type. We examined them curiously.

“Shades of Sauveur!” muttered Terry. “We’re to learn the language!”

We were indeed to learn the language, and not only that, but to teach
our own. There were blank books with parallel columns, neatly ruled,
evidently prepared for the occasion, and in these, as fast as we learned
and wrote down the name of anything, we were urged to write our own name
for it by its side.

The book we had to study was evidently a schoolbook, one in which
children learned to read, and we judged from this, and from their
frequent consultation as to methods, that they had had no previous
experience in the art of teaching foreigners their language, or of
learning any other.

On the other hand, what they lacked in experience, they made up for
in genius. Such subtle understanding, such instant recognition of our
difficulties, and readiness to meet them, were a constant surprise to
us.

Of course, we were willing to meet them halfway. It was wholly to
our advantage to be able to understand and speak with them, and as
to refusing to teach them--why should we? Later on we did try open
rebellion, but only once.

That first meal was pleasant enough, each of us quietly studying
his companion, Jeff with sincere admiration, Terry with that highly
technical look of his, as of a past master--like a lion tamer, a serpent
charmer, or some such professional. I myself was intensely interested.

It was evident that those sets of five were there to check any outbreak
on our part. We had no weapons, and if we did try to do any damage, with
a chair, say, why five to one was too many for us, even if they were
women; that we had found out to our sorrow. It was not pleasant, having
them always around, but we soon got used to it.

“It’s better than being physically restrained ourselves,” Jeff
philosophically suggested when we were alone. “They’ve given us a
room--with no great possibility of escape--and personal liberty--heavily
chaperoned. It’s better than we’d have been likely to get in a
man-country.”

“Man-Country! Do you really believe there are no men here, you innocent?
Don’t you know there must be?” demanded Terry.

“Ye--es,” Jeff agreed. “Of course--and yet--”

“And yet--what! Come, you obdurate sentimentalist--what are you thinking
about?”

“They may have some peculiar division of labor we’ve never heard of,” I
suggested. “The men may live in separate towns, or they may have subdued
them--somehow--and keep them shut up. But there must be some.”

“That last suggestion of yours is a nice one, Van,” Terry protested.
“Same as they’ve got us subdued and shut up! you make me shiver.”

“Well, figure it out for yourself, anyway you please. We saw plenty of
kids, the first day, and we’ve seen those girls--”

“Real girls!” Terry agreed, in immense relief. “Glad you mentioned
‘em. I declare, if I thought there was nothing in the country but those
grenadiers I’d jump out the window.”

“Speaking of windows,” I suggested, “let’s examine ours.”

We looked out of all the windows. The blinds opened easily enough, and
there were no bars, but the prospect was not reassuring.

This was not the pink-walled town we had so rashly entered the day
before. Our chamber was high up, in a projecting wing of a sort of
castle, built out on a steep spur of rock. Immediately below us were
gardens, fruitful and fragrant, but their high walls followed the edge
of the cliff which dropped sheer down, we could not see how far. The
distant sound of water suggested a river at the foot.

We could look out east, west, and south. To the southeastward stretched
the open country, lying bright and fair in the morning light, but on
either side, and evidently behind, rose great mountains.

“This thing is a regular fortress--and no women built it, I can tell
you that,” said Terry. We nodded agreeingly. “It’s right up among the
hills--they must have brought us a long way.”

“We saw some kind of swift-moving vehicles the first day,” Jeff reminded
us. “If they’ve got motors, they ARE civilized.”

“Civilized or not, we’ve got our work cut out for us to get away from
here. I don’t propose to make a rope of bedclothes and try those walls
till I’m sure there is no better way.”

We all concurred on this point, and returned to our discussion as to the
women.

Jeff continued thoughtful. “All the same, there’s something funny about
it,” he urged. “It isn’t just that we don’t see any men--but we don’t
see any signs of them. The--the--reaction of these women is different
from any that I’ve ever met.”

“There is something in what you say, Jeff,” I agreed. “There is a
different--atmosphere.”

“They don’t seem to notice our being men,” he went on. “They treat
us--well--just as they do one another. It’s as if our being men was a
minor incident.”

I nodded. I’d noticed it myself. But Terry broke in rudely.

“Fiddlesticks!” he said. “It’s because of their advanced age. They’re
all grandmas, I tell you--or ought to be. Great aunts, anyhow. Those
girls were girls all right, weren’t they?”

“Yes--” Jeff agreed, still slowly. “But they weren’t afraid--they flew
up that tree and hid, like schoolboys caught out of bounds--not like shy
girls.”

“And they ran like marathon winners--you’ll admit that, Terry,” he
added.

Terry was moody as the days passed. He seemed to mind our confinement
more than Jeff or I did; and he harped on Alima, and how near he’d come
to catching her. “If I had--” he would say, rather savagely, “we’d have
had a hostage and could have made terms.”

But Jeff was getting on excellent terms with his tutor, and even his
guards, and so was I. It interested me profoundly to note and study
the subtle difference between these women and other women, and try to
account for them. In the matter of personal appearance, there was a
great difference. They all wore short hair, some few inches at most;
some curly, some not; all light and clean and fresh-looking.

“If their hair was only long,” Jeff would complain, “they would look so
much more feminine.”

I rather liked it myself, after I got used to it. Why we should so
admire “a woman’s crown of hair” and not admire a Chinaman’s queue is
hard to explain, except that we are so convinced that the long hair
“belongs” to a woman. Whereas the “mane” in horses is on both, and in
lions, buffalos, and such creatures only on the male. But I did miss
it--at first.

Our time was quite pleasantly filled. We were free of the garden below
our windows, quite long in its irregular rambling shape, bordering the
cliff. The walls were perfectly smooth and high, ending in the masonry
of the building; and as I studied the great stones I became convinced
that the whole structure was extremely old. It was built like the
pre-Incan architecture in Peru, of enormous monoliths, fitted as closely
as mosaics.

“These folks have a history, that’s sure,” I told the others. “And SOME
time they were fighters--else why a fortress?”

I said we were free of the garden, but not wholly alone in it. There
was always a string of those uncomfortably strong women sitting about,
always one of them watching us even if the others were reading, playing
games, or busy at some kind of handiwork.

“When I see them knit,” Terry said, “I can almost call them feminine.”

“That doesn’t prove anything,” Jeff promptly replied. “Scotch shepherds
knit--always knitting.”

“When we get out--” Terry stretched himself and looked at the far
peaks, “when we get out of this and get to where the real women are--the
mothers, and the girls--”

“Well, what’ll we do then?” I asked, rather gloomily. “How do you know
we’ll ever get out?”

This was an unpleasant idea, which we unanimously considered, returning
with earnestness to our studies.

“If we are good boys and learn our lessons well,” I suggested. “If we
are quiet and respectful and polite and they are not afraid of us--then
perhaps they will let us out. And anyway--when we do escape, it is of
immense importance that we know the language.”

Personally, I was tremendously interested in that language, and seeing
they had books, was eager to get at them, to dig into their history, if
they had one.

It was not hard to speak, smooth and pleasant to the ear, and so easy
to read and write that I marveled at it. They had an absolutely phonetic
system, the whole thing was as scientific as Esparanto yet bore all the
marks of an old and rich civilization.

We were free to study as much as we wished, and were not left merely to
wander in the garden for recreation but introduced to a great gymnasium,
partly on the roof and partly in the story below. Here we learned real
respect for our tall guards. No change of costume was needed for this
work, save to lay off outer clothing. The first one was as perfect a
garment for exercise as need be devised, absolutely free to move in,
and, I had to admit, much better-looking than our usual one.

“Forty--over forty--some of ‘em fifty, I bet--and look at ‘em!” grumbled
Terry in reluctant admiration.

There were no spectacular acrobatics, such as only the young can
perform, but for all-around development they had a most excellent
system. A good deal of music went with it, with posture dancing and,
sometimes, gravely beautiful processional performances.

Jeff was much impressed by it. We did not know then how small a part of
their physical culture methods this really was, but found it agreeable
to watch, and to take part in.

Oh yes, we took part all right! It wasn’t absolutely compulsory, but we
thought it better to please.

Terry was the strongest of us, though I was wiry and had good staying
power, and Jeff was a great sprinter and hurdler, but I can tell you
those old ladies gave us cards and spades. They ran like deer, by which
I mean that they ran not as if it was a performance, but as if it was
their natural gait. We remembered those fleeting girls of our first
bright adventure, and concluded that it was.

They leaped like deer, too, with a quick folding motion of the legs,
drawn up and turned to one side with a sidelong twist of the body. I
remembered the sprawling spread-eagle way in which some of the fellows
used to come over the line--and tried to learn the trick. We did not
easily catch up with these experts, however.

“Never thought I’d live to be bossed by a lot of elderly lady acrobats,”
 Terry protested.

They had games, too, a good many of them, but we found them rather
uninteresting at first. It was like two people playing solitaire to
see who would get it first; more like a race or a--a competitive
examination, than a real game with some fight in it.

I philosophized a bit over this and told Terry it argued against their
having any men about. “There isn’t a man-size game in the lot,” I said.

“But they are interesting--I like them,” Jeff objected, “and I’m sure
they are educational.”

“I’m sick and tired of being educated,” Terry protested. “Fancy going to
a dame school--at our age. I want to Get Out!”

But we could not get out, and we were being educated swiftly. Our
special tutors rose rapidly in our esteem. They seemed of rather finer
quality than the guards, though all were on terms of easy friendliness.
Mine was named Somel, Jeff’s Zava, and Terry’s Moadine. We tried to
generalize from the names, those of the guards, and of our three girls,
but got nowhere.

“They sound well enough, and they’re mostly short, but there’s no
similarity of termination--and no two alike. However, our acquaintance
is limited as yet.”

There were many things we meant to ask--as soon as we could talk well
enough. Better teaching I never saw. From morning to night there was
Somel, always on call except between two and four; always pleasant with
a steady friendly kindness that I grew to enjoy very much. Jeff said
Miss Zava--he would put on a title, though they apparently had none--was
a darling, that she reminded him of his Aunt Esther at home; but Terry
refused to be won, and rather jeered at his own companion, when we were
alone.

“I’m sick of it!” he protested. “Sick of the whole thing. Here we are
cooped up as helpless as a bunch of three-year-old orphans, and being
taught what they think is necessary--whether we like it or not. Confound
their old-maid impudence!”

Nevertheless we were taught. They brought in a raised map of their
country, beautifully made, and increased our knowledge of geographical
terms; but when we inquired for information as to the country outside,
they smilingly shook their heads.

They brought pictures, not only the engravings in the books but colored
studies of plants and trees and flowers and birds. They brought tools
and various small objects--we had plenty of “material” in our school.

If it had not been for Terry we would have been much more contented, but
as the weeks ran into months he grew more and more irritable.

“Don’t act like a bear with a sore head,” I begged him. “We’re getting
on finely. Every day we can understand them better, and pretty soon we
can make a reasonable plea to be let out--”

“LET out!” he stormed. “LET out--like children kept after school. I want
to Get Out, and I’m going to. I want to find the men of this place and
fight!--or the girls--”

“Guess it’s the girls you’re most interested in,” Jeff commented. “What
are you going to fight WITH--your fists?”

“Yes--or sticks and stones--I’d just like to!” And Terry squared off and
tapped Jeff softly on the jaw. “Just for instance,” he said.

“Anyhow,” he went on, “we could get back to our machine and clear out.”

“If it’s there,” I cautiously suggested.

“Oh, don’t croak, Van! If it isn’t there, we’ll find our way down
somehow--the boat’s there, I guess.”

It was hard on Terry, so hard that he finally persuaded us to consider
a plan of escape. It was difficult, it was highly dangerous, but he
declared that he’d go alone if we wouldn’t go with him, and of course we
couldn’t think of that.

It appeared he had made a pretty careful study of the environment. From
our end window that faced the point of the promontory we could get a
fair idea of the stretch of wall, and the drop below. Also from the roof
we could make out more, and even, in one place, glimpse a sort of path
below the wall.

“It’s a question of three things,” he said. “Ropes, agility, and not
being seen.”

“That’s the hardest part,” I urged, still hoping to dissuade him. “One
or another pair of eyes is on us every minute except at night.”

“Therefore we must do it at night,” he answered. “That’s easy.”

“We’ve got to think that if they catch us we may not be so well treated
afterward,” said Jeff.

“That’s the business risk we must take. I’m going--if I break my neck.”
 There was no changing him.

The rope problem was not easy. Something strong enough to hold a man and
long enough to let us down into the garden, and then down over the wall.
There were plenty of strong ropes in the gymnasium--they seemed to love
to swing and climb on them--but we were never there by ourselves.

We should have to piece it out from our bedding, rugs, and garments, and
moreover, we should have to do it after we were shut in for the
night, for every day the place was cleaned to perfection by two of our
guardians.

We had no shears, no knives, but Terry was resourceful. “These Jennies
have glass and china, you see. We’ll break a glass from the bathroom and
use that. ‘Love will find out a way,’” he hummed. “When we’re all out of
the window, we’ll stand three-man high and cut the rope as far up as we
can reach, so as to have more for the wall. I know just where I saw
that bit of path below, and there’s a big tree there, too, or a vine or
something--I saw the leaves.”

It seemed a crazy risk to take, but this was, in a way, Terry’s
expedition, and we were all tired of our imprisonment.

So we waited for full moon, retired early, and spent an anxious hour or
two in the unskilled manufacture of man-strong ropes.

To retire into the depths of the closet, muffle a glass in thick cloth,
and break it without noise was not difficult, and broken glass will cut,
though not as deftly as a pair of scissors.

The broad moonlight streamed in through four of our windows--we had not
dared leave our lights on too long--and we worked hard and fast at our
task of destruction.

Hangings, rugs, robes, towels, as well as bed-furniture--even the
mattress covers--we left not one stitch upon another, as Jeff put it.

Then at an end window, as less liable to observation, we fastened one
end of our cable, strongly, to the firm-set hinge of the inner blind,
and dropped our coiled bundle of rope softly over.

“This part’s easy enough--I’ll come last, so as to cut the rope,” said
Terry.

So I slipped down first, and stood, well braced against the wall; then
Jeff on my shoulders, then Terry, who shook us a little as he sawed
through the cord above his head. Then I slowly dropped to the ground,
Jeff following, and at last we all three stood safe in the garden, with
most of our rope with us.

“Good-bye, Grandma!” whispered Terry, under his breath, and we crept
softly toward the wall, taking advantage of the shadow of every bush
and tree. He had been foresighted enough to mark the very spot, only a
scratch of stone on stone, but we could see to read in that light. For
anchorage there was a tough, fair-sized shrub close to the wall.

“Now I’ll climb up on you two again and go over first,” said Terry.
“That’ll hold the rope firm till you both get up on top. Then I’ll go
down to the end. If I can get off safely, you can see me and follow--or,
say, I’ll twitch it three times. If I find there’s absolutely no
footing--why I’ll climb up again, that’s all. I don’t think they’ll kill
us.”

From the top he reconnoitered carefully, waved his hand, and whispered,
“OK,” then slipped over. Jeff climbed up and I followed, and we rather
shivered to see how far down that swaying, wavering figure dropped, hand
under hand, till it disappeared in a mass of foliage far below.

Then there were three quick pulls, and Jeff and I, not without a joyous
sense of recovered freedom, successfully followed our leader.



CHAPTER 4. Our Venture


We were standing on a narrow, irregular, all too slanting little ledge,
and should doubtless have ignominiously slipped off and broken our rash
necks but for the vine. This was a thick-leaved, wide-spreading thing, a
little like Amphelopsis.

“It’s not QUITE vertical here, you see,” said Terry, full of pride and
enthusiasm. “This thing never would hold our direct weight, but I think
if we sort of slide down on it, one at a time, sticking in with hands
and feet, we’ll reach that next ledge alive.”

“As we do not wish to get up our rope again--and can’t comfortably stay
here--I approve,” said Jeff solemnly.

Terry slid down first--said he’d show us how a Christian meets
his death. Luck was with us. We had put on the thickest of those
intermediate suits, leaving our tunics behind, and made this scramble
quite successfully, though I got a pretty heavy fall just at the end,
and was only kept on the second ledge by main force. The next stage
was down a sort of “chimney”--a long irregular fissure; and so with
scratches many and painful and bruises not a few, we finally reached the
stream.

It was darker there, but we felt it highly necessary to put as much
distance as possible behind us; so we waded, jumped, and clambered down
that rocky riverbed, in the flickering black and white moonlight and
leaf shadow, till growing daylight forced a halt.

We found a friendly nut-tree, those large, satisfying, soft-shelled nuts
we already knew so well, and filled our pockets.

I see that I have not remarked that these women had pockets in
surprising number and variety. They were in all their garments, and the
middle one in particular was shingled with them. So we stocked up with
nuts till we bulged like Prussian privates in marching order, drank all
we could hold, and retired for the day.

It was not a very comfortable place, not at all easy to get at, just
a sort of crevice high up along the steep bank, but it was well veiled
with foliage and dry. After our exhaustive three- or four-hour scramble
and the good breakfast food, we all lay down along that crack--heads and
tails, as it were--and slept till the afternoon sun almost toasted our
faces.

Terry poked a tentative foot against my head.

“How are you, Van? Alive yet?”

“Very much so,” I told him. And Jeff was equally cheerful.

We had room to stretch, if not to turn around; but we could very
carefully roll over, one at a time, behind the sheltering foliage.

It was no use to leave there by daylight. We could not see much of the
country, but enough to know that we were now at the beginning of the
cultivated area, and no doubt there would be an alarm sent out far and
wide.

Terry chuckled softly to himself, lying there on that hot narrow little
rim of rock. He dilated on the discomfiture of our guards and tutors,
making many discourteous remarks.

I reminded him that we had still a long way to go before getting to
the place where we’d left our machine, and no probability of finding it
there; but he only kicked me, mildly, for a croaker.

“If you can’t boost, don’t knock,” he protested. “I never said ‘twould
be a picnic. But I’d run away in the Antarctic ice fields rather than be
a prisoner.”

We soon dozed off again.

The long rest and penetrating dry heat were good for us, and that night
we covered a considerable distance, keeping always in the rough forested
belt of land which we knew bordered the whole country. Sometimes we were
near the outer edge, and caught sudden glimpses of the tremendous depths
beyond.

“This piece of geography stands up like a basalt column,” Jeff said.
“Nice time we’ll have getting down if they have confiscated our
machine!” For which suggestion he received summary chastisement.

What we could see inland was peaceable enough, but only moonlit
glimpses; by daylight we lay very close. As Terry said, we did not wish
to kill the old ladies--even if we could; and short of that they
were perfectly competent to pick us up bodily and carry us back, if
discovered. There was nothing for it but to lie low, and sneak out
unseen if we could do it.

There wasn’t much talking done. At night we had our marathon-obstacle
race; we “stayed not for brake and we stopped not for stone,” and swam
whatever water was too deep to wade and could not be got around; but
that was only necessary twice. By day, sleep, sound and sweet. Mighty
lucky it was that we could live off the country as we did. Even that
margin of forest seemed rich in foodstuffs.

But Jeff thoughtfully suggested that that very thing showed how careful
we should have to be, as we might run into some stalwart group of
gardeners or foresters or nut-gatherers at any minute. Careful we were,
feeling pretty sure that if we did not make good this time we were not
likely to have another opportunity; and at last we reached a point from
which we could see, far below, the broad stretch of that still lake from
which we had made our ascent.

“That looks pretty good to me!” said Terry, gazing down at it. “Now, if
we can’t find the ‘plane, we know where to aim if we have to drop over
this wall some other way.”

The wall at that point was singularly uninviting. It rose so straight
that we had to put our heads over to see the base, and the country below
seemed to be a far-off marshy tangle of rank vegetation. We did not have
to risk our necks to that extent, however, for at last, stealing along
among the rocks and trees like so many creeping savages, we came to that
flat space where we had landed; and there, in unbelievable good fortune,
we found our machine.

“Covered, too, by jingo! Would you think they had that much sense?”
 cried Terry.

“If they had that much, they’re likely to have more,” I warned him,
softly. “Bet you the thing’s watched.”

We reconnoitered as widely as we could in the failing moonlight--moons
are of a painfully unreliable nature; but the growing dawn showed us
the familiar shape, shrouded in some heavy cloth like canvas, and no
slightest sign of any watchman near. We decided to make a quick dash as
soon as the light was strong enough for accurate work.

“I don’t care if the old thing’ll go or not,” Terry declared. “We can
run her to the edge, get aboard, and just plane down--plop!--beside our
boat there. Look there--see the boat!”

Sure enough--there was our motor, lying like a gray cocoon on the flat
pale sheet of water.

Quietly but swiftly we rushed forward and began to tug at the fastenings
of that cover.

“Confound the thing!” Terry cried in desperate impatience. “They’ve got
it sewed up in a bag! And we’ve not a knife among us!”

Then, as we tugged and pulled at that tough cloth we heard a sound that
made Terry lift his head like a war horse--the sound of an unmistakable
giggle, yes--three giggles.

There they were--Celis, Alima, Ellador--looking just as they had when
we first saw them, standing a little way off from us, as interested, as
mischievous as three schoolboys.

“Hold on, Terry--hold on!” I warned. “That’s too easy. Look out for a
trap.”

“Let us appeal to their kind hearts,” Jeff urged. “I think they will
help us. Perhaps they’ve got knives.”

“It’s no use rushing them, anyhow,” I was absolutely holding on to
Terry. “We know they can out-run and out-climb us.”

He reluctantly admitted this; and after a brief parley among ourselves,
we all advanced slowly toward them, holding out our hands in token of
friendliness.

They stood their ground till we had come fairly near, and then indicated
that we should stop. To make sure, we advanced a step or two and they
promptly and swiftly withdrew. So we stopped at the distance specified.
Then we used their language, as far as we were able, to explain our
plight, telling how we were imprisoned, how we had escaped--a good deal
of pantomime here and vivid interest on their part--how we had traveled
by night and hidden by day, living on nuts--and here Terry pretended
great hunger.

I know he could not have been hungry; we had found plenty to eat and
had not been sparing in helping ourselves. But they seemed somewhat
impressed; and after a murmured consultation they produced from their
pockets certain little packages, and with the utmost ease and accuracy
tossed them into our hands.

Jeff was most appreciative of this; and Terry made extravagant gestures
of admiration, which seemed to set them off, boy-fashion, to show their
skill. While we ate the excellent biscuits they had thrown us, and while
Ellador kept a watchful eye on our movements, Celis ran off to some
distance, and set up a sort of “duck-on-a-rock” arrangement, a big
yellow nut on top of three balanced sticks; Alima, meanwhile, gathering
stones.

They urged us to throw at it, and we did, but the thing was a long way
off, and it was only after a number of failures, at which those elvish
damsels laughed delightedly, that Jeff succeeded in bringing the whole
structure to the ground. It took me still longer, and Terry, to his
intense annoyance, came third.

Then Celis set up the little tripod again, and looked back at us,
knocking it down, pointing at it, and shaking her short curls severely.
“No,” she said. “Bad--wrong!” We were quite able to follow her.

Then she set it up once more, put the fat nut on top, and returned
to the others; and there those aggravating girls sat and took turns
throwing little stones at that thing, while one stayed by as a
setter-up; and they just popped that nut off, two times out of three,
without upsetting the sticks. Pleased as Punch they were, too, and we
pretended to be, but weren’t.

We got very friendly over this game, but I told Terry we’d be sorry if
we didn’t get off while we could, and then we begged for knives. It was
easy to show what we wanted to do, and they each proudly produced a sort
of strong clasp-knife from their pockets.

“Yes,” we said eagerly, “that’s it! Please--” We had learned quite a
bit of their language, you see. And we just begged for those knives, but
they would not give them to us. If we came a step too near they backed
off, standing light and eager for flight.

“It’s no sort of use,” I said. “Come on--let’s get a sharp stone or
something--we must get this thing off.”

So we hunted about and found what edged fragments we could, and hacked
away, but it was like trying to cut sailcloth with a clamshell.

Terry hacked and dug, but said to us under his breath. “Boys, we’re in
pretty good condition--let’s make a life and death dash and get hold of
those girls--we’ve got to.”

They had drawn rather nearer to watch our efforts, and we did take
them rather by surprise; also, as Terry said, our recent training had
strengthened us in wind and limb, and for a few desperate moments those
girls were scared and we almost triumphant.

But just as we stretched out our hands, the distance between us widened;
they had got their pace apparently, and then, though we ran at our
utmost speed, and much farther than I thought wise, they kept just out
of reach all the time.

We stopped breathless, at last, at my repeated admonitions.

“This is stark foolishness,” I urged. “They are doing it on
purpose--come back or you’ll be sorry.”

We went back, much slower than we came, and in truth we were sorry.

As we reached our swaddled machine, and sought again to tear loose its
covering, there rose up from all around the sturdy forms, the quiet
determined faces we knew so well.

“Oh Lord!” groaned Terry. “The Colonels! It’s all up--they’re forty to
one.”

It was no use to fight. These women evidently relied on numbers, not so
much as a drilled force but as a multitude actuated by a common impulse.
They showed no sign of fear, and since we had no weapons whatever and
there were at least a hundred of them, standing ten deep about us, we
gave in as gracefully as we might.

Of course we looked for punishment--a closer imprisonment, solitary
confinement maybe--but nothing of the kind happened. They treated us as
truants only, and as if they quite understood our truancy.

Back we went, not under an anesthetic this time but skimming along in
electric motors enough like ours to be quite recognizable, each of us
in a separate vehicle with one able-bodied lady on either side and three
facing him.

They were all pleasant enough, and talked to us as much as was possible
with our limited powers. And though Terry was keenly mortified, and at
first we all rather dreaded harsh treatment, I for one soon began to
feel a sort of pleasant confidence and to enjoy the trip.

Here were my five familiar companions, all good-natured as could be,
seeming to have no worse feeling than a mild triumph as of winning some
simple game; and even that they politely suppressed.

This was a good opportunity to see the country, too, and the more I saw
of it, the better I liked it. We went too swiftly for close observation,
but I could appreciate perfect roads, as dustless as a swept floor; the
shade of endless lines of trees; the ribbon of flowers that unrolled
beneath them; and the rich comfortable country that stretched off and
away, full of varied charm.

We rolled through many villages and towns, and I soon saw that the
parklike beauty of our first-seen city was no exception. Our swift
high-sweeping view from the ‘plane had been most attractive, but lacked
detail; and in that first day of struggle and capture, we noticed
little. But now we were swept along at an easy rate of some thirty miles
an hour and covered quite a good deal of ground.

We stopped for lunch in quite a sizable town, and here, rolling slowly
through the streets, we saw more of the population. They had come out
to look at us everywhere we had passed, but here were more; and when we
went in to eat, in a big garden place with little shaded tables among
the trees and flowers, many eyes were upon us. And everywhere, open
country, village, or city--only women. Old women and young women and a
great majority who seemed neither young nor old, but just women; young
girls, also, though these, and the children, seeming to be in groups by
themselves generally, were less in evidence. We caught many glimpses of
girls and children in what seemed to be schools or in playgrounds, and
so far as we could judge there were no boys. We all looked, carefully.
Everyone gazed at us politely, kindly, and with eager interest. No one
was impertinent. We could catch quite a bit of the talk now, and all
they said seemed pleasant enough.

Well--before nightfall we were all safely back in our big room. The
damage we had done was quite ignored; the beds as smooth and comfortable
as before, new clothing and towels supplied. The only thing those women
did was to illuminate the gardens at night, and to set an extra watch.
But they called us to account next day. Our three tutors, who had not
joined in the recapturing expedition, had been quite busy in preparing
for us, and now made explanation.

They knew well we would make for our machine, and also that there was no
other way of getting down--alive. So our flight had troubled no one; all
they did was to call the inhabitants to keep an eye on our movements all
along the edge of the forest between the two points. It appeared that
many of those nights we had been seen, by careful ladies sitting snugly
in big trees by the riverbed, or up among the rocks.

Terry looked immensely disgusted, but it struck me as extremely funny.
Here we had been risking our lives, hiding and prowling like outlaws,
living on nuts and fruit, getting wet and cold at night, and dry and hot
by day, and all the while these estimable women had just been waiting
for us to come out.

Now they began to explain, carefully using such words as we could
understand. It appeared that we were considered as guests of the
country--sort of public wards. Our first violence had made it necessary
to keep us safeguarded for a while, but as soon as we learned the
language--and would agree to do no harm--they would show us all about
the land.

Jeff was eager to reassure them. Of course he did not tell on Terry, but
he made it clear that he was ashamed of himself, and that he would now
conform. As to the language--we all fell upon it with redoubled energy.
They brought us books, in greater numbers, and I began to study them
seriously.

“Pretty punk literature,” Terry burst forth one day, when we were in
the privacy of our own room. “Of course one expects to begin on
child-stories, but I would like something more interesting now.”

“Can’t expect stirring romance and wild adventure without men, can you?”
 I asked. Nothing irritated Terry more than to have us assume that there
were no men; but there were no signs of them in the books they gave us,
or the pictures.

“Shut up!” he growled. “What infernal nonsense you talk! I’m going to
ask ‘em outright--we know enough now.”

In truth we had been using our best efforts to master the language, and
were able to read fluently and to discuss what we read with considerable
ease.

That afternoon we were all sitting together on the roof--we three and
the tutors gathered about a table, no guards about. We had been made to
understand some time earlier that if we would agree to do no violence
they would withdraw their constant attendance, and we promised most
willingly.

So there we sat, at ease; all in similar dress; our hair, by now, as
long as theirs, only our beards to distinguish us. We did not want those
beards, but had so far been unable to induce them to give us any cutting
instruments.

“Ladies,” Terry began, out of a clear sky, as it were, “are there no men
in this country?”

“Men?” Somel answered. “Like you?”

“Yes, men,” Terry indicated his beard, and threw back his broad
shoulders. “Men, real men.”

“No,” she answered quietly. “There are no men in this country. There has
not been a man among us for two thousand years.”

Her look was clear and truthful and she did not advance this astonishing
statement as if it was astonishing, but quite as a matter of fact.

“But--the people--the children,” he protested, not believing her in the
least, but not wishing to say so.

“Oh yes,” she smiled. “I do not wonder you are puzzled. We are
mothers--all of us--but there are no fathers. We thought you would ask
about that long ago--why have you not?” Her look was as frankly kind as
always, her tone quite simple.

Terry explained that we had not felt sufficiently used to the language,
making rather a mess of it, I thought, but Jeff was franker.

“Will you excuse us all,” he said, “if we admit that we find it hard to
believe? There is no such--possibility--in the rest of the world.”

“Have you no kind of life where it is possible?” asked Zava.

“Why, yes--some low forms, of course.”

“How low--or how high, rather?”

“Well--there are some rather high forms of insect life in which it
occurs. Parthenogenesis, we call it--that means virgin birth.”

She could not follow him.

“BIRTH, we know, of course; but what is VIRGIN?”

Terry looked uncomfortable, but Jeff met the question quite calmly.
“Among mating animals, the term VIRGIN is applied to the female who has
not mated,” he answered.

“Oh, I see. And does it apply to the male also? Or is there a different
term for him?”

He passed this over rather hurriedly, saying that the same term would
apply, but was seldom used.

“No?” she said. “But one cannot mate without the other surely. Is not
each then--virgin--before mating? And, tell me, have you any forms of
life in which there is birth from a father only?”

“I know of none,” he answered, and I inquired seriously.

“You ask us to believe that for two thousand years there have been only
women here, and only girl babies born?”

“Exactly,” answered Somel, nodding gravely. “Of course we know that
among other animals it is not so, that there are fathers as well as
mothers; and we see that you are fathers, that you come from a people
who are of both kinds. We have been waiting, you see, for you to be able
to speak freely with us, and teach us about your country and the rest of
the world. You know so much, you see, and we know only our own land.”

In the course of our previous studies we had been at some pains to tell
them about the big world outside, to draw sketches, maps, to make a
globe, even, out of a spherical fruit, and show the size and relation of
the countries, and to tell of the numbers of their people. All this had
been scant and in outline, but they quite understood.

I find I succeed very poorly in conveying the impression I would like to
of these women. So far from being ignorant, they were deeply wise--that
we realized more and more; and for clear reasoning, for real brain scope
and power they were A No. 1, but there were a lot of things they did not
know.

They had the evenest tempers, the most perfect patience and good
nature--one of the things most impressive about them all was the absence
of irritability. So far we had only this group to study, but afterward I
found it a common trait.

We had gradually come to feel that we were in the hands of friends, and
very capable ones at that--but we couldn’t form any opinion yet of the
general level of these women.

“We want you to teach us all you can,” Somel went on, her firm shapely
hands clasped on the table before her, her clear quiet eyes meeting
ours frankly. “And we want to teach you what we have that is novel and
useful. You can well imagine that it is a wonderful event to us, to have
men among us--after two thousand years. And we want to know about your
women.”

What she said about our importance gave instant pleasure to Terry. I
could see by the way he lifted his head that it pleased him. But when
she spoke of our women--someway I had a queer little indescribable
feeling, not like any feeling I ever had before when “women” were
mentioned.

“Will you tell us how it came about?” Jeff pursued. “You said ‘for two
thousand years’--did you have men here before that?”

“Yes,” answered Zava.

They were all quiet for a little.

“You should have our full history to read--do not be alarmed--it has
been made clear and short. It took us a long time to learn how to write
history. Oh, how I should love to read yours!”

She turned with flashing eager eyes, looking from one to the other of
us.

“It would be so wonderful--would it not? To compare the history of two
thousand years, to see what the differences are--between us, who are
only mothers, and you, who are mothers and fathers, too. Of course we
see, with our birds, that the father is as useful as the mother, almost.
But among insects we find him of less importance, sometimes very little.
Is it not so with you?”

“Oh, yes, birds and bugs,” Terry said, “but not among animals--have you
NO animals?”

“We have cats,” she said. “The father is not very useful.”

“Have you no cattle--sheep--horses?” I drew some rough outlines of these
beasts and showed them to her.

“We had, in the very old days, these,” said Somel, and sketched with
swift sure touches a sort of sheep or llama, “and these”--dogs, of two
or three kinds, “that that”--pointing to my absurd but recognizable
horse.

“What became of them?” asked Jeff.

“We do not want them anymore. They took up too much room--we need all
our land to feed our people. It is such a little country, you know.”

“Whatever do you do without milk?” Terry demanded incredulously.

“MILK? We have milk in abundance--our own.”

“But--but--I mean for cooking--for grown people,” Terry blundered, while
they looked amazed and a shade displeased.

Jeff came to the rescue. “We keep cattle for their milk, as well as
for their meat,” he explained. “Cow’s milk is a staple article of diet.
There is a great milk industry--to collect and distribute it.”

Still they looked puzzled. I pointed to my outline of a cow. “The farmer
milks the cow,” I said, and sketched a milk pail, the stool, and in
pantomime showed the man milking. “Then it is carried to the city and
distributed by milkmen--everybody has it at the door in the morning.”

“Has the cow no child?” asked Somel earnestly.

“Oh, yes, of course, a calf, that is.”

“Is there milk for the calf and you, too?”

It took some time to make clear to those three sweet-faced women the
process which robs the cow of her calf, and the calf of its true food;
and the talk led us into a further discussion of the meat business. They
heard it out, looking very white, and presently begged to be excused.



CHAPTER 5. A Unique History


It is no use for me to try to piece out this account with adventures.
If the people who read it are not interested in these amazing women and
their history, they will not be interested at all.

As for us--three young men to a whole landful of women--what could we
do? We did get away, as described, and were peacefully brought back
again without, as Terry complained, even the satisfaction of hitting
anybody.

There were no adventures because there was nothing to fight. There were
no wild beasts in the country and very few tame ones. Of these I might
as well stop to describe the one common pet of the country. Cats, of
course. But such cats!

What do you suppose these Lady Burbanks had done with their cats? By the
most prolonged and careful selection and exclusion they had developed a
race of cats that did not sing! That’s a fact. The most those poor dumb
brutes could do was to make a kind of squeak when they were hungry or
wanted the door open, and, of course, to purr, and make the various
mother-noises to their kittens.

Moreover, they had ceased to kill birds. They were rigorously bred to
destroy mice and moles and all such enemies of the food supply; but the
birds were numerous and safe.

While we were discussing birds, Terry asked them if they used feathers
for their hats, and they seemed amused at the idea. He made a few
sketches of our women’s hats, with plumes and quills and those various
tickling things that stick out so far; and they were eagerly interested,
as at everything about our women.

As for them, they said they only wore hats for shade when working in the
sun; and those were big light straw hats, something like those used in
China and Japan. In cold weather they wore caps or hoods.

“But for decorative purposes--don’t you think they would be becoming?”
 pursued Terry, making as pretty a picture as he could of a lady with a
plumed hat.

They by no means agreed to that, asking quite simply if the men wore the
same kind. We hastened to assure her that they did not--drew for them
our kind of headgear.

“And do no men wear feathers in their hats?”

“Only Indians,” Jeff explained. “Savages, you know.” And he sketched a
war bonnet to show them.

“And soldiers,” I added, drawing a military hat with plumes.

They never expressed horror or disapproval, nor indeed much
surprise--just a keen interest. And the notes they made!--miles of them!

But to return to our pussycats. We were a good deal impressed by this
achievement in breeding, and when they questioned us--I can tell you we
were well pumped for information--we told of what had been done for dogs
and horses and cattle, but that there was no effort applied to cats,
except for show purposes.

I wish I could represent the kind, quiet, steady, ingenious way they
questioned us. It was not just curiosity--they weren’t a bit more
curious about us than we were about them, if as much. But they were
bent on understanding our kind of civilization, and their lines of
interrogation would gradually surround us and drive us in till we found
ourselves up against some admissions we did not want to make.

“Are all these breeds of dogs you have made useful?” they asked.

“Oh--useful! Why, the hunting dogs and watchdogs and sheepdogs are
useful--and sleddogs of course!--and ratters, I suppose, but we don’t
keep dogs for their USEFULNESS. The dog is ‘the friend of man,’ we
say--we love them.”

That they understood. “We love our cats that way. They surely are our
friends, and helpers, too. You can see how intelligent and affectionate
they are.”

It was a fact. I’d never seen such cats, except in a few rare instances.
Big, handsome silky things, friendly with everyone and devotedly
attached to their special owners.

“You must have a heartbreaking time drowning kittens,” we suggested. But
they said, “Oh, no! You see we care for them as you do for your valuable
cattle. The fathers are few compared to the mothers, just a few very
fine ones in each town; they live quite happily in walled gardens and
the houses of their friends. But they only have a mating season once a
year.”

“Rather hard on Thomas, isn’t it?” suggested Terry.

“Oh, no--truly! You see, it is many centuries that we have been breeding
the kind of cats we wanted. They are healthy and happy and friendly, as
you see. How do you manage with your dogs? Do you keep them in pairs, or
segregate the fathers, or what?”

Then we explained that--well, that it wasn’t a question of fathers
exactly; that nobody wanted a--a mother dog; that, well, that
practically all our dogs were males--there was only a very small
percentage of females allowed to live.

Then Zava, observing Terry with her grave sweet smile, quoted back at
him: “Rather hard on Thomas, isn’t it? Do they enjoy it--living without
mates? Are your dogs as uniformly healthy and sweet-tempered as our
cats?”

Jeff laughed, eyeing Terry mischievously. As a matter of fact we began
to feel Jeff something of a traitor--he so often flopped over and took
their side of things; also his medical knowledge gave him a different
point of view somehow.

“I’m sorry to admit,” he told them, “that the dog, with us, is the most
diseased of any animal--next to man. And as to temper--there are always
some dogs who bite people--especially children.”

That was pure malice. You see, children were the--the RAISON D’ETRE in
this country. All our interlocutors sat up straight at once. They were
still gentle, still restrained, but there was a note of deep amazement
in their voices.

“Do we understand that you keep an animal--an unmated male animal--that
bites children? About how many are there of them, please?”

“Thousands--in a large city,” said Jeff, “and nearly every family has
one in the country.”

Terry broke in at this. “You must not imagine they are all
dangerous--it’s not one in a hundred that ever bites anybody. Why, they
are the best friends of the children--a boy doesn’t have half a chance
that hasn’t a dog to play with!”

“And the girls?” asked Somel.

“Oh--girls--why they like them too,” he said, but his voice flatted a
little. They always noticed little things like that, we found later.

Little by little they wrung from us the fact that the friend of man,
in the city, was a prisoner; was taken out for his meager exercise on
a leash; was liable not only to many diseases but to the one destroying
horror of rabies; and, in many cases, for the safety of the citizens,
had to go muzzled. Jeff maliciously added vivid instances he had known
or read of injury and death from mad dogs.

They did not scold or fuss about it. Calm as judges, those women were.
But they made notes; Moadine read them to us.

“Please tell me if I have the facts correct,” she said. “In your
country--and in others too?”

“Yes,” we admitted, “in most civilized countries.”

“In most civilized countries a kind of animal is kept which is no longer
useful--”

“They are a protection,” Terry insisted. “They bark if burglars try to
get in.”

Then she made notes of “burglars” and went on: “because of the love
which people bear to this animal.”

Zava interrupted here. “Is it the men or the women who love this animal
so much?”

“Both!” insisted Terry.

“Equally?” she inquired.

And Jeff said, “Nonsense, Terry--you know men like dogs better than
women do--as a whole.”

“Because they love it so much--especially men. This animal is kept shut
up, or chained.”

“Why?” suddenly asked Somel. “We keep our father cats shut up because
we do not want too much fathering; but they are not chained--they have
large grounds to run in.”

“A valuable dog would be stolen if he was let loose,” I said. “We put
collars on them, with the owner’s name, in case they do stray. Besides,
they get into fights--a valuable dog might easily be killed by a bigger
one.”

“I see,” she said. “They fight when they meet--is that common?” We
admitted that it was.

“They are kept shut up, or chained.” She paused again, and asked,
“Is not a dog fond of running? Are they not built for speed?” That we
admitted, too, and Jeff, still malicious, enlightened them further.

“I’ve always thought it was a pathetic sight, both ways--to see a man or
a woman taking a dog to walk--at the end of a string.”

“Have you bred them to be as neat in their habits as cats are?” was the
next question. And when Jeff told them of the effect of dogs on sidewalk
merchandise and the streets generally, they found it hard to believe.

You see, their country was as neat as a Dutch kitchen, and as to
sanitation--but I might as well start in now with as much as I
can remember of the history of this amazing country before further
description.

And I’ll summarize here a bit as to our opportunities for learning it.
I will not try to repeat the careful, detailed account I lost; I’ll just
say that we were kept in that fortress a good six months all told, and
after that, three in a pleasant enough city where--to Terry’s infinite
disgust--there were only “Colonels” and little children--no young women
whatever. Then we were under surveillance for three more--always with a
tutor or a guard or both. But those months were pleasant because we were
really getting acquainted with the girls. That was a chapter!--or will
be--I will try to do justice to it.

We learned their language pretty thoroughly--had to; and they learned
ours much more quickly and used it to hasten our own studies.

Jeff, who was never without reading matter of some sort, had two little
books with him, a novel and a little anthology of verse; and I had one
of those pocket encyclopedias--a fat little thing, bursting with facts.
These were used in our education--and theirs. Then as soon as we were up
to it, they furnished us with plenty of their own books, and I went in
for the history part--I wanted to understand the genesis of this miracle
of theirs.

And this is what happened, according to their records.

As to geography--at about the time of the Christian era this land had
a free passage to the sea. I’m not saying where, for good reasons. But
there was a fairly easy pass through that wall of mountains behind us,
and there is no doubt in my mind that these people were of Aryan stock,
and were once in contact with the best civilization of the old world.
They were “white,” but somewhat darker than our northern races because
of their constant exposure to sun and air.

The country was far larger then, including much land beyond the pass,
and a strip of coast. They had ships, commerce, an army, a king--for at
that time they were what they so calmly called us--a bi-sexual race.

What happened to them first was merely a succession of historic
misfortunes such as have befallen other nations often enough. They
were decimated by war, driven up from their coastline till finally the
reduced population, with many of the men killed in battle, occupied this
hinterland, and defended it for years, in the mountain passes. Where it
was open to any possible attack from below they strengthened the natural
defenses so that it became unscalably secure, as we found it.

They were a polygamous people, and a slave-holding people, like all of
their time; and during the generation or two of this struggle to defend
their mountain home they built the fortresses, such as the one we were
held in, and other of their oldest buildings, some still in use. Nothing
but earthquakes could destroy such architecture--huge solid blocks,
holding by their own weight. They must have had efficient workmen and
enough of them in those days.

They made a brave fight for their existence, but no nation can stand
up against what the steamship companies call “an act of God.” While
the whole fighting force was doing its best to defend their mountain
pathway, there occurred a volcanic outburst, with some local tremors,
and the result was the complete filling up of the pass--their only
outlet. Instead of a passage, a new ridge, sheer and high, stood between
them and the sea; they were walled in, and beneath that wall lay their
whole little army. Very few men were left alive, save the slaves;
and these now seized their opportunity, rose in revolt, killed their
remaining masters even to the youngest boy, killed the old women too,
and the mothers, intending to take possession of the country with the
remaining young women and girls.

But this succession of misfortunes was too much for those infuriated
virgins. There were many of them, and but few of these would-be masters,
so the young women, instead of submitting, rose in sheer desperation and
slew their brutal conquerors.

This sounds like Titus Andronicus, I know, but that is their account. I
suppose they were about crazy--can you blame them?

There was literally no one left on this beautiful high garden land but a
bunch of hysterical girls and some older slave women.

That was about two thousand years ago.

At first there was a period of sheer despair. The mountains towered
between them and their old enemies, but also between them and escape.
There was no way up or down or out--they simply had to stay there. Some
were for suicide, but not the majority. They must have been a plucky
lot, as a whole, and they decided to live--as long as they did live.
Of course they had hope, as youth must, that something would happen to
change their fate.

So they set to work, to bury the dead, to plow and sow, to care for one
another.

Speaking of burying the dead, I will set down while I think of it, that
they had adopted cremation in about the thirteenth century, for the same
reason that they had left off raising cattle--they could not spare
the room. They were much surprised to learn that we were still
burying--asked our reasons for it, and were much dissatisfied with what
we gave. We told them of the belief in the resurrection of the body, and
they asked if our God was not as well able to resurrect from ashes as
from long corruption. We told them of how people thought it repugnant to
have their loved ones burn, and they asked if it was less repugnant to
have them decay. They were inconveniently reasonable, those women.

Well--that original bunch of girls set to work to clean up the place and
make their living as best they could. Some of the remaining slave women
rendered invaluable service, teaching such trades as they knew. They
had such records as were then kept, all the tools and implements of the
time, and a most fertile land to work in.

There were a handful of the younger matrons who had escaped slaughter,
and a few babies were born after the cataclysm--but only two boys, and
they both died.

For five or ten years they worked together, growing stronger and wiser
and more and more mutually attached, and then the miracle happened--one
of these young women bore a child. Of course they all thought there must
be a man somewhere, but none was found. Then they decided it must be a
direct gift from the gods, and placed the proud mother in the Temple of
Maaia--their Goddess of Motherhood--under strict watch. And there,
as years passed, this wonder-woman bore child after child, five of
them--all girls.

I did my best, keenly interested as I have always been in sociology and
social psychology, to reconstruct in my mind the real position of these
ancient women. There were some five or six hundred of them, and they
were harem-bred; yet for the few preceding generations they had been
reared in the atmosphere of such heroic struggle that the stock must
have been toughened somewhat. Left alone in that terrific orphanhood,
they had clung together, supporting one another and their little
sisters, and developing unknown powers in the stress of new necessity.
To this pain-hardened and work-strengthened group, who had lost not only
the love and care of parents, but the hope of ever having children of
their own, there now dawned the new hope.

Here at last was Motherhood, and though it was not for all of them
personally, it might--if the power was inherited--found here a new race.

It may be imagined how those five Daughters of Maaia, Children of the
Temple, Mothers of the Future--they had all the titles that love and
hope and reverence could give--were reared. The whole little nation
of women surrounded them with loving service, and waited, between a
boundless hope and an equally boundless despair, to see if they, too,
would be mothers.

And they were! As fast as they reached the age of twenty-five they began
bearing. Each of them, like her mother, bore five daughters. Presently
there were twenty-five New Women, Mothers in their own right, and the
whole spirit of the country changed from mourning and mere courageous
resignation to proud joy. The older women, those who remembered men,
died off; the youngest of all the first lot of course died too, after
a while, and by that time there were left one hundred and fifty-five
parthenogenetic women, founding a new race.

They inherited all that the devoted care of that declining band of
original ones could leave them. Their little country was quite safe.
Their farms and gardens were all in full production. Such industries
as they had were in careful order. The records of their past were all
preserved, and for years the older women had spent their time in the
best teaching they were capable of, that they might leave to the little
group of sisters and mothers all they possessed of skill and knowledge.

There you have the start of Herland! One family, all descended from one
mother! She lived to a hundred years old; lived to see her hundred and
twenty-five great-granddaughters born; lived as Queen-Priestess-Mother
of them all; and died with a nobler pride and a fuller joy than perhaps
any human soul has ever known--she alone had founded a new race!

The first five daughters had grown up in an atmosphere of holy calm,
of awed watchful waiting, of breathless prayer. To them the longed-for
motherhood was not only a personal joy, but a nation’s hope. Their
twenty-five daughters in turn, with a stronger hope, a richer, wider
outlook, with the devoted love and care of all the surviving population,
grew up as a holy sisterhood, their whole ardent youth looking
forward to their great office. And at last they were left alone; the
white-haired First Mother was gone, and this one family, five sisters,
twenty-five first cousins, and a hundred and twenty-five second cousins,
began a new race.

Here you have human beings, unquestionably, but what we were slow in
understanding was how these ultra-women, inheriting only from women, had
eliminated not only certain masculine characteristics, which of
course we did not look for, but so much of what we had always thought
essentially feminine.

The tradition of men as guardians and protectors had quite died out.
These stalwart virgins had no men to fear and therefore no need of
protection. As to wild beasts--there were none in their sheltered land.

The power of mother-love, that maternal instinct we so highly laud, was
theirs of course, raised to its highest power; and a sister-love which,
even while recognizing the actual relationship, we found it hard to
credit.

Terry, incredulous, even contemptuous, when we were alone, refused to
believe the story. “A lot of traditions as old as Herodotus--and
about as trustworthy!” he said. “It’s likely women--just a pack of
women--would have hung together like that! We all know women can’t
organize--that they scrap like anything--are frightfully jealous.”

“But these New Ladies didn’t have anyone to be jealous of, remember,”
 drawled Jeff.

“That’s a likely story,” Terry sneered.

“Why don’t you invent a likelier one?” I asked him. “Here ARE the
women--nothing but women, and you yourself admit there’s no trace of a
man in the country.” This was after we had been about a good deal.

“I’ll admit that,” he growled. “And it’s a big miss, too. There’s not
only no fun without ‘em--no real sport--no competition; but these women
aren’t WOMANLY. You know they aren’t.”

That kind of talk always set Jeff going; and I gradually grew to side
with him. “Then you don’t call a breed of women whose one concern is
motherhood--womanly?” he asked.

“Indeed I don’t,” snapped Terry. “What does a man care for
motherhood--when he hasn’t a ghost of a chance at fatherhood? And
besides--what’s the good of talking sentiment when we are just men
together? What a man wants of women is a good deal more than all this
‘motherhood’!”

We were as patient as possible with Terry. He had lived about nine
months among the “Colonels” when he made that outburst; and with
no chance at any more strenuous excitement than our gymnastics gave
us--save for our escape fiasco. I don’t suppose Terry had ever lived so
long with neither Love, Combat, nor Danger to employ his superabundant
energies, and he was irritable. Neither Jeff nor I found it so wearing.
I was so much interested intellectually that our confinement did not
wear on me; and as for Jeff, bless his heart!--he enjoyed the society of
that tutor of his almost as much as if she had been a girl--I don’t know
but more.

As to Terry’s criticism, it was true. These women, whose essential
distinction of motherhood was the dominant note of their whole culture,
were strikingly deficient in what we call “femininity.” This led me very
promptly to the conviction that those “feminine charms” we are so fond
of are not feminine at all, but mere reflected masculinity--developed to
please us because they had to please us, and in no way essential to
the real fulfillment of their great process. But Terry came to no such
conclusion.

“Just you wait till I get out!” he muttered.

Then we both cautioned him. “Look here, Terry, my boy! You be careful!
They’ve been mighty good to us--but do you remember the anesthesia? If
you do any mischief in this virgin land, beware of the vengeance of the
Maiden Aunts! Come, be a man! It won’t be forever.”

To return to the history:

They began at once to plan and built for their children, all the
strength and intelligence of the whole of them devoted to that one
thing. Each girl, of course, was reared in full knowledge of her
Crowning Office, and they had, even then, very high ideas of the molding
powers of the mother, as well as those of education.

Such high ideals as they had! Beauty, Health, Strength, Intellect,
Goodness--for those they prayed and worked.

They had no enemies; they themselves were all sisters and friends. The
land was fair before them, and a great future began to form itself in
their minds.

The religion they had to begin with was much like that of old Greece--a
number of gods and goddesses; but they lost all interest in deities
of war and plunder, and gradually centered on their Mother Goddess
altogether. Then, as they grew more intelligent, this had turned into a
sort of Maternal Pantheism.

Here was Mother Earth, bearing fruit. All that they ate was fruit of
motherhood, from seed or egg or their product. By motherhood they were
born and by motherhood they lived--life was, to them, just the long
cycle of motherhood.

But very early they recognized the need of improvement as well as
of mere repetition, and devoted their combined intelligence to that
problem--how to make the best kind of people. First this was merely the
hope of bearing better ones, and then they recognized that however
the children differed at birth, the real growth lay later--through
education.

Then things began to hum.

As I learned more and more to appreciate what these women had
accomplished, the less proud I was of what we, with all our manhood, had
done.

You see, they had had no wars. They had had no kings, and no priests,
and no aristocracies. They were sisters, and as they grew, they grew
together--not by competition, but by united action.

We tried to put in a good word for competition, and they were keenly
interested. Indeed, we soon found from their earnest questions of us
that they were prepared to believe our world must be better than theirs.
They were not sure; they wanted to know; but there was no such arrogance
about them as might have been expected.

We rather spread ourselves, telling of the advantages of competition:
how it developed fine qualities; that without it there would be “no
stimulus to industry.” Terry was very strong on that point.

“No stimulus to industry,” they repeated, with that puzzled look we had
learned to know so well. “STIMULUS? TO INDUSTRY? But don’t you LIKE to
work?”

“No man would work unless he had to,” Terry declared.

“Oh, no MAN! You mean that is one of your sex distinctions?”

“No, indeed!” he said hastily. “No one, I mean, man or woman, would work
without incentive. Competition is the--the motor power, you see.”

“It is not with us,” they explained gently, “so it is hard for us to
understand. Do you mean, for instance, that with you no mother would
work for her children without the stimulus of competition?”

No, he admitted that he did not mean that. Mothers, he supposed, would
of course work for their children in the home; but the world’s work
was different--that had to be done by men, and required the competitive
element.

All our teachers were eagerly interested.

“We want so much to know--you have the whole world to tell us of, and we
have only our little land! And there are two of you--the two sexes--to
love and help one another. It must be a rich and wonderful world. Tell
us--what is the work of the world, that men do--which we have not here?”

“Oh, everything,” Terry said grandly. “The men do everything, with us.”
 He squared his broad shoulders and lifted his chest. “We do not allow
our women to work. Women are loved--idolized--honored--kept in the home
to care for the children.”

“What is ‘the home’?” asked Somel a little wistfully.

But Zava begged: “Tell me first, do NO women work, really?”

“Why, yes,” Terry admitted. “Some have to, of the poorer sort.”

“About how many--in your country?”

“About seven or eight million,” said Jeff, as mischievous as ever.



CHAPTER 6. Comparisons Are Odious


I had always been proud of my country, of course. Everyone is. Compared
with the other lands and other races I knew, the United States of
America had always seemed to me, speaking modestly, as good as the best
of them.

But just as a clear-eyed, intelligent, perfectly honest, and
well-meaning child will frequently jar one’s self-esteem by innocent
questions, so did these women, without the slightest appearance of
malice or satire, continually bring up points of discussion which we
spent our best efforts in evading.

Now that we were fairly proficient in their language, had read a lot
about their history, and had given them the general outlines of ours,
they were able to press their questions closer.

So when Jeff admitted the number of “women wage earners” we had, they
instantly asked for the total population, for the proportion of adult
women, and found that there were but twenty million or so at the
outside.

“Then at least a third of your women are--what is it you call them--wage
earners? And they are all POOR. What is POOR, exactly?”

“Ours is the best country in the world as to poverty,” Terry told them.
“We do not have the wretched paupers and beggars of the older countries,
I assure you. Why, European visitors tell us, we don’t know what poverty
is.”

“Neither do we,” answered Zava. “Won’t you tell us?”

Terry put it up to me, saying I was the sociologist, and I explained
that the laws of nature require a struggle for existence, and that in
the struggle the fittest survive, and the unfit perish. In our economic
struggle, I continued, there was always plenty of opportunity for the
fittest to reach the top, which they did, in great numbers, particularly
in our country; that where there was severe economic pressure the lowest
classes of course felt it the worst, and that among the poorest of all
the women were driven into the labor market by necessity.

They listened closely, with the usual note-taking.

“About one-third, then, belong to the poorest class,” observed Moadine
gravely. “And two-thirds are the ones who are--how was it you so
beautifully put it?--‘loved, honored, kept in the home to care for the
children.’ This inferior one-third have no children, I suppose?”

Jeff--he was getting as bad as they were--solemnly replied that, on the
contrary, the poorer they were, the more children they had. That too, he
explained, was a law of nature: “Reproduction is in inverse proportion
to individuation.”

“These ‘laws of nature,’” Zava gently asked, “are they all the laws you
have?”

“I should say not!” protested Terry. “We have systems of law that go
back thousands and thousands of years--just as you do, no doubt,” he
finished politely.

“Oh no,” Moadine told him. “We have no laws over a hundred years old,
and most of them are under twenty. In a few weeks more,” she continued,
“we are going to have the pleasure of showing you over our little land
and explaining everything you care to know about. We want you to see our
people.”

“And I assure you,” Somel added, “that our people want to see you.”

Terry brightened up immensely at this news, and reconciled himself to
the renewed demands upon our capacity as teachers. It was lucky that we
knew so little, really, and had no books to refer to, else, I fancy we
might all be there yet, teaching those eager-minded women about the rest
of the world.

As to geography, they had the tradition of the Great Sea, beyond the
mountains; and they could see for themselves the endless thick-forested
plains below them--that was all. But from the few records of their
ancient condition--not “before the flood” with them, but before that
mighty quake which had cut them off so completely--they were aware that
there were other peoples and other countries.

In geology they were quite ignorant.

As to anthropology, they had those same remnants of information about
other peoples, and the knowledge of the savagery of the occupants of
those dim forests below. Nevertheless, they had inferred (marvelously
keen on inference and deduction their minds were!) the existence and
development of civilization in other places, much as we infer it on
other planets.

When our biplane came whirring over their heads in that first scouting
flight of ours, they had instantly accepted it as proof of the high
development of Some Where Else, and had prepared to receive us as
cautiously and eagerly as we might prepare to welcome visitors who came
“by meteor” from Mars.

Of history--outside their own--they knew nothing, of course, save for
their ancient traditions.

Of astronomy they had a fair working knowledge--that is a very old
science; and with it, a surprising range and facility in mathematics.

Physiology they were quite familiar with. Indeed, when it came to the
simpler and more concrete sciences, wherein the subject matter was at
hand and they had but to exercise their minds upon it, the results were
surprising. They had worked out a chemistry, a botany, a physics,
with all the blends where a science touches an art, or merges into
an industry, to such fullness of knowledge as made us feel like
schoolchildren.

Also we found this out--as soon as we were free of the country, and
by further study and question--that what one knew, all knew, to a very
considerable extent.

I talked later with little mountain girls from the fir-dark valleys
away up at their highest part, and with sunburned plains-women and agile
foresters, all over the country, as well as those in the towns, and
everywhere there was the same high level of intelligence. Some knew far
more than others about one thing--they were specialized, of course; but
all of them knew more about everything--that is, about everything the
country was acquainted with--than is the case with us.

We boast a good deal of our “high level of general intelligence” and our
“compulsory public education,” but in proportion to their opportunities
they were far better educated than our people.

With what we told them, from what sketches and models we were able to
prepare, they constructed a sort of working outline to fill in as they
learned more.

A big globe was made, and our uncertain maps, helped out by those in
that precious yearbook thing I had, were tentatively indicated upon it.

They sat in eager groups, masses of them who came for the purpose, and
listened while Jeff roughly ran over the geologic history of the earth,
and showed them their own land in relation to the others. Out of that
same pocket reference book of mine came facts and figures which were
seized upon and placed in right relation with unerring acumen.

Even Terry grew interested in this work. “If we can keep this up,
they’ll be having us lecture to all the girls’ schools and colleges--how
about that?” he suggested to us. “Don’t know as I’d object to being an
Authority to such audiences.”

They did, in fact, urge us to give public lectures later, but not to the
hearers or with the purpose we expected.

What they were doing with us was like--like--well, say like Napoleon
extracting military information from a few illiterate peasants. They
knew just what to ask, and just what use to make of it; they had
mechanical appliances for disseminating information almost equal to ours
at home; and by the time we were led forth to lecture, our audiences
had thoroughly mastered a well-arranged digest of all we had previously
given to our teachers, and were prepared with such notes and questions
as might have intimidated a university professor.

They were not audiences of girls, either. It was some time before we
were allowed to meet the young women.


“Do you mind telling what you intend to do with us?” Terry burst
forth one day, facing the calm and friendly Moadine with that funny
half-blustering air of his. At first he used to storm and flourish quite
a good deal, but nothing seemed to amuse them more; they would gather
around and watch him as if it was an exhibition, politely, but with
evident interest. So he learned to check himself, and was almost
reasonable in his bearing--but not quite.

She announced smoothly and evenly: “Not in the least. I thought it was
quite plain. We are trying to learn of you all we can, and to teach you
what you are willing to learn of our country.”

“Is that all?” he insisted.

She smiled a quiet enigmatic smile. “That depends.”

“Depends on what?”

“Mainly on yourselves,” she replied.

“Why do you keep us shut up so closely?”

“Because we do not feel quite safe in allowing you at large where there
are so many young women.”

Terry was really pleased at that. He had thought as much, inwardly; but
he pushed the question. “Why should you be afraid? We are gentlemen.”

She smiled that little smile again, and asked: “Are ‘gentlemen’ always
safe?”

“You surely do not think that any of us,” he said it with a good deal of
emphasis on the “us,” “would hurt your young girls?”

“Oh no,” she said quickly, in real surprise. “The danger is quite the
other way. They might hurt you. If, by any accident, you did harm any
one of us, you would have to face a million mothers.”

He looked so amazed and outraged that Jeff and I laughed outright, but
she went on gently.

“I do not think you quite understand yet. You are but men, three men,
in a country where the whole population are mothers--or are going to be.
Motherhood means to us something which I cannot yet discover in any
of the countries of which you tell us. You have spoken”--she turned to
Jeff, “of Human Brotherhood as a great idea among you, but even that I
judge is far from a practical expression?”

Jeff nodded rather sadly. “Very far--” he said.

“Here we have Human Motherhood--in full working use,” she went on.
“Nothing else except the literal sisterhood of our origin, and the far
higher and deeper union of our social growth.

“The children in this country are the one center and focus of all our
thoughts. Every step of our advance is always considered in its effect
on them--on the race. You see, we are MOTHERS,” she repeated, as if in
that she had said it all.

“I don’t see how that fact--which is shared by all women--constitutes
any risk to us,” Terry persisted. “You mean they would defend their
children from attack. Of course. Any mothers would. But we are not
savages, my dear lady; we are not going to hurt any mother’s child.”

They looked at one another and shook their heads a little, but
Zava turned to Jeff and urged him to make us see--said he seemed to
understand more fully than we did. And he tried.

I can see it now, or at least much more of it, but it has taken me a
long time, and a good deal of honest intellectual effort.

What they call Motherhood was like this:

They began with a really high degree of social development, something
like that of Ancient Egypt or Greece. Then they suffered the loss of
everything masculine, and supposed at first that all human power and
safety had gone too. Then they developed this virgin birth capacity.
Then, since the prosperity of their children depended on it, the fullest
and subtlest coordination began to be practiced.

I remember how long Terry balked at the evident unanimity of these
women--the most conspicuous feature of their whole culture. “It’s
impossible!” he would insist. “Women cannot cooperate--it’s against
nature.”

When we urged the obvious facts he would say: “Fiddlesticks!” or “Hang
your facts--I tell you it can’t be done!” And we never succeeded in
shutting him up till Jeff dragged in the hymenoptera.

“‘Go to the ant, thou sluggard’--and learn something,” he said
triumphantly. “Don’t they cooperate pretty well? You can’t beat it. This
place is just like an enormous anthill--you know an anthill is nothing
but a nursery. And how about bees? Don’t they manage to cooperate and
love one another? as that precious Constable had it. Just show me a
combination of male creatures, bird, bug, or beast, that works as well,
will you? Or one of our masculine countries where the people work
together as well as they do here! I tell you, women are the natural
cooperators, not men!”

Terry had to learn a good many things he did not want to. To go back to
my little analysis of what happened:

They developed all this close inter-service in the interests of their
children. To do the best work they had to specialize, of course; the
children needed spinners and weavers, farmers and gardeners, carpenters
and masons, as well as mothers.

Then came the filling up of the place. When a population multiplies
by five every thirty years it soon reaches the limits of a country,
especially a small one like this. They very soon eliminated all the
grazing cattle--sheep were the last to go, I believe. Also, they worked
out a system of intensive agriculture surpassing anything I ever heard
of, with the very forests all reset with fruit- or nut-bearing trees.

Do what they would, however, there soon came a time when they were
confronted with the problem of “the pressure of population” in an acute
form. There was really crowding, and with it, unavoidably, a decline in
standards.

And how did those women meet it?

Not by a “struggle for existence” which would result in an everlasting
writhing mass of underbred people trying to get ahead of one
another--some few on top, temporarily, many constantly crushed out
underneath, a hopeless substratum of paupers and degenerates, and no
serenity or peace for anyone, no possibility for really noble qualities
among the people at large.

Neither did they start off on predatory excursions to get more land from
somebody else, or to get more food from somebody else, to maintain their
struggling mass.

Not at all. They sat down in council together and thought it out. Very
clear, strong thinkers they were. They said: “With our best endeavors
this country will support about so many people, with the standard of
peace, comfort, health, beauty, and progress we demand. Very well. That
is all the people we will make.”


There you have it. You see, they were Mothers, not in our sense of
helpless involuntary fecundity, forced to fill and overfill the land,
every land, and then see their children suffer, sin, and die, fighting
horribly with one another; but in the sense of Conscious Makers
of People. Mother-love with them was not a brute passion, a mere
“instinct,” a wholly personal feeling; it was--a religion.

It included that limitless feeling of sisterhood, that wide unity in
service, which was so difficult for us to grasp. And it was National,
Racial, Human--oh, I don’t know how to say it.

We are used to seeing what we call “a mother” completely wrapped up in
her own pink bundle of fascinating babyhood, and taking but the faintest
theoretic interest in anybody else’s bundle, to say nothing of the
common needs of ALL the bundles. But these women were working all
together at the grandest of tasks--they were Making People--and they
made them well.

There followed a period of “negative eugenics” which must have been an
appalling sacrifice. We are commonly willing to “lay down our lives” for
our country, but they had to forego motherhood for their country--and it
was precisely the hardest thing for them to do.

When I got this far in my reading I went to Somel for more light. We
were as friendly by that time as I had ever been in my life with any
woman. A mighty comfortable soul she was, giving one the nice smooth
mother-feeling a man likes in a woman, and yet giving also the clear
intelligence and dependableness I used to assume to be masculine
qualities. We had talked volumes already.

“See here,” said I. “Here was this dreadful period when they got far too
thick, and decided to limit the population. We have a lot of talk about
that among us, but your position is so different that I’d like to know a
little more about it.

“I understand that you make Motherhood the highest social service--a
sacrament, really; that it is only undertaken once, by the majority of
the population; that those held unfit are not allowed even that; and
that to be encouraged to bear more than one child is the very highest
reward and honor in the power of the state.”

(She interpolated here that the nearest approach to an aristocracy
they had was to come of a line of “Over Mothers”--those who had been so
honored.)

“But what I do not understand, naturally, is how you prevent it. I
gathered that each woman had five. You have no tyrannical husbands to
hold in check--and you surely do not destroy the unborn--”

The look of ghastly horror she gave me I shall never forget. She started
from her chair, pale, her eyes blazing.

“Destroy the unborn--!” she said in a hard whisper. “Do men do that in
your country?”

“Men!” I began to answer, rather hotly, and then saw the gulf before
me. None of us wanted these women to think that OUR women, of whom we
boasted so proudly, were in any way inferior to them. I am ashamed
to say that I equivocated. I told her of certain criminal types of
women--perverts, or crazy, who had been known to commit infanticide. I
told her, truly enough, that there was much in our land which was
open to criticism, but that I hated to dwell on our defects until they
understood us and our conditions better.

And, making a wide detour, I scrambled back to my question of how they
limited the population.

As for Somel, she seemed sorry, a little ashamed even, of her too
clearly expressed amazement. As I look back now, knowing them better, I
am more and more and more amazed as I appreciate the exquisite courtesy
with which they had received over and over again statements and
admissions on our part which must have revolted them to the soul.

She explained to me, with sweet seriousness, that as I had supposed, at
first each woman bore five children; and that, in their eager desire
to build up a nation, they had gone on in that way for a few centuries,
till they were confronted with the absolute need of a limit. This fact
was equally plain to all--all were equally interested.

They were now as anxious to check their wonderful power as they had
been to develop it; and for some generations gave the matter their most
earnest thought and study.

“We were living on rations before we worked it out,” she said. “But we
did work it out. You see, before a child comes to one of us there is a
period of utter exaltation--the whole being is uplifted and filled with
a concentrated desire for that child. We learned to look forward to that
period with the greatest caution. Often our young women, those to whom
motherhood had not yet come, would voluntarily defer it. When that deep
inner demand for a child began to be felt she would deliberately engage
in the most active work, physical and mental; and even more important,
would solace her longing by the direct care and service of the babies we
already had.”

She paused. Her wise sweet face grew deeply, reverently tender.

“We soon grew to see that mother-love has more than one channel of
expression. I think the reason our children are so--so fully loved, by
all of us, is that we never--any of us--have enough of our own.”

This seemed to me infinitely pathetic, and I said so. “We have much that
is bitter and hard in our life at home,” I told her, “but this seems to
me piteous beyond words--a whole nation of starving mothers!”

But she smiled her deep contented smile, and said I quite misunderstood.

“We each go without a certain range of personal joy,” she said, “but
remember--we each have a million children to love and serve--OUR
children.”

It was beyond me. To hear a lot of women talk about “our children”! But
I suppose that is the way the ants and bees would talk--do talk, maybe.

That was what they did, anyhow.

When a woman chose to be a mother, she allowed the child-longing to
grow within her till it worked its natural miracle. When she did not so
choose she put the whole thing out of her mind, and fed her heart with
the other babies.

Let me see--with us, children--minors, that is--constitute about
three-fifths of the population; with them only about one-third, or
less. And precious--! No sole heir to an empire’s throne, no solitary
millionaire baby, no only child of middle-aged parents, could compare as
an idol with these Herland children.

But before I start on that subject I must finish up that little analysis
I was trying to make.

They did effectually and permanently limit the population in numbers, so
that the country furnished plenty for the fullest, richest life for all
of them: plenty of everything, including room, air, solitude even.

And then they set to work to improve that population in quality--since
they were restricted in quantity. This they had been at work on,
uninterruptedly, for some fifteen hundred years. Do you wonder they were
nice people?

Physiology, hygiene, sanitation, physical culture--all that line of work
had been perfected long since. Sickness was almost wholly unknown among
them, so much so that a previously high development in what we call the
“science of medicine” had become practically a lost art. They were a
clean-bred, vigorous lot, having the best of care, the most perfect
living conditions always.

When it came to psychology--there was no one thing which left us so
dumbfounded, so really awed, as the everyday working knowledge--and
practice--they had in this line. As we learned more and more of it, we
learned to appreciate the exquisite mastery with which we ourselves,
strangers of alien race, of unknown opposite sex, had been understood
and provided for from the first.

With this wide, deep, thorough knowledge, they had met and solved the
problems of education in ways some of which I hope to make clear later.
Those nation-loved children of theirs compared with the average in our
country as the most perfectly cultivated, richly developed roses compare
with--tumbleweeds. Yet they did not SEEM “cultivated” at all--it had all
become a natural condition.

And this people, steadily developing in mental capacity, in will power,
in social devotion, had been playing with the arts and sciences--as
far as they knew them--for a good many centuries now with inevitable
success.

Into this quiet lovely land, among these wise, sweet, strong women, we,
in our easy assumption of superiority, had suddenly arrived; and now,
tamed and trained to a degree they considered safe, we were at last
brought out to see the country, to know the people.



CHAPTER 7. Our Growing Modesty


Being at last considered sufficiently tamed and trained to be trusted
with scissors, we barbered ourselves as best we could. A close-trimmed
beard is certainly more comfortable than a full one. Razors, naturally,
they could not supply.

“With so many old women you’d think there’d be some razors,” sneered
Terry. Whereat Jeff pointed out that he never before had seen such
complete absence of facial hair on women.

“Looks to me as if the absence of men made them more feminine in that
regard, anyhow,” he suggested.

“Well, it’s the only one then,” Terry reluctantly agreed. “A less
feminine lot I never saw. A child apiece doesn’t seem to be enough to
develop what I call motherliness.”

Terry’s idea of motherliness was the usual one, involving a baby in
arms, or “a little flock about her knees,” and the complete absorption
of the mother in said baby or flock. A motherliness which dominated
society, which influenced every art and industry, which absolutely
protected all childhood, and gave to it the most perfect care and
training, did not seem motherly--to Terry.

We had become well used to the clothes. They were quite as comfortable
as our own--in some ways more so--and undeniably better looking. As to
pockets, they left nothing to be desired. That second garment was fairly
quilted with pockets. They were most ingeniously arranged, so as to be
convenient to the hand and not inconvenient to the body, and were so
placed as at once to strengthen the garment and add decorative lines of
stitching.

In this, as in so many other points we had now to observe, there was
shown the action of a practical intelligence, coupled with fine artistic
feeling, and, apparently, untrammeled by any injurious influences.

Our first step of comparative freedom was a personally conducted tour of
the country. No pentagonal bodyguard now! Only our special tutors,
and we got on famously with them. Jeff said he loved Zava like an
aunt--“only jollier than any aunt I ever saw”; Somel and I were as
chummy as could be--the best of friends; but it was funny to watch Terry
and Moadine. She was patient with him, and courteous, but it was like
the patience and courtesy of some great man, say a skilled, experienced
diplomat, with a schoolgirl. Her grave acquiescence with his most
preposterous expression of feeling; her genial laughter, not only
with, but, I often felt, at him--though impeccably polite; her
innocent questions, which almost invariably led him to say more than he
intended--Jeff and I found it all amusing to watch.

He never seemed to recognize that quiet background of superiority. When
she dropped an argument he always thought he had silenced her; when she
laughed he thought it tribute to his wit.

I hated to admit to myself how much Terry had sunk in my esteem. Jeff
felt it too, I am sure; but neither of us admitted it to the other.
At home we had measured him with other men, and, though we knew his
failings, he was by no means an unusual type. We knew his virtues too,
and they had always seemed more prominent than the faults. Measured
among women--our women at home, I mean--he had always stood high. He
was visibly popular. Even where his habits were known, there was no
discrimination against him; in some cases his reputation for what was
felicitously termed “gaiety” seemed a special charm.

But here, against the calm wisdom and quiet restrained humor of these
women, with only that blessed Jeff and my inconspicuous self to compare
with, Terry did stand out rather strong.

As “a man among men,” he didn’t; as a man among--I shall have to say,
“females,” he didn’t; his intense masculinity seemed only fit complement
to their intense femininity. But here he was all out of drawing.

Moadine was a big woman, with a balanced strength that seldom showed.
Her eye was as quietly watchful as a fencer’s. She maintained a pleasant
relation with her charge, but I doubt if many, even in that country,
could have done as well.

He called her “Maud,” amongst ourselves, and said she was “a good old
soul, but a little slow”; wherein he was quite wrong. Needless to
say, he called Jeff’s teacher “Java,” and sometimes “Mocha,” or plain
“Coffee”; when specially mischievous, “Chicory,” and even “Postum.” But
Somel rather escaped this form of humor, save for a rather forced “Some
‘ell.”

“Don’t you people have but one name?” he asked one day, after we
had been introduced to a whole group of them, all with pleasant,
few-syllabled strange names, like the ones we knew.

“Oh yes,” Moadine told him. “A good many of us have another, as we get
on in life--a descriptive one. That is the name we earn. Sometimes even
that is changed, or added to, in an unusually rich life. Such as our
present Land Mother--what you call president or king, I believe. She
was called Mera, even as a child; that means ‘thinker.’ Later there
was added Du--Du-Mera--the wise thinker, and now we all know her as
O-du-mera--great and wise thinker. You shall meet her.”

“No surnames at all then?” pursued Terry, with his somewhat patronizing
air. “No family name?”

“Why no,” she said. “Why should we? We are all descended from a common
source--all one ‘family’ in reality. You see, our comparatively brief
and limited history gives us that advantage at least.”

“But does not each mother want her own child to bear her name?” I asked.

“No--why should she? The child has its own.”

“Why for--for identification--so people will know whose child she is.”

“We keep the most careful records,” said Somel. “Each one of us has our
exact line of descent all the way back to our dear First Mother. There
are many reasons for doing that. But as to everyone knowing which child
belongs to which mother--why should she?”

Here, as in so many other instances, we were led to feel the difference
between the purely maternal and the paternal attitude of mind. The
element of personal pride seemed strangely lacking.

“How about your other works?” asked Jeff. “Don’t you sign your names to
them--books and statues and so on?”

“Yes, surely, we are all glad and proud to. Not only books and statues,
but all kinds of work. You will find little names on the houses, on the
furniture, on the dishes sometimes. Because otherwise one is likely to
forget, and we want to know to whom to be grateful.”

“You speak as if it were done for the convenience of the consumer--not
the pride of the producer,” I suggested.

“It’s both,” said Somel. “We have pride enough in our work.”

“Then why not in your children?” urged Jeff.

“But we have! We’re magnificently proud of them,” she insisted.

“Then why not sign ‘em?” said Terry triumphantly.

Moadine turned to him with her slightly quizzical smile. “Because the
finished product is not a private one. When they are babies, we do speak
of them, at times, as ‘Essa’s Lato,’ or ‘Novine’s Amel’; but that is
merely descriptive and conversational. In the records, of course,
the child stands in her own line of mothers; but in dealing with it
personally it is Lato, or Amel, without dragging in its ancestors.”

“But have you names enough to give a new one to each child?”

“Assuredly we have, for each living generation.”

Then they asked about our methods, and found first that “we” did so and
so, and then that other nations did differently. Upon which they wanted
to know which method has been proved best--and we had to admit that
so far as we knew there had been no attempt at comparison, each people
pursuing its own custom in the fond conviction of superiority, and
either despising or quite ignoring the others.

With these women the most salient quality in all their institutions was
reasonableness. When I dug into the records to follow out any line of
development, that was the most astonishing thing--the conscious effort
to make it better.

They had early observed the value of certain improvements, had easily
inferred that there was room for more, and took the greatest pains to
develop two kinds of minds--the critic and inventor. Those who showed
an early tendency to observe, to discriminate, to suggest, were given
special training for that function; and some of their highest officials
spent their time in the most careful study of one or another branch of
work, with a view to its further improvement.

In each generation there was sure to arrive some new mind to detect
faults and show need of alterations; and the whole corps of inventors
was at hand to apply their special faculty at the point criticized, and
offer suggestions.

We had learned by this time not to open a discussion on any of their
characteristics without first priming ourselves to answer questions
about our own methods; so I kept rather quiet on this matter of
conscious improvement. We were not prepared to show our way was better.

There was growing in our minds, at least in Jeff’s and mine, a
keen appreciation of the advantages of this strange country and its
management. Terry remained critical. We laid most of it to his nerves.
He certainly was irritable.

The most conspicuous feature of the whole land was the perfection of
its food supply. We had begun to notice from that very first walk in the
forest, the first partial view from our ‘plane. Now we were taken to see
this mighty garden, and shown its methods of culture.

The country was about the size of Holland, some ten or twelve
thousand square miles. One could lose a good many Hollands along the
forest-smothered flanks of those mighty mountains. They had a population
of about three million--not a large one, but quality is something. Three
million is quite enough to allow for considerable variation, and these
people varied more widely than we could at first account for.

Terry had insisted that if they were parthenogenetic they’d be as alike
as so many ants or aphids; he urged their visible differences as proof
that there must be men--somewhere.

But when we asked them, in our later, more intimate conversations, how
they accounted for so much divergence without cross-fertilization,
they attributed it partly to the careful education, which followed each
slight tendency to differ, and partly to the law of mutation. This they
had found in their work with plants, and fully proven in their own case.

Physically they were more alike than we, as they lacked all morbid or
excessive types. They were tall, strong, healthy, and beautiful as a
race, but differed individually in a wide range of feature, coloring,
and expression.

“But surely the most important growth is in mind--and in the things we
make,” urged Somel. “Do you find your physical variation accompanied by
a proportionate variation in ideas, feelings, and products? Or, among
people who look more alike, do you find their internal life and their
work as similar?”

We were rather doubtful on this point, and inclined to hold that there
was more chance of improvement in greater physical variation.

“It certainly should be,” Zava admitted. “We have always thought it a
grave initial misfortune to have lost half our little world. Perhaps
that is one reason why we have so striven for conscious improvement.”

“But acquired traits are not transmissible,” Terry declared. “Weissman
has proved that.”

They never disputed our absolute statements, only made notes of them.

“If that is so, then our improvement must be due either to mutation, or
solely to education,” she gravely pursued. “We certainly have improved.
It may be that all these higher qualities were latent in the original
mother, that careful education is bringing them out, and that our
personal differences depend on slight variations in prenatal condition.”

“I think it is more in your accumulated culture,” Jeff suggested. “And
in the amazing psychic growth you have made. We know very little about
methods of real soul culture--and you seem to know a great deal.”

Be that as it might, they certainly presented a higher level of active
intelligence, and of behavior, than we had so far really grasped. Having
known in our lives several people who showed the same delicate courtesy
and were equally pleasant to live with, at least when they wore their
“company manners,” we had assumed that our companions were a carefully
chosen few. Later we were more and more impressed that all this gentle
breeding was breeding; that they were born to it, reared in it, that it
was as natural and universal with them as the gentleness of doves or the
alleged wisdom of serpents.

As for the intelligence, I confess that this was the most impressive
and, to me, most mortifying, of any single feature of Herland. We soon
ceased to comment on this or other matters which to them were such
obvious commonplaces as to call forth embarrassing questions about our
own conditions.

This was nowhere better shown than in that matter of food supply, which
I will now attempt to describe.

Having improved their agriculture to the highest point, and carefully
estimated the number of persons who could comfortably live on their
square miles; having then limited their population to that number, one
would think that was all there was to be done. But they had not thought
so. To them the country was a unit--it was theirs. They themselves were
a unit, a conscious group; they thought in terms of the community. As
such, their time-sense was not limited to the hopes and ambitions of an
individual life. Therefore, they habitually considered and carried out
plans for improvement which might cover centuries.

I had never seen, had scarcely imagined, human beings undertaking such
a work as the deliberate replanting of an entire forest area with
different kinds of trees. Yet this seemed to them the simplest common
sense, like a man’s plowing up an inferior lawn and reseeding it. Now
every tree bore fruit--edible fruit, that is. In the case of one
tree, in which they took especial pride, it had originally no fruit at
all--that is, none humanly edible--yet was so beautiful that they wished
to keep it. For nine hundred years they had experimented, and now
showed us this particularly lovely graceful tree, with a profuse crop of
nutritious seeds.

They had early decided that trees were the best food plants, requiring
far less labor in tilling the soil, and bearing a larger amount of food
for the same ground space; also doing much to preserve and enrich the
soil.

Due regard had been paid to seasonable crops, and their fruit and nuts,
grains and berries, kept on almost the year through.

On the higher part of the country, near the backing wall of mountains,
they had a real winter with snow. Toward the south-eastern point, where
there was a large valley with a lake whose outlet was subterranean, the
climate was like that of California, and citrus fruits, figs, and olives
grew abundantly.

What impressed me particularly was their scheme of fertilization. Here
was this little shut-in piece of land where one would have thought an
ordinary people would have been starved out long ago or reduced to an
annual struggle for life. These careful culturists had worked out a
perfect scheme of refeeding the soil with all that came out of it. All
the scraps and leavings of their food, plant waste from lumber work or
textile industry, all the solid matter from the sewage, properly treated
and combined--everything which came from the earth went back to it.

The practical result was like that in any healthy forest; an
increasingly valuable soil was being built, instead of the progressive
impoverishment so often seen in the rest of the world.

When this first burst upon us we made such approving comments that they
were surprised that such obvious common sense should be praised; asked
what our methods were; and we had some difficulty in--well, in
diverting them, by referring to the extent of our own land, and
the--admitted--carelessness with which we had skimmed the cream of it.

At least we thought we had diverted them. Later I found that besides
keeping a careful and accurate account of all we told them, they had a
sort of skeleton chart, on which the things we said and the things we
palpably avoided saying were all set down and studied. It really was
child’s play for those profound educators to work out a painfully
accurate estimate of our conditions--in some lines. When a given line of
observation seemed to lead to some very dreadful inference they always
gave us the benefit of the doubt, leaving it open to further knowledge.
Some of the things we had grown to accept as perfectly natural, or
as belonging to our human limitations, they literally could not have
believed; and, as I have said, we had all of us joined in a tacit
endeavor to conceal much of the social status at home.

“Confound their grandmotherly minds!” Terry said. “Of course they can’t
understand a Man’s World! They aren’t human--they’re just a pack of
Fe-Fe-Females!” This was after he had to admit their parthenogenesis.

“I wish our grandfatherly minds had managed as well,” said Jeff. “Do you
really think it’s to our credit that we have muddled along with all our
poverty and disease and the like? They have peace and plenty, wealth and
beauty, goodness and intellect. Pretty good people, I think!”

“You’ll find they have their faults too,” Terry insisted; and partly in
self-defense, we all three began to look for those faults of theirs.
We had been very strong on this subject before we got there--in those
baseless speculations of ours.

“Suppose there is a country of women only,” Jeff had put it, over and
over. “What’ll they be like?”

And we had been cocksure as to the inevitable limitations, the faults
and vices, of a lot of women. We had expected them to be given over to
what we called “feminine vanity”--“frills and furbelows,” and we found
they had evolved a costume more perfect than the Chinese dress, richly
beautiful when so desired, always useful, of unfailing dignity and good
taste.

We had expected a dull submissive monotony, and found a daring social
inventiveness far beyond our own, and a mechanical and scientific
development fully equal to ours.

We had expected pettiness, and found a social consciousness besides
which our nations looked like quarreling children--feebleminded ones at
that.

We had expected jealousy, and found a broad sisterly affection, a
fair-minded intelligence, to which we could produce no parallel.

We had expected hysteria, and found a standard of health and vigor, a
calmness of temper, to which the habit of profanity, for instance, was
impossible to explain--we tried it.

All these things even Terry had to admit, but he still insisted that we
should find out the other side pretty soon.

“It stands to reason, doesn’t it?” he argued. “The whole thing’s deuced
unnatural--I’d say impossible if we weren’t in it. And an unnatural
condition’s sure to have unnatural results. You’ll find some awful
characteristics--see if you don’t! For instance--we don’t know yet what
they do with their criminals--their defectives--their aged. You notice
we haven’t seen any! There’s got to be something!”

I was inclined to believe that there had to be something, so I took the
bull by the horns--the cow, I should say!--and asked Somel.

“I want to find some flaw in all this perfection,” I told her flatly.
“It simply isn’t possible that three million people have no faults. We
are trying our best to understand and learn--would you mind helping us
by saying what, to your minds, are the worst qualities of this unique
civilization of yours?”

We were sitting together in a shaded arbor, in one of those
eating-gardens of theirs. The delicious food had been eaten, a plate of
fruit still before us. We could look out on one side over a stretch of
open country, quietly rich and lovely; on the other, the garden, with
tables here and there, far apart enough for privacy. Let me say right
here that with all their careful “balance of population” there was no
crowding in this country. There was room, space, a sunny breezy freedom
everywhere.

Somel set her chin upon her hand, her elbow on the low wall beside her,
and looked off over the fair land.

“Of course we have faults--all of us,” she said. “In one way you
might say that we have more than we used to--that is, our standard
of perfection seems to get farther and farther away. But we are not
discouraged, because our records do show gain--considerable gain.

“When we began--even with the start of one particularly noble mother--we
inherited the characteristics of a long race-record behind her. And they
cropped out from time to time--alarmingly. But it is--yes, quite six
hundred years since we have had what you call a ‘criminal.’

“We have, of course, made it our first business to train out, to breed
out, when possible, the lowest types.”

“Breed out?” I asked. “How could you--with parthenogenesis?”

“If the girl showing the bad qualities had still the power to appreciate
social duty, we appealed to her, by that, to renounce motherhood. Some
of the few worst types were, fortunately, unable to reproduce. But if
the fault was in a disproportionate egotism--then the girl was sure
she had the right to have children, even that hers would be better than
others.”

“I can see that,” I said. “And then she would be likely to rear them in
the same spirit.”

“That we never allowed,” answered Somel quietly.

“Allowed?” I queried. “Allowed a mother to rear her own children?”

“Certainly not,” said Somel, “unless she was fit for that supreme task.”

This was rather a blow to my previous convictions.

“But I thought motherhood was for each of you--”

“Motherhood--yes, that is, maternity, to bear a child. But education is
our highest art, only allowed to our highest artists.”

“Education?” I was puzzled again. “I don’t mean education. I mean by
motherhood not only child-bearing, but the care of babies.”

“The care of babies involves education, and is entrusted only to the
most fit,” she repeated.

“Then you separate mother and child!” I cried in cold horror, something
of Terry’s feeling creeping over me, that there must be something wrong
among these many virtues.

“Not usually,” she patiently explained. “You see, almost every woman
values her maternity above everything else. Each girl holds it close
and dear, an exquisite joy, a crowning honor, the most intimate, most
personal, most precious thing. That is, the child-rearing has come to
be with us a culture so profoundly studied, practiced with such subtlety
and skill, that the more we love our children the less we are willing to
trust that process to unskilled hands--even our own.”

“But a mother’s love--” I ventured.

She studied my face, trying to work out a means of clear explanation.

“You told us about your dentists,” she said, at length, “those quaintly
specialized persons who spend their lives filling little holes in other
persons’ teeth--even in children’s teeth sometimes.”

“Yes?” I said, not getting her drift.

“Does mother-love urge mothers--with you--to fill their own children’s
teeth? Or to wish to?”

“Why no--of course not,” I protested. “But that is a highly specialized
craft. Surely the care of babies is open to any woman--any mother!”

“We do not think so,” she gently replied. “Those of us who are the
most highly competent fulfill that office; and a majority of our girls
eagerly try for it--I assure you we have the very best.”

“But the poor mother--bereaved of her baby--”

“Oh no!” she earnestly assured me. “Not in the least bereaved. It is her
baby still--it is with her--she has not lost it. But she is not the only
one to care for it. There are others whom she knows to be wiser. She
knows it because she has studied as they did, practiced as they did, and
honors their real superiority. For the child’s sake, she is glad to have
for it this highest care.”

I was unconvinced. Besides, this was only hearsay; I had yet to see the
motherhood of Herland.



CHAPTER 8. The Girls of Herland


At last Terry’s ambition was realized. We were invited, always
courteously and with free choice on our part, to address general
audiences and classes of girls.

I remember the first time--and how careful we were about our clothes,
and our amateur barbering. Terry, in particular, was fussy to a degree
about the cut of his beard, and so critical of our combined efforts,
that we handed him the shears and told him to please himself. We
began to rather prize those beards of ours; they were almost our sole
distinction among those tall and sturdy women, with their cropped hair
and sexless costume. Being offered a wide selection of garments, we had
chosen according to our personal taste, and were surprised to find,
on meeting large audiences, that we were the most highly decorated,
especially Terry.

He was a very impressive figure, his strong features softened by the
somewhat longer hair--though he made me trim it as closely as I knew
how; and he wore his richly embroidered tunic with its broad, loose
girdle with quite a Henry V air. Jeff looked more like--well, like a
Huguenot Lover; and I don’t know what I looked like, only that I felt
very comfortable. When I got back to our own padded armor and its
starched borders I realized with acute regret how comfortable were those
Herland clothes.

We scanned that audience, looking for the three bright faces we knew;
but they were not to be seen. Just a multitude of girls: quiet, eager,
watchful, all eyes and ears to listen and learn.

We had been urged to give, as fully as we cared to, a sort of synopsis
of world history, in brief, and to answer questions.

“We are so utterly ignorant, you see,” Moadine had explained to us. “We
know nothing but such science as we have worked out for ourselves,
just the brain work of one small half-country; and you, we gather, have
helped one another all over the globe, sharing your discoveries, pooling
your progress. How wonderful, how supremely beautiful your civilization
must be!”

Somel gave a further suggestion.

“You do not have to begin all over again, as you did with us. We have
made a sort of digest of what we have learned from you, and it has been
eagerly absorbed, all over the country. Perhaps you would like to see
our outline?”

We were eager to see it, and deeply impressed. To us, at first, these
women, unavoidably ignorant of what to us was the basic commonplace of
knowledge, had seemed on the plane of children, or of savages. What we
had been forced to admit, with growing acquaintance, was that they
were ignorant as Plato and Aristotle were, but with a highly developed
mentality quite comparable to that of Ancient Greece.

Far be it from me to lumber these pages with an account of what we so
imperfectly strove to teach them. The memorable fact is what they taught
us, or some faint glimpse of it. And at present, our major interest was
not at all in the subject matter of our talk, but in the audience.

Girls--hundreds of them--eager, bright-eyed, attentive young faces;
crowding questions, and, I regret to say, an increasing inability on our
part to answer them effectively.

Our special guides, who were on the platform with us, and sometimes
aided in clarifying a question or, oftener, an answer, noticed this
effect, and closed the formal lecture part of the evening rather
shortly.

“Our young women will be glad to meet you,” Somel suggested, “to talk
with you more personally, if you are willing?”

Willing! We were impatient and said as much, at which I saw a flickering
little smile cross Moadine’s face. Even then, with all those eager young
things waiting to talk to us, a sudden question crossed my mind: “What
was their point of view? What did they think of us?” We learned that
later.

Terry plunged in among those young creatures with a sort of rapture,
somewhat as a glad swimmer takes to the sea. Jeff, with a rapt look on
his high-bred face, approached as to a sacrament. But I was a little
chilled by that last thought of mine, and kept my eyes open. I found
time to watch Jeff, even while I was surrounded by an eager group of
questioners--as we all were--and saw how his worshipping eyes, his grave
courtesy, pleased and drew some of them; while others, rather stronger
spirits they looked to be, drew away from his group to Terry’s or mine.

I watched Terry with special interest, knowing how he had longed for
this time, and how irresistible he had always been at home. And I could
see, just in snatches, of course, how his suave and masterful approach
seemed to irritate them; his too-intimate glances were vaguely resented,
his compliments puzzled and annoyed. Sometimes a girl would flush, not
with drooped eyelids and inviting timidity, but with anger and a quick
lift of the head. Girl after girl turned on her heel and left him, till
he had but a small ring of questioners, and they, visibly, were the
least “girlish” of the lot.

I saw him looking pleased at first, as if he thought he was making
a strong impression; but, finally, casting a look at Jeff, or me, he
seemed less pleased--and less.

As for me, I was most agreeably surprised. At home I never
was “popular.” I had my girl friends, good ones, but they were
friends--nothing else. Also they were of somewhat the same clan, not
popular in the sense of swarming admirers. But here, to my astonishment,
I found my crowd was the largest.

I have to generalize, of course, rather telescoping many impressions;
but the first evening was a good sample of the impression we made. Jeff
had a following, if I may call it that, of the more sentimental--though
that’s not the word I want. The less practical, perhaps; the girls who
were artists of some sort, ethicists, teachers--that kind.

Terry was reduced to a rather combative group: keen, logical, inquiring
minds, not overly sensitive, the very kind he liked least; while, as for
me--I became quite cocky over my general popularity.

Terry was furious about it. We could hardly blame him.

“Girls!” he burst forth, when that evening was over and we were by
ourselves once more. “Call those GIRLS!”

“Most delightful girls, I call them,” said Jeff, his blue eyes dreamily
contented.

“What do YOU call them?” I mildly inquired.

“Boys! Nothing but boys, most of ‘em. A standoffish, disagreeable lot at
that. Critical, impertinent youngsters. No girls at all.”

He was angry and severe, not a little jealous, too, I think. Afterward,
when he found out just what it was they did not like, he changed his
manner somewhat and got on better. He had to. For, in spite of his
criticism, they were girls, and, furthermore, all the girls there
were! Always excepting our three!--with whom we presently renewed our
acquaintance.

When it came to courtship, which it soon did, I can of course best
describe my own--and am least inclined to. But of Jeff I heard somewhat;
he was inclined to dwell reverently and admiringly, at some length,
on the exalted sentiment and measureless perfection of his Celis; and
Terry--Terry made so many false starts and met so many rebuffs, that by
the time he really settled down to win Alima, he was considerably wiser.
At that, it was not smooth sailing. They broke and quarreled, over and
over; he would rush off to console himself with some other fair one--the
other fair one would have none of him--and he would drift back to Alima,
becoming more and more devoted each time.

She never gave an inch. A big, handsome creature, rather exceptionally
strong even in that race of strong women, with a proud head and sweeping
level brows that lined across above her dark eager eyes like the wide
wings of a soaring hawk.

I was good friends with all three of them but best of all with Ellador,
long before that feeling changed, for both of us.

From her, and from Somel, who talked very freely with me, I learned at
last something of the viewpoint of Herland toward its visitors.

Here they were, isolated, happy, contented, when the booming buzz of our
biplane tore the air above them.

Everybody heard it--saw it--for miles and miles, word flashed all over
the country, and a council was held in every town and village.

And this was their rapid determination:

“From another country. Probably men. Evidently highly civilized.
Doubtless possessed of much valuable knowledge. May be dangerous. Catch
them if possible; tame and train them if necessary This may be a chance
to re-establish a bi-sexual state for our people.”

They were not afraid of us--three million highly intelligent women--or
two million, counting only grown-ups--were not likely to be afraid of
three young men. We thought of them as “Women,” and therefore timid; but
it was two thousand years since they had had anything to be afraid
of, and certainly more than one thousand since they had outgrown the
feeling.

We thought--at least Terry did--that we could have our pick of them.
They thought--very cautiously and farsightedly--of picking us, if it
seemed wise.

All that time we were in training they studied us, analyzed us, prepared
reports about us, and this information was widely disseminated all about
the land.

Not a girl in that country had not been learning for months as much
as could be gathered about our country, our culture, our personal
characters. No wonder their questions were hard to answer. But I am
sorry to say, when we were at last brought out and--exhibited (I hate to
call it that, but that’s what it was), there was no rush of takers. Here
was poor old Terry fondly imagining that at last he was free to stray in
“a rosebud garden of girls”--and behold! the rosebuds were all with keen
appraising eye, studying us.

They were interested, profoundly interested, but it was not the kind of
interest we were looking for.

To get an idea of their attitude you have to hold in mind their
extremely high sense of solidarity. They were not each choosing a
lover; they hadn’t the faintest idea of love--sex-love, that is. These
girls--to each of whom motherhood was a lodestar, and that motherhood
exalted above a mere personal function, looked forward to as the highest
social service, as the sacrament of a lifetime--were now confronted with
an opportunity to make the great step of changing their whole status, of
reverting to their earlier bi-sexual order of nature.

Beside this underlying consideration there was the limitless interest
and curiosity in our civilization, purely impersonal, and held by an
order of mind beside which we were like--schoolboys.

It was small wonder that our lectures were not a success; and none at
all that our, or at least Terry’s, advances were so ill received. The
reason for my own comparative success was at first far from pleasing to
my pride.

“We like you the best,” Somel told me, “because you seem more like us.”

“More like a lot of women!” I thought to myself disgustedly, and then
remembered how little like “women,” in our derogatory sense, they were.
She was smiling at me, reading my thought.

“We can quite see that we do not seem like--women--to you. Of course,
in a bi-sexual race the distinctive feature of each sex must be
intensified. But surely there are characteristics enough which belong
to People, aren’t there? That’s what I mean about you being more like
us--more like People. We feel at ease with you.”

Jeff’s difficulty was his exalted gallantry. He idealized women, and
was always looking for a chance to “protect” or to “serve” them. These
needed neither protection nor service. They were living in peace and
power and plenty; we were their guests, their prisoners, absolutely
dependent.

Of course we could promise whatsoever we might of advantages, if they
would come to our country; but the more we knew of theirs, the less we
boasted.

Terry’s jewels and trinkets they prized as curios; handed them about,
asking questions as to workmanship, not in the least as to value; and
discussed not ownership, but which museum to put them in.

When a man has nothing to give a woman, is dependent wholly on his
personal attraction, his courtship is under limitations.

They were considering these two things: the advisability of making the
Great Change; and the degree of personal adaptability which would best
serve that end.

Here we had the advantage of our small personal experience with those
three fleet forest girls; and that served to draw us together.

As for Ellador: Suppose you come to a strange land and find it pleasant
enough--just a little more than ordinarily pleasant--and then you find
rich farmland, and then gardens, gorgeous gardens, and then palaces
full of rare and curious treasures--incalculable, inexhaustible, and
then--mountains--like the Himalayas, and then the sea.

I liked her that day she balanced on the branch before me and named the
trio. I thought of her most. Afterward I turned to her like a friend
when we met for the third time, and continued the acquaintance. While
Jeff’s ultra-devotion rather puzzled Celis, really put off their day
of happiness, while Terry and Alima quarreled and parted, re-met and
re-parted, Ellador and I grew to be close friends.

We talked and talked. We took long walks together. She showed me things,
explained them, interpreted much that I had not understood. Through her
sympathetic intelligence I became more and more comprehending of the
spirit of the people of Herland, more and more appreciative of its
marvelous inner growth as well as outer perfection.

I ceased to feel a stranger, a prisoner. There was a sense of
understanding, of identity, of purpose. We discussed--everything. And,
as I traveled farther and farther, exploring the rich, sweet soul of
her, my sense of pleasant friendship became but a broad foundation for
such height, such breadth, such interlocked combination of feeling as
left me fairly blinded with the wonder of it.

As I’ve said, I had never cared very much for women, nor they for
me--not Terry-fashion. But this one--

At first I never even thought of her “in that way,” as the girls have
it. I had not come to the country with any Turkish-harem intentions,
and I was no woman-worshipper like Jeff. I just liked that girl “as a
friend,” as we say. That friendship grew like a tree. She was SUCH a
good sport! We did all kinds of things together. She taught me games and
I taught her games, and we raced and rowed and had all manner of fun, as
well as higher comradeship.

Then, as I got on farther, the palace and treasures and snowy mountain
ranges opened up. I had never known there could be such a human being.
So--great. I don’t mean talented. She was a forester--one of the
best--but it was not that gift I mean. When I say GREAT, I mean
great--big, all through. If I had known more of those women, as
intimately, I should not have found her so unique; but even among them
she was noble. Her mother was an Over Mother--and her grandmother, too,
I heard later.

So she told me more and more of her beautiful land; and I told her as
much, yes, more than I wanted to, about mine; and we became inseparable.
Then this deeper recognition came and grew. I felt my own soul rise
and lift its wings, as it were. Life got bigger. It seemed as if I
understood--as I never had before--as if I could Do things--as if I too
could grow--if she would help me. And then It came--to both of us, all
at once.

A still day--on the edge of the world, their world. The two of us,
gazing out over the far dim forestland below, talking of heaven and
earth and human life, and of my land and other lands and what they
needed and what I hoped to do for them--

“If you will help me,” I said.

She turned to me, with that high, sweet look of hers, and then, as her
eyes rested in mine and her hands too--then suddenly there blazed out
between us a farther glory, instant, overwhelming--quite beyond any
words of mine to tell.

Celis was a blue-and-gold-and-rose person; Alma,
black-and-white-and-red, a blazing beauty. Ellador was brown: hair dark
and soft, like a seal coat; clear brown skin with a healthy red in
it; brown eyes--all the way from topaz to black velvet they seemed to
range--splendid girls, all of them.

They had seen us first of all, far down in the lake below, and flashed
the tidings across the land even before our first exploring flight. They
had watched our landing, flitted through the forest with us, hidden in
that tree and--I shrewdly suspect--giggled on purpose.

They had kept watch over our hooded machine, taking turns at it; and
when our escape was announced, had followed along-side for a day or two,
and been there at the last, as described. They felt a special claim on
us--called us “their men”--and when we were at liberty to study the land
and people, and be studied by them, their claim was recognized by the
wise leaders.

But I felt, we all did, that we should have chosen them among millions,
unerringly.

And yet “the path of true love never did run smooth”; this period of
courtship was full of the most unsuspected pitfalls.

Writing this as late as I do, after manifold experiences both in Herland
and, later, in my own land, I can now understand and philosophize about
what was then a continual astonishment and often a temporary tragedy.

The “long suit” in most courtships is sex attraction, of course. Then
gradually develops such comradeship as the two temperaments allow. Then,
after marriage, there is either the establishment of a slow-growing,
widely based friendship, the deepest, tenderest, sweetest of relations,
all lit and warmed by the recurrent flame of love; or else that process
is reversed, love cools and fades, no friendship grows, the whole
relation turns from beauty to ashes.

Here everything was different. There was no sex-feeling to appeal to, or
practically none. Two thousand years’ disuse had left very little of the
instinct; also we must remember that those who had at times manifested
it as atavistic exceptions were often, by that very fact, denied
motherhood.

Yet while the mother process remains, the inherent ground for
sex-distinction remains also; and who shall say what long-forgotten
feeling, vague and nameless, was stirred in some of these mother hearts
by our arrival?

What left us even more at sea in our approach was the lack of any
sex-tradition. There was no accepted standard of what was “manly” and
what was “womanly.”

When Jeff said, taking the fruit basket from his adored one, “A woman
should not carry anything,” Celis said, “Why?” with the frankest
amazement. He could not look that fleet-footed, deep-chested young
forester in the face and say, “Because she is weaker.” She wasn’t. One
does not call a race horse weak because it is visibly not a cart horse.

He said, rather lamely, that women were not built for heavy work.

She looked out across the fields to where some women were working,
building a new bit of wall out of large stones; looked back at the
nearest town with its woman-built houses; down at the smooth, hard road
we were walking on; and then at the little basket he had taken from her.

“I don’t understand,” she said quite sweetly. “Are the women in your
country so weak that they could not carry such a thing as that?”

“It is a convention,” he said. “We assume that motherhood is a
sufficient burden--that men should carry all the others.”

“What a beautiful feeling!” she said, her blue eyes shining.

“Does it work?” asked Alima, in her keen, swift way. “Do all men in all
countries carry everything? Or is it only in yours?”

“Don’t be so literal,” Terry begged lazily. “Why aren’t you willing to
be worshipped and waited on? We like to do it.”

“You don’t like to have us do it to you,” she answered.

“That’s different,” he said, annoyed; and when she said, “Why is it?” he
quite sulked, referring her to me, saying, “Van’s the philosopher.”

Ellador and I talked it all out together, so that we had an easier
experience of it when the real miracle time came. Also, between us, we
made things clearer to Jeff and Celis. But Terry would not listen to
reason.

He was madly in love with Alima. He wanted to take her by storm, and
nearly lost her forever.

You see, if a man loves a girl who is in the first place young and
inexperienced; who in the second place is educated with a background
of caveman tradition, a middle-ground of poetry and romance, and a
foreground of unspoken hope and interest all centering upon the one
Event; and who has, furthermore, absolutely no other hope or interest
worthy of the name--why, it is a comparatively easy matter to sweep
her off her feet with a dashing attack. Terry was a past master in this
process. He tried it here, and Alima was so affronted, so repelled, that
it was weeks before he got near enough to try again.

The more coldly she denied him, the hotter his determination; he was
not used to real refusal. The approach of flattery she dismissed with
laughter, gifts and such “attentions” we could not bring to bear, pathos
and complaint of cruelty stirred only a reasoning inquiry. It took Terry
a long time.

I doubt if she ever accepted her strange lover as fully as did Celis
and Ellador theirs. He had hurt and offended her too often; there were
reservations.

But I think Alima retained some faint vestige of long-descended feeling
which made Terry more possible to her than to others; and that she had
made up her mind to the experiment and hated to renounce it.

However it came about, we all three at length achieved full
understanding, and solemnly faced what was to them a step of measureless
importance, a grave question as well as a great happiness; to us a
strange, new joy.

Of marriage as a ceremony they knew nothing. Jeff was for bringing them
to our country for the religious and the civil ceremony, but neither
Celis nor the others would consent.

“We can’t expect them to want to go with us--yet,” said Terry sagely.
“Wait a bit, boys. We’ve got to take ‘em on their own terms--if at all.”
 This, in rueful reminiscence of his repeated failures.

“But our time’s coming,” he added cheerfully. “These women have never
been mastered, you see--” This, as one who had made a discovery.

“You’d better not try to do any mastering if you value your chances,”
 I told him seriously; but he only laughed, and said, “Every man to his
trade!”

We couldn’t do anything with him. He had to take his own medicine.

If the lack of tradition of courtship left us much at sea in our
wooing, we found ourselves still more bewildered by lack of tradition of
matrimony.

And here again, I have to draw on later experience, and as deep an
acquaintance with their culture as I could achieve, to explain the gulfs
of difference between us.

Two thousand years of one continuous culture with no men. Back of that,
only traditions of the harem. They had no exact analogue for our word
HOME, any more than they had for our Roman-based FAMILY.

They loved one another with a practically universal affection, rising
to exquisite and unbroken friendships, and broadening to a devotion to
their country and people for which our word PATRIOTISM is no definition
at all.

Patriotism, red hot, is compatible with the existence of a neglect of
national interests, a dishonesty, a cold indifference to the
suffering of millions. Patriotism is largely pride, and very largely
combativeness. Patriotism generally has a chip on its shoulder.

This country had no other country to measure itself by--save the few
poor savages far below, with whom they had no contact.

They loved their country because it was their nursery, playground,
and workshop--theirs and their children’s. They were proud of it as a
workshop, proud of their record of ever-increasing efficiency; they had
made a pleasant garden of it, a very practical little heaven; but most
of all they valued it--and here it is hard for us to understand them--as
a cultural environment for their children.

That, of course, is the keynote of the whole distinction--their
children.

From those first breathlessly guarded, half-adored race mothers, all
up the ascending line, they had this dominant thought of building up a
great race through the children.

All the surrendering devotion our women have put into their private
families, these women put into their country and race. All the loyalty
and service men expect of wives, they gave, not singly to men, but
collectively to one another.

And the mother instinct, with us so painfully intense, so thwarted by
conditions, so concentrated in personal devotion to a few, so bitterly
hurt by death, disease, or barrenness, and even by the mere growth
of the children, leaving the mother alone in her empty nest--all this
feeling with them flowed out in a strong, wide current, unbroken through
the generations, deepening and widening through the years, including
every child in all the land.

With their united power and wisdom, they had studied and overcome the
“diseases of childhood”--their children had none.

They had faced the problems of education and so solved them that their
children grew up as naturally as young trees; learning through every
sense; taught continuously but unconsciously--never knowing they were
being educated.

In fact, they did not use the word as we do. Their idea of education was
the special training they took, when half grown up, under experts. Then
the eager young minds fairly flung themselves on their chosen subjects,
and acquired with an ease, a breadth, a grasp, at which I never ceased
to wonder.

But the babies and little children never felt the pressure of that
“forcible feeding” of the mind that we call “education.” Of this, more
later.



CHAPTER 9. Our Relations and Theirs


What I’m trying to show here is that with these women the whole
relationship of life counted in a glad, eager growing-up to join the
ranks of workers in the line best loved; a deep, tender reverence for
one’s own mother--too deep for them to speak of freely--and beyond that,
the whole, free, wide range of sisterhood, the splendid service of the
country, and friendships.

To these women we came, filled with the ideas, convictions, traditions,
of our culture, and undertook to rouse in them the emotions which--to
us--seemed proper.

However much, or little, of true sex-feeling there was between us, it
phrased itself in their minds in terms of friendship, the one purely
personal love they knew, and of ultimate parentage. Visibly we were not
mothers, nor children, nor compatriots; so, if they loved us, we must be
friends.

That we should pair off together in our courting days was natural to
them; that we three should remain much together, as they did themselves,
was also natural. We had as yet no work, so we hung about them in their
forest tasks; that was natural, too.

But when we began to talk about each couple having “homes” of our own,
they could not understand it.

“Our work takes us all around the country,” explained Celis. “We cannot
live in one place all the time.”

“We are together now,” urged Alima, looking proudly at Terry’s stalwart
nearness. (This was one of the times when they were “on,” though
presently “off” again.)

“It’s not the same thing at all,” he insisted. “A man wants a home of
his own, with his wife and family in it.”

“Staying in it? All the time?” asked Ellador. “Not imprisoned, surely!”

“Of course not! Living there--naturally,” he answered.

“What does she do there--all the time?” Alima demanded. “What is her
work?”

Then Terry patiently explained again that our women did not work--with
reservations.

“But what do they do--if they have no work?” she persisted.

“They take care of the home--and the children.”

“At the same time?” asked Ellador.

“Why yes. The children play about, and the mother has charge of it all.
There are servants, of course.”

It seemed so obvious, so natural to Terry, that he always grew
impatient; but the girls were honestly anxious to understand.

“How many children do your women have?” Alima had her notebook out now,
and a rather firm set of lip. Terry began to dodge.

“There is no set number, my dear,” he explained. “Some have more, some
have less.”

“Some have none at all,” I put in mischievously.

They pounced on this admission and soon wrung from us the general fact
that those women who had the most children had the least servants, and
those who had the most servants had the least children.

“There!” triumphed Alima. “One or two or no children, and three or four
servants. Now what do those women DO?”

We explained as best we might. We talked of “social duties,”
 disingenuously banking on their not interpreting the words as we did; we
talked of hospitality, entertainment, and various “interests.” All the
time we knew that to these large-minded women whose whole mental outlook
was so collective, the limitations of a wholly personal life were
inconceivable.

“We cannot really understand it,” Ellador concluded. “We are only half
a people. We have our woman-ways and they have their man-ways and their
both-ways. We have worked out a system of living which is, of course,
limited. They must have a broader, richer, better one. I should like to
see it.”

“You shall, dearest,” I whispered.


“There’s nothing to smoke,” complained Terry. He was in the midst of a
prolonged quarrel with Alima, and needed a sedative. “There’s nothing to
drink. These blessed women have no pleasant vices. I wish we could get
out of here!”

This wish was vain. We were always under a certain degree of
watchfulness. When Terry burst forth to tramp the streets at night he
always found a “Colonel” here or there; and when, on an occasion of
fierce though temporary despair, he had plunged to the cliff edge with
some vague view to escape, he found several of them close by. We were
free--but there was a string to it.

“They’ve no unpleasant ones, either,” Jeff reminded him.

“Wish they had!” Terry persisted. “They’ve neither the vices of men, nor
the virtues of women--they’re neuters!”

“You know better than that. Don’t talk nonsense,” said I, severely.

I was thinking of Ellador’s eyes when they gave me a certain look, a
look she did not at all realize.

Jeff was equally incensed. “I don’t know what ‘virtues of women’ you
miss. Seems to me they have all of them.”

“They’ve no modesty,” snapped Terry. “No patience, no submissiveness,
none of that natural yielding which is woman’s greatest charm.”

I shook my head pityingly. “Go and apologize and make friends again,
Terry. You’ve got a grouch, that’s all. These women have the virtue
of humanity, with less of its faults than any folks I ever saw. As for
patience--they’d have pitched us over the cliffs the first day we lit
among ‘em, if they hadn’t that.”

“There are no--distractions,” he grumbled. “Nowhere a man can go and cut
loose a bit. It’s an everlasting parlor and nursery.”

“And workshop,” I added. “And school, and office, and laboratory, and
studio, and theater, and--home.”

“HOME!” he sneered. “There isn’t a home in the whole pitiful place.”

“There isn’t anything else, and you know it,” Jeff retorted hotly. “I
never saw, I never dreamed of, such universal peace and good will and
mutual affection.”

“Oh, well, of course, if you like a perpetual Sunday school, it’s all
very well. But I like Something Doing. Here it’s all done.”

There was something to this criticism. The years of pioneering lay far
behind them. Theirs was a civilization in which the initial difficulties
had long since been overcome. The untroubled peace, the unmeasured
plenty, the steady health, the large good will and smooth management
which ordered everything, left nothing to overcome. It was like a
pleasant family in an old established, perfectly run country place.

I liked it because of my eager and continued interest in the
sociological achievements involved. Jeff liked it as he would have liked
such a family and such a place anywhere.

Terry did not like it because he found nothing to oppose, to struggle
with, to conquer.

“Life is a struggle, has to be,” he insisted. “If there is no struggle,
there is no life--that’s all.”

“You’re talking nonsense--masculine nonsense,” the peaceful Jeff
replied. He was certainly a warm defender of Herland. “Ants don’t raise
their myriads by a struggle, do they? Or the bees?”

“Oh, if you go back to insects--and want to live in an anthill--! I tell
you the higher grades of life are reached only through struggle--combat.
There’s no Drama here. Look at their plays! They make me sick.”

He rather had us there. The drama of the country was--to our
taste--rather flat. You see, they lacked the sex motive and, with it,
jealousy. They had no interplay of warring nations, no aristocracy and
its ambitions, no wealth and poverty opposition.

I see I have said little about the economics of the place; it should
have come before, but I’ll go on about the drama now.

They had their own kind. There was a most impressive array of pageantry,
of processions, a sort of grand ritual, with their arts and their
religion broadly blended. The very babies joined in it. To see one of
their great annual festivals, with the massed and marching stateliness
of those great mothers, the young women brave and noble, beautiful and
strong; and then the children, taking part as naturally as ours would
frolic round a Christmas tree--it was overpowering in the impression of
joyous, triumphant life.

They had begun at a period when the drama, the dance, music, religion,
and education were all very close together; and instead of developing
them in detached lines, they had kept the connection. Let me try again
to give, if I can, a faint sense of the difference in the life view--the
background and basis on which their culture rested.

Ellador told me a lot about it. She took me to see the children, the
growing girls, the special teachers. She picked out books for me to
read. She always seemed to understand just what I wanted to know, and
how to give it to me.

While Terry and Alima struck sparks and parted--he always madly drawn
to her and she to him--she must have been, or she’d never have stood the
way he behaved--Ellador and I had already a deep, restful feeling, as
if we’d always had one another. Jeff and Celis were happy; there was no
question of that; but it didn’t seem to me as if they had the good times
we did.

Well, here is the Herland child facing life--as Ellador tried to show
it to me. From the first memory, they knew Peace, Beauty, Order, Safety,
Love, Wisdom, Justice, Patience, and Plenty. By “plenty” I mean that the
babies grew up in an environment which met their needs, just as young
fawns might grow up in dewy forest glades and brook-fed meadows. And
they enjoyed it as frankly and utterly as the fawns would.

They found themselves in a big bright lovely world, full of the most
interesting and enchanting things to learn about and to do. The people
everywhere were friendly and polite. No Herland child ever met the
overbearing rudeness we so commonly show to children. They were People,
too, from the first; the most precious part of the nation.

In each step of the rich experience of living, they found the instance
they were studying widen out into contact with an endless range of
common interests. The things they learned were RELATED, from the first;
related to one another, and to the national prosperity.

“It was a butterfly that made me a forester,” said Ellador. “I was about
eleven years old, and I found a big purple-and-green butterfly on a low
flower. I caught it, very carefully, by the closed wings, as I had been
told to do, and carried it to the nearest insect teacher”--I made a note
there to ask her what on earth an insect teacher was--“to ask her its
name. She took it from me with a little cry of delight. ‘Oh, you blessed
child,’ she said. ‘Do you like obernuts?’ Of course I liked obernuts,
and said so. It is our best food-nut, you know. ‘This is a female of the
obernut moth,’ she told me. ‘They are almost gone. We have been trying
to exterminate them for centuries. If you had not caught this one, it
might have laid eggs enough to raise worms enough to destroy thousands
of our nut trees--thousands of bushels of nuts--and make years and years
of trouble for us.’

“Everybody congratulated me. The children all over the country were told
to watch for that moth, if there were any more. I was shown the history
of the creature, and an account of the damage it used to do and of how
long and hard our foremothers had worked to save that tree for us. I
grew a foot, it seemed to me, and determined then and there to be a
forester.”

This is but an instance; she showed me many. The big difference was that
whereas our children grow up in private homes and families, with every
effort made to protect and seclude them from a dangerous world, here
they grew up in a wide, friendly world, and knew it for theirs, from the
first.

Their child-literature was a wonderful thing. I could have spent years
following the delicate subtleties, the smooth simplicities with which
they had bent that great art to the service of the child mind.

We have two life cycles: the man’s and the woman’s. To the man there is
growth, struggle, conquest, the establishment of his family, and as much
further success in gain or ambition as he can achieve.

To the woman, growth, the securing of a husband, the subordinate
activities of family life, and afterward such “social” or charitable
interests as her position allows.

Here was but one cycle, and that a large one.

The child entered upon a broad open field of life, in which motherhood
was the one great personal contribution to the national life, and all
the rest the individual share in their common activities. Every girl I
talked to, at any age above babyhood, had her cheerful determination as
to what she was going to be when she grew up.

What Terry meant by saying they had no “modesty” was that this great
life-view had no shady places; they had a high sense of personal
decorum, but no shame--no knowledge of anything to be ashamed of.

Even their shortcomings and misdeeds in childhood never were presented
to them as sins; merely as errors and misplays--as in a game. Some of
them, who were palpably less agreeable than others or who had a real
weakness or fault, were treated with cheerful allowance, as a friendly
group at whist would treat a poor player.

Their religion, you see, was maternal; and their ethics, based on the
full perception of evolution, showed the principle of growth and the
beauty of wise culture. They had no theory of the essential opposition
of good and evil; life to them was growth; their pleasure was in
growing, and their duty also.

With this background, with their sublimated mother-love, expressed in
terms of widest social activity, every phase of their work was modified
by its effect on the national growth. The language itself they had
deliberately clarified, simplified, made easy and beautiful, for the
sake of the children.

This seemed to us a wholly incredible thing: first, that any nation
should have the foresight, the strength, and the persistence to plan
and fulfill such a task; and second, that women should have had so much
initiative. We have assumed, as a matter of course, that women had
none; that only the man, with his natural energy and impatience of
restriction, would ever invent anything.

Here we found that the pressure of life upon the environment develops in
the human mind its inventive reactions, regardless of sex; and further,
that a fully awakened motherhood plans and works without limit, for the
good of the child.

That the children might be most nobly born, and reared in an environment
calculated to allow the richest, freest growth, they had deliberately
remodeled and improved the whole state.

I do not mean in the least that they stopped at that, any more than
a child stops at childhood. The most impressive part of their whole
culture beyond this perfect system of child-rearing was the range of
interests and associations open to them all, for life. But in the field
of literature I was most struck, at first, by the child-motive.

They had the same gradation of simple repetitive verse and story that we
are familiar with, and the most exquisite, imaginative tales; but where,
with us, these are the dribbled remnants of ancient folk myths and
primitive lullabies, theirs were the exquisite work of great artists;
not only simple and unfailing in appeal to the child-mind, but TRUE,
true to the living world about them.

To sit in one of their nurseries for a day was to change one’s views
forever as to babyhood. The youngest ones, rosy fatlings in their
mothers’ arms, or sleeping lightly in the flower-sweet air, seemed
natural enough, save that they never cried. I never heard a child cry in
Herland, save once or twice at a bad fall; and then people ran to help,
as we would at a scream of agony from a grown person.

Each mother had her year of glory; the time to love and learn, living
closely with her child, nursing it proudly, often for two years or more.
This perhaps was one reason for their wonderful vigor.

But after the baby-year the mother was not so constantly in attendance,
unless, indeed, her work was among the little ones. She was never
far off, however, and her attitude toward the co-mothers, whose proud
child-service was direct and continuous, was lovely to see.

As for the babies--a group of those naked darlings playing on short
velvet grass, clean-swept; or rugs as soft; or in shallow pools of
bright water; tumbling over with bubbling joyous baby laughter--it was a
view of infant happiness such as I had never dreamed.

The babies were reared in the warmer part of the country, and gradually
acclimated to the cooler heights as they grew older.

Sturdy children of ten and twelve played in the snow as joyfully as ours
do; there were continuous excursions of them, from one part of the land
to another, so that to each child the whole country might be home.

It was all theirs, waiting for them to learn, to love, to use, to serve;
as our own little boys plan to be “a big soldier,” or “a cowboy,” or
whatever pleases their fancy; and our little girls plan for the kind of
home they mean to have, or how many children; these planned, freely and
gaily with much happy chattering, of what they would do for the country
when they were grown.

It was the eager happiness of the children and young people which first
made me see the folly of that common notion of ours--that if life was
smooth and happy, people would not enjoy it.

As I studied these youngsters, vigorous, joyous, eager little creatures,
and their voracious appetite for life, it shook my previous ideas so
thoroughly that they have never been re-established. The steady level of
good health gave them all that natural stimulus we used to call “animal
spirits”--an odd contradiction in terms. They found themselves in an
immediate environment which was agreeable and interesting, and before
them stretched the years of learning and discovery, the fascinating,
endless process of education.

As I looked into these methods and compared them with our own, my
strange uncomfortable sense of race-humility grew apace.

Ellador could not understand my astonishment. She explained things
kindly and sweetly, but with some amazement that they needed explaining,
and with sudden questions as to how we did it that left me meeker than
ever.

I betook myself to Somel one day, carefully not taking Ellador. I did
not mind seeming foolish to Somel--she was used to it.

“I want a chapter of explanation,” I told her. “You know my stupidities
by heart, and I do not want to show them to Ellador--she thinks me so
wise!”

She smiled delightedly. “It is beautiful to see,” she told me, “this
new wonderful love between you. The whole country is interested, you
know--how can we help it!”

I had not thought of that. We say: “All the world loves a lover,” but
to have a couple of million people watching one’s courtship--and that a
difficult one--was rather embarrassing.

“Tell me about your theory of education,” I said. “Make it short and
easy. And, to show you what puzzles me, I’ll tell you that in our theory
great stress is laid on the forced exertion of the child’s mind; we
think it is good for him to overcome obstacles.”

“Of course it is,” she unexpectedly agreed. “All our children do
that--they love to.”

That puzzled me again. If they loved to do it, how could it be
educational?

“Our theory is this,” she went on carefully. “Here is a young human
being. The mind is as natural a thing as the body, a thing that grows,
a thing to use and enjoy. We seek to nourish, to stimulate, to exercise
the mind of a child as we do the body. There are the two main divisions
in education--you have those of course?--the things it is necessary to
know, and the things it is necessary to do.”

“To do? Mental exercises, you mean?”

“Yes. Our general plan is this: In the matter of feeding the mind,
of furnishing information, we use our best powers to meet the natural
appetite of a healthy young brain; not to overfeed it, to provide such
amount and variety of impressions as seem most welcome to each child.
That is the easiest part. The other division is in arranging a properly
graduated series of exercises which will best develop each mind; the
common faculties we all have, and most carefully, the especial faculties
some of us have. You do this also, do you not?”

“In a way,” I said rather lamely. “We have not so subtle and highly
developed a system as you, not approaching it; but tell me more. As
to the information--how do you manage? It appears that all of you know
pretty much everything--is that right?”

This she laughingly disclaimed. “By no means. We are, as you soon found
out, extremely limited in knowledge. I wish you could realize what a
ferment the country is in over the new things you have told us; the
passionate eagerness among thousands of us to go to your country and
learn--learn--learn! But what we do know is readily divisible into
common knowledge and special knowledge. The common knowledge we have
long since learned to feed into the minds of our little ones with no
waste of time or strength; the special knowledge is open to all, as
they desire it. Some of us specialize in one line only. But most take up
several--some for their regular work, some to grow with.”

“To grow with?”

“Yes. When one settles too close in one kind of work there is a tendency
to atrophy in the disused portions of the brain. We like to keep on
learning, always.”

“What do you study?”

“As much as we know of the different sciences. We have, within our
limits, a good deal of knowledge of anatomy, physiology, nutrition--all
that pertains to a full and beautiful personal life. We have our botany
and chemistry, and so on--very rudimentary, but interesting; our own
history, with its accumulating psychology.”

“You put psychology with history--not with personal life?”

“Of course. It is ours; it is among and between us, and it changes with
the succeeding and improving generations. We are at work, slowly and
carefully, developing our whole people along these lines. It is glorious
work--splendid! To see the thousands of babies improving, showing
stronger clearer minds, sweeter dispositions, higher capacities--don’t
you find it so in your country?”

This I evaded flatly. I remembered the cheerless claim that the human
mind was no better than in its earliest period of savagery, only better
informed--a statement I had never believed.

“We try most earnestly for two powers,” Somel continued. “The two that
seem to us basically necessary for all noble life: a clear, far-reaching
judgment, and a strong well-used will. We spend our best efforts, all
through childhood and youth, in developing these faculties, individual
judgment and will.”

“As part of your system of education, you mean?”

“Exactly. As the most valuable part. With the babies, as you may have
noticed, we first provide an environment which feeds the mind without
tiring it; all manner of simple and interesting things to do, as soon
as they are old enough to do them; physical properties, of course, come
first. But as early as possible, going very carefully, not to tax the
mind, we provide choices, simple choices, with very obvious causes and
consequences. You’ve noticed the games?”

I had. The children seemed always playing something; or else, sometimes,
engaged in peaceful researches of their own. I had wondered at first
when they went to school, but soon found that they never did--to their
knowledge. It was all education but no schooling.

“We have been working for some sixteen hundred years, devising better
and better games for children,” continued Somel.

I sat aghast. “Devising games?” I protested. “Making up new ones, you
mean?”

“Exactly,” she answered. “Don’t you?”

Then I remembered the kindergarten, and the “material” devised by
Signora Montessori, and guardedly replied: “To some extent.” But most
of our games, I told her, were very old--came down from child to child,
along the ages, from the remote past.

“And what is their effect?” she asked. “Do they develop the faculties
you wish to encourage?”

Again I remembered the claims made by the advocates of “sports,” and
again replied guardedly that that was, in part, the theory.

“But do the children LIKE it?” I asked. “Having things made up and set
before them that way? Don’t they want the old games?”

“You can see the children,” she answered. “Are yours more
contented--more interested--happier?”

Then I thought, as in truth I never had thought before, of the dull,
bored children I had seen, whining; “What can I do now?”; of the little
groups and gangs hanging about; of the value of some one strong spirit
who possessed initiative and would “start something”; of the children’s
parties and the onerous duties of the older people set to “amuse the
children”; also of that troubled ocean of misdirected activity we call
“mischief,” the foolish, destructive, sometimes evil things done by
unoccupied children.

“No,” said I grimly. “I don’t think they are.”

The Herland child was born not only into a world carefully prepared,
full of the most fascinating materials and opportunities to learn, but
into the society of plentiful numbers of teachers, teachers born and
trained, whose business it was to accompany the children along that, to
us, impossible thing--the royal road to learning.

There was no mystery in their methods. Being adapted to children it was
at least comprehensible to adults. I spent many days with the little
ones, sometimes with Ellador, sometimes without, and began to feel a
crushing pity for my own childhood, and for all others that I had known.

The houses and gardens planned for babies had in them nothing to
hurt--no stairs, no corners, no small loose objects to swallow, no
fire--just a babies’ paradise. They were taught, as rapidly as
feasible, to use and control their own bodies, and never did I see such
sure-footed, steady-handed, clear-headed little things. It was a joy
to watch a row of toddlers learning to walk, not only on a level floor,
but, a little later, on a sort of rubber rail raised an inch or two
above the soft turf or heavy rugs, and falling off with shrieks of
infant joy, to rush back to the end of the line and try again. Surely we
have noticed how children love to get up on something and walk along it!
But we have never thought to provide that simple and inexhaustible form
of amusement and physical education for the young.

Water they had, of course, and could swim even before they walked. If I
feared at first the effects of a too intensive system of culture, that
fear was dissipated by seeing the long sunny days of pure physical
merriment and natural sleep in which these heavenly babies passed their
first years. They never knew they were being educated. They did not
dream that in this association of hilarious experiment and achievement
they were laying the foundation for that close beautiful group feeling
into which they grew so firmly with the years. This was education for
citizenship.



CHAPTER 10. Their Religions and Our Marriages


It took me a long time, as a man, a foreigner, and a species
of Christian--I was that as much as anything--to get any clear
understanding of the religion of Herland.

Its deification of motherhood was obvious enough; but there was far more
to it than that; or, at least, than my first interpretation of that.

I think it was only as I grew to love Ellador more than I believed
anyone could love anybody, as I grew faintly to appreciate her inner
attitude and state of mind, that I began to get some glimpses of this
faith of theirs.

When I asked her about it, she tried at first to tell me, and then,
seeing me flounder, asked for more information about ours. She soon
found that we had many, that they varied widely, but had some points
in common. A clear methodical luminous mind had my Ellador, not only
reasonable, but swiftly perceptive.

She made a sort of chart, superimposing the different religions as
I described them, with a pin run through them all, as it were; their
common basis being a Dominant Power or Powers, and some Special
Behavior, mostly taboos, to please or placate. There were some common
features in certain groups of religions, but the one always present was
this Power, and the things which must be done or not done because of
it. It was not hard to trace our human imagery of the Divine Force up
through successive stages of bloodthirsty, sensual, proud, and cruel
gods of early times to the conception of a Common Father with its
corollary of a Common Brotherhood.

This pleased her very much, and when I expatiated on the Omniscience,
Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and so on, of our God, and of the loving
kindness taught by his Son, she was much impressed.

The story of the Virgin birth naturally did not astonish her, but she
was greatly puzzled by the Sacrifice, and still more by the Devil, and
the theory of Damnation.

When in an inadvertent moment I said that certain sects had believed in
infant damnation--and explained it--she sat very still indeed.

“They believed that God was Love--and Wisdom--and Power?”

“Yes--all of that.”

Her eyes grew large, her face ghastly pale.

“And yet that such a God could put little new babies to burn--for
eternity?” She fell into a sudden shuddering and left me, running
swiftly to the nearest temple.

Every smallest village had its temple, and in those gracious retreats
sat wise and noble women, quietly busy at some work of their own until
they were wanted, always ready to give comfort, light, or help, to any
applicant.

Ellador told me afterward how easily this grief of hers was assuaged,
and seemed ashamed of not having helped herself out of it.

“You see, we are not accustomed to horrible ideas,” she said, coming
back to me rather apologetically. “We haven’t any. And when we get a
thing like that into our minds it’s like--oh, like red pepper in your
eyes. So I just ran to her, blinded and almost screaming, and she took
it out so quickly--so easily!”

“How?” I asked, very curious.

“‘Why, you blessed child,’ she said, ‘you’ve got the wrong idea
altogether. You do not have to think that there ever was such a God--for
there wasn’t. Or such a happening--for there wasn’t. Nor even that this
hideous false idea was believed by anybody. But only this--that people
who are utterly ignorant will believe anything--which you certainly knew
before.’”

“Anyhow,” pursued Ellador, “she turned pale for a minute when I first
said it.”

This was a lesson to me. No wonder this whole nation of women was
peaceful and sweet in expression--they had no horrible ideas.

“Surely you had some when you began,” I suggested.

“Oh, yes, no doubt. But as soon as our religion grew to any height at
all we left them out, of course.”

From this, as from many other things, I grew to see what I finally put
in words.

“Have you no respect for the past? For what was thought and believed by
your foremothers?”

“Why, no,” she said. “Why should we? They are all gone. They knew less
than we do. If we are not beyond them, we are unworthy of them--and
unworthy of the children who must go beyond us.”

This set me thinking in good earnest. I had always imagined--simply from
hearing it said, I suppose--that women were by nature conservative. Yet
these women, quite unassisted by any masculine spirit of enterprise, had
ignored their past and built daringly for the future.

Ellador watched me think. She seemed to know pretty much what was going
on in my mind.

“It’s because we began in a new way, I suppose. All our folks were swept
away at once, and then, after that time of despair, came those wonder
children--the first. And then the whole breathless hope of us was for
THEIR children--if they should have them. And they did! Then there was
the period of pride and triumph till we grew too numerous; and after
that, when it all came down to one child apiece, we began to really
work--to make better ones.”

“But how does this account for such a radical difference in your
religion?” I persisted.

She said she couldn’t talk about the difference very intelligently,
not being familiar with other religions, but that theirs seemed simple
enough. Their great Mother Spirit was to them what their own motherhood
was--only magnified beyond human limits. That meant that they
felt beneath and behind them an upholding, unfailing, serviceable
love--perhaps it was really the accumulated mother-love of the race they
felt--but it was a Power.

“Just what is your theory of worship?” I asked her.

“Worship? What is that?”

I found it singularly difficult to explain. This Divine Love which they
felt so strongly did not seem to ask anything of them--“any more than
our mothers do,” she said.

“But surely your mothers expect honor, reverence, obedience, from you.
You have to do things for your mothers, surely?”

“Oh, no,” she insisted, smiling, shaking her soft brown hair. “We do
things FROM our mothers--not FOR them. We don’t have to do things
FOR them--they don’t need it, you know. But we have to live
on--splendidly--because of them; and that’s the way we feel about God.”

I meditated again. I thought of that God of Battles of ours,
that Jealous God, that Vengeance-is-mine God. I thought of our
world-nightmare--Hell.

“You have no theory of eternal punishment then, I take it?”

Ellador laughed. Her eyes were as bright as stars, and there were tears
in them, too. She was so sorry for me.

“How could we?” she asked, fairly enough. “We have no punishments in
life, you see, so we don’t imagine them after death.”

“Have you NO punishments? Neither for children nor criminals--such mild
criminals as you have?” I urged.

“Do you punish a person for a broken leg or a fever? We have preventive
measures, and cures; sometimes we have to ‘send the patient to bed,’ as
it were; but that’s not a punishment--it’s only part of the treatment,”
 she explained.

Then studying my point of view more closely, she added: “You see, we
recognize, in our human motherhood, a great tender limitless uplifting
force--patience and wisdom and all subtlety of delicate method. We
credit God--our idea of God--with all that and more. Our mothers are not
angry with us--why should God be?”

“Does God mean a person to you?”

This she thought over a little. “Why--in trying to get close to it in
our minds we personify the idea, naturally; but we certainly do
not assume a Big Woman somewhere, who is God. What we call God is a
Pervading Power, you know, an Indwelling Spirit, something inside of us
that we want more of. Is your God a Big Man?” she asked innocently.

“Why--yes, to most of us, I think. Of course we call it an Indwelling
Spirit just as you do, but we insist that it is Him, a Person, and a
Man--with whiskers.”

“Whiskers? Oh yes--because you have them! Or do you wear them because He
does?”

“On the contrary, we shave them off--because it seems cleaner and more
comfortable.”

“Does He wear clothes--in your idea, I mean?”

I was thinking over the pictures of God I had seen--rash advances of the
devout mind of man, representing his Omnipotent Deity as an old man in
a flowing robe, flowing hair, flowing beard, and in the light of her
perfectly frank and innocent questions this concept seemed rather
unsatisfying.

I explained that the God of the Christian world was really the ancient
Hebrew God, and that we had simply taken over the patriarchal idea--that
ancient one which quite inevitably clothed its thought of God with the
attributes of the patriarchal ruler, the grandfather.

“I see,” she said eagerly, after I had explained the genesis and
development of our religious ideals. “They lived in separate groups,
with a male head, and he was probably a little--domineering?”

“No doubt of that,” I agreed.

“And we live together without any ‘head,’ in that sense--just our chosen
leaders--that DOES make a difference.”

“Your difference is deeper than that,” I assured her. “It is in your
common motherhood. Your children grow up in a world where everybody
loves them. They find life made rich and happy for them by the diffused
love and wisdom of all mothers. So it is easy for you to think of God in
the terms of a similar diffused and competent love. I think you are far
nearer right than we are.”

“What I cannot understand,” she pursued carefully, “is your preservation
of such a very ancient state of mind. This patriarchal idea you tell me
is thousands of years old?”

“Oh yes--four, five, six thousand--every so many.”

“And you have made wonderful progress in those years--in other things?”

“We certainly have. But religion is different. You see, our religions
come from behind us, and are initiated by some great teacher who is
dead. He is supposed to have known the whole thing and taught it,
finally. All we have to do is believe--and obey.”

“Who was the great Hebrew teacher?”

“Oh--there it was different. The Hebrew religion is an accumulation of
extremely ancient traditions, some far older than their people, and grew
by accretion down the ages. We consider it inspired--‘the Word of God.’”

“How do you know it is?”

“Because it says so.”

“Does it say so in as many words? Who wrote that in?”

I began to try to recall some text that did say so, and could not bring
it to mind.

“Apart from that,” she pursued, “what I cannot understand is why you
keep these early religious ideas so long. You have changed all your
others, haven’t you?”

“Pretty generally,” I agreed. “But this we call ‘revealed religion,’
and think it is final. But tell me more about these little temples of
yours,” I urged. “And these Temple Mothers you run to.”

Then she gave me an extended lesson in applied religion, which I will
endeavor to concentrate.

They developed their central theory of a Loving Power, and assumed that
its relation to them was motherly--that it desired their welfare and
especially their development. Their relation to it, similarly, was
filial, a loving appreciation and a glad fulfillment of its high
purposes. Then, being nothing if not practical, they set their keen
and active minds to discover the kind of conduct expected of them. This
worked out in a most admirable system of ethics. The principle of Love
was universally recognized--and used.

Patience, gentleness, courtesy, all that we call “good breeding,” was
part of their code of conduct. But where they went far beyond us was
in the special application of religious feeling to every field of
life. They had no ritual, no little set of performances called “divine
service,” save those religious pageants I have spoken of, and those were
as much educational as religious, and as much social as either. But they
had a clear established connection between everything they did--and
God. Their cleanliness, their health, their exquisite order, the rich
peaceful beauty of the whole land, the happiness of the children, and
above all the constant progress they made--all this was their religion.

They applied their minds to the thought of God, and worked out the
theory that such an inner power demanded outward expression. They lived
as if God was real and at work within them.

As for those little temples everywhere--some of the women were more
skilled, more temperamentally inclined, in this direction, than others.
These, whatever their work might be, gave certain hours to the Temple
Service, which meant being there with all their love and wisdom and
trained thought, to smooth out rough places for anyone who needed it.
Sometimes it was a real grief, very rarely a quarrel, most often a
perplexity; even in Herland the human soul had its hours of darkness.
But all through the country their best and wisest were ready to give
help.

If the difficulty was unusually profound, the applicant was directed to
someone more specially experienced in that line of thought.

Here was a religion which gave to the searching mind a rational basis
in life, the concept of an immense Loving Power working steadily out
through them, toward good. It gave to the “soul” that sense of contact
with the inmost force, of perception of the uttermost purpose, which we
always crave. It gave to the “heart” the blessed feeling of being loved,
loved and UNDERSTOOD. It gave clear, simple, rational directions as
to how we should live--and why. And for ritual it gave first those
triumphant group demonstrations, when with a union of all the arts,
the revivifying combination of great multitudes moved rhythmically with
march and dance, song and music, among their own noblest products
and the open beauty of their groves and hills. Second, it gave these
numerous little centers of wisdom where the least wise could go to the
most wise and be helped.

“It is beautiful!” I cried enthusiastically. “It is the most practical,
comforting, progressive religion I ever heard of. You DO love one
another--you DO bear one another’s burdens--you DO realize that a little
child is a type of the kingdom of heaven. You are more Christian than
any people I ever saw. But--how about death? And the life everlasting?
What does your religion teach about eternity?”

“Nothing,” said Ellador. “What is eternity?”

What indeed? I tried, for the first time in my life, to get a real hold
on the idea.

“It is--never stopping.”

“Never stopping?” She looked puzzled.

“Yes, life, going on forever.”

“Oh--we see that, of course. Life does go on forever, all about us.”

“But eternal life goes on WITHOUT DYING.”

“The same person?”

“Yes, the same person, unending, immortal.” I was pleased to think
that I had something to teach from our religion, which theirs had never
promulgated.

“Here?” asked Ellador. “Never to die--here?” I could see her practical
mind heaping up the people, and hurriedly reassured her.

“Oh no, indeed, not here--hereafter. We must die here, of course, but
then we ‘enter into eternal life.’ The soul lives forever.”

“How do you know?” she inquired.

“I won’t attempt to prove it to you,” I hastily continued. “Let us
assume it to be so. How does this idea strike you?”

Again she smiled at me, that adorable, dimpling, tender, mischievous,
motherly smile of hers. “Shall I be quite, quite honest?”

“You couldn’t be anything else,” I said, half gladly and half a little
sorry. The transparent honesty of these women was a never-ending
astonishment to me.

“It seems to me a singularly foolish idea,” she said calmly. “And if
true, most disagreeable.”

Now I had always accepted the doctrine of personal immortality as
a thing established. The efforts of inquiring spiritualists, always
seeking to woo their beloved ghosts back again, never seemed to me
necessary. I don’t say I had ever seriously and courageously discussed
the subject with myself even; I had simply assumed it to be a fact.
And here was the girl I loved, this creature whose character constantly
revealed new heights and ranges far beyond my own, this superwoman of a
superland, saying she thought immortality foolish! She meant it, too.

“What do you WANT it for?” she asked.

“How can you NOT want it!” I protested. “Do you want to go out like a
candle? Don’t you want to go on and on--growing and--and--being happy,
forever?”

“Why, no,” she said. “I don’t in the least. I want my child--and my
child’s child--to go on--and they will. Why should _I_ want to?”

“But it means Heaven!” I insisted. “Peace and Beauty and Comfort
and Love--with God.” I had never been so eloquent on the subject of
religion. She could be horrified at Damnation, and question the justice
of Salvation, but Immortality--that was surely a noble faith.

“Why, Van,” she said, holding out her hands to me. “Why Van--darling!
How splendid of you to feel it so keenly. That’s what we all want, of
course--Peace and Beauty, and Comfort and Love--with God! And Progress
too, remember; Growth, always and always. That is what our religion
teaches us to want and to work for, and we do!”

“But that is HERE,” I said, “only for this life on earth.”

“Well? And do not you in your country, with your beautiful religion of
love and service have it here, too--for this life--on earth?”


None of us were willing to tell the women of Herland about the evils of
our own beloved land. It was all very well for us to assume them to
be necessary and essential, and to criticize--strictly among
ourselves--their all-too-perfect civilization, but when it came to
telling them about the failures and wastes of our own, we never could
bring ourselves to do it.

Moreover, we sought to avoid too much discussion, and to press the
subject of our approaching marriages.

Jeff was the determined one on this score.

“Of course they haven’t any marriage ceremony or service, but we can
make it a sort of Quaker wedding, and have it in the temple--it is the
least we can do for them.”

It was. There was so little, after all, that we could do for them. Here
we were, penniless guests and strangers, with no chance even to use
our strength and courage--nothing to defend them from or protect them
against.

“We can at least give them our names,” Jeff insisted.

They were very sweet about it, quite willing to do whatever we asked, to
please us. As to the names, Alima, frank soul that she was, asked what
good it would do.

Terry, always irritating her, said it was a sign of possession. “You are
going to be Mrs. Nicholson,” he said. “Mrs. T. O. Nicholson. That shows
everyone that you are my wife.”

“What is a ‘wife’ exactly?” she demanded, a dangerous gleam in her eye.

“A wife is the woman who belongs to a man,” he began.

But Jeff took it up eagerly: “And a husband is the man who belongs to
a woman. It is because we are monogamous, you know. And marriage is the
ceremony, civil and religious, that joins the two together--‘until death
do us part,’” he finished, looking at Celis with unutterable devotion.

“What makes us all feel foolish,” I told the girls, “is that here we
have nothing to give you--except, of course, our names.”

“Do your women have no names before they are married?” Celis suddenly
demanded.

“Why, yes,” Jeff explained. “They have their maiden names--their
father’s names, that is.”

“And what becomes of them?” asked Alima.

“They change them for their husbands’, my dear,” Terry answered her.

“Change them? Do the husbands then take the wives’ ‘maiden names’?”

“Oh, no,” he laughed. “The man keeps his own and gives it to her, too.”

“Then she just loses hers and takes a new one--how unpleasant! We won’t
do that!” Alima said decidedly.

Terry was good-humored about it. “I don’t care what you do or don’t do
so long as we have that wedding pretty soon,” he said, reaching a strong
brown hand after Alima’s, quite as brown and nearly as strong.

“As to giving us things--of course we can see that you’d like to, but
we are glad you can’t,” Celis continued. “You see, we love you just for
yourselves--we wouldn’t want you to--to pay anything. Isn’t it enough to
know that you are loved personally--and just as men?”

Enough or not, that was the way we were married. We had a great triple
wedding in the biggest temple of all, and it looked as if most of the
nation was present. It was very solemn and very beautiful. Someone had
written a new song for the occasion, nobly beautiful, about the New Hope
for their people--the New Tie with other lands--Brotherhood as well as
Sisterhood, and, with evident awe, Fatherhood.

Terry was always restive under their talk of fatherhood. “Anybody’d
think we were High Priests of--of Philoprogenitiveness!” he protested.
“These women think of NOTHING but children, seems to me! We’ll teach
‘em!”

He was so certain of what he was going to teach, and Alima so uncertain
in her moods of reception, that Jeff and I feared the worst. We tried to
caution him--much good that did. The big handsome fellow drew himself up
to his full height, lifted that great chest of his, and laughed.

“There are three separate marriages,” he said. “I won’t interfere with
yours--nor you with mine.”

So the great day came, and the countless crowds of women, and we three
bridegrooms without any supporting “best men,” or any other men to back
us up, felt strangely small as we came forward.

Somel and Zava and Moadine were on hand; we were thankful to have them,
too--they seemed almost like relatives.

There was a splendid procession, wreathing dances, the new anthem I
spoke of, and the whole great place pulsed with feeling--the deep awe,
the sweet hope, the wondering expectation of a new miracle.

“There has been nothing like this in the country since our Motherhood
began!” Somel said softly to me, while we watched the symbolic marches.
“You see, it is the dawn of a new era. You don’t know how much you mean
to us. It is not only Fatherhood--that marvelous dual parentage to
which we are strangers--the miracle of union in life-giving--but it is
Brotherhood. You are the rest of the world. You join us to our kind--to
all the strange lands and peoples we have never seen. We hope to know
them--to love and help them--and to learn of them. Ah! You cannot know!”

Thousands of voices rose in the soaring climax of that great Hymn of The
Coming Life. By the great Altar of Motherhood, with its crown of fruit
and flowers, stood a new one, crowned as well. Before the Great Over
Mother of the Land and her ring of High Temple Counsellors, before that
vast multitude of calm-faced mothers and holy-eyed maidens, came forward
our own three chosen ones, and we, three men alone in all that land,
joined hands with them and made our marriage vows.



CHAPTER 11. Our Difficulties


We say, “Marriage is a lottery”; also “Marriages are made in
Heaven”--but this is not so widely accepted as the other.

We have a well-founded theory that it is best to marry “in one’s class,”
 and certain well-grounded suspicions of international marriages, which
seem to persist in the interests of social progress, rather than in
those of the contracting parties.

But no combination of alien races, of color, of caste, or creed, was
ever so basically difficult to establish as that between us, three
modern American men, and these three women of Herland.

It is all very well to say that we should have been frank about it
beforehand. We had been frank. We had discussed--at least Ellador and
I had--the conditions of The Great Adventure, and thought the path
was clear before us. But there are some things one takes for granted,
supposes are mutually understood, and to which both parties may
repeatedly refer without ever meaning the same thing.

The differences in the education of the average man and woman are
great enough, but the trouble they make is not mostly for the man; he
generally carries out his own views of the case. The woman may have
imagined the conditions of married life to be different; but what she
imagined, was ignorant of, or might have preferred, did not seriously
matter.

I can see clearly and speak calmly about this now, writing after a lapse
of years, years full of growth and education, but at the time it was
rather hard sledding for all of us--especially for Terry. Poor Terry!
You see, in any other imaginable marriage among the peoples of the
earth, whether the woman were black, red, yellow, brown, or white;
whether she were ignorant or educated, submissive or rebellious, she
would have behind her the marriage tradition of our general history.
This tradition relates the woman to the man. He goes on with his
business, and she adapts herself to him and to it. Even in citizenship,
by some strange hocus-pocus, that fact of birth and geography was waved
aside, and the woman automatically acquired the nationality of her
husband.

Well--here were we, three aliens in this land of women. It was small in
area, and the external differences were not so great as to astound us.
We did not yet appreciate the differences between the race-mind of this
people and ours.

In the first place, they were a “pure stock” of two thousand
uninterrupted years. Where we have some long connected lines of
thought and feeling, together with a wide range of differences, often
irreconcilable, these people were smoothly and firmly agreed on most of
the basic principles of their life; and not only agreed in principle,
but accustomed for these sixty-odd generations to act on those
principles.

This is one thing which we did not understand--had made no allowance
for. When in our pre-marital discussions one of those dear girls had
said: “We understand it thus and thus,” or “We hold such and such to be
true,” we men, in our own deep-seated convictions of the power of love,
and our easy views about beliefs and principles, fondly imagined that
we could convince them otherwise. What we imagined, before marriage, did
not matter any more than what an average innocent young girl imagines.
We found the facts to be different.

It was not that they did not love us; they did, deeply and warmly. But
there are you again--what they meant by “love” and what we meant by
“love” were so different.

Perhaps it seems rather cold-blooded to say “we” and “they,” as if we
were not separate couples, with our separate joys and sorrows, but our
positions as aliens drove us together constantly. The whole strange
experience had made our friendship more close and intimate than it would
ever have become in a free and easy lifetime among our own people.
Also, as men, with our masculine tradition of far more than two thousand
years, we were a unit, small but firm, against this far larger unit of
feminine tradition.

I think I can make clear the points of difference without a too painful
explicitness. The more external disagreement was in the matter of “the
home,” and the housekeeping duties and pleasures we, by instinct and
long education, supposed to be inherently appropriate to women.

I will give two illustrations, one away up, and the other away down, to
show how completely disappointed we were in this regard.

For the lower one, try to imagine a male ant, coming from some state of
existence where ants live in pairs, endeavoring to set up housekeeping
with a female ant from a highly developed anthill. This female ant might
regard him with intense personal affection, but her ideas of parentage
and economic management would be on a very different scale from his.
Now, of course, if she was a stray female in a country of pairing ants,
he might have had his way with her; but if he was a stray male in an
anthill--!

For the higher one, try to imagine a devoted and impassioned man trying
to set up housekeeping with a lady angel, a real wings-and-harp-and-halo
angel, accustomed to fulfilling divine missions all over interstellar
space. This angel might love the man with an affection quite beyond his
power of return or even of appreciation, but her ideas of service and
duty would be on a very different scale from his. Of course, if she was
a stray angel in a country of men, he might have had his way with her;
but if he was a stray man among angels--!

Terry, at his worst, in a black fury for which, as a man, I must have
some sympathy, preferred the ant simile. More of Terry and his special
troubles later. It was hard on Terry.

Jeff--well, Jeff always had a streak that was too good for this world!
He’s the kind that would have made a saintly priest in parentagearlier
times. He accepted the angel theory, swallowed it whole, tried to force
it on us--with varying effect. He so worshipped Celis, and not only
Celis, but what she represented; he had become so deeply convinced of
the almost supernatural advantages of this country and people, that he
took his medicine like a--I cannot say “like a man,” but more as if he
wasn’t one.

Don’t misunderstand me for a moment. Dear old Jeff was no milksop or
molly-coddle either. He was a strong, brave, efficient man, and an
excellent fighter when fighting was necessary. But there was always this
angel streak in him. It was rather a wonder, Terry being so different,
that he really loved Jeff as he did; but it happens so sometimes, in
spite of the difference--perhaps because of it.

As for me, I stood between. I was no such gay Lothario as Terry, and no
such Galahad as Jeff. But for all my limitations I think I had the habit
of using my brains in regard to behavior rather more frequently than
either of them. I had to use brain-power now, I can tell you.

The big point at issue between us and our wives was, as may easily be
imagined, in the very nature of the relation.

“Wives! Don’t talk to me about wives!” stormed Terry. “They don’t know
what the word means.”

Which is exactly the fact--they didn’t. How could they? Back in their
prehistoric records of polygamy and slavery there were no ideals of
wifehood as we know it, and since then no possibility of forming such.

“The only thing they can think of about a man is FATHERHOOD!” said Terry
in high scorn. “FATHERHOOD! As if a man was always wanting to be a
FATHER!”

This also was correct. They had their long, wide, deep, rich experience
of Motherhood, and their only perception of the value of a male creature
as such was for Fatherhood.

Aside from that, of course, was the whole range of personal love, love
which as Jeff earnestly phrased it “passeth the love of women!” It did,
too. I can give no idea--either now, after long and happy experience of
it, or as it seemed then, in the first measureless wonder--of the beauty
and power of the love they gave us.

Even Alima--who had a more stormy temperament than either of the others,
and who, heaven knows, had far more provocation--even Alima was patience
and tenderness and wisdom personified to the man she loved, until
he--but I haven’t got to that yet.


These, as Terry put it, “alleged or so-called wives” of ours, went right
on with their profession as foresters. We, having no special learnings,
had long since qualified as assistants. We had to do something, if only
to pass the time, and it had to be work--we couldn’t be playing forever.

This kept us out of doors with those dear girls, and more or less
together--too much together sometimes.

These people had, it now became clear to us, the highest, keenest, most
delicate sense of personal privacy, but not the faintest idea of that
SOLITUDE A DEUX we are so fond of. They had, every one of them, the “two
rooms and a bath” theory realized. From earliest childhood each had
a separate bedroom with toilet conveniences, and one of the marks of
coming of age was the addition of an outer room in which to receive
friends.

Long since we had been given our own two rooms apiece, and as being of a
different sex and race, these were in a separate house. It seemed to be
recognized that we should breathe easier if able to free our minds in
real seclusion.

For food we either went to any convenient eating-house, ordered a meal
brought in, or took it with us to the woods, always and equally good.
All this we had become used to and enjoyed--in our courting days.

After marriage there arose in us a somewhat unexpected urge of feeling
that called for a separate house; but this feeling found no response in
the hearts of those fair ladies.

“We ARE alone, dear,” Ellador explained to me with gentle patience.
“We are alone in these great forests; we may go and eat in any little
summer-house--just we two, or have a separate table anywhere--or even
have a separate meal in our own rooms. How could we be aloner?”

This was all very true. We had our pleasant mutual solitude about our
work, and our pleasant evening talks in their apartments or ours; we
had, as it were, all the pleasures of courtship carried right on; but we
had no sense of--perhaps it may be called possession.

“Might as well not be married at all,” growled Terry. “They only got up
that ceremony to please us--please Jeff, mostly. They’ve no real idea of
being married.”

I tried my best to get Ellador’s point of view, and naturally I tried to
give her mine. Of course, what we, as men, wanted to make them see was
that there were other, and as we proudly said “higher,” uses in this
relation than what Terry called “mere parentage.” In the highest terms I
knew I tried to explain this to Ellador.

“Anything higher than for mutual love to hope to give life, as we did?”
 she said. “How is it higher?”

“It develops love,” I explained. “All the power of beautiful permanent
mated love comes through this higher development.”

“Are you sure?” she asked gently. “How do you know that it was so
developed? There are some birds who love each other so that they mope
and pine if separated, and never pair again if one dies, but they never
mate except in the mating season. Among your people do you find high and
lasting affection appearing in proportion to this indulgence?”

It is a very awkward thing, sometimes, to have a logical mind.

Of course I knew about those monogamous birds and beasts too, that mate
for life and show every sign of mutual affection, without ever having
stretched the sex relationship beyond its original range. But what of
it?

“Those are lower forms of life!” I protested. “They have no capacity
for faithful and affectionate, and apparently happy--but oh, my dear! my
dear!--what can they know of such a love as draws us together? Why, to
touch you--to be near you--to come closer and closer--to lose myself in
you--surely you feel it too, do you not?”

I came nearer. I seized her hands.

Her eyes were on mine, tender radiant, but steady and strong. There was
something so powerful, so large and changeless, in those eyes that
I could not sweep her off her feet by my own emotion as I had
unconsciously assumed would be the case.

It made me feel as, one might imagine, a man might feel who loved a
goddess--not a Venus, though! She did not resent my attitude, did not
repel it, did not in the least fear it, evidently. There was not a shade
of that timid withdrawal or pretty resistance which are so--provocative.

“You see, dearest,” she said, “you have to be patient with us. We are
not like the women of your country. We are Mothers, and we are People,
but we have not specialized in this line.”

“We” and “we” and “we”--it was so hard to get her to be personal. And,
as I thought that, I suddenly remembered how we were always criticizing
OUR women for BEING so personal.

Then I did my earnest best to picture to her the sweet intense joy of
married lovers, and the result in higher stimulus to all creative work.

“Do you mean,” she asked quite calmly, as if I was not holding her cool
firm hands in my hot and rather quivering ones, “that with you, when
people marry, they go right on doing this in season and out of season,
with no thought of children at all?”

“They do,” I said, with some bitterness. “They are not mere parents.
They are men and women, and they love each other.”

“How long?” asked Ellador, rather unexpectedly.

“How long?” I repeated, a little dashed. “Why as long as they live.”

“There is something very beautiful in the idea,” she admitted, still as
if she were discussing life on Mars. “This climactic expression, which,
in all the other life-forms, has but the one purpose, has with you
become specialized to higher, purer, nobler uses. It has--I judge from
what you tell me--the most ennobling effect on character. People marry,
not only for parentage, but for this exquisite interchange--and, as
a result, you have a world full of continuous lovers, ardent, happy,
mutually devoted, always living on that high tide of supreme emotion
which we had supposed to belong only to one season and one use. And you
say it has other results, stimulating all high creative work. That must
mean floods, oceans of such work, blossoming from this intense happiness
of every married pair! It is a beautiful idea!”

She was silent, thinking.

So was I.

She slipped one hand free, and was stroking my hair with it in a gentle
motherly way. I bowed my hot head on her shoulder and felt a dim sense
of peace, a restfulness which was very pleasant.

“You must take me there someday, darling,” she was saying. “It is
not only that I love you so much, I want to see your country--your
people--your mother--” she paused reverently. “Oh, how I shall love your
mother!”

I had not been in love many times--my experience did not compare
with Terry’s. But such as I had was so different from this that I was
perplexed, and full of mixed feelings: partly a growing sense of common
ground between us, a pleasant rested calm feeling, which I had imagined
could only be attained in one way; and partly a bewildered resentment
because what I found was not what I had looked for.

It was their confounded psychology! Here they were with this profound
highly developed system of education so bred into them that even if they
were not teachers by profession they all had a general proficiency in
it--it was second nature to them.

And no child, stormily demanding a cookie “between meals,” was ever more
subtly diverted into an interest in house-building than was I when
I found an apparently imperative demand had disappeared without my
noticing it.

And all the time those tender mother eyes, those keen scientific eyes,
noting every condition and circumstance, and learning how to “take time
by the forelock” and avoid discussion before occasion arose.

I was amazed at the results. I found that much, very much, of what I had
honestly supposed to be a physiological necessity was a psychological
necessity--or so believed. I found, after my ideas of what was essential
had changed, that my feelings changed also. And more than all, I found
this--a factor of enormous weight--these women were not provocative.
That made an immense difference.

The thing that Terry had so complained of when we first came--that they
weren’t “feminine,” they lacked “charm,” now became a great comfort.
Their vigorous beauty was an aesthetic pleasure, not an irritant. Their
dress and ornaments had not a touch of the “come-and-find-me” element.

Even with my own Ellador, my wife, who had for a time unveiled a woman’s
heart and faced the strange new hope and joy of dual parentage, she
afterward withdrew again into the same good comrade she had been at
first. They were women, PLUS, and so much plus that when they did not
choose to let the womanness appear, you could not find it anywhere.

I don’t say it was easy for me; it wasn’t. But when I made appeal to
her sympathies I came up against another immovable wall. She was sorry,
honestly sorry, for my distresses, and made all manner of thoughtful
suggestions, often quite useful, as well as the wise foresight I have
mentioned above, which often saved all difficulty before it arose; but
her sympathy did not alter her convictions.

“If I thought it was really right and necessary, I could perhaps bring
myself to it, for your sake, dear; but I do not want to--not at all.
You would not have a mere submission, would you? That is not the kind of
high romantic love you spoke of, surely? It is a pity, of course, that
you should have to adjust your highly specialized faculties to our
unspecialized ones.”

Confound it! I hadn’t married the nation, and I told her so. But she
only smiled at her own limitations and explained that she had to “think
in we’s.”

Confound it again! Here I’d have all my energies focused on one wish,
and before I knew it she’d have them dissipated in one direction or
another, some subject of discussion that began just at the point I was
talking about and ended miles away.

It must not be imagined that I was just repelled, ignored, left to
cherish a grievance. Not at all. My happiness was in the hands of a
larger, sweeter womanhood than I had ever imagined. Before our marriage
my own ardor had perhaps blinded me to much of this. I was madly in love
with not so much what was there as with what I supposed to be there. Now
I found an endlessly beautiful undiscovered country to explore, and in
it the sweetest wisdom and understanding. It was as if I had come to
some new place and people, with a desire to eat at all hours, and no
other interests in particular; and as if my hosts, instead of merely
saying, “You shall not eat,” had presently aroused in me a lively desire
for music, for pictures, for games, for exercise, for playing in the
water, for running some ingenious machine; and, in the multitude of my
satisfactions, I forgot the one point which was not satisfied, and got
along very well until mealtime.

One of the cleverest and most ingenious of these tricks was only clear
to me many years after, when we were so wholly at one on this subject
that I could laugh at my own predicament then. It was this: You see,
with us, women are kept as different as possible and as feminine as
possible. We men have our own world, with only men in it; we get tired
of our ultra-maleness and turn gladly to the ultra-femaleness. Also,
in keeping our women as feminine as possible, we see to it that when
we turn to them we find the thing we want always in evidence. Well, the
atmosphere of this place was anything but seductive. The very numbers
of these human women, always in human relation, made them anything
but alluring. When, in spite of this, my hereditary instincts and
race-traditions made me long for the feminine response in Ellador,
instead of withdrawing so that I should want her more, she deliberately
gave me a little too much of her society.--always de-feminized, as it
were. It was awfully funny, really.

Here was I, with an Ideal in mind, for which I hotly longed, and here
was she, deliberately obtruding in the foreground of my consciousness a
Fact--a fact which I coolly enjoyed, but which actually interfered with
what I wanted. I see now clearly enough why a certain kind of man, like
Sir Almroth Wright, resents the professional development of women. It
gets in the way of the sex ideal; it temporarily covers and excludes
femininity.

Of course, in this case, I was so fond of Ellador my friend, of Ellador
my professional companion, that I necessarily enjoyed her society on any
terms. Only--when I had had her with me in her de-feminine capacity for
a sixteen-hour day, I could go to my own room and sleep without dreaming
about her.

The witch! If ever anybody worked to woo and win and hold a human soul,
she did, great superwoman that she was. I couldn’t then half comprehend
the skill of it, the wonder. But this I soon began to find: that under
all our cultivated attitude of mind toward women, there is an older,
deeper, more “natural” feeling, the restful reverence which looks up to
the Mother sex.

So we grew together in friendship and happiness, Ellador and I, and so
did Jeff and Celis.

When it comes to Terry’s part of it, and Alima’s, I’m sorry--and
I’m ashamed. Of course I blame her somewhat. She wasn’t as fine
a psychologist as Ellador, and what’s more, I think she had a
far-descended atavistic trace of more marked femaleness, never apparent
till Terry called it out. But when all is said, it doesn’t excuse him. I
hadn’t realized to the full Terry’s character--I couldn’t, being a man.

The position was the same as with us, of course, only with these
distinctions. Alima, a shade more alluring, and several shades less able
as a practical psychologist; Terry, a hundredfold more demanding--and
proportionately less reasonable.

Things grew strained very soon between them. I fancy at first, when
they were together, in her great hope of parentage and his keen joy of
conquest--that Terry was inconsiderate. In fact, I know it, from things
he said.

“You needn’t talk to me,” he snapped at Jeff one day, just before
our weddings. “There never was a woman yet that did not enjoy being
MASTERED. All your pretty talk doesn’t amount to a hill o’beans--I
KNOW.” And Terry would hum:

    I’ve taken my fun where I found it.
    I’ve rogued and I’ve ranged in my time,

and

    The things that I learned from the yellow and black,
    They ‘ave helped me a ‘eap with the white.

Jeff turned sharply and left him at the time. I was a bit disquieted
myself.

Poor old Terry! The things he’d learned didn’t help him a heap in
Herland. His idea was to take--he thought that was the way. He thought,
he honestly believed, that women like it. Not the women of Herland! Not
Alima!

I can see her now--one day in the very first week of their marriage,
setting forth to her day’s work with long determined strides and
hard-set mouth, and sticking close to Ellador. She didn’t wish to be
alone with Terry--you could see that.

But the more she kept away from him, the more he wanted her--naturally.

He made a tremendous row about their separate establishments, tried to
keep her in his rooms, tried to stay in hers. But there she drew the
line sharply.

He came away one night, and stamped up and down the moonlit road,
swearing under his breath. I was taking a walk that night too, but I
wasn’t in his state of mind. To hear him rage you’d not have believed
that he loved Alima at all--you’d have thought that she was some quarry
he was pursuing, something to catch and conquer.

I think that, owing to all those differences I spoke of, they soon lost
the common ground they had at first, and were unable to meet sanely
and dispassionately. I fancy too--this is pure conjecture--that he
had succeeded in driving Alima beyond her best judgment, her real
conscience, and that after that her own sense of shame, the reaction of
the thing, made her bitter perhaps.

They quarreled, really quarreled, and after making it up once or twice,
they seemed to come to a real break--she would not be alone with him
at all. And perhaps she was a bit nervous, I don’t know, but she got
Moadine to come and stay next door to her. Also, she had a sturdy
assistant detailed to accompany her in her work.

Terry had his own ideas, as I’ve tried to show. I daresay he thought he
had a right to do as he did. Perhaps he even convinced himself that
it would be better for her. Anyhow, he hid himself in her bedroom one
night...

The women of Herland have no fear of men. Why should they have? They
are not timid in any sense. They are not weak; and they all have strong
trained athletic bodies. Othello could not have extinguished Alima with
a pillow, as if she were a mouse.

Terry put in practice his pet conviction that a woman loves to be
mastered, and by sheer brute force, in all the pride and passion of his
intense masculinity, he tried to master this woman.

It did not work. I got a pretty clear account of it later from Ellador,
but what we heard at the time was the noise of a tremendous struggle,
and Alima calling to Moadine. Moadine was close by and came at once; one
or two more strong grave women followed.

Terry dashed about like a madman; he would cheerfully have killed
them--he told me that, himself--but he couldn’t. When he swung a chair
over his head one sprang in the air and caught it, two threw themselves
bodily upon him and forced him to the floor; it was only the work of a
few moments to have him tied hand and foot, and then, in sheer pity for
his futile rage, to anesthetize him.

Alima was in a cold fury. She wanted him killed--actually.

There was a trial before the local Over Mother, and this woman, who did
not enjoy being mastered, stated her case.

In a court in our country he would have been held quite “within his
rights,” of course. But this was not our country; it was theirs. They
seemed to measure the enormity of the offense by its effect upon a
possible fatherhood, and he scorned even to reply to this way of putting
it.

He did let himself go once, and explained in definite terms that they
were incapable of understanding a man’s needs, a man’s desires, a man’s
point of view. He called them neuters, epicenes, bloodless, sexless
creatures. He said they could of course kill him--as so many insects
could--but that he despised them nonetheless.

And all those stern grave mothers did not seem to mind his despising
them, not in the least.

It was a long trial, and many interesting points were brought out as to
their views of our habits, and after a while Terry had his sentence. He
waited, grim and defiant. The sentence was: “You must go home!”



CHAPTER 12. Expelled


We had all meant to go home again. Indeed we had NOT meant--not by any
means--to stay as long as we had. But when it came to being turned out,
dismissed, sent away for bad conduct, we none of us really liked it.

Terry said he did. He professed great scorn of the penalty and the
trial, as well as all the other characteristics of “this miserable
half-country.” But he knew, and we knew, that in any “whole” country we
should never have been as forgivingly treated as we had been here.

“If the people had come after us according to the directions we left,
there’d have been quite a different story!” said Terry. We found out
later why no reserve party had arrived. All our careful directions had
been destroyed in a fire. We might have all died there and no one at
home have ever known our whereabouts.

Terry was under guard now, all the time, known as unsafe, convicted of
what was to them an unpardonable sin.

He laughed at their chill horror. “Parcel of old maids!” he called them.
“They’re all old maids--children or not. They don’t know the first thing
about Sex.”

When Terry said SEX, sex with a very large _S_, he meant the male sex,
naturally; its special values, its profound conviction of being “the
life force,” its cheerful ignoring of the true life process, and its
interpretation of the other sex solely from its own point of view.

I had learned to see these things very differently since living with
Ellador; and as for Jeff, he was so thoroughly Herlandized that he
wasn’t fair to Terry, who fretted sharply in his new restraint.

Moadine, grave and strong, as sadly patient as a mother with a
degenerate child, kept steady watch on him, with enough other women
close at hand to prevent an outbreak. He had no weapons, and well knew
that all his strength was of small avail against those grim, quiet
women.

We were allowed to visit him freely, but he had only his room, and a
small high-walled garden to walk in, while the preparations for our
departure were under way.

Three of us were to go: Terry, because he must; I, because two were
safer for our flyer, and the long boat trip to the coast; Ellador,
because she would not let me go without her.

If Jeff had elected to return, Celis would have gone too--they were the
most absorbed of lovers; but Jeff had no desire that way.

“Why should I want to go back to all our noise and dirt, our vice and
crime, our disease and degeneracy?” he demanded of me privately. We
never spoke like that before the women. “I wouldn’t take Celis there for
anything on earth!” he protested. “She’d die! She’d die of horror and
shame to see our slums and hospitals. How can you risk it with Ellador?
You’d better break it to her gently before she really makes up her
mind.”

Jeff was right. I ought to have told her more fully than I did, of all
the things we had to be ashamed of. But it is very hard to bridge the
gulf of as deep a difference as existed between our life and theirs. I
tried to.

“Look here, my dear,” I said to her. “If you are really going to my
country with me, you’ve got to be prepared for a good many shocks. It’s
not as beautiful as this--the cities, I mean, the civilized parts--of
course the wild country is.”

“I shall enjoy it all,” she said, her eyes starry with hope. “I
understand it’s not like ours. I can see how monotonous our quiet life
must seem to you, how much more stirring yours must be. It must be
like the biological change you told me about when the second sex
was introduced--a far greater movement, constant change, with new
possibilities of growth.”

I had told her of the later biological theories of sex, and she
was deeply convinced of the superior advantages of having two, the
superiority of a world with men in it.

“We have done what we could alone; perhaps we have some things better
in a quiet way, but you have the whole world--all the people of the
different nations--all the long rich history behind you--all the
wonderful new knowledge. Oh, I just can’t wait to see it!”

What could I do? I told her in so many words that we had our unsolved
problems, that we had dishonesty and corruption, vice and crime, disease
and insanity, prisons and hospitals; and it made no more impression on
her than it would to tell a South Sea Islander about the temperature of
the Arctic Circle. She could intellectually see that it was bad to have
those things; but she could not FEEL it.

We had quite easily come to accept the Herland life as normal, because
it was normal--none of us make any outcry over mere health and peace
and happy industry. And the abnormal, to which we are all so sadly well
acclimated, she had never seen.

The two things she cared most to hear about, and wanted most to see,
were these: the beautiful relation of marriage and the lovely women
who were mothers and nothing else; beyond these her keen, active mind
hungered eagerly for the world life.

“I’m almost as anxious to go as you are yourself,” she insisted, “and
you must be desperately homesick.”

I assured her that no one could be homesick in such a paradise as
theirs, but she would have none of it.

“Oh, yes--I know. It’s like those little tropical islands you’ve told me
about, shining like jewels in the big blue sea--I can’t wait to see the
sea! The little island may be as perfect as a garden, but you always
want to get back to your own big country, don’t you? Even if it is bad
in some ways?”

Ellador was more than willing. But the nearer it came to our really
going, and to my having to take her back to our “civilization,” after
the clean peace and beauty of theirs, the more I began to dread it, and
the more I tried to explain.

Of course I had been homesick at first, while we were prisoners, before
I had Ellador. And of course I had, at first, rather idealized my
country and its ways, in describing it. Also, I had always accepted
certain evils as integral parts of our civilization and never dwelt on
them at all. Even when I tried to tell her the worst, I never remembered
some things--which, when she came to see them, impressed her at once, as
they had never impressed me. Now, in my efforts at explanation, I began
to see both ways more keenly than I had before; to see the painful
defects of my own land, the marvelous gains of this.

In missing men we three visitors had naturally missed the larger part of
life, and had unconsciously assumed that they must miss it too. It took
me a long time to realize--Terry never did realize--how little it
meant to them. When we say MEN, MAN, MANLY, MANHOOD, and all the other
masculine derivatives, we have in the background of our minds a huge
vague crowded picture of the world and all its activities. To grow up
and “be a man,” to “act like a man”--the meaning and connotation is
wide indeed. That vast background is full of marching columns of men, of
changing lines of men, of long processions of men; of men steering
their ships into new seas, exploring unknown mountains, breaking horses,
herding cattle, ploughing and sowing and reaping, toiling at the forge
and furnace, digging in the mine, building roads and bridges and high
cathedrals, managing great businesses, teaching in all the colleges,
preaching in all the churches; of men everywhere, doing everything--“the
world.”

And when we say WOMEN, we think FEMALE--the sex.

But to these women, in the unbroken sweep of this two-thousand-year-old
feminine civilization, the word WOMAN called up all that big background,
so far as they had gone in social development; and the word MAN meant to
them only MALE--the sex.

Of course we could TELL them that in our world men did everything; but
that did not alter the background of their minds. That man, “the male,”
 did all these things was to them a statement, making no more change
in the point of view than was made in ours when we first faced the
astounding fact--to us--that in Herland women were “the world.”

We had been living there more than a year. We had learned their limited
history, with its straight, smooth, upreaching lines, reaching higher
and going faster up to the smooth comfort of their present life. We
had learned a little of their psychology, a much wider field than the
history, but here we could not follow so readily. We were now well used
to seeing women not as females but as people; people of all sorts, doing
every kind of work.

This outbreak of Terry’s, and the strong reaction against it, gave us
a new light on their genuine femininity. This was given me with great
clearness by both Ellador and Somel. The feeling was the same--sick
revulsion and horror, such as would be felt at some climactic blasphemy.

They had no faintest approach to such a thing in their minds, knowing
nothing of the custom of marital indulgence among us. To them the one
high purpose of motherhood had been for so long the governing law of
life, and the contribution of the father, though known to them, so
distinctly another method to the same end, that they could not, with all
their effort, get the point of view of the male creature whose desires
quite ignore parentage and seek only for what we euphoniously term “the
joys of love.”

When I tried to tell Ellador that women too felt so, with us, she drew
away from me, and tried hard to grasp intellectually what she could in
no way sympathize with.

“You mean--that with you--love between man and woman expresses itself in
that way--without regard to motherhood? To parentage, I mean,” she added
carefully.

“Yes, surely. It is love we think of--the deep sweet love between two.
Of course we want children, and children come--but that is not what we
think about.”

“But--but--it seems so against nature!” she said. “None of the creatures
we know do that. Do other animals--in your country?”

“We are not animals!” I replied with some sharpness. “At least we
are something more--something higher. This is a far nobler and more
beautiful relation, as I have explained before. Your view seems to us
rather--shall I say, practical? Prosaic? Merely a means to an end! With
us--oh, my dear girl--cannot you see? Cannot you feel? It is the last,
sweetest, highest consummation of mutual love.”

She was impressed visibly. She trembled in my arms, as I held her close,
kissing her hungrily. But there rose in her eyes that look I knew so
well, that remote clear look as if she had gone far away even though
I held her beautiful body so close, and was now on some snowy mountain
regarding me from a distance.

“I feel it quite clearly,” she said to me. “It gives me a deep sympathy
with what you feel, no doubt more strongly still. But what I feel, even
what you feel, dearest, does not convince me that it is right. Until I
am sure of that, of course I cannot do as you wish.”

Ellador, at times like this, always reminded me of Epictetus. “I will
put you in prison!” said his master. “My body, you mean,” replied
Epictetus calmly. “I will cut your head off,” said his master. “Have I
said that my head could not be cut off?” A difficult person, Epictetus.

What is this miracle by which a woman, even in your arms, may withdraw
herself, utterly disappear till what you hold is as inaccessible as the
face of a cliff?

“Be patient with me, dear,” she urged sweetly. “I know it is hard for
you. And I begin to see--a little--how Terry was so driven to crime.”

“Oh, come, that’s a pretty hard word for it. After all, Alima was
his wife, you know,” I urged, feeling at the moment a sudden burst of
sympathy for poor Terry. For a man of his temperament--and habits--it
must have been an unbearable situation.

But Ellador, for all her wide intellectual grasp, and the broad sympathy
in which their religion trained them, could not make allowance for
such--to her--sacrilegious brutality.

It was the more difficult to explain to her, because we three, in our
constant talks and lectures about the rest of the world, had naturally
avoided the seamy side; not so much from a desire to deceive, but from
wishing to put the best foot foremost for our civilization, in the face
of the beauty and comfort of theirs. Also, we really thought some things
were right, or at least unavoidable, which we could readily see would be
repugnant to them, and therefore did not discuss. Again there was much
of our world’s life which we, being used to it, had not noticed as
anything worth describing. And still further, there was about these
women a colossal innocence upon which many of the things we did say had
made no impression whatever.

I am thus explicit about it because it shows how unexpectedly strong
was the impression made upon Ellador when she at last entered our
civilization.

She urged me to be patient, and I was patient. You see, I loved her so
much that even the restrictions she so firmly established left me much
happiness. We were lovers, and there is surely delight enough in that.

Do not imagine that these young women utterly refused “the Great New
Hope,” as they called it, that of dual parentage. For that they had
agreed to marry us, though the marrying part of it was a concession
to our prejudices rather than theirs. To them the process was the holy
thing--and they meant to keep it holy.

But so far only Celis, her blue eyes swimming in happy tears, her
heart lifted with that tide of race-motherhood which was their supreme
passion, could with ineffable joy and pride announce that she was to
be a mother. “The New Motherhood” they called it, and the whole country
knew. There was no pleasure, no service, no honor in all the land that
Celis might not have had. Almost like the breathless reverence with
which, two thousand years ago, that dwindling band of women had watched
the miracle of virgin birth, was the deep awe and warm expectancy with
which they greeted this new miracle of union.

All mothers in that land were holy. To them, for long ages, the approach
to motherhood has been by the most intense and exquisite love and
longing, by the Supreme Desire, the overmastering demand for a child.
Every thought they held in connection with the processes of maternity
was open to the day, simple yet sacred. Every woman of them placed
motherhood not only higher than other duties, but so far higher that
there were no other duties, one might almost say. All their wide mutual
love, all the subtle interplay of mutual friendship and service,
the urge of progressive thought and invention, the deepest religious
emotion, every feeling and every act was related to this great central
Power, to the River of Life pouring through them, which made them the
bearers of the very Spirit of God.

Of all this I learned more and more--from their books, from talk,
especially from Ellador. She was at first, for a brief moment, envious
of her friend--a thought she put away from her at once and forever.

“It is better,” she said to me. “It is much better that it has not come
to me yet--to us, that is. For if I am to go with you to your country,
we may have ‘adventures by sea and land,’ as you say [and as in truth we
did], and it might not be at all safe for a baby. So we won’t try again,
dear, till it is safe--will we?”

This was a hard saying for a very loving husband.

“Unless,” she went on, “if one is coming, you will leave me behind. You
can come back, you know--and I shall have the child.”

Then that deep ancient chill of male jealousy of even his own progeny
touched my heart.

“I’d rather have you, Ellador, than all the children in the world. I’d
rather have you with me--on your own terms--than not to have you.”

This was a very stupid saying. Of course I would! For if she wasn’t
there I should want all of her and have none of her. But if she went
along as a sort of sublimated sister--only much closer and warmer than
that, really--why I should have all of her but that one thing. And I
was beginning to find that Ellador’s friendship, Ellador’s comradeship,
Ellador’s sisterly affection, Ellador’s perfectly sincere love--none
the less deep that she held it back on a definite line of reserve--were
enough to live on very happily.

I find it quite beyond me to describe what this woman was to me. We talk
fine things about women, but in our hearts we know that they are very
limited beings--most of them. We honor them for their functional powers,
even while we dishonor them by our use of it; we honor them for their
carefully enforced virtue, even while we show by our own conduct how
little we think of that virtue; we value them, sincerely, for the
perverted maternal activities which make our wives the most comfortable
of servants, bound to us for life with the wages wholly at our own
decision, their whole business, outside of the temporary duties of such
motherhood as they may achieve, to meet our needs in every way. Oh, we
value them, all right, “in their place,” which place is the home, where
they perform that mixture of duties so ably described by Mrs. Josephine
Dodge Daskam Bacon, in which the services of “a mistress” are carefully
specified. She is a very clear writer, Mrs. J. D. D. Bacon, and
understands her subject--from her own point of view. But--that
combination of industries, while convenient, and in a way economical,
does not arouse the kind of emotion commanded by the women of Herland.
These were women one had to love “up,” very high up, instead of down.
They were not pets. They were not servants. They were not timid,
inexperienced, weak.

After I got over the jar to my pride (which Jeff, I truly think, never
felt--he was a born worshipper, and which Terry never got over--he
was quite clear in his ideas of “the position of women”), I found that
loving “up” was a very good sensation after all. It gave me a queer
feeling, way down deep, as of the stirring of some ancient dim
prehistoric consciousness, a feeling that they were right somehow--that
this was the way to feel. It was like--coming home to mother. I don’t
mean the underflannels-and-doughnuts mother, the fussy person that waits
on you and spoils you and doesn’t really know you. I mean the feeling
that a very little child would have, who had been lost--for ever so
long. It was a sense of getting home; of being clean and rested;
of safety and yet freedom; of love that was always there, warm like
sunshine in May, not hot like a stove or a featherbed--a love that
didn’t irritate and didn’t smother.

I looked at Ellador as if I hadn’t seen her before. “If you won’t go,”
 I said, “I’ll get Terry to the coast and come back alone. You can let me
down a rope. And if you will go--why you blessed wonder-woman--I would
rather live with you all my life--like this--than to have any other
woman I ever saw, or any number of them, to do as I like with. Will you
come?”

She was keen for coming. So the plans went on. She’d have liked to wait
for that Marvel of Celis’s, but Terry had no such desire. He was crazy
to be out of it all. It made him sick, he said, SICK; this everlasting
mother-mother-mothering. I don’t think Terry had what the phrenologists
call “the lump of philoprogenitiveness” at all well developed.

“Morbid one-sided cripples,” he called them, even when from his window
he could see their splendid vigor and beauty; even while Moadine, as
patient and friendly as if she had never helped Alima to hold and bind
him, sat there in the room, the picture of wisdom and serene strength.
“Sexless, epicene, undeveloped neuters!” he went on bitterly. He sounded
like Sir Almwroth Wright.

Well--it was hard. He was madly in love with Alima, really; more so than
he had ever been before, and their tempestuous courtship, quarrels, and
reconciliations had fanned the flame. And then when he sought by that
supreme conquest which seems so natural a thing to that type of man, to
force her to love him as her master--to have the sturdy athletic furious
woman rise up and master him--she and her friends--it was no wonder he
raged.

Come to think of it, I do not recall a similar case in all history or
fiction. Women have killed themselves rather than submit to outrage;
they have killed the outrager; they have escaped; or they have
submitted--sometimes seeming to get on very well with the victor
afterward. There was that adventure of “false Sextus,” for instance,
who “found Lucrese combing the fleece, under the midnight lamp.” He
threatened, as I remember, that if she did not submit he would slay her,
slay a slave and place him beside her and say he found him there. A poor
device, it always seemed to me. If Mr. Lucretius had asked him how he
came to be in his wife’s bedroom overlooking her morals, what could he
have said? But the point is Lucrese submitted, and Alima didn’t.

“She kicked me,” confided the embittered prisoner--he had to talk to
someone. “I was doubled up with the pain, of course, and she jumped on
me and yelled for this old harpy [Moadine couldn’t hear him] and they
had me trussed up in no time. I believe Alima could have done it alone,”
 he added with reluctant admiration. “She’s as strong as a horse. And
of course a man’s helpless when you hit him like that. No woman with a
shade of decency--”

I had to grin at that, and even Terry did, sourly. He wasn’t given to
reasoning, but it did strike him that an assault like his rather waived
considerations of decency.

“I’d give a year of my life to have her alone again,” he said slowly,
his hands clenched till the knuckles were white.

But he never did. She left our end of the country entirely, went up into
the fir-forest on the highest slopes, and stayed there. Before we left
he quite desperately longed to see her, but she would not come and he
could not go. They watched him like lynxes. (Do lynxes watch any better
than mousing cats, I wonder!)

Well--we had to get the flyer in order, and be sure there was enough
fuel left, though Terry said we could glide all right, down to that
lake, once we got started. We’d have gone gladly in a week’s time, of
course, but there was a great to-do all over the country about
Ellador’s leaving them. She had interviews with some of the leading
ethicists--wise women with still eyes, and with the best of the
teachers. There was a stir, a thrill, a deep excitement everywhere.

Our teaching about the rest of the world has given them all a sense
of isolation, of remoteness, of being a little outlying sample of a
country, overlooked and forgotten among the family of nations. We had
called it “the family of nations,” and they liked the phrase immensely.

They were deeply aroused on the subject of evolution; indeed, the whole
field of natural science drew them irresistibly. Any number of them
would have risked everything to go to the strange unknown lands and
study; but we could take only one, and it had to be Ellador, naturally.

We planned greatly about coming back, about establishing a connecting
route by water; about penetrating those vast forests and civilizing--or
exterminating--the dangerous savages. That is, we men talked of that
last--not with the women. They had a definite aversion to killing
things.

But meanwhile there was high council being held among the wisest of them
all. The students and thinkers who had been gathering facts from us all
this time, collating and relating them, and making inferences, laid the
result of their labors before the council.

Little had we thought that our careful efforts at concealment had been
so easily seen through, with never a word to show us that they saw. They
had followed up words of ours on the science of optics, asked innocent
questions about glasses and the like, and were aware of the defective
eyesight so common among us.

With the lightest touch, different women asking different questions at
different times, and putting all our answers together like a picture
puzzle, they had figured out a sort of skeleton chart as to the
prevalence of disease among us. Even more subtly with no show of horror
or condemnation, they had gathered something--far from the truth, but
something pretty clear--about poverty, vice, and crime. They even had
a goodly number of our dangers all itemized, from asking us about
insurance and innocent things like that.

They were well posted as to the different races, beginning with their
poison-arrow natives down below and widening out to the broad racial
divisions we had told them about. Never a shocked expression of the face
or exclamation of revolt had warned us; they had been extracting the
evidence without our knowing it all this time, and now were studying
with the most devout earnestness the matter they had prepared.

The result was rather distressing to us. They first explained the matter
fully to Ellador, as she was the one who purposed visiting the Rest
of the World. To Celis they said nothing. She must not be in any way
distressed, while the whole nation waited on her Great Work.

Finally Jeff and I were called in. Somel and Zava were there, and
Ellador, with many others that we knew.

They had a great globe, quite fairly mapped out from the small section
maps in that compendium of ours. They had the different peoples of the
earth roughly outlined, and their status in civilization indicated.
They had charts and figures and estimates, based on the facts in that
traitorous little book and what they had learned from us.

Somel explained: “We find that in all your historic period, so much
longer than ours, that with all the interplay of services, the exchange
of inventions and discoveries, and the wonderful progress we so admire,
that in this widespread Other World of yours, there is still much
disease, often contagious.”

We admitted this at once.

“Also there is still, in varying degree, ignorance, with prejudice and
unbridled emotion.”

This too was admitted.

“We find also that in spite of the advance of democracy and the increase
of wealth, that there is still unrest and sometimes combat.”

Yes, yes, we admitted it all. We were used to these things and saw no
reason for so much seriousness.

“All things considered,” they said, and they did not say a hundredth
part of the things they were considering, “we are unwilling to expose
our country to free communication with the rest of the world--as yet. If
Ellador comes back, and we approve her report, it may be done later--but
not yet.

“So we have this to ask of you gentlemen [they knew that word was held
a title of honor with us], that you promise not in any way to betray the
location of this country until permission--after Ellador’s return.”

Jeff was perfectly satisfied. He thought they were quite right. He
always did. I never saw an alien become naturalized more quickly than
that man in Herland.

I studied it awhile, thinking of the time they’d have if some of our
contagions got loose there, and concluded they were right. So I agreed.

Terry was the obstacle. “Indeed I won’t!” he protested. “The first
thing I’ll do is to get an expedition fixed up to force an entrance into
Ma-land.”

“Then,” they said quite calmly, “he must remain an absolute prisoner,
always.”

“Anesthesia would be kinder,” urged Moadine.

“And safer,” added Zava.

“He will promise, I think,” said Ellador.

And he did. With which agreement we at last left Herland.





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