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  Thoughts In Prison H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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The first night in prison she found it impossible to sleep. The bed was hard beyond any experience of hers, the bed-clothes coarse and insufficient, the cell at once cold and stuffy. The little grating in the door, the sense of constant inspection, worried her. She kept opening her eyes and looking at it. She was fatigued physically and mentally, and neither mind nor body could rest. She became aware that at regular intervals a light flashed upon her face and a bodiless eye regarded her, and this, as the night wore on, became a torment. . . .

Capes came back into her mind. He haunted a state between hectic dreaming and mild delirium, and she found herself talking aloud to him. All through the night an entirely impossible and monumental Capes confronted her, and she argued with him about men and women. She visualized him as in a policeman's uniform and quite impassive. On some insane score she fancied she had to state her case in verse. "We are the music and you are the instrument," she said; "we are verse and you are prose.

    "For men have reason, women rhyme
    A man scores always, all the time."

This couplet sprang into her mind from nowhere, and immediately begot an endless series of similar couplets that she began to compose and address to Capes. They came teeming distressfully through her aching brain:

    "A man can kick, his skirts don't tear;
    A man scores always, everywhere.

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    "His dress for no man lays a snare;
    A man scores always, everywhere.
    For hats that fail and hats that flare;
    Toppers their universal wear;
    A man scores always, everywhere.

    "Men's waists are neither here nor there;
    A man scores always, everywhere.

    "A man can manage without hair;
    A man scores always, everywhere.

    "There are no males at men to stare;
    A man scores always, everywhere.

"And children must we women bear--

"Oh, damn!" she cried, as the hundred-and-first couplet or so presented itself in her unwilling brain.

For a time she worried about that compulsory bath and cutaneous diseases.

Then she fell into a fever of remorse for the habit of bad language she had acquired.

    "A man can smoke, a man can swear;
    A man scores always, everywhere."

She rolled over on her face, and stuffed her fingers in her ears to shut out the rhythm from her mind. She lay still for a long time, and her mind resumed at a more tolerable pace. She found herself talking to Capes in an undertone of rational admission.

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Ann Veronica
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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