Reginald in Russia and Other Stories HTML version

A Young Turkish Catastrophe
In Two Scenes
The Minister for Fine Arts (to whose Department had been lately added the new sub-
section of Electoral Engineering) paid a business visit to the Grand Vizier. According to
Eastern etiquette they discoursed for a while on indifferent subjects. The minister only
checked himself in time from making a passing reference to the Marathon Race,
remembering that the Vizier had a Persian grandmother and might consider any allusion
to Marathon as somewhat tactless. Presently the Minister broached the subject of his
"Under the new Constitution are women to have votes?" he asked suddenly.
"To have votes? Women?" exclaimed the Vizier in some astonishment. "My dear Pasha,
the New Departure has a flavour of the absurd as it is; don't let's try and make it
altogether ridiculous. Women have no souls and no intelligence; why on earth should
they have votes?"
"I know it sounds absurd," said the Minister, "but they are seriously considering the idea
in the West."
"Then they must have a larger equipment of seriousness than I gave them credit for. After
a lifetime of specialised effort in maintaining my gravity I can scarcely restrain an
inclination to smile at the suggestion. Why, out womenfolk in most cases don't know how
to read or write. How could they perform the operation of voting?"
"They could be shown the names of the candidates and where to make their cross."
"I beg your pardon?" interrupted the Vizier.
"Their crescent, I mean," corrected the Minister. "It would be to the liking of the Young
Turkish Party," he added.
"Oh, well," said the Vizier, "if we are to do the thing at all we may as well go the whole
h- " he pulled up just as he was uttering the name of an unclean animal, and continued,
"the complete camel. I will issue instructions that womenfolk are to have votes."
* * *
The poll was drawing to a close in the Lakoumistan division. The candidate of the Young
Turkish Party was known to be three or four hundred votes ahead, and he was already
drafting his address, returning thanks to the electors. His victory had been almost a
foregone conclusion, for he had set in motion all the approved electioneering machinery
of the West. He had even employed motorcars. Few of his supporters had gone to the poll