The young woman herself had once been an invalid who was taken into the Home and nursed till she recovered, after which she was sent to a situation in a large town. Here she came in contact with a poor family in which the mother is a drunkard and the father a respectable, hardworking man, and took a great fancy to one of the children, the little girl I have mentioned. This child, who is about five years of age, it is her habit to supply with clothes and more or less to feed. Unfortunately, however, when the mother is on the drink she pawns the clothes which my Salvation Army friend is obliged to redeem, since if she does not, little Bessie is left almost naked. Indeed, before Bessie was brought away upon this particular visit her protectress had to pay 14_s_. to recover her garments from the pawnshop, a considerable sum out of a wage of about L18 a year.
I asked her why she did not take away this very fascinating child altogether, and arrange for her to enter one of the Army Homes. She answered because, although the mother would be glad enough to let her go, the father, who is naturally fond of his children, objected.
‘Of which the result may be,’ remarked Lieut.-Colonel Jolliffe grimly, ’that about a dozen years hence that sweet little girl will become a street-walking drunkard.’
‘Not while I live,’ broke in her foster-mother, indignantly.
This kind-hearted little woman told me she had been six years in service as sole maid-of-all-work in a large house. I inquired whether it was a hard place. She replied that it would be easier if her four mistresses, who are sisters and old maiden ladies, did not all take their meals at four different times, have four different teapots, insist upon their washing being sent to four different laundries, employ four different doctors, and sleep in four different rooms. ‘However,’ she added, ’it is not so difficult as it was as there used to be five, but one has died. Also, they are kind to me in other ways and about Bessie. They like me to come here for my holiday, as then they know I shall return on the right day and at the right hour.’
When she had left the room, having in mind the capacities of the average servant, and the outcry she is apt to make about her particular ‘work,’ I said that it seemed strange that one young woman could fulfil all these multifarious duties satisfactorily.
‘Oh,’ said the matter-of-fact Colonel, ’you see, she belongs to the Salvation Army, and looks at things from the point of view of her duty, and not from that of her comfort.’
It is curious at what a tender age children learn to note the habits of those about them. When this little Bessie was given 2d. she lisped out in her pretty Scotch accent, ’Mother winna have this for beer!’
The last place that I visited in Glasgow was the Shelter for women, an Institution of the same sort as the Shelter for men. It is a Lodging-house in which women can have a bed at the price of 4_d_. per night; but if that sum is not forthcoming, they are not, as a rule, turned away if they are known to be destitute.