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‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 28 Page 80

Somerset Terrace hosts interesting parties of working classes, politicians and poets..for tea and talk

We made up our minds to do our own house-work, at any rate until we got too busy over other things, and this we did with very little help for some time.
….we had great fun and many jolly little parties. We cooked everything in the little range in our sitting-room and my great triumph was to cook a dinner of perhaps three courses, dress, then dish it up and put it in the oven and be ready to receive our guests. The guests, of course, had to help wait at table, but that only made us all the more friendly. ….During the six years we lived together in the little flat we made many friends and had many interesting visitors…..

 

…Our girls used to come to us in little groups in the evenings and on the day on which the old women came out of the workhouse we used to have them to tea with us. We had discovered that on this day they left the workhouse, wet or dry, cold or hot weather, at eight o’clock in the morning and had to stay out till five in the afternoon, and as they had no money and no food, they were generally invited into a public house and returned to the workhouse “the worse” and often had their day out cancelled for months as a consequence. Few working men can see an old woman out in the workhouse dress without a “Come in, mother, and have a drink”, and small blame to host or guest for the consequences. They loved coming to our flat where they sat by a little kitchen stove that reminded them of home, drank very strong sweet tea and told us their troubles.

80
…we had to tell them to come up one at a time and make as little noise as possible on the stairs. “It’s like the days of the early Christians” said Emmeline to one old woman as she let her in quietly one day. “No, my dear, it’s more like letting your young man in when you’re in service!” was the reply.

One advantage in living such close touch with the working folks is that they are apt to keep one up to the mark in carrying out what one professes or of making one a little careful of expressing revolutionary sentiments.
 



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‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 28 Page 80