Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER III.

THE AMERICAN WOMAN.

Three varieties-Cowboy girl-Booby prize in matrimony-Master artist-Beauty doctors-Ladies' hatsNever-failing conversational faculty-All-wise—As nimble as a squirrel-World of women and wondersShe forms the aristocracy—"O! Make me an American woman!"

(Delivered before the summer students of Emerson College of Oratory, Boston, in July, 1908)

The

American

woman is of three

varieties the western, the southern, and the northern. The western woman is one extreme, the southern woman is another extreme, the northern woman is the medium between the two.

The western woman is a genuine American product which is not found in any other country. Her attitude towards man is not one

of dependence but of comradeship. She stands on her own unaided resources; she shines all by herself. She is like the plant of the forest that can stand the hail and the rain, and the wind and the storm, depending on nature alone for her growth and development, without the protection and the fostering care of man. can ride on horseback fifty miles at a stretch; compared with her the men of other countries are but women. No wonder she is called the bachelor girl and the cowboy girl of the west.

She

The southern woman, on the other hand, is a delicate hot-house plant, carefully reared and trained. She is not an independent factor like the western woman; without the help of man she is like a cripple without a crutch. United with man she stands, divided she falls. She is like the tender creeper, entwining with its tendrils the tree that protects it from the fury of the wind and the storm, and all other external disasters. The very fact of her dependence on the stronger sex makes her an object of charm and attraction to her male friends, and leaves them enough scope to

display their gallantry and chivalry. It is not for the southern woman to grow and live and die in single blessedness; wedded life is her proper sphere, with somebody to take care of her and reciprocate her love. And hence in matrimonial affairs a southern woman would rather have a booby prize than no prize at all.

The northern girl, as already stated, strikes the middle course between her western and southern sisters. The western girl would horsewhip a man if he did not behave himself; the Northern girl would cut him out and boycott him; the southern girl would depend on her daddy to give him a good licking. If you would like to follow the Christmas custom under the mistletoe,* and if your girl friend is from the west, you will perhaps be greeted with a slap on the cheek; if she is a northern girl, she will probably cry out, "O, you knave! How dare you do so!" And if she

*The mistletoe is a plant parasitic on the apple and other fruit trees, on the thorn, the oak, the poplar, the lime, the ash, the Scotch fir, etc. It finds a large market when preparation is being made for Christmas festivities and sports. The mistletoe is considered as an emblem of love, and it is the prevailing custom to extort a kiss from a person passing under it.

is a southern girl, she may address you as “O, you honey!" and may turn the other cheek as well. The western girl would ask a foreign friend, "How do you fellows like our country?" The northern girl would say, "Do you feel very homesick?" The southern girl, especially if it is a leap year in the calendar,† would ask him, "Would you like to settle in this country? Or perhaps you have left a sweetheart behind."

The western woman is the product of the wild prairies, the southern woman is the product of the sunny summers; the northern woman is the product of the snowy winters. Think of the prairies, the sun, and the snow respectively, and you will know what the western, the southern, and the northern women are like. In the west, the American woman is an object of utility; in the south, she is an object of ornament; in the north, she is a blending of both in a smaller degree. In the

†The general custom is that men should propose to women; but it is said that in leap years, it is not unconventional for a woman to propose to a man.

west, she is full of vigour; in the south, she is sentimental; in the north, she is intellectual. The western woman impresses the spirit; the southern woman impresses the heart, the northern woman impresses the mind. I like them all.

The American woman is a master artist. The woman of India uses collyrium for painting her eye-lashes, and lac-dye for painting her feet; the American woman, on the other hand, applies powders to her face, and hydrogen peroxide to her hair, and changes the colour of her hair at the hair-dresser's whenever it pleases her fancies. It is in the matter of hair-dressing that the American woman beats her Hindu sister by great odds. There is not one particular style of the dressing of hair in America as in India; but each stylish American dame has her favourite rats*; and she dresses her hair in her own way to match with her pretty oval, square, or round face, with as much care and deliberation as

*Rats are tufts of artificial hair sold in American shops in different shapes and patterns.

« PreviousContinue »