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Marching Men

CHAPTER VII.1
The idea prevalent among men that the woman to be beautiful must be hedged
about and protected from the facts of life has done something more than produce
a race of women not physically vigorous. It has made them deficient in strength
of soul also. After the evening when she stood facing Edith and when she had
been unable to arise to the challenge flung at her by the little milliner Margaret
Ormsby was forced to stand facing her own soul and there was no strength in her
for the test. Her mind insisted on justifying her failure. A woman of the people
placed in such a position would have been able to face it calmly. She would have
gone soberly and steadily about her work and after a few months of pulling
weeds in a field, trimming hats in a shop or instructing children in a schoolroom
would have been ready to thrust out again, making another trial at life. Having
met many defeats she would have been armed and ready for defeat. Like a little
animal in a forest inhabited by other and larger animals she would have known
the effectiveness of lying perfectly still for a long period, making her patience a
part of her equipment for living.
Margaret had decided that she hated McGregor. After the scene in her house
she gave up her work in the settlement house and for a long time went about
nursing her hatred. In the street as she walked about her mind kept bringing
accusations against him and in her room at night she sat by the window looking
at the stars and said strong words. "He is a brute," she declared hotly, "a mere
animal untouched by the culture that makes for gentleness. There is something
animal-like and horrible in my nature that has made me care for him. I shall pluck
it out. In the future I shall make it my business to forget the man and all of the
dreadful lower strata of life that he represents."
Filled with this idea Margaret went about among her own people and tried to
become interested in the men and women she met at dinners and receptions. It
did not work and when, after a few evenings spent in the company of men
absorbed in the getting of money, she found them only dull creatures whose
mouths were filled with meaningless words, her irritation grew and she blamed
McGregor for that also. "He had no right to come into my consciousness and
then take himself off," she declared bitterly. "The man is more of a brute than I
thought. He no doubt preys upon everyone as he has preyed upon me. He is
without tenderness, knows nothing of the meaning of tenderness. The colourless
creature he has married will serve his body. That is what he wants. He does not
want beauty. He is a coward who dare not stand up to beauty and is afraid of
me."
When the Marching Men Movement began to make a stir in Chicago Margaret
went on a visit to New York. For a month she lived with two women friends at a
big hotel near the sea and then hurried home. "I will see the man and hear him
 
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