Sparrows: the story of an unprotected girl eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 616 pages of information about Sparrows.
Marble Arch.  Most walked in twos and threes, a few singly; some of these latter were hurrying and darting amongst the listless walk of the others in their eagerness to keep appointments with men.  Whatever their age, disposition, or condition, they were all moved by a common desire—­to enjoy a crowded hour of liberty after the toil and fret of the day.  As Mavis moved with the flow of this current, she noticed how it was constantly swollen by the addition of tributaries, which trickled from nearly every door in Oxford Street, till at last the stream overflowed the broad pavement and became so swollen that it seemed to carry everything before it.  Here were gathered girls from nearly every district in the United Kingdom.  The broken home, stepmothers, too many in family, the fascination which London exercises for the country-grown girl—­all and each of these reasons were responsible for all this womanhood of a certain type pouring down Oxford Street at eight o’clock in the evening.  Each of them was the centre of her little universe, and, on the whole, they were mostly happy, their gladness being largely ignorance of more fortunate conditions of life.  Ill-fed, under-paid, they were insignificant parts of the great industrial machine which had got them in its grip, so that their function was to make rich men richer, or to pay 10 per cent, dividends to shareholders who were careless how these were earned.  Nightly, this river of girls flows down Oxford Street, to return in an hour or two, when the human tide can be seen flowing in the contrary direction.  Meantime, men of all ages and conditions were skilfully tacking upon this river, itching to quench the thirst from which they suffered.  It needed all the efforts of the guardian angels, in whose existence Mavis had been taught to believe, to guide the component parts of this stream from the oozy marshland, murky ways, and bottomless quicksands which beset its course.



Seven weeks passed quickly for Mavis, during which her horizon sensibly widened.  She learned many things, the existence of which she would never have thought possible till the knowledge stared her in the face.  To begin with, she believed that the shabby treatment, in the way of food and accommodation, that the girls suffered at “Dawes’” would bind them in bonds of sympathy:  the contrary was the case.  The young women in other departments looked down on and would have nothing to do with girls, such as she, who worked in the shop.  These other departments had their rivalries and emulation for social precedence, leading to feuds, of which the course of action consisted of the two opposing parties sulking and refusing to speak to each other, unless compelled in the course of business.  The young women in the showroom were selected for their figures and general appearance; these, by common consent, were the aristocracy

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Sparrows: the story of an unprotected girl from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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