After we had had our little discussion about the manners and folkways of the well-to-do and the silk-stocking set, Count Victor Justin seldom lost an opportunity to pull me aside for a friendly chat. I was usually amenable. Often, he would bribe me with a shiny silver dollar, which I would squander on truck such as dime novels and candy and cap pistols and taking trolley rides and going to the Nickelodeon and suchlike. Every Friday he would ask me how much of that money I had managed to put aside and every Friday I told him the same thing: None of it. “Ahh…good,” he’d say, absently. “Easy come…easy go.” Thriftiness was only one of the many sterling qualities he never attempted to sell me on.
Generally in these private talks, he would talk about how organized religion was a bunch of hooey, though one must never say so in public. “Whether you’re a hard-shell Baptist snake-handler or a stuck-up Piss-in-a-Pailian, one thing you must always remember to do is to go to the House of the Lord and get down on your ever-lovin’ prayer dukes on each and every Sabbath Day and pay tribute to the powers that be, even if they are, for the most part, entirely evanescent and quite possibly figments of some deluded nomad’s overactive imagination. Now, when I say this,” he was cautious to add, “it doesn’t mean that I worship Lucifer or any other such damn fool phantom. No–I will share with you a secret–one widely known solely to the adepts and mystic sages of the Far East. And that is this: You must awaken to the Soul Vibrations and be cognizant of all that surrounds you which remains invisible to your apprehension, unless you have eyes to see. More than this I cannot say, for you must experience it for and of yourself. Once you have done so, you will walk a little taller and be able to look a Yellof straight in the eyeball and understand that he is a fellow creature and a brother, and that you are both part of something far larger. I’m not talking about Negroes, of course, ner Chinamen or Jews. I’m talking about white men. I’m all for brotherhood and like that–but I’m not a fanatic. Nor do I believe in all these Suffer-agettes who are roaming about these days, shackling themselves to fences and smashing up saloons and otherwise making damned nuisances of themselves.
“I say that if’n God had intended for women to vote, He would of given them the sense to be born men. Voting is a man’s game, Yob–everything about it comes down to the use of brute force, and women are ill-suited to the strong arm and the lead sap. Most of the sensible ones don’t want to vote anyway–they’re too busy nursing babies and keeping house and looking after the bairns and the like. Besides, what would foreigners say about us, if they knew that we allowed mere women to have a say in how to run our strictly masculine enterprises? Soon enough they would regard us as a bunch of shrinking violets and petunia-sniffers, and they would invade the hell out of us–especially if they were to see that we were willing to destroy our whole civilization just to placate a band of red-headed wildcats who want to wear pants and pilot horseless carriages. You don’t see no woman driving the Moxiemobile! Women by and large simply ain’t suited to enterprises of a mechanical nature. They ain’t got no aptitude for it. Though I have noticed that women are like machinery in one respect–they tend to whine unless they’re properly lubricated. But maybe you’re too young to be told such things.
“Where does it all end with these flighty flibbertigibbets? Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to take one of those aeroplane contrivances out for a spin. No, my lad–women are perfectly happy when they’re simply allowed the manifold privileges which men already grant to them. Ain’t we their sole support against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? Don’t we feed them when they’re hungry and water them when they’re dry and protect them in every conceivable way? Don’t we give them shelter and rainment? You don’t have to answer that, Yob–that’s what’s known as a rhetorical question.
“Let’s face facts. Women are weak. Women may have plenty of tact, but when it comes right down to it, they ain’t very subtle. They will cry to get their own way. Depend on it. And then they will flop over onto their backs and show you their bellies to prove that they’re submissive, and to work their wiles.
“Furthermore, women ain’t rational. They have no proven ability to reason out a proposition, or form a compromise, or manage a consensus–unless we’re talking about adjudicating the brannigans of five year old sprats. They do well when directing a Kindergarten class. But, for that very same reason, whenever they find themselves talking among grown adults and men of affairs, they are reduced to mouthing vapid banalities.
“And besides, politics is a dirty, time-consuming business, and women shouldn’t sully themselves with it. Women have enough to do without getting involved in politics–politics! Why, that there is the kiss of death! And get this–can you imagine an ignorant old toothless washerwoman who can’t even read and write, having the same vote as you or me? Why, it’s enough to make a cat laugh. Why, if my dog wanted to walk around on his hind legs and smoke a pipe and cast a ballot, I guess I would allow THAT sooner than I would like to see a woman get involved in all the muck and mire of public affairs. Why, the very idea is a palpable absurdity.
“Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as though women are utterly incapable of waging a protracted campaign–when they happen to have a mind to. You should see them in action when they set their cap for a man. Every move is planned with the precision of Hannibal leading his elephants across the fucking Alps. And you should see them when they get together to plan a wedding. Every tiny detail is conceived and carried out with a precision that would be the envy of the most grizzled and meticulous Swiss watchmaker. The fact of the matter is, I dread a world in which women manage to truly gain the whip hand and control us in private affairs as well as public ones. When that day comes, bury my body, for if I ain’t already a dead man…I may very well wish that I were.”