“Our standards are all changing,” said Miss Du Prel. “It does not follow that they are changing for the worse.”
“It seems to me that they are not so much changing, as disappearing altogether,” said Temperley cheerfully, “especially among women. We hear a great deal about rights, but we hear nothing about duties.”
“We are perhaps, a little tired of hearing about duties,” said Miss Du Prel.
“You admit then what I say,” he returned placidly. “Every woman wants to be Mary, and no one will be Martha.”
“I make just the opposite complaint,” cried Miss Du Prel.
“Dear me, quite a different way of looking at it. I confess I have scant patience with these interfering women, who want to turn everything upside down, instead of quietly minding their duties at home.”
“I know it is difficult to make people understand,” said Miss Du Prel, with malice.
“I should esteem it a favour to be enlightened,” returned Temperley.
“You were just now condemning socialism, Mr. Temperley, because you say that it attempts to ignore the principle of the division of labour. Now, when you lose patience with the few women who are refusing to be Marthas, you ignore that principle yourself. You want all women to do exactly the same sort of work, irrespective of their ability or their bent of mind. May I ask why?”
“Because I consider that is the kind of work for which they are best fitted,” replied Temperley serenely.
“Then you are to be judge and jury in the case; your opinion, not theirs, is to decide the matter. Supposing I were to take upon myself to judge what you were best fitted for, and were to claim, therefore, to decide for you what sort of life you should live, and what sort of work you should undertake——?”
“I should feel every confidence in resigning myself to your able judgment,” said Temperley, with a low bow. Miss Du Prel laughed.
“Ah,” she said, “you are at present, on the conquering side, and can afford to jest on the subject.”
“It is no joke to jest with an able woman,” he returned. “Seriously, I have considerable sympathy with your view, and no wish to treat it flippantly. But if I am to treat it seriously, I must admit frankly that I think you forget that, after all, Nature has something to say in this matter.”