The Toys of Peace and Other Stories HTML version

The Threat
Sir Lulworth Quayne sat in the lounge of his favourite restaurant, the Gallus Bankiva,
discussing the weaknesses of the world with his nephew, who had lately returned from a
much-enlivened exile in the wilds of Mexico. It was that blessed season of the year when
the asparagus and the plover's egg are abroad in the land, and the oyster has not yet
withdrawn into it's summer entrenchments, and Sir Lulworth and his nephew were in that
enlightened after-dinner mood when politics are seen in their right perspective, even the
politics of Mexico.
"Most of the revolutions that take place in this country nowadays," said Sir Lulworth,
"are the product of moments of legislative panic. Take, for instance, one of the most
dramatic reforms that has been carried through Parliament in the lifetime of this
generation. It happened shortly after the coal strike, of unblessed memory. To you, who
have been plunged up to the neck in events of a more tangled and tumbled description,
the things I am going to tell you of may seem of secondary interest, but after all we had to
live in the midst of them."
Sir Lulworth interrupted himself for a moment to say a few kind words to the liqueur
brandy he had just tasted, and them resumed his narrative.
"Whether one sympathises with the agitation for female suffrage or not one has to admit
that its promoters showed tireless energy and considerable enterprise in devising and
putting into action new methods for accomplishing their ends. As a rule they were a
nuisance and a weariness to the flesh, but there were times when they verged on the
picturesque. There was the famous occasion when they enlivened and diversified the
customary pageantry of the Royal progress to open Parliament by letting loose thousands
of parrots, which had been carefully trained to scream 'Votes for women,' and which
circled round his Majesty's coach in a clamorous cloud of green, and grey and scarlet. It
was really rather a striking episode from the spectacular point of view; unfortunately,
however, for its devisers, the secret of their intentions had not been well kept, and their
opponents let loose at the same moment a rival swarm of parrots, which screeched 'I
DON'T think' and other hostile cries, thereby robbing the demonstration of the unanimity
which alone could have made it politically impressive. In the process of recapture the
birds learned a quantity of additional language which unfitted them for further service in
the Suffragette cause; some of the green ones were secured by ardent Home Rule
propagandists and trained to disturb the serenity of Orange meetings by pessimistic
reflections on Sir Edward Carson's destination in the life to come. In fact, the bird in
politics is a factor that seems to have come to stay; quite recently, at a political gathering
held in a dimly-lighted place of worship, the congregation gave a respectful hearing for
nearly ten minutes to a jackdaw from Wapping, under the impression that they were
listening to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was late in arriving."
"But the Suffragettes," interrupted the nephew; "what did they do next?"