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Archive -> Autobiography -> ‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 66 Page 256-260

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‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 66 Page 256-260

The Country Police

I have nothing but praise for the country policeman. They are the friends and protectors of the people and especially the children. I cannot count the number of times I have heard from people in difficulties from absconding tenants, stolen property and quarrels with neighbours, say: “I went to see the Inspector and he has told me what to do.”

I had at one time a good deal of contact with London policemen and personally I never had any ground for complaints. I have had to visit some pretty rough houses, perhaps to claim a girl’s clothes kept by a woman to prevent a girl from escaping from a bad house. I remember one such house I had to visit in which on a previous occasion the tenants were seen threatening each other with knives. But I would tell a policeman on the beat to which house I was going and perhaps he would say: “Going to be a row, Miss?” And on my saying there probably would be, he would promise to knock at the door if I did not come out in about ten minutes. I had no fear when I had done this and always found him quite near when I came out……
A man called on me to ask me if I would see his

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daughter. She was, according to his account, very naughty and unmanageable. I asked him why he had come to me. He said: “I went to the police and the Inspector said that what you did not know about girls was not worth knowing, and that I had better come and consult you.”

I said I would try and see the girl.
Before I had time to the father came again in great distress. The girl had tried to commit suicide by gassing herself, was in bed and just recovering consciousness. I went round, the doctor had been and had assured the parents that she would recover. I stayed a long time and left her quite sure that she would not again try to take her life. I went to the police to ask them not to prosecute, never dreaming they did not know of the attempt. But I found they did not, so I explained that if the cause of her act were made public by a trial in court she would be ruined and her reputation gone, and that this exposure would be a temptation to her to commit the same offence again, and that she would probably succeed. After a long consultation with the Inspector he decided not to prosecute. I asked whether if she did make another attempt I should get into trouble for not having officially reported this occasion. He said: “I will know nothing about it.”

I told him I was sure the girl would go straight, and that there was no fear.
This has proved to be true and she is at work, happy and contented.

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When I thanked the Inspector, he said: “I have daughters of my own.”….

During the last few years we have had one or two younger men as policemen who have been at the smaller public schools and at secondary schools. They seem to me quite satisfactory and are very well-mannered, but somehow I wonder if they will ever be quite the same as the old men, sons of farm labourers and stable men from whom the old time men were recruited. Perhaps this feeling is part of my dislike of this mechanised age and a longing for the days when the sound of street traffic was the clop, clop of horses hooves, and lowing of cattle, and that I have never reconciled myself to the sound of motor vehicles and the sound of the Klaxon motor-horn.
 



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‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 66 Page 256-260