Maid No More

Maid No More

by Helen Simpson

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The young gentlemen of Magdalen College, going about their lawful
occasions, halted to observe a sensible-looking woman talking to herself
below their outdoor pulpit. The academic life offered many opportunities
for baiting, none of which they were apt to neglect; poor scholars,
professors, and nonconformists of various kinds were mischief's daily
bread. But women, apart from complaisant persons in taverns, did not
often offer. The undergraduates therefore gave some attention to this
creature's words, as they were wont to give attention to the mannerisms
of those who instructed them, with a view to reproducing in caricature
what was meant to edify. To their displeasure, the woman was sermonizing.

She was saying that each man and woman must be visited personally by God.
Each must know God in his heart of hearts and acknowledge him there in
the spirit; without this, no ceremony under vaulted stone could avail.
The young gentlemen found it dry stuff, and were drifting away after a
few conventional catcalls, when they heard words which swung them like
weathercocks. The woman, when naming them Antichrists, a statement
received with ironical cheers and some yelping in Latin from the elders,
went on to assail them as a corporate body and more particularly to
blacken by comparison the College of which they were members.

They had no objection to being told that they were sinners; indeed, the
complaint had a flattering ring to those who were hardly old or rich
enough to be able to do much sinning save in a general unspecialized way.
They had no quarrel with anyone who told them that they were wasting
their time at the University learning things that were not of God. They
were amused to hear their chapel called a steeple-house when it had in
fact no steeple. But that the College to which they owed loyalty should
be denominated a cage of unclean birds and the synagogue of Satan was a
prick beyond ordinary symptoms of impatience. They began throwing
whatever came first to hand, apples, books; those who were near enough
launched spittle; all were certain of righteousness.

The women--there were two of them, but one had done all the talking--did
not budge, or avoid what was flung at them. Thus the affair went on
longer than it ought to have done, long enough to attract the attention
of a young Master of Arts who found his translation of Horace's Art of
Poetry difficult to pursue owing to the din. He had written:--

"Wise sober folk a frantic poet fear
And shun to touch him, as a man that were
Infected with the leprosy, or had
The yellow jaundice, or were furious mad
According to the moon--"

His nodding head approved the version thus far, and the pen began once
more to skirmish:--

"But then the boys
They vex and follow him with shouts and noise,
The while he--"

It was perhaps the coincidence of his matter with the evidence of his
senses that made him aware at last of the riot and brought him to his
window. Indulgently, for he was young, he called down to the youths to
cease their riot. They replied, with the identical din observed by Horace
centuries before, that it was the women who were causing disturbance. The
Master of Arts, on the tip of whose tongue an airy grammatical
construction complete with needed rhymes was trembling, answered briefly
that women were not matters to which even the junior members of any
university should devote attention, and recommended the constable and the
bride-well. A spokesman, above the laughter of the rest, cleared away
this misapprehension. The women had no notion of leading into temptation
(yells of mock disappointment) but rather sought to deliver from evil;
were, in fact, trying to convert their hearers.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013750913
Publisher: WDS Publishing
Publication date: 01/16/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 198 KB

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