+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

arise under the new state of things. No
system of society that could possibly be
devised by man could be altogether
perfect and free from flaw. But it may be
accepted as certain that any possible
disadvantages resulting from a change in the
law would be as nothing in comparison with
the cruel hardships to which many women
are subjected under the present system.

What the respectable, prudent working-
men of the country think on the subject is
pretty clearly shown in the evidence of Mr.
J. Ormerod, chairman of the Equitable
Pioneer Co-operation Society at Rochdale.
This society is composed almost exclusively
of working-men, and numbers over seven
thousand members. Many of the
shareholders are women, and, under the rules of
the society, they continue to hold their
shares after marriage. The greatest care
is taken by the committee of management,
composed entirely of working men, to secure
the rights of married women, and any
unauthorised application on the part of a
husband for any moneys belonging to his wife
is steadily refused. As to the strict legality
of this rule, there may be some doubt; but,
as the question has never been brought into
court as against this society, there can be
no doubt that it works well; and there can
be still less doubt that what the industrious,
provident working men of Rochdale do
voluntarily for their wives, the lazy, shiftless
idlers of the country should be bound
by law to do for theirs.

The first point in the woman's charter
should be "the Married Woman's Property
Bill of 1870." It is not so attractive and
showy a subject as are voting, and speech-
making, and public showing-off of all the
usual ridiculous kind; but the reform has
the merit of being useful, and the still
greater merit of being quite simple and
practicable, although, perhaps, in the eyes
of the rabid woman's rights fanatics, this is
its least recommendation.


IT was a still, mild night in February.
There were a few stars, and but for them
it was quite dark, when Maud unbolted a
side door, and let herself out upon the
terrace. It was then past two o'clock, and
the household had been in bed at least an
hour and a half. She had calculated that
it would take her nearly two hours to walk
into Scornton, where the train passed about
four o'clock. There were two stations
nearer to Mortlands, but at each of these
the porters were familiar with her face,
whereas at Scornton she was comparatively
unknown. The darkest and shabbiest
clothes she could find, and a double veil
tied over her face, the little money she
possessed in her purse, and an umbrella in
her handthus was she equipped. She
had to pass the gateway of the stable-yard,
just inside which was Oscar's kennel, and,
at the sound of a footstep on the gravel,
the dog began barking furiously. But she
had only to call to him, and he was
instantly silent, wagging his long shaggy
tail in friendly recognition, as she
approached him. "My poor Oscarno!
poor old boy, I am not come to unchain
you. You and I shall take no more walks
together, no more solitary rambles over
happy hunting-grounds. Good-bye, dear old
dog, who have been such a faithful friend and
companion to me; no one will miss me here
but you." She stooped down and kissed
his rough grey head, and it seemed almost
as though Oscar understood her meaning.
He placed his two paws upon her shoulders,
and whined. Maud felt more in parting
from her dog, I believe, than in parting
from her step-mother.

She was an excellent walker; the night
was fine, the road was good, and she was
not troubled with nervousness. Twice when
she heard the hob-nailed tread of countrymen
upon the road, she thought it as well
to stand aside under the shadow of the
hedge till they were passed; but she had
small fear of being molested; her only fear
was that of being recognised. At the
station, she had a quarter of an hour, which
seemed like three, to wait for the train.
In the waiting-room there was a poor
woman with a baby, and a bag-man with
a black leather case, which he never let
out of his hand; and both were so occupied
with their separate charges, that they
scarcely looked at the quiet woman in the
corner, with an impenetrable veil on. She
waited to take her ticket till the train was
actually alongside the platform: she then
stepped, unobserved, into an empty second-
class compartment, and felt that she was safe.

It was so early when she reached Salisbury
that none of the shops were open;
and the train for Beckworth did not leave
till ten o'clock. She had a cup of coffee
and a crust of bread, and then, acting upon
the plan she had arranged, she set out to
wander about the quaint old town, until
she could see the shutters being taken down
from some "slop shop," or ready-made
clothes warehouse, where she might