A day or two after, as I was sitting in my room, busy writing, I heard a light footstep on the stairs, and a voice saying, "Oh yes! this is Mr. Henderson's room—thank you," and the next moment a jaunty, dashing young woman, with bold blue eyes, and curling brown hair, with a little wicked looking cap with nodding cock's-feather set askew on her head, came marching up and seated herself at my writing-table. I gazed in blank amazement. The apparition burst out laughing, and seizing me frankly by the hand, said—

"Look here, Hal! don't you know me? Well, my dear fellow, if you don't it's time you did! I read your last 'thingumajig' in the Milky Way, and came round to make your acquaintance."

I gazed in dumb amazement while she went on,

"My dear fellow, I have come to enlighten you,"—and as she said this she drew somewhat near to me, and laid her arm confidingly on my shoulder, and looked coaxingly in my face. The look of amazement which I gave, under these circumstances, seemed to cause her great amusement.

"Ha! ha!" she said, "didn't I tell 'em so? You ain't half out of the shell yet. You ain't really hatched. You go for the emancipation of woman; but bless you, boy, you haven't the least idea what it means—not a bit of it, sonny, have you now? Confess!" she said, stroking my shoulder caressingly.

"Really, madam—I confess," I said, hesitatingly, "I haven't the honor"—


"'You go for the emancipation of woman; but bless you, boy, you haven't the least idea what it means—not a bit of it, sonny, have you now? Confess?' she said, stroking my shoulder caressingly."

"Not the honor of my acquaintance, you was going to say; well, that's exactly what you're getting now. I read your piece in the Milky Way, and, said I, that boy's in heathen darkness yet, and I'm going round to enlighten him. You mean well, Hal! but this is a great subject. You haven't seen through it. Lord bless you, child! you ain't a woman, and I am—that's just the difference."

Now, I ask any of my readers, what is a modest young man, in this nineteenth century,—having been brought up to adore and reverence woman as a goddess—to do, when he finds himself suddenly vis-à-vis with her, in such embarrassing relations as mine were becoming? I had heard before of Miss Audacia Dangyereyes, as a somewhat noted character in New York circles, but did not expect to be brought so unceremoniously, and without the least preparation of mind, into such very intimate relations with her.

"Now, look here, bub!" she said, "I'm just a-going to prove to you, in five minutes, that you've been writing about what you don't know anything about. You've been asserting, in your blind way, the rights of woman to liberty and equality; the rights of women, in short, to do anything that men do. Well, here comes a woman to your room who takes her rights, practically, and does just what a man would do. I claim my right to smoke, if I please, and to drink if I please; and to come up into your room and make you a call, and have a good time with you, if I please, and tell you that I like your looks, as I do. Furthermore, to invite you to come and call on me at my room. Here's my card. You may call me 'Dacia, if you like—I don't go on ceremony. Come round and take a smoke with me, this evening, won't you? I've got the nicest little chamber that ever you saw. What rent do you pay for yours? Say, will you come round?"

"Indeed—thank you, miss—"

"Call me 'Dacia for short. I don't stand on ceremony. Just look on me as another fellow. And now confess that you've been tied and fettered by those vapid conventionalities which bind down women till there is no strength in 'em. You visit in those false, artificial circles, where women are slaves, kept like canary birds in gilded cages. And you are afraid of your own principles when you see them carried out in a real free woman. Now, I'm a woman that not only dares say, but I dare do. Why hasn't a woman as much a right to go round and make herself agreeable to men, as to sit still at home and wait for men to come and make themselves agreeable to her? I know you don't like this, I can see you don't, but it's only because you are a slave to old prejudices. But I'm going to make you like me in spite of yourself. Come, now, be consistent with your principles; allow me my equality as a woman, a human being."

I was in such a state of blank amazement by this time as seemed to deprive me of all power of self-possession. At this moment the door opened, and Jim Fellows appeared. A most ludicrous grimace passed over his face as he saw the position and he cut a silent pirouette in the air, behind her. She turned her head, and he advanced.

"Fairest of the sex! (with some slight exceptions)—to what happy accident are we to attribute this meeting?"

"Hallo, Jim! is this you?" she replied.

"Oh, certainly, it's me," said Jim, seating himself familiarly. "How is the brightest star of womanhood—the Northern Light; the Aurora Borealis; the fairest of the fair? Bless its little heart, has it got its rights yet? Did it want to drink and smoke? Come along with Jim, now, and let's have a social cocktail."

"Keep your distance, sir," said she, giving him a slight box on his ear. "I prefer to do my own courting. I have been trying to show your friend here how little he knows of the true equality of women, and of the good time coming, when we shall have our rights, and do just as we darn please, as you do. I'll bet now there aint one of those Van Arsdel girls that would dare to do as I'm doing. But we're opening the way sir, we're opening the way. The time will come when all women will be just as free to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as men."

"Good heavens!" said I, under my breath.

"My beloved Audacia," said Jim, "allow me to remark one little thing, and that is, that men also must be left free to the pursuit of happiness, and also, as the Scripture says, new wine must not be put into old bottles. Now my friend Hal—begging his pardon—is an old bottle, and I think you have already put as much new wine into him as his constitution will bear. And as he and I both have got to make our living by scratching, and tempus fugit, and we've got articles to write, and there is always, so to speak, the devil after us folks that write for the press, may I humbly request that you will withdraw the confusing light of your bright eyes from us for the present, and, in short, take your divine self somewhere else?"

As Jim spoke these words, he passed his arm round Miss Audacia's waist, and drew her to the door of the apartment, which he threw open, and handed her out, bowing with great ceremony.

"Stop!" she cried, "I aint going to be put out that way. I haven't done what I came for. You both of you have got to subscribe for my paper, The Emancipated Woman."

"Couldn't do it, divinest charmer," said Jim, "couldn't do it; too poor; mill runs low; no water; modest merit not rewarded. Wait till my ship comes in, and I'll subscribe for anything you like."

"Well, now, you don't get rid of me that way. I tell you I came in to get a subscription, and I am going to stay till I get one," said Miss Audacia. "Come, Hal," she said, crossing once more to me, and sitting down by me and taking my hand, "write your name there, there's a good fellow."

I wrote my name in desperation, while Jim stood by, laughing.

"Jim," I said, "come, put yours down quick, and let's have it over."

"Well, now," said she, "fork out the stamps—five dollars each."

We both obeyed mechanically.

"Well, well," said she, good naturally, "that'll do for this time, good morning," and she vanished from the apartment with a jaunty toss of the head and a nod of the cock's feathers in her hat.

Jim closed the door smartly after her.

"Mercy upon us! Jim," said I, "who, and what is this creature?"

"Oh, one of the harbingers of the new millennium," said Jim. "Won't it be jolly when all the girls are like her? But we shall have to keep our doors locked then."

"But," said I, "is it possible, Jim, that this is a respectable woman?"

"She's precisely what you see," said Jim; "whether that's respectable, is a matter of opinion. There's a woman that's undertaken, in good faith, to run and jostle in all the ways that men run in. Her principle is, that whatever a young fellow in New York could do, she'll do."

"Good heavens!" said I, "what would the Van Arsdels think of us, if they should know that she had been in our company?"

"It's lucky that they don't, and can't," said Jim. "But you see what you get for belonging to the new dispensation."

"Boys, what's all this fuss?" said Bolton, coming in at this moment.

"Oh, nothing, only Dacia Dangyeeyes has been here," said Jim, "and poor Hal is ready to faint away and sink through the floor. He isn't up to snuff yet, for all he writes such magnificent articles about the nineteenth century."

"Well," said I, "it was woman as woman that I was speaking of, and not this kind of creature. If I believed that granting larger liberty and wider opportunities was going to change the women we reverence to things like these, you would never find me advocating it."

"Well, my dear Hal," said Bolton, "be comforted; you're not the first reformer that has had to cry out, 'Deliver me from my friends.' Always when the waters of any noble, generous enthusiasm rise and overflow their banks, there must come down the drift-wood—the wood, hay, and stubble. Luther had more trouble with the fanatics of his day, who ran his principles into the ground, as they say, than he had with the Pope and the Emperor, both together. As to this Miss Audacia, she is one of the phenomenal creations of our times; this time, when every kind of practical experiment in life has got to be tried, and stand or fall on its own merits. So don't be ashamed of having spoken the truth, because crazy people and fools caricature it. It is true, as you have said, that women ought to be allowed a freer, stronger, and more generous education and scope for their faculties. It is true that they ought, everywhere, to have equal privileges with men; and because some crack-brained women draw false inferences from this, it is none the less true. For my part, I always said that one must have a strong conviction for a cause, if he could stand the things its friends say for it, or read a weekly paper devoted to it. If I could have been made a pro-slavery man, it would have been by reading anti-slavery papers, and vice versa. I had to keep myself on a good diet of pro-slavery papers, to keep my zeal up."

"But," said I, anxiously, to Jim, "do you suppose that we're going to be exposed to the visits of this young woman?"

"Well," said Jim, "as you've subscribed for her paper, perhaps she'll let us alone till she has some other point to carry."

"Subscribe!" said I; "I did it from compulsion, to get her out of the office; I didn't think the situation respectable; and yet I don't want her paper, and I don't want my name on her subscription list. What if the Van Arsdels should find it out? People are apt enough to think that our doctrines lead to all sorts of outré consequences; and if Mrs. Wouverman, their Aunt Maria, should once get hold of this, and it should get all through the circle in which they move, how disagreeable it would be."

"Oh, never fear," said Jim; "I guess we can manage to keep our own secrets; and as to any of them ever knowing, or seeing, anything about that paper, it's out of the question. Bless you! they wouldn't touch it with a pair of tongs!"

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