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TWO MAIDENS

 

HAVE you ever seen a maidenI mean what our paviours call a maidena thing with which they ram down paving-stones in the roadsA maiden of this kind is made altogether of woodbroad belowand girt round with iron ringsat the top she is narrowand has a stick passed across through her waistand this stick forms the arms of the maiden

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In the shed stood two Maidens of this kindThey had their place among shovelshand-cartswheelbarrowsand measuring tapesand to all this company the news had come that the Maidens were no longer to be called maidens”,buthandrammers”;which word was the newest and the only correct designation among the paviours for the thing we all know from the old times by the name of the maiden”.

Now there are among us human creatures certain individuals who are known asemancipated women”;asfor instanceprincipals of institutionsdancers who stand professionally on one legmillinersand sick nursesand with this class of emancipated women the two maidens in the shed associated themselvesThey were maidens among the paviour folkand determined not to give up this honourable appellationand let themselves be miscalled rammers

Maiden is a human namebut rammer is a thingand we won't be called things-that is insulting us.”

My lover would be ready to give up his engagement,”said the youngestwho was betrothed to a pile-driverand that is a large machine which drives great piles into the earth and therefore does on a large scale what the maiden does on a small one.“He wants to marry me as a Maidenbut whether he would have mewere I a rammeris a questionso I won't have my name changed.”

And I,”said the elder one,“would rather have both my arms broken off.”

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But the Wheelbarrow was of a different opinionand the Wheelbarrow was looked upon as of some consequencefor he considered himself a quarter of a coachbecause he went about upon one wheel

I must remark,”he said,“that the name maiden is common enoughand not nearly so refined as rammer or stamper’,which latter has also been proposedand through which you would be introduced into the category of sealsand only think of the great stamp of statewhich impresses the royal seal that gives effect to the lawsNoin your case I would surrender my maiden name.”

Nocertainly not!”exclaimed the elder.“I am too old for that.”

I presume you have never heard of what is called European necessity’?”observed the honest Measuring Tape.“One must be able to adapt oneself to time and circumstancesand if there is a law that the maiden is to be calledrammer’,whyshe must be called rammer’,for everything has its measure.”

Noif there must be a change,”said the younger,“I should prefer to be calledMissy’,for that reminds one a little of maidens.”

But I would rather be chopped to bits,”said the elder

At last they all went to workThe Maidens rode-distinctionbut still they were calledhandrammers”. Mai-!”they saidas they were bumped upon the pavement.“Mat-!”and they were very nearly pronouncing the whole wordmaiden”;but they broke off shortand swallowed the last syllablefor they considered it beneath their dignity to protestBut they always called each other maiden”,and praised the good old days in which every-thing had been called by its right nameand those who were maidens were called maidensAnd they remained as they werefor the pile-driver really broke off his engagement with the younger onefor he would have nothing to do with a rammer

 


 

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