WANTED short, scary ghost stories - fiction or factual - for publication on this site.If published, we will be happy to list author's biographical details and a link back to your Web site.Copyright will remain with authors. Send submissions/outlines to abracad.
KWAIDAN: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (Lafcadio Hearn) online
In spite of this perpetual labor no worker remains unkempt: each is scrupulously neat, making her toilet many times a day. But as every worker is born with the most beautiful of combs and brushes attached to her wrists, no time is wasted in the toilet-room. Besides keeping themselves strictly clean, the workers must also keep their houses and gardens in faultless order, for the sake of the children. Nothing less than an earthquake, an eruption, an inundation, or a desperate war, is allowed to interrupt the daily routine of dusting, sweeping, scrubbing, and disinfecting.
Now for stranger facts:--
This world of incessant toil is a more than Vestal world. It is true that males can sometimes be perceived in it; but they appear only at particular seasons, and they have nothing whatever to do with the workers or with the work. None of them would presume to address a worker,-- except, perhaps, under extraordinary circumstances of common peril. And no worker would think of talking to a male;-- for males, in this queer world, are inferior beings, equally incapable of fighting or working, and tolerated only as necessary evils. One special class of females,-- the Mothers-Elect of the race,-- do condescend to consort with males, during a very brief period, at particular seasons. But the Mothers-Elect do not work; and they most accept husbands. A worker could not even dream of keeping company with a male,-- not merely because such association would signify the most frivolous waste of time, nor yet because the worker necessarily regards all males with unspeakable contempt; but because the worker is incapable of wedlock. Some workers, indeed, are capable of parthenogenesis, and give birth to children who never had fathers. As a general rule, however, the worker is truly feminine by her moral instincts only: she has all the tenderness, the patience, and the foresight that we call "maternal;" but her sex has disappeared, like the sex of the Dragon-Maiden in the Buddhist legend.
For defense against creatures of prey, or enemies of the state, the workers are provided with weapons; and they are furthermore protected by a large military force. The warriors are so much bigger than the workers (in some communities, at least) that it is difficult, at first sight, to believe them of the same race. Soldiers one hundred times larger than the workers whom they guard are not uncommon. But all these soldiers are Amazons,-- or, more correctly speaking, semi-females. They can work sturdily; but being built for fighting and for heavy pulling chiefly, their usefulness is restricted to those directions in which force, rather than skill, is required.
[Why females, rather than males, should have been evolutionally specialized into soldiery and laborers may not be nearly so simple a question as it appears. I am very sure of not being able to answer it. But natural economy may have decided the matter. In many forms of life, the female greatly exceeds the male in bulk and in energy;-- perhaps, in this case, the larger reserve of life-force possessed originally by the complete female could be more rapidly and effectively utilized for the development of a special fighting-caste. All energies which, in the fertile female, would be expended in the giving of life seem here to have been diverted to the evolution of aggressive power, or working-capacity.]
Of the true females,-- the Mothers-Elect,-- there are very few indeed; and these are treated like queens. So constantly and so reverentially are they waited upon that they can seldom have any wishes to express. They are relieved from every care of existence,-- except the duty of bearing offspring. Night and day they are cared for in every possible manner. They alone are superabundantly and richly fed:-- for the sake of the offspring they must eat and drink and repose right royally; and their physiological specialization allows of such indulgence ad libitum. They seldom go out, and never unless attended by a powerful escort; as they cannot be permitted to incur unnecessary fatigue or danger. Probably they have no great desire to go out. Around them revolves the whole activity of the race: all its intelligence and toil and thrift are directed solely toward the well-being of these Mothers and of their children.