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Archive -> 1860-1888 -> ‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 13 Page 46-47



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‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 13 Page 46-47

Mystical experiences that liberate…and a migraine incident

From earliest childhood I was haunted by the conviction that there was something more in life than the ordinary routine of a suburban young lady’s daily round of duties and pleasures. I remember sitting morning after morning at the window of a room still called the nursery and watching the stream of men going to daily office work, taking part as I thought, in worth while, real work, whilst I arranged flowers, dusted the drawing room and practised cooking and sewing to fill up my days. Very early I read John Stuart Mills’ Subjection of Women, and it made an immense impression on my youthful mind and made me desperately discontented.

And the memory of a day when I was about ten years old has haunted me all down the years. I remember the exact spot where it happened. I was on my way home from school and we had had one of the Bible lessons from Miss Barker alive as I think few Bible lessons are alive today, and stopping dead in the road
I then and there gave, as I understood it, my life to follow Christ in helping all in need of help.
As I look back, it was a crude and childish spiritual adventure but it was real, and I have never lost the inferences that childish gesture involved.

And I remember the incident which concentrated and materialised that earliest spiritual awareness. I had all my life been subject to serious migraine headaches which necessitated staying for twelve hours in a dark room, quite and undisturbed. One day I noticed that a young maid waiting at table looked pale and ill and on enquiry found she was also a victim of the same severe headaches. Then I began to ask myself why she had to go on with the routine of her work while I was put to bed, taken care of as a matter of course. The realisation of the unfairness of life came to me for the first time, and from that time I think dates the determination to do what was possible to remedy the unfairness of which this was only a very small example.

Today it is incredible to look back on the conditions of domestic service for men and women. We were reputed to be good employers, but I remember our satisfaction when our groom’s wages were raised from £1 a week to a guinea and he was a married man with a family


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‘As a Tale That is Told’ Extract 13  Page 46-47