Love Our Lockwood

by Janet Kagan

---for Lee Burwasser and Val Ontell, Librarians Extraordinaires

You have heard too many lies about the second of November. Now you shall hear the truth. I was there from the beginning and I shall tell you what I saw.

The morning was grey and chill, as it so often is in Washington. My stump ached with the cold, as my daughter Essie hastened to build a fire. As fortune had it, the storefront chosen for this year's polling was rich enought to possess a Franklin stove. The fire at last made, Essie moved our table and lockbox close.

Mr. Harry Worthington chose the left side, huddling as close to the stove as he dared. I believe his arm stub ached as badly as my leg. The warmth soothed us equally. We had an amiable argument over the time, for Mr. Worthington had set his watched to railroad time and I had set mine to District of Columbia time. In the end, we agreed; he would accept ballots cast to railroad time and I to suntime.

As we had both arrived early, we had little to do but wait. We spent our time in reminiscence: we spoke of friends lost in the War of Secession. We could have spoken for a month and not named them all. The day seemed greyer, as if dawn would never arrive.

Essie kept watch at the window through which ballots would be passed, for she did not want to draw it open to the chill until such time as this was necessary. As this was the first time she had assisted us, she was naturally in a state of high excitement. When she exclaimed from the window, "Oh, father! It's a parade!" even Mr. Worthington laughed.

We had seen electioneering before, he and I. The average man will do the most peculiar of things to call attention to his chosen candidate. I have often joked that Mr. Barnum learned his trade from the politicals. I now repeated the joke to Mr. Worthington, who found it quite amusing.

Essie turned from the window. "No, father, you don't understand. It is a parade. They are all coming down the street together, coming here!"

She flung open the window and a gust of cold air struck us. I pulled my lap robe more tightly about my stump. Mr. Worthington snugged into his shawl. Essie, risking her health still more, leaned out the window for a long look.

When she drew back in, she had a smile such as to warm even a veteran's heart. "Mrs. Lockwood has come to vote, and all of her friends have accompanied her."

At that, I knew why Essie had volunteered to assist us this morning. Essie is reading law. Some years ago, when Mrs. Lockwood began her practice, it was she who adjudicated my pension. From that day forward, I heard little from Essie but words that she had learned from Mrs. Lockwood. However much I might worry that the legal profession might damage my daughter's prospects, I was forced to agree to permit it when she argued that Mrs. Lockwood alone could not try all the pension cases.

Mr. Worthington was astonished. "Mrs. Lockwood is a woman," he said.

"She is the President," said Essie. She turned back to the window. "Oh, father! You must see! Come, I'll help you!"

As I am hard put to deny the child anything, I allowed her to help me to the window. What I saw was indeed a parade, one of which even Mr. Barnum would have been proud.

First came the Mother Hubbard Clubs. They would do for the clown had not their purpose been so good-hearted and serious. The men, young and old, had pulled huge shapeless Mother Hubbard dresses over their street garb and each had replaced his hat with a beaked cap. They carried brooms and the words of their song drifted through the early morning air.

"My soul is tired of politics," they sang, "Its vicious ways, its knavish tricks. I will not vote for any man, But whoop it up for Belva Ann!" With that, they gave a collective whoop and brandished their brooms high. "Clean sweep!" they chanted, "Clean sweep!"

"Ducks," said Mr. Worthington, who had left the fire to stand beside me. "They waddle like so many giant ducks." I could not deny it, for the beaked caps made them seem so. But their striped and flowered dresses brightened the street.

Mr. Worthington sent our young soldier to halt them the proper distance from the polling booth. This was proper, even though Essie thought it was a shame.

"We will do the same for Mr. Harrison's supporters, my dear. You will be glad of it later. When two parties strike up chants in opposition, you would think the world was coming to an end. We keep them back that we might hear each other speak."

Now came, to the amazement of both Mr. Worthington and myself, an entire regiment of veterans, all known to us. Two of those who had survived the War without injury carried Mr. Thomas, who had lost both his legs to a cannonball. Mr. Worthington and I readied ourselves to receive ballots but, to our further amazement, the regiment, on Captain Haricut's order, wheeled and formed an honor guard along the street. The guard lead directly to our window.

Next came a contingent of Red Indians, led by Sitting Bull. They, too, did not come to the window to cast their ballots. Like the veterans, they lined the street on either side. Then a contingent of Negroes did the very same.

Essie smiled and pointed to their leader, a tall distinguished gentleman. "That is Samuel Lowry," she said. "He is an ex-slave. It was Mrs. Lockwood who introduced him to legal practice before the Supreme Court."

The crowd broke into a sudden wild cheer. The veterans all raised their swords in salute. And through the lines of this most peculiar of honor guards came the strangest sight my eyes have ever seen.

At the head of the line was Mrs. Lockwood in her tricycle. I had seen her often enough, pedaling about the town. Unlike many, I do not find it scandalous, for she took great care to prepare a dashboard that her skirts do not fly up and shame her. It strikes some odd that a president should not use a carriage but I admire her economy. Since the tax, I prefer a president of some economy.

Today, however, she did not pedal at her usual brisk pace. She moved no faster than a man might walk and she smiled and waved now and then to those who lined her way. Then we saw why she had set such a pace. For, behind her, all in Sunday best, walked hundreds of women. Their arms were linked, they were all smiling, their ribbons and laces a-flutter. They were of all ages and, strange to say, they were of all races as well: White, Negro, Red Indian, even a few Chinee. Odd to say, I did not find the sight either shocking or scandalous. It seemed as if fitting---as no two women wore the same dress, no two wore the same skin. The sun chose that moment to appear, however wanly, and all of the colors blazed.

Even Mr. Harrison's supporters, who had now arrived in some number, paused and stood respectfully back, as the President braked to a stop a few yards from where we stood.

Mr. Love, her vice president, offered his arm and assisted her from her vehicle. Captain Haricut led his men in a second salute. Yet another cheer came from the crowd. Even a number of the men in support of Mr. Harrison joined in, giving their duly-elected President proper respect.

Mr. Love escorted Mrs. Lockwood across the street. They walked briskly toward us. Mrs. Lockwood looked no different than she had when she tried my case before the Court. She is a grandmother. Her hair is gray but her high forehead lends her a handsomeness that many young women lack. Perhaps it is her force of character that so ornaments her bearing.

I could not help but glance at Essie. She seemed to be holding her breath, but her eyes were bright and sparkling. She smiled at Mrs. Lockwood, who smiled in return. Essie too had that handsomeness of character.

A hand came throught the window to proffer me a ballot. I reached to take it and was shaken when Mr. Worthington grasped me sharply by the wrist. "She is a woman," Mr. Worthington said. "I will take your ballot, Mr. Love."

Mr. Love is a very quiet man. He made no fuss, nor did he raise his voice. He merely took two steps back and indicated the women. "Ladies first," said he.

Mr. Worthington snorted. He drew himself up and stared at Mrs. Lockwood, as if by force of glance he might will Mrs. Lockwood away. He should have known better. She met his eyes easily and once again offered her ballot.

"You are a woman," said Mr. Worthington, yet again.

"To that I plead guilty," said Mrs. Lockwood.

Rubbing his stub for the pain, Mr. Worthington leaned through the window and addressed the crowd. "Any man who wishes to cast his ballot may do so now," he said. "Captain Haricut? Will you vote, sir?"

"Ladies first," said Captain Haricut---and all along the street took up the cry. "Ladies first," they shouted. "Ladies first!"

The Harrison supporters pressed forward in an attempt to reach the window, but the women massed together and would not be moved. There was a brief skirmish toward the edge of the crowd, and I feared riot.

I feared not for myself but for Essie and for the brightly dressed women. Captain Haricut gave an abrupt order, however, and the men formed protectively. It was only then that I realized that many of the women in the crowd were wives or widows of veterans. Even old Mrs. Terrint was among them. Her sons had been in our regiment. All five had died.

Mrs. Lockwood had turned away from me, toward Captain Haricut. "Captain," she called, and hers was the voice of command, "there will be no fighting. We are here peaceably. We shall vote peaceably." The captain acknowledged with a flash of his sword.

Mr.s Lockwood returned her gaze, this time to me. "We shall vote peaceably," she repeated. "But we shall vote."

"Father," said Essie, "She is the President. Will you not accept a ballot from the President?"

I turned to Mr. Worthington. "Will you call out the army to disperse these women?" I asked him. "She is their Commander-in-Chief."

The notion embarrassed Mr. Worthington. So I pursued it: "If the notion embarrasses you, will it not embarrass the entire country?"

He thought it over for a long time, time enough for me to hear my words whispered back to the very furthest reaches of the waiting crowd. "The President," he said, at last, "should be permitted to vote." He held out his hand.

Women craned to watch. Two of the soldiers on horseback leaned forward just as eagerly.

Mrs. Lockwood laid her ballot in Mr. Worthington's hand. Mr. Worthington put the ballot in the lockbox. One of the soldiers on horseback cried out, "Mrs. Lockwood has cast her ballot!" and a great cheer went up.

Mr. Worthington held out his hand for Mr. Love's ballot. I believe Mr. Worthington thought that to be the end of it. But Mrs. Lockwood had moved only to the side of the window, not away from it. I did not need to see her eyes to know her determination; I saw that very determination reflected in the eyes of my Essie.

Mr. Love once more crooked his arm. This time he received for escort the Honorable Mrs. Lavinia Dundore, Justice of the Supreme Court. Like Mrs. Lockwood before her, she held out her folded bit of paper. I took it from her hand.

Mr. Worthington hissed at me, but I did not hesitate to place the ballot into the lockbox. The same soldier on horseback cried out, "Mrs. Dundore has cast her ballot!"

As before, a cheer rose from the crowd. "Would you embarrass our country by denying the vote to a Supreme Court Justice?" I said to Mr. Worthington.

"That is enough, then," said Mr. Worthington. "There are no more women who are presidents nor are there more women who are Supreme Court Justices. Now the men will vote."

But still the men could not approach the window, for their way was obstructed by that multitude of women in their brightly colored garb.

Over their heads, I could see that Captain Haricut was now engaged in conversation with a member of the local police force. The import of this was not lost on Mrs. Lockwood. One of the Cleveland supporters had called for enforcement. Mrs. Lockwood made a gesture and the ladies parted politely to permit the gentleman through.

I believe he was much surprised to discover both Mrs. Lockwood and Mrs. Dundore the leaders of this insurrection. He saluted sharply, but his face was full of bewilderment. "I have been asked to uphold the law," he began.

"Just so," said Mrs. Lockwood. "As Mrs Dundore and I have sworn to uphold the Constitution."

"The ladies must leave off obstructing the polling place and return to their homes."

"The ladies must vote. I have sworn to uphold the Constitution and I shall do so."

"Mrs. Lockwood...."

"The Constitution permits all citizens to vote."

Mr. Worthington could not contain himself. "A citizen in the Constitution is referred to as 'he.'"

Mrs. Lockwood was pleased. "That is my contention, Mr. Worthington. Now---what does the Constitution say of the President of the United States?"

Essie gave a cry of delight. Clapping her hands together, she said, "The President is likewise referred to as 'he!'"

"Yet I am the President, Mr. Worthington. Therefore, 'he' may refer to a woman. Or do you contend some wizardry has made me male?" Mrs. Lockwood smiled again.

The young policeman had been listening carefully to this exchange, although his eyes were clearly fixed on Essie. Seldom have I seen a young man so taken so quickly. When he spoke, it was not to Mrs. Lockwood, but rather to Essie. "Miss?" he said. "What is your name?"

"Miss Essie Twineham."

"Would you be a citizen?"

The young will ask the young in matters of opinion.

Essie did not inquire of me nor did she inquire of Mrs. Lockwood. It was, I believe, her own soul she consulted.

Having consulted, she drew herself up more proudly than I had ever seen her stand before. She gave the young man a radiant smile and said, "I am a citizen, sir. The Constitution grants me the right to vote."

I could not deny her pride, nor could I detract from it in any fashion. To the policeman, I said, "Young man, my leg pains me greatly. I would be most obliged if you would step aside, thus permitting the ladies and gentlemen to vote and be on their separate ways." I stretched out my hand to a young black woman in gingham. "Your ballot, please, miss or mistress."

I had seen the turning on of an electric light, yet I had never seen a light the equal of that which lit the young woman's face as she placed her ballot in my palm. When she had seen me place the ballot in the lockbox, she gave a great shout of joy and threw her arms about Mrs. Lockwood.

With a great sigh, Mr. Worthington accepted the next ballot, that of an old Chinee lady. As if a flood-gate had opened, the ballots crackled through the window. The Mother Hubbard Brigade once again struck up their song, as the Cleveland supporters strove to out-sing and out-chant them.

The young policeman stood by, stiffly erect, but every now and then he gave a shy glance in Essie's direction. "I shall stay," he told her, "to keep order."

Essie nodded, smiling. "And to uphold the law," she said.

More wonders were yet to come, for the word had run through the streets of Washington as fast as electricity through a wire.

The next time I stretched out my hand to receive a ballot, I saw yet another face I recognized. "Mrs. Cleveland," I said politely, "and a good day to you."

Mr. Worthington was utterly aghast. I believe he expected Mrs. Lockwood to protest Mrs. Cleveland's ballot. I could see Essie and her young man almost did. But Mrs. Lockwood seemed, if anything, all the prouder with her accomplishment.

Perhaps even Mrs. Cleveland expected some objection from Mrs. Lockwood, for she turned to her and said, "I did not vote for you, Mrs. Lockwood."

"You voted," said Mrs. Lockwood. "I count myself triumphant in that."

Some strengthening understanding passed between the two in that moment. Then Mrs. Cleveland embraced Mrs. Lockwood. Together the two of them watched as yet more women came to cast their ballots.

"I had hoped," Mrs. Lockwood began, "to see Mrs. Harrison as well."

Mrs. Cleveland shook her head. "I did not expect so much. She is as frightened a woman as her husband is a man. You could not convince them of the safety of the electric lights in their own home."

"I had hoped...."

"Mrs. Lockwood," said Mrs. Cleveland with a smile, "you had hoped that all women had your courage and your strength of purpose. They do not, nor do all men." She was silent for a moment. "You have given me strength, though, and for that I thank you."

At last all had voted. The last two ballots into the lockbox were none other than the young policeman's and Essie's. Essie stirred up the fire as Mr. Worthington and I eased our limbs at last.

When the men came for the lockbox, I had a thought that disturbed me. "Go home, Essie, and take your rest. I shall accompany the gentlemen to watch the counting of the votes."

"But, father, your leg...."

I kissed her on the cheek. "I will not mind my leg," I told her. "Mr. Worthington will see you home."

I gathered my crutches and followed the men with the lockbox. Mr. Worthington would see Essie home safely: I would see her vote home safely. I intended that each and every ballot we had collected the day long was duly and properly counted.

Mr. Cleveland was duly elected president that day. But I believe that Mrs. Lockwood won, and so did my Essie.


copyright © 1992 by Janet Kagan

This story originally appeared in the anthology,


edited by Mike Resnick (A Tor Book, 1992)

It is reprinted here by permission of the author.

  Dandelions now!

  Real Janet Kagan

Standing in the Spirit



1st Woman

 James H. Schmitz

 opinionated '04

 Love Our Lockwood

John Randolph, the Actor

JJ1, JJ2, JJ3, JJ4, JJ5, catstuff

 The Goblination of the Runt

Unless otherwise noted, all photos & text on these pages are © 1992-2005 Janet Kagan