Chronicles of Clovis HTML version

Hermann The Irascible--A Story Of The Great Weep
It was in the second decade of the twentieth century, after the Great Plague had
devastated England, that Hermann the Irascible, nicknamed also the Wise, sat on the
British throne. The Mortal Sickness had swept away the entire Royal Family, unto the
third and fourth generations, and thus it came to pass that Hermann the Fourteenth of
Saxe-Drachsen-Wachtelstein, who had stood thirtieth in the order of succession, found
himself one day ruler of the British dominions within and beyond the seas. He was one of
the unexpected things that happen in politics, and he happened with great thoroughness.
In many ways he was the most progressive monarch who had sat on an important throne;
before people knew where they were, they were somewhere else. Even his Ministers,
progressive though they were by tradition, found it difficult to keep pace with his
legislative suggestions.
"As a matter of fact," admitted the Prime Minister, "we are hampered by these votes-for-
women creatures; they disturb our meetings throughout the country, and they try to turn
Downing Street into a sort of political picnic-ground."
"They must be dealt with," said Hermann.
"Dealt with," said the Prime Minister; "exactly, just so; but how?"
"I will draft you a Bill," said the King, sitting down at his typewriting machine, "enacting
that women shall vote at all future elections. Shall vote, you observe; or, to put it plainer,
must. Voting will remain optional, as before, for male electors; but every woman between
the ages of twenty-one and seventy will be obliged to vote, not only at elections for
Parliament, county councils, district boards, parish councils, and municipalities, but for
coroners, school inspectors, churchwardens, curators of museums, sanitary authorities,
police-court interpreters, swimming-bath instructors, contractors, choir-masters, market
superintendents, art-school teachers, cathedral vergers, and other local functionaries
whose names I will add as they occur to me. All these offices will become elective, and
failure to vote at any election falling within her area of residence will involve the female
elector in a penalty of £10. Absence, unsupported by an adequate medical certificate, will
not be accepted as an excuse. Pass this Bill through the two Houses of Parliament and
bring it to me for signature the day after to-morrow."
From the very outset the Compulsory Female Franchise produced little or no elation even
in circles which had been loudest in demanding the vote. The bulk of the women of the
country had been indifferent or hostile to the franchise agitation, and the most fanatical
Suffragettes began to wonder what they had found so attractive in the prospect of putting
ballot-papers into a box. In the country districts the task of carrying out the provisions of
the new Act was irksome enough; in the towns and cities it became an incubus. There
seemed no end to the elections. Laundresses and seamstresses had to hurry away from
their work to vote, often for a candidate whose name they hadn't heard before, and whom
they selected at haphazard; female clerks and waitresses got up extra early to get their