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The Work-a-day Girl 



Clara Elizabeth Laughlin 




LIBRARY OF THE 
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA 



PRESENTED BY 



MISS ROBEETA WEUJ'ORD 




le 



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THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 



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By CLARA E. LAUGHLIN 
The Penny Philanthropist 

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A Novellette. niustntted, 12mOy decorated 
boards, net 75c. 

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without being the better for iV^Botlk Ntws. 

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12mo decorated boards, net 50c. 
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Divided 

The story of a poem, A story based upon Jean 
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orations in two colors, ismo* art cover, net 7Sc. 

Miladi 

Being sundry little chapters deroted to your day 
dreams. Dear Miladi. and your House o' Dreama 
and your Motherhood, ismo, cloth, net |Z4». 



When Joy Begins 



A Study of a Woman *i Life. 12mo, half 
▼elluniy net 50c. 
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ient, this book is unsurpassed."— i?#i!(g!<0i«/ Ttlescop^, 

The Evolution of a Girl's Ideal 

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ALL THEIR TIME FOR PART OF THEIR -KEEP." 

These thirteen-year-old girls think they are helping to sup- 
port their families because they turn over to them the $3.50 per 
week they earn. The fact is, this is less than their "keep" 
costs. Who pays the deficit? 



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THE 

WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

A Study of Some Present-Day Conditions 



BY 

CLARA R LAUGHLIN 

Author of 

''The EToltttion of a Girl's Ideal/* ''Ererybody^a 
Loneflome," etc. 

ILLUSTRATED 




New York Chicago Toaowro 

Fleming H. Revell Company 

London and Edinburgh 



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o:t !o t^ 



G>pyright, 1913, by 
FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY 



41677B 



New York:: 1(8 *.FIfth Avenue 
Chicago: I25r^l^. ^Vabash Ave. 
Toronto: 25 Richmond St., W. 
London: 2X Paternoster Square 
Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street 



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To 
JOHN THOMPSON 



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CONTENTS 



Introduction . • . . 

I. At the Night Court 

II. The Effort to Save Girls . 

III. Where the Trouble Begins . 

IV. The Indictment of the Home 
V. Her Daily Bread 

VI. The Girl Who Earns |6 a Week 

VII. Minimum Wage 

VIII. Mamie's Deficit 

IX. Girls' Schooling 

X. Forced Out 

XI. The Price of Progress 
XII. "The Woman of It" 



II 
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ILLUSTRATIONS 

All Their Time for Part of Their " Keep 

Where Workers and Workless Meet 

A Common Sight in Eastern Cities 

Wdl-Regulated Work Is the Best Kind of Fun 

The Family Breadwinner 

Learning the Art of Selling . 

A Kitchen Cozy Comer 

Being Prepared to Earn Their Living 

Learning a Trade That Pays Well 

While Other Folks Sleep . 

An Effort to Revive Wholesome Pastimes 

Her Father's Assistant .... 



FAcmo 

PAOX 

Title 

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INTRODUCTION 

THE chapters of which this book is composed 
were written from time to time during a period 
of about three years, on order for magazines. 
This means that they are journalistic rather than 
academic. The editorial orders came to the author 
not because she had any special knowledge of the sub- 
jects nor any special advantage for observation and 
investigation, but solely because certain editors be- 
lieved her sympathetic and candid, and told her to 
" look into " some phases of the work-a-day girl's re- 
lations to society. 

It is hoped, therefore, that the book may be judged 
not as the work of one speaking with authority, but 
as the observations of one who can claim scarcely any 
other qualification for the task than an exceeding great 
interest in it, and an " eagerness to know " which has 
made her study of it at least fairly comprehensive. 
The range of reading covered in the preparation of 
these chapters may without exaggeration be called 
enormous; and the range of personal interviews and 
investigations was not less. It could scarcely have 
been possible for any one to put more work into a 
volume of this size; but the same amount of labour 

performed by a scholar in social science would doubt- 

n 



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1« INTRODUCTION 

less have produced a work of authority — ^whereas, 
the most that can be hoped for these chapters is that 
here or there among them a reader may find some 
suggestion upon which he or she may act in the great 
Opportunity, the great Privilege, of social betterment 
Nearly every one, in these days of new visions, is 
eager to servp; is saying: " Here am II What can I 
do?" The author^ of these chapters has tried very 
earnestly to learn what can be done — ^not alone by 
legislators and by others specially empowered, but by 
average men and women of many cares and limited 
opportunities. She has endeavoured, in this book, to 
make some suggestions of great services which are 
within the power of nearly every reader. The readers 
of the magazines in which the articles appeared, 
showed, in their correspondence with the author, a 
spirit of eagerness to serve, of wistfulness to be shown 
a way, that made it seem probable there would be a 
public for the chapters in book fomi. 

So they are here presented, in the order in which 
they were written. This order has been preserved 
because the author thinks it may be somewhat typical 
of the steps by which many observers go, from effects 
back to causes. 

It is a matter of only a very few years — some four 
or five — since the American social conscience rebelled 
against the practice of locking up overnight persons 
who were arrested after police court hours in the after- 
noon, and so unable to get a hearing until the next day. 



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INTRODUCTION 18 

Many who suffer arrest are able to clear themselves im- 
mediately on appearing before a magistrate. So, New 
York City instituted a Night Court where such as were 
arrested after four o'clock in the afternoon could 
be heard after not more than a few hours' deten- 
tion. 

This Night Court, the only one in the world, aroused 
wide interest; many persons concerned in the ad- 
ministration of justice and many more who had never 
before visited a police court, attended its sessions. 
The author of these chapters was interested in this as, 
previously, she had been interested in the pioneer 
juvenile courts; her interest was like that of thousands, 
the country over, who rejoice at each new move in 
what seems the direction of a broader, deeper, kindlier 
humanitarianism. That was why an editor (to whom 
she will never be able sufficiently to acknowledge her 
indebtedness) said to her: "There are a lot of people 
who have the same kind of interest you have, but have 
not your opportunity of seeing for themselves. Tell 
them about the Night Court as you see it." 

As she first saw it, it was a court for offenders of 
both sexes and of many sorts; the procession before 
the magistrate contained boys arrested for playing 
baseball in crowded streets, men arrested for peddling 
without a license, chauffeurs who had exceeded the 
speed limit, dock labourers who had grown too bellig- 
erent in drink, male creatures of many sorts and ages 
who had made assaults upon little girls, and a variety 



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14 INTRODUCTION 

of other offenders; but the majority were women, and 
most of them were there on charges of immoral con- 
duct forbidden by the statutes of New York. 

After a while it became necessary to have two Night 
Courts in New York, and the growing feeling that 
men and women should not be heard at the same tri- 
bimal, was respected : the original Night Court at Jef- 
ferson Market became a court for women only. (Bos- 
ton had led the way in a separate court for women. 
Chicago is now hearing in private, before a woman 
judge and women court officers, the cases of delin- 
quent young girls — sparing them both shame and pub- 
licity. Three or four years ago, when the author of 
these chapters began frequenting the Jefferson Market 
Night Court, it seemed a great step forward to find a 
woman probation officer always on duty; now, in 
Chicago, it seems no more than a beginning of what 
should be, to sit in Judge Mary Bartelme's little room 
with its door locked against the world, and see young 
girls in close counsel with a wise, tender little woman, 
wistful to help them redirect their lives.) 

The Night Court presented, most urgently, a prob- 
lem in erring girls. It seemed quite reasonable, at that 
early stage of the author's progress, to ask the girls 
why they were there. As if they knew ! 

Then, when one had talked with a number of girls 
like ** Florence," it was inevitable that a deep dejection 
should ensue. Magistrates, matrons, probation officers, 
rescue workers, all contributed to the feeling of despair 



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INTRODUCTION 16 

regarding the Florences. "What's to be done?" 
" Well, whatever salvage may be effected is to be 
worked for among the betrayed girls who have not 
yet become public prostitutes." 

This led to the article on "The Effort to Save 
Girls/' And that, as inevitably, led to "Where the 
Trouble Begins " and " The Indictment of the Home " 
as set forth particularly in the United States Senate 
Report on "The Relation of Occupation to Crimi- 
nality and Immorality Among Women." Many per- 
sons were charging modern industrialism with the 
downfall of girls— crying that there was danger in 
going away from home to work. The Government 
investigators found that not industrialism but the 
slipshod home was the chief contributing source of 
female delinquency. 

Then began a study of the kinds of homes from 
which many of our girl workers come, and of the 
family economics. The report rendered, after years 
of thorough investigation, to the United States Senate, 
was destructive of the old notion that most girls work 
for pin-money or for gewgaws. Four-fifths of them 
were found to hand over all their earnings to the family 
fund. What were the conditions which made this 
necessary? How different, essentially, were they from 
the old conditions whose passing so many persons de- 
plore? How necessary are these differences? Could 
they be argued or legislated away? Or are they an 
inevitable phase of our social and economic evolution? 



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16 INTRODUCTION 

These were a few of the questions that arose and 
demanded inquiry. 

The notion that money paid to girl workers was in 
the nature of a contribution to their candy and feather 
fund, seemed deeply imbedded in many minds— es- 
pecially in the minds of those who employ girls' 
labour. On one hand were outcries against the small 
wages paid to girl workers, and demands for Minimum 
Wage legislation. On the other hand were retorts 
that girl workers were inefficient, undependable, and 
worth no more than the small simis for which they 
willingly sold their labour. 

In studying the pros and cons of Minimum Wage 
legislation, it became evident that girls are indeed ill 
prepared for that industrial phase which most of them 
now enter upon for a longer or shorter period; and also 
that they are ill paid, usually, even for the kind of 
service they render. A tragic proportion of them are 
not paid enough to keep body and soul together. The 
deficit must always be made up. Who pays it? That 
led to some startiing revelations, and disclosed an 
astoundingly prevalent conviction that women have 
always been "supported" by some one other than 
themselves; that their labour has never been reckoned 
worth their " keep," but that the difference has been 
obligingly made up by somebody. 

A very superficial glance at the history of woman 
and her share in the world's work serves to dispel 
this curious idea. But only a few persons, it would 



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INTRODUCTION 17 

seem, have given the facts even a superficial survey. 
The last three chapters of this book summarize, to the 
best of the author's present ability, some of the most 
salient truths about woman and industry. In the 
gathering of these truths the author has neglected, she 
thinks she may say, no important work in English on 
women and economics, sex and society, or any kindred 
topic The gist of them all is very simple: Woman 
was the creator of industry; she has always performed 
a major share of the world's work; when she has 
relinquished to man a field of labour of which neces- 
sity made her the mother, she has either made for her- 
self another field or, failing that, has become the pro- 
genitress of a decadent race. The nations on the 
"up grade'* have always been the nations whose 
women were vigorous creators of industry. The na- 
tions on the *' down grade " have always owed their 
decline to the wealth which divorced the women of 
their ruling classes from the development that labour 
gives, and made of them weak parasites and pamper- 
ing mothers. 

Dense ignorance of the past and of its lessons has 
bred in many persons of to-day an attitude toward 
women and self-sustaining labour which must be cor- 
rected. There has been a marvellous increase of com- 
mon sense in the last few years; but even yet there 
are too many women who wear an apologetic manner 
because they earn their bread, and too few who are 
apologetic because they don't earn it! Even yet there 



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18 INTRODUCTION 

is a great deal of confusion in many minds about 
women " going to work." As if they had not always 
been very busily at work, maintaining themselves and 
others with the labour of their hands, the ingenuity 
of their brains 1 

The work-a-day girl is no new product. But she 
works, now, under new conditions, many of which are 
bewilderingly strange not to her only, but to her family, 
to her employer, and to the social order of which she 
is so important a part. The hope of helping even a 
few readers to realize how this change has come about 
and how exceedingly necessary it is that we meet it 
intelligently, has animated the author of these 
chapters. 

She trusts that no explanation of their semi-story 
form will seem to have been called for. Also, that the 
plain speaking may nowhere offend. She has a very 
vivid memory of those not-so-distant years when her 
own curiosity was set violently in motion by what were 
meant for '* discreet allusions." For instance, it has 
been suggested that in telling about Florence Arthur, 
in the first chapter of this book, the author should have 
contented herself with saying that Florence was ar- 
rested on a serious charge and taken to the Night 
Court. Could anything more completely "kill" all 
that follows, and keep the mind unacquainted with 
the sorry facts of street-walking, intent on: "What 
was it that she did ? " Could anything be more im- 
portant for a fun-loving young girl to know than the 



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INTRODUCTION 19 

reason why she must be so circumspect on the streets 
and in all public places, so that she shall give no one 
cause to question her? 

The slogan so reluctantly adopted by poor little 
Katie (as told in the second chapter) has also been 
questioned — not for its truthfulness, but for the ad- 
visability of printing it. The phrase was used as in 
his opinion expressing the crux of a terribly grave 
situation, by a man who knows more about the tempta- 
tions of the young working girl than any one the 
author has ever met. After years of experience on 
thousands of cases of delinquency, he declared that 
the hardest thing he had to fight was that oft-repeated 
cry : " You gotta be a good Indian ! " Few indeed are 
the girls who, after a very short experience in making 
their way in the world, have not had this hideous sug- 
gestion made to them. What end shall we then serve 
by eliminating it from a story of their temptations? 
The author, frankly, cannot grasp this point ^of view. 
She cannot believe that chapters written so earnestly 
and with such deep affection for the little sisters who 
face the world for their daily bread, can either offend 
or mislead. If she errs, in this, she very humbly begs 

pardon. 

C. E. L. 



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AT THE NIGHT COURT 

THE Saturday night theatre crowds thronged 
Broadway. It was a few minutes past eight 
on a mellow October evening, and even people 
who were anticipating a treat in the playhouse seemed 
a little loath to go in out of the soft night air. 
Limousines and taxis, darting at breakneck speed up 
and down Broadway and around the corners of the 
cross streets, had their windows down, revealing for 
a fraction of a second, as they flashed by, glimpses of 
girls and women in filmy finery, their light wraps not 
even drawn together over their bare throats. Street 
cars discharged crowds of hatless femininity in light 
frocks at the theatre doors. Florists' shop windows 
were marvels of colour — orchids and violets and lilies- 
of-the-valley and gardenias and chrysanthemums and 
American Beauties and Killamey roses, displayed 
against backgrounds of feathery green ferns and 
bronze autunm leaves. Cheap jewellery stores, and a 
few of the better class, poured floods of electric light 
on their glittering displays. Hundreds of young 
working folk — ^lads and lassies — ^in pairs, in little 
groups, surged up and down taking in the sights. 

Hundreds of ** has-beens " slouched amid the throngs, 

21 



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2« THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

cjmically reflective. Swift and ceaseless as the rush 
of waters through Niagara Gorge or Yellowstone 
Canon is the torrent of the human current through 
the dazzling Great White Way. 

Near the comer of Thirtieth Street a girl loitered, 
looking in the windows of a candy shop and a cheap 
jeweller's next to Daly's Theatre. She was a pretty 
girl, of a quiet, unobtrusive sort, and as modest-look- 
ing as any of the girls who thronged the street. Her 
neat suit was brown, and she had a black hat with 
ostrich feathers, of the type thousands of working 
girls buy for " best." 

A man stopped at the window a-glitter with rhine- 
stones. Out of the comer of her eye the, girl marked 
him; he was alone, and his leisurely manner indicated 
that he had nothing particular to do. The girl moved 
a little closer. " Good-evening," she said. Her man- 
ner was almost timid, but the man was city-wise. 
Whether his morals were offended, or his taste was 
not appealed to, or his mood was not propitious, the 
girl would never know; but he moved away. 

The girl was about to saunter along, when a second 
man came up to the window and looked in. He lifted 
his gaze from the glittering gewgaws to glance cov- 
ertly at the girl. Something indefinable in his manner 
made her feel that he would not resent being spoken 
to. She tried again. 

This man answered. " Good-evening," he said. 
"It's a fine night, ain't it?" 



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AT THE NIGHT COURT 28 

"Yes," agreed the girl. "Don't you feel like 
havin' a good time?" 

"Sure! Where?" 

She named a hotel of the kind seldom resorted to 
for any but disreputable purposes. 

" You're under arrest ! " said the man, opening his 
coat and showing his badge. He was a plain-clothes 
detective from the Thirtieth Street police station. 

There, a few minutes later, she was booked. She 
gave her name as Florence Arthur, her age as twenty- 
three, and her residence as on Twenty-seventh Street 
between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. The affidavit 
filed against her set forth that she was " a common 
prostitute and street walker," and that, in violation of 
the statute of the State of New York " in such cases 
made and provided," she had stopped John Feeny 
" for such purpose," naming the place and the hour. 
To this John Feeny swore, and Florence was held 
for an hour or so until there were, at the Thirtieth 
Street station, enough women who were entitled to 
immediate hearing at the Night Court, to make a 
wagon load. Then they and the officers who had 
made the arrests were driven down to Jeflferson Mar- 
ket Court at Sixth Avenue and Tenth Street. 

Arrived at the receiving door for prisoners on the 
Tenth Street side of the Jefferson Market building, 
John Feeny entered Florence's name, his own, and the 
charge against her. Then she was locked up in the 
receiving pen for women and he went to the desk 



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M THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

of the clerk of the court and stated the particulars, 
so that papers might be made out for the case. This 
done, he awaited the call to appear. 

In the pen with Florence were eight other women 
and girls who, like herself, had been arrested since 
4 P.M., charged with misdemeanours and disorderly 
conduct, not felonies. It was a large cell, pertu^s 
twenty-five feet square, and wooden benches ran 
around three sides; the fourth side was iron-barred 
and through the bars could be seen all that went on 
in the corridor outside. The walls of the pen were 
whitewashed, and it was brightly lighted with elec- 
tricity. When the first of the night prisoners was 
put into it, it was quite unobjectionably clean; but 
already the air in it was becoming foul. 

Two of the women in the pen were dnmk— one in a 
heavy stupor, and one noisy and violent. The woman 
in the stupor was a white woman, and young; she 
wore a dark blue calico wrapper and neither hat nor 
coat, and she was lying in a heap on the stone floor. 
Two or three times her fellow-prisoners bad tried to 
dispose her decently on the narrow bench, but she 
repeatedly rolled off. The disorderly drunk was a 
negress; she was middle-aged and ample and terribly 
obscene. 

One woman was crying; she was an eminently re- 
spectable-looking woman, almost smartly dressed, and 
she had been arrested just before closing time in a 
Sixth Avenue store, charged with shoplifting. Try- 



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AT THE NIGHT CX)URT U 

ing occasionally to console her was a younger woman 
wearing the full livery of poverty at its pinchingest; 
she had, too, the mark of consumption in her thin 
face, as well as signs of the ravages of a vile disease. 
She was there on a charge of violating the tenement 
house act which makes it unlawful for a woman to 
use for immoral purposes a room in any "building 
occupied as the home or residence of three families or 
more, living independently of each other and doing 
their own cooking upon said premises." 

Besides these, there were four girls. One was very 
young and very frightened; she sat still, in a far cor- 
ner of the pen, cowering, and when any one passed 
through the corridor, she hid her face with her hands. 
One girl was expensively dressed and defiant. One, a 
Jewess, was showily but shoddily dressed, and appar- 
ently unconcerned. One was a coloured girl, in Sev- 
enth Avenue finery ; she was cheerful, unabashed, and 
had the same curious interest in her cellmates, their 
clothes, their grievances, their places of residence and 
modes of life, that another class of woman shows at 
a tea party or meeting of the sewing circle. All these 
girls were booked on the same charge as that made 
against Florence. 

The magistrate arrived a little before eight, and 
promptly at eight an officer came to the pen, called 
"May Mooney," and the frightened little girl who 
did not look the seventeen years she claimed, stepped 
to the gate. The officer tmlocked the gate and May 



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26 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

passed, trembling, through, hiding her face with her 
hands as she went. And after an interval of dazed 
unseeingness, she found herself looking into a not at 
all unkindly face three feet away from her across a 
broad desk. All around were other men, some in po- 
lice uniforms, others in citizens' clothes; but these May 
felt rather than saw, at first. 

Her notion of a court had been of something in- 
quisitorial. Instead, she found herself face to face 
with a man who talked to her with much kindliness. 

** How did you come to do such a thing, May ? " he 
was asking. She had admitted the charge against 
her. 

" It was like this," she said. " My pa's been sick 
in the hospital since las' winter, an* he ain't never 
goin' t' git no better, fer it's the consumption he has. 
An' all we had t' live on — my ma an' us five kids an' 
my ma's mother that lives with us — ^was what my 
oldes' brother could earn out o' school hours, nmnin' 
errands an' sellin' papers an' that-like, an' what I got. 
I had a job in a millinery place on Sixt' Avenoo. I 
ust t' do kind o' easy things in the workroom, like 
puttin' in the linin's, an' t' deliver the hats, some- 
times, an' put away stock. An' I los' my job fer — fer 
foolin' around some, when I was sent out on errands. 
I ust t' like t' hear the songs an' ragtime on the pianos 
where they sell music in the department stores, an' 
sometimes I'd look a little in a penny arcade. An' so 
I got fired. An' I couldn't bear t' tell my ma. I tried 



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AT THE NIGHT COURT «7 

every way I could t' git another job, but I couldn't. 
An' a girl that spoke t* me when I was sittin' in Union 
Square lookin' at the Help Wanteds in a paper that 
a woman left on a bench, she says to me that she knew 
how I could earn easy money — ^an* — ^I went with her 
an' she showed me. An' after that, I'd go out every 
mornin' just like I was goin' t' work, an' go t' one of 
the parks or some place like that, an' do jus' like she 
told me; an' I'd git something. An' in the afternoons, 
maybe I'd go to the stores or to a nickel show; an' at 
six I'd go home like I was comin' from work; an' 
Sat'day night I'd give my ma the money." 
" And she never knew? " 

" No; oh, no! She'd 'a' died if she'd ever knew! " 

" Then you knew you were doing wrong. May ? " 

** Sure ! — I mean, yes, your Honour. But I thought 

I had to. I didn't see no other way; an' I didn't 

know you could git arrested for it." 

"Your kind friend, the girl, didn't tell you that?" 
" No, sir; I don't think she knew it, either." 
"Well, you know now, don't you, that you've 
broken the laws of the State of New York? " 
" Yes, your Honour." 

" And you know that your poor father would die of 
shame, and your mother's heart would break, if they 
knew where you are now? " 
" Yes, your Honour." 

"Well, May, I believe you're going to be a better 
girl after this, and I'm going to give you a chance. 



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98 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

I'm going to sec if the probation officer won't take 
you on trial. Miss Smith, please I'' 

Out of the big group of persons behind May — 
bailiffs and reporters and others privileged to come 
within the rail that separates the judge's bench and 
prisoners' dock from the spectators' part of the court- 
room — stepped a tall, fine-looking woman of less than 
middle age, with firmness and gentleness in every line 
of her commanding figure and of her comely counte- 
nance. She was Miss Alice Smith, one of the oldest 
in point of service of women probation officers, and one 
of the most devoted and most efficient women in that 
work anywhere. 

*' Come with me. May," she said; and led the way 
through a gate opposite to that through which May 
had come from the pen, and into a big, quiet room 
where a police sergeant off duty dozed behind a high 
office desk. At the corner of a long table was a chair 
in which, following Miss Smith's motion, May sat 
down. The probation officer drew another chair close 
beside her; for fifteen minutes she questioned May 
and talked to her as a wise mother might have done. 
The tender, understanding heart in her was full of 
sympathy for the girl's pathetic situation, of appre- 
ciation of the pure human nature in May's love of 
ragtime and penny arcades; but she was careful not 
to let May feel that sympathy too much. God knew 
it was not in her heart to blame the child 1 But God 
knew, too, how bad for the child it would be if the 



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AT THE NIGHT COURT 29 

enormity of her offence were not deeply impressed 
upon her then and there. 

" Well, May/' she said, " I'm going to accept you 
on probation. Monday morning I shall set to work 
to get you a job. And 111 go to see your mother. 
No! don't look like that; I sha'n't tell her you've been 
in trouble — not unless you go back to this horrible 
business again. And if you do, you know yoti can 
be rearrested and brought in here and sentenced to 
the Island or to a reformatory for erring girls. I'll 
just tell your mother, Monday, that I'm a friend of 
yours and have heard that your father is ill. I'll see 
if there isn't something that can be done to save your 
father's life or to get work for your mother to do at 
home — anything to help you all get along. And 
you're to come to see me once a week for six months, 
and tell me how you are getting on and what a 
good girl you're trying to be. Will you do that? " 

" Yes, ma'am — sure I will." 

"Then you can go. And if I'm not mistaken, 
you'll see the day when you'll be glad — ^as I am — that 
you were arrested this afternoon. Your being brought 
here has given me a chance to know about you and 
to help you. If you begin, to-night, to be a good, true 
girl, working hard and keeping yourself self-respect- 
ing, you may look back on this experience as one of 
the best that ever happened to you. I don't want you 
to go from here feeling that the Law has disgraced you 
— but that it has saved yotL You did what you could 



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30 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

to disgrace yourself; the Law has stepped in to save 
you. Good-night, May." 

The woman accused of shoplifting had, meanwhile, 
been before the magistrate. She had never been ar- 
rested before and was evidently a decent woman — 
probably one of the many who are kept without pocket 
money by mean husbands — ^who had found the tempta- 
tion of some specially coveted bit of finery too strong 
for her resistance. Being truthful, she had given her 
own name when arrested; but it was noticed that she 
had not sent for her husband. When she was dis- 
missed with a kindly warning — ^the stolen trinket had 
been given up the moment she was apprehended — she 
thanked the judge and then broke into an impassioned 
plea for secrecy. The judge looked over the top of 
his spectacles at the young men from the newspapers ; 
she followed the direction of his glance, interpreted 
it, and turned to them. Her pleading was the most 
dramatic episode the old court had witnessed in some 
time. She never knew what it cost those boys to 
promise her what she asked; she was the best " story '' 
the court had offered in many nights. But she won 
them, and they were heroically true to their word. 
That is, they wrote the story, but they scrupulously 
guarded every clue to her identity — even the boys of 
the " Yellow Press," who were taking their lives — or 
at least their jobs — ^in their hands by so doing. 

The expensively dressed and defiant girl, and the 
Jewess who was imconcemed, were fined when their 



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AT THE NIGHT COURT 81 

respective cases were called. The expensively dressed 
girl paid her fine from a well-filled purse and departed, 
gathering up her skirts. Not want, but sheer deviltry 
had brought her there. The Jewess had only part of 
the amount of her fine, so she was taken to the prison 
to " sit out " a few hours of confinement in lieu of 
the remainder. 

The coloured girl was sentenced to the Island. 
" Somebody gotter go ter the Islan'," she declared 
with good-nature apparently unshaken, as she was 
being conducted to a cell upstairs, " othahwise you-all 
wouldn' be able ter keep yo' jobs. Somebody that 
cain't pay gotter make it look like you-all was powah- 
ful busy; an'," breaking into a comic-opera lilt, "it 
might as well be me." 

At the top of the winding iron stairs she was re- 
ceived by an ample matron, wholesome-looking in her 
immaculate uniform of blue and white stripes, white 
apron, and neat white collar, and decidedly kindlier in 
manner than the average trained nurse. 

" Hello, Mamie," she said to the coloured girl, " you 
up again?" 

Mamie grinned. " Yas'm," she assented, submit- 
ting to being searched for " dope " and razors as if it 
were the most ordinary of amenities; "when dey 
cain't ketch nobody else, an' it look bad fer 'em, dey 
always comes aroun' an' ketches me." 

Thereupon, with an air not very different from that 
of a hostess showing a guest to her room, the matron 



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82 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

conducted Mamie to a cell which was so many, many 
degrees cleaner and better aired and more comfortable 
than Mamie's room on Seventh Avenue that she might 
well have been philosophic about making it her abode 
till Monday morning, when she would go to the Island* 

There was a comfortable, clean cot bed in the cell, 
which Mamie could hook up against the wall if she 
wanted more space to move about in; and there were 
a toilet, and a basin with running water, and an elec- 
tric light. Perhaps the only discomfort, from Ma- 
mie's point of view, was the cleanliness of it all. 

But there was trouble ahead, the matron knew, 
with Mamie. Before the night was over the effects of 
the cocaine now in her would have worn off, and she 
would be clamouring for more. And doubtless before 
Monday morning she would be under the care of the 
jail physician and receiving, by his orders, small doses 
of her " dope," sufficient to keep her from going mad, 
but not sufficient to keep her from being ugly. 

Presently the coloured drunk and the white drunk 
were brought upstairs. The coloured woman was 
under sentence to the Island. The white woman was 
being held until her relatives could be found; she was 
not disorderly, and if her people would take her away 
and keep her from being harmed while she was help- 
less, the city had no wish to assume the burden. The 
probation officer would take her on parole and see 
what could be done to help the unfortunate creature 
overcome her weakness for drink. 



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AT THE NIGHT COURT 88 

The receiving pen filled up as fast as it was cleared. 
Of those who had preceded Florence into it, all were 
now gone but the wretched violator of the tenement 
house act; but others, of like sorts, had taken their 
places. 

" It's a gay life — ^notl " the woman of squalor re- 
marked bitterly to Florence as her turn drew near. 
" I got a sick kid at home, an' when things got t' the 
worst, I done the one thing I could t' get a little 
money." 

She told her story to the magistrate — her common- 
place story of desertion, struggle, sickness, no work, 
despair, and final recourse to '' the oldest profession 
in the world " ; and he remanded her, to wait imtil a 
court officer investigated her case— or, in other words, 
went to see how far the testimony of her neighbours 
corroborated her story. 

Then Florence was called. When the magistrate 
heard what she had to say for herself — ^which wasn't 
much, except that she had never been arrested before 
— ^he directed that she be sent in to Miss Smith, to 
see if that officer would receive her on probation. 
Under Miss Smith's kindly questioning, Florence 
talked rather freely. She was twenty-one, she said, 
and was bom in Georgetown, Maryland. Her father 
died when she was young, and in a few years her 
mother married again. Florence was the only child 
of her mother's first marriage. She didn't like her 
stepfather, and he didn't like her. When his own 



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84 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

children came " he was worse than ever." Florence 
had to work hard at home, because her mother was 
ailing and the babies came dose together and were 
ailing, too. The stepfather was a skilled mechanic 
who made good wages; but he was " tight " with his 
money, and he drank — Saturday nights. Florence 
used to steal out in the evenings, sometimes, to have 
a "little fun," and when he found it out he beat her. 
Often he beat her for other things, too. And finally 
she ran away and went to Baltimore, where she 
worked as a domestic. When she was seventeen and 
had saved a little money and got herself decently clad, 
she came to New York, "where wages was big, I 
heard, and there was lots to see when you wasn't 
workin'." She had " worked in families," first, but 
that " wasn't any fun " ; so she got a job as waitress 
in a cheap cafe. There was " more goin' on " in the 
cafe, more to see and hear, and it was nearer to the 
places where Florence liked to spend her " off time." 
But by and by Fourteenth Street shop windows, the 
penny arcade, the occasional visit to a five-cent theatre, 
failed to satisfy Florence. Only the " greenest " girls 
she met with in the " kuflfay " were interested in these 
cheap delights; the others, who wore the largest pom- 
padours and the swellcst suits and the biggest rhine- 
stone horseshoes and the most beplumed hats, were 
far beyond "them jay pleasures." They went to 
" real theaytres," attended dances " frequent," pat- 
ronized cafes with ladies' entrances and perpetuated 



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AT THE NIGHT COURT 85 

palms and " vodeviUe," and bought the finery neces- 
sary for these " swell times " on Sixth Avenue above 
Fourteenth Street! There was only one way Flor- 
ence could share in these delights — ^and that was to 
do as the other girls did. As some measure success 
in life by the number of dollars they can save, and 
some women measure it by the number of persons 
they can afford to snub, so Florence measured it by 
the amount of " fun you have," and it was her dis- 
tressful limitation that she knew only one possible 
kind of fun. Eventually, she had given up the prosaic 
business of " waiting " and undertaken to support her- 
self solely by the "oldest profession in the world." 
But something must have been wrong with her busi- 
ness methods; for in a city where that business pros- 
pers, as it has probably never before prospered under 
the sun, Florence had not made a success of it. And 
to-night, with her funds down to twenty-nine cents, 
she had been driven to the street. 

"Do you support a man, Florence?" asked Miss 
Smith. 

" No," said Florence — ^not convincingly. 

" And you want to do right? " 

" Why— yes." 

"If I let you go to-night, instead of having you 
sent up to the Island, and if I get work for you and 
do all I can to help you, will you try to keep straight? 
Will you come to see me for a few minutes one even- 
ing each week for a while? " 



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86 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

Yes, Florence would; but she was not enthusiastic 
about it, and she stipulated that the work must not 
be '' in a fam'ly." It must be where the possibilities 
of " fun" appealed to Florence; otherwise she would 
have none of it. 

" Florence," urged Miss Smith, " I know that every 
young girl wants to have a good time; that it's part of 
her youth to crave pretty clothes and parties and beaus. 
I don't say you mustn't try to have a pleasant time, 
and meet young men, and wear little * pretties' to 
make them find you attractive. But there are kinds of 
fun that are safe and wholesome; and the kind you 
have been having is neither, I suppose you know. 
Now, I shall be on duty here till long after mid- 
night, and to-morrow I ought to rest late and I 
want to go to church. But if you will go with 
me, I'll take my rest time and go over to Bellevue 
Hospital with you and get a special permit to 
take you through the wards where the girls who 
started out to have fun, as you understand fun, are 
dying horrible deaths and going into Potter's Field. 
I'd like to take you a short walk down one of those 
wards — if you can stand the indescribable horror of 
it — so you can say to yourself :' If I go on as I'm 
going, here's where I shall be in two years or three 
years, or possibly five years at the outside.' " 

"'I don't think I could go," said Florence; "I 
always hate to see sick people." 

"Florence!" Miss Smith's tone suddenly be- 



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AT THE NIGHT COURT 87 

came intense, searching. " You haven't any real idea 
of quitting this life — have you?" 

Florence avoided Miss Smith's eyes. " Well " 

she began, and hesitated. 

*' I know I If you can have all the feathers and fun 
you want, without being vicious, you'd probably a 
little bit liefer have it that way* But the feathers and 
the fun you will have, and if you must pay a horrible 
price for them, you'll pay it. Isn't that it? " 

Florence was folding and refolding her handker- 
chief, minutely fluting the hem of it, and apparently 
deeply engrossed therein. 

"Isn't that it?" Miss Smith repeated. 

" Well " she began again. 

Miss Smith wanted to sigh, but she forbore. 
Florence was one of such a large, such a terribly large 
class; and such a hopeless class, too, as experience 
had proved. Nevertheless she accepted Florence on 
probation; she could not bear to let her go to the 
Island without having tried to do for her what she 
could. 

To blame Florence is as impossible as to help her. 
She is young; she is nice-looking; she is driven by 
every instinct of that brute part of her which develops 
itself and asks for no schooling, toward the one and 
only thing that Nature demands of her. She has had 
absolutely no education in the control of natural tend- 
encies by spiritual strength. She wants feathers and 
fun; she walks on Broadway and sees women having 



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88 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

both; girls she knows tell her there is only one way 
for her kind to share in life's gaieties. What sheer 
folly to tell Florence she must not want to be gay! 
What smug hypocrisy, too ! And how begin, now, to 
teach Florence ways of happiness that do not follow 
the paths of sin i 

A victim of resourcelessness is Florence. She 
craves pleasures; she is incapable of creating pleasures 
for herself; and the few kinds of pleasure she is able 
to enjoy are kinds that cost too dear for her slender 
purse — ^the purse of the unskilled working girl — and 
that easily, when come by as she must come by them, 
lead to the depths. Nature makes Florence want 
feathers; and that soul in Florence which ought, if 
she knew she had one, to hold Nature in sufficient 
check to keep it from destroying her (and none of 
Nature's forces is so beneficent that it will not also 
destroy if it is not held in check), that soul is sleep- 
ing. Some believe there is a clarion call that can 
bring it at once into dominant activity; but, even of 
these, not many believe that the call can be made loud 
enough to wake Florence's soul at this stage in her 
piteous career. When she is " down and out," she 
may be made to hear; but while she is well, and the 
rhinestones glitter in the windows on Broadway, the 
ragtime floats out from behind the perpetuated palms 
of cabaret cafes, and fun and feathers are to be had 
for a price, Florence is not a hopeful subject for 
reclaim. 



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AT THE NIGHT COURT 89 

More love in her home might have helped Florence; 
but it is true, too, that girls have been known to nm 
away from love-lit homes, lured by the burning of 
those million lights that flood the Great White Way. 
More education might have helped her; but it is also 
true that girls from the best colleges in the land have 
sometimes joined the desperate throng swirling 
toward Potter's Field. 

One thing only seems certain to most of those who 
work with and for Florence and her like; and that is, 
that more education of one particular sort would have 
helped — ^more instruction in the penalties of sin. But 
that is, after all, the restraint of fear — ^which was the 
only spiritual control the world had until Love be- 
came incarnate and brought men to seek the better way 
because it is the happier. Merely to scare Florence so 
that she will forego the fun and feathers because of 
the hideous disease and the nameless grave that await 
her, is not to make Florence over into a very valuable 
member of society. 

There are tens of thousands of women in New 
York — ^and everywhere else — who are just like Flor- 
ence in resourcelessness, in love of feathers and of 
fun; but, by virtue of kindly circumstance, they have 
not been driven, as she has, to pay the most hideous 
price for their amusement. Some man, their rela- 
tions with whom have the sanction of society, pays for 
their bridge and their finery and their motor cars and 
their pink teas. Only God knows which of these 



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40 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

women, if the sanctioned relationship were to fail, 
to become impossible of renewal, would forego the 
feathers, and which would forego the sanction. In a 
world so full of possible happiness, they have never 
learned how to enjoy anything but feathers. There's 
the situation I Human nature will seek delight I The 
one possible safety for it is when it can be taught to 
find its delight in things that uplift and satisfy, and 
not to seek it in things that deprave and create dissat- 
isfaction. 

Meanwhile, what little can be done for Florence 
and her kind the woman probation officers are seeking 
to do. And for the others — ^like May Mooney, for 
instance, and for the woman who was dead drunk, and 
even for the emaciated violator of the tenement house 
act — ^they are doing a very great deal. Not only do 
hundreds of girls owe an infinitely bettered life to the 
redirection they have had from some fine probation 
officer to whom they were paroled after their arrest, 
but in many, many cases the regeneration of whole 
families has followed on the interest awakened in them 
by the temporary misfortune of one of their members. 
It is not easy for a girl to keep good if her father is 
out of work and all her wages are swallowed up by 
the hungry necessities of a big family; so, often the 
probation officer begins her fight for the girl's future 
by getting work for the father. It is not easy for a 
girl to grow into fine young womanhood if her mother 
" tipples " and, as most tipplers do, keeps a slatternly 



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AT THE NIGHT COURT 41 

home with the meals never on time; so, often the pro- 
bation officer bends all her energies to cure the mother 
of her wretched vice. Through the interest of this 
fine, strong, thoroughly-informed woman into whose 
charge a member of the household has been put, sick 
children (and elders) are sent to the hospitals and 
ailing ones to the country for " fresh air " vacations ; 
wayward lads are set to learning, imder discipline of 
school or shop, a good trade ; and new vistas of useful- 
ness and happiness are opened up to every one. So 
far from being a calamity, it is — ^as it should be — fre- 
quently a great mercy that offenders young in years 
and young in wrongdoing are brought to the bar of 
justice and turned over to a probation officer. The 
work is not yet being adequately done. The appro- 
priation for it is everywhere too small, and each officer 
has far too much to do to allow of any of it being 
done as thoroughly as it should be done. But the idea 
is unquestionably right and deserves every encourage- 
ment. 

The needs of the work are many. One of the chief 
of them is a Municipal Detention House for Women, 
where offenders against the law can be held pending a 
thorough investigation of their case. This house 
should be graded, so that girls arrested for a first 
offence need never come in contact with women of 
long-standing depravity, but now wishing to reform. 
The dangers of contamination are not only mental and 
moral, but physical, and the sharpest segregation is 



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4& THE WORK-ADAY GIRL 

the only justice. This should be followed in all re- 
ceiving pens, also; vile and obscene women should not 
sit, even for an hour, side by side with girls like May 
Mooney. 

In a proper detention home there would be some 
alternative for Florence besides sending her to the 
Island or turning her immediately loose into the 
streets. There would be a place to keep girls who 
want to abandon the evil life and who are afraid — on 
account of the vengeful ire of the wretch they have 
been supporting; a place where they might safely stay 
until work could be found for them and they could be 
spirited away. Many otherwise decent women drink; 
they are not offenders against the law, but their help- 
lessness while intoxicated obliges the law to take care 
of them, if their relatives cannot immediately be 
found ; it is a pity to lock these women in cells with 
felons and degraded wretches. A Municipal Deten- 
tion Home would take care of them. Another pur- 
pose it would serve would be the safe-keeping of wit- 
nesses who are now sometimes locked in cells like 
criminals. 

Miss Maud Miner, once a probation officer, has 
opened a temporary home for girls which she calls 
Waverley House; it is at 38 West Tenth Street, only 
a few doors from the Jefferson Market Court. Miss 
Miner, aided by her sister Stella, receives into this 
home, which is supported by volimtary contributions, 
girls from the night or day courts of New York. She 



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AT THE NIGHT COURT 48 

has accommodations for twenty-five girls and keeps 
them until a close study of their case shows what kind 
of care or work they need. Medical help for the 
sick is secured, work for the workless, clothing for 
the unclothed. The girls who remain any length of 
time are taught to cook and sew, and every cflFort is 
made to keep them happy. 

The work of Waverley House has extended far be- 
yond its original purpose of a temporary home for 
girls from the courts, and has now many protective 
features. A big work is being done in prosecuting 
traffickers in girls, in teaching girls to avoid danger, 
and in helping parents to safeguard unruly daughters; 
also in returning* runaway girls to their homes. But 
the Municipal Detention Home is still urgently needed, 
and no agency is more earnestly working for it than 
Waverley House, which cannot possibly enlarge its 
scope to meet the detention needs of the whole great 
city of Manhattan. 

Another need of the probation work is a fund for 
the immediate relief of cases where the straits are 
so sore that to wait upon the action of any of the 
various charities may mean all the difference between 
a new start and abandonment to despair. Until such 
a fund is raised, any one who mistrusts his or her 
own ability to give mbney without encouraging the 
unworthy, cannot do better than to let one of these 
devoted probation women know that in one of the 
emergencies which are always confronting her, she 



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44 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

can spend a dollar for food or three dollars for a 
girl's arrears of rent, or five dollars for a warm 
coat, and be reimbursed next day. Also, any woman 
who has clothes to give away would find on any pro- 
bation officer's list persons in need of just what she 
has to give; and a bit of fairly suitable finery thus 
bestowed may save a girl from selling her soul for a 
gewgaw. Another thing that would help would be 
the cooperation of a greater number of societies and 
individuals interested in giving work and friendly en- 
couragement to girls taken on probation. The Jewish 
women are of all classes the best to their own. Their 
organizations are splendidly active in getting places 
for Jewish girls on probation, in visiting them in their 
homes, and attending to the needs of the family. 
More recently, another organization of women in New 
York has essayed to do the same for English and 
Canadian girls who come under the law. There ought 
to be much more assistance of the same sort, so as 
greatly to increase the number of quarters to which 
a probation officer can look for work and other assist- 
ance for girls she receives on probation. And the 
greatest need of all is a much-extended Big Sister 
League, the members of which shall take girls of the 
probation court under their personal, sisterly care. 
The work of the Big Brother League throughout 
the country has been magnificent and has done quite 
as much for the sturdy business and professional men 
who have assumed the brotherly care of delinquent 



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AT THE NIGHT COURT 46 

boys as for the boys themselves. The work of fine 
organizations is necessary and valuable, but the really 
vital results are going to come in the close personal 
contact, the month-in and month-out association of 
sweet, sheltered women with girls who have felt the 
" world's rough hand." When those women come to 
realize, through this immediate contact, the girls' 
needs, those needs will be supplied. There will be 
more trade schools for girls, where they can be taught 
proficiency in work that will bring them a living wage. 
There will be Industrial Homes for young girls. 
There will be an enormous increase in the harmless 
pleasures open to young girls of poor parents and to 
those who are away from home, strangers in a big 
city. There will be girls' clubs for dancing and 
dramatics. There will be abundant places for the 
girls to entertain their young men friends. And 
there will be some action taken toward the instruction 
of girls in the wiles of the seducer. Thousands of 
girls who never meant harm are yearly led astray 
through their ignorance of the snares the destroyer 
uses. The Big Sisters must see to this. 

It is a great work. Not the punishment but the 
prevention of crime is the endeavour of the modem 
reformers. And few steps taken toward that ideal of 
prevention are more worthy of support from thie 
merciful, the law-loving, than the work of the proba- 
tion women. 



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II 

THE EFFORT TO SAVE GIRLS 

KATIE was sixteen. The time had come for 
her to go to work. For sixteen years Katie's 
father had supported her. He was a pretty 
good sort of father, but his interest in his children 
was not sentimental merely. Beginning as soon as 
he could earn enough for two, he had married. 
Through all the years of his later youth and early 
prime he had toiled hard and given his children a 
decent living. He had beeri investing, as it were, in 
a family — as some men invest in twenty-year paid-up 
life insurance — ^and he was now approaching the time 
when he could hope to realize on his investment. 
Katie was the first " bond " to become due. 

There was nothing at home that Katie could do to 
reduce outlay or produce income by her labour, so 
Katie must go out into the market where labour is 
bought. And Katie was eager to go. For Katie 
knew a thing or two ! She knew how much fun she'd 
have, staying around home and helping her ma. She 
knew how much chance she'd hav£ of meeting a fel- 
low. She knew how much finery she could buy, how 
much spending money she could have. 

Some of the girls in Katie's class at school were 

46 



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THE EFFORT TO SAVE GIRLS 47 

going to a business college to learn stenography and 
typewriting. But Katie couldn't afford either time 
or money for more schooling. She must get into the 
market-place with what she had. But here again 
Katie was quite content. She had thought it all over, 
and decided that a big store offered the best chance 
of fun. If you're a stenographer, you see only the 
few persons who frequent one office. If you're a 
factory girl, you work all day and every day among 
the same people. But if you're a clerk in a depart- 
ment store, you get to see all the styles; you're Johnny- 
on-the-spot when the openings come off; there are 
heaps of things to do at noon hour; and among so 
many thousands of customers passing through the 
aisles, there's no telling what moment a swell fellow 
will notice you and, having noticed, fall a victim to 
your charms. 

Katie got the coveted job. The other girls behind 
the counter to which she was assigned were very 
"swell" and they made Katie feel "as green as 
grass." But she tried to win their favour by the 
sincere flattery of imitation. They were delighted 
to show off before Katie, so they allowed her to over- 
hear their talk of dances and theatres, of suppers in 
restaurants where orchestras play; to see their silver 
mesh purses and their willow plumes. These girls 
"must earn awful much." Katie earned four-fifty 
a wedr. She had to give her pay envelope to her 
father. Out of it he returned her a dollar. This was 



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48 THE WORK-A-DAY GIKL 

all she had for her every expense except her board. 

Things were stirring in Katie that she did not un- 
derstand. Her little head was whirling with romance. 
Her young body was waking to Life. It was Spring- 
time for Katie. Nature, that designed her to mate 
and to perpetuate her kind, was far from caring how 
she did it. She filled Katie's mind with dreams about 
a Prince; she made Katie scan every youth she met, 
questioning if this be not he; and she tampered — for 
her own purposes — ^with Katie's vision, so that Katie 
saw things not at all as they were, but as she was 
wistful to believe them. 

One day a young man did come along who noticed 
Katie. He might not meet your ideas of a Prince, 
nor mine; but he met Katie's. He "made a date" 
with her to see her after the store closed ; he was on 
the curbstone waiting for her when she came out the 
employes' door. It was the first time that any one 
had waited for Katie, and she was very proud. She 
scanned the scores of men and youths who were 
waiting for girls and found hers. He "walked a 
ways" with her and asked her if he couldn't take 
her out sometime. Of course he could! Katie 
couldn't ask him to her home. There was no place 
there to entertain a fellow. The family had four 
rooms, and one of them was nominally a parlour, but 
it had divers other uses also and it was never avail- 
able for the exclusive use of one member of the fam- 
ily. And anyway, Katie had misgivings as to the way 



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THE EFFORT TO SAVE GIRLS 49 

her pa might receive a fellow. So she said nothing 
at home about the Prince. 

When she went out, after supper, evenings, no one 
questioned her particularly as to her destination. 
Everybody went out, if the evening were at all pleas- 
ant—even Katie's ma. There was always something 
in the streets to divert a person ; and there was never 
anything in the house. 

The first evening Katie spent with her new 
" friend," he was a model of propriety. If Katie had 
ever heard any tales of " fresh guys " with whom it 
is not wise for girls to go, she had every reason to 
assure herself that she knew better than to " pick up 
with anythin' like that." This fellow was a swell, all 
right. His father was rich; his mother was a society 
woman. They wanted him to marry " one o' these 
here society girls. Nothin' to 'eml I never liked 
'em. But the minute I seen you, it was all off with 
them fer keeps. It was love from the word 'Go,' 
with you, Kid I" 

Katie's heart nearly burst with gratification. How 
could he pick her out from all the world to love ? She 
was so shabby and *' green " 1 It was like the story- 
books. It was real romance. And there were per- 
sons — grown persons, old and sour and unbelieving — 
who said such things never happen in real life. Katie 
knew better. 

The second or third evening Katie and her Prince 
spent together he suggested going to a hotel Katie 



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60 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

did not understand. He explained. She was fright- 
ened, shocked, inexpressibly hurt. She had heard of 
such doings, but she associated them solely with 
" fresh guys " and not with heroes of romance. 
And in high dudgeon because she " misunderstood " 
him, he left her — ^to go home alone. 

Katie cried all night, and for several nights; and 
pined and watched all day, hoping he would come 
back to her. In the story-books, the hero always 
came back to the girl who had been good and true, 
and besought her to forgive him. But this hero 
didn't come. Katie's days became flat, stale, and un- 
profitable again. Then another Prince appeared. 

But he, too, was like the first. Katie's melancholy 
had now become so deep that she could not conceal it. 
Myrtle asked her: "What's ailin' yeh, Kiddo?" 
And Katie, in a burst of woe, confided her bitterness 
to Myrtle. Myrtle was sympathetic, but amused. 
" Why, yeh poor kid ! " she cried. " Ain't yeh got 
a bit o' sense? Don't yeh know there ain't no feller 
goin' t' spend coin on yeh f er nothin' ? Yeh gotta be 
a good Indian, Kid — ^we all gotta 1 " 

Sol That was it? Assured that " everybody " did 
it, Katie concluded it was useless for her to hope for 
anything different. The next time a fellow took her 
out and gave her a swell time, then asked her to go 
to a hotel, she went. 

Katie is typical — not of department store girls as 
a class, but of a class of girls, some of whom work 



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THE EFFORT TO SAVE GIRLS 61 

in departmeut stores and some of whom are trained 
nurses ; some of whom sing in choruses and some of 
whom sing in church choirs; some of whom are 
stenographers and some of whom are "stars." 
Wherever a girl's desire for ease, luxury, and gay 
times exceeds her ability to provide these for herself, 
and her preference for virtue is exceeded by her de- 
sire for these other things, we find the Katies — ^and 
the distinctions are without a difference, whether they 
call themselves Katie or Kathryn or Kathleen. 

Social science calls this thing " occasional prostitu- 
tion," to distinguish it from the two other main classes 
of prostitution— clandestine and professional. The 
clandestine class comprises the " kept " women and 
girls — kept temporarily by one man. The profes- 
sional class is composed of women who ply a public 
trade in vice. 

It is possible to estimate the numbers in this latter 
class; in the two former classes no estimate is pos- 
sible, but all students of the social question agree that 
occasional prostitution is practised by a number of 
girls infinitely greater than any one would believe if 
the figures could be made known. 

Under pressure of many different kinds, girls yield; 
infatuation for a man who makes them believe all 
girls do it and it is " the only way "; low wages and 
meagre comforts ; love of little luxuries and gay times 
— ^these are the main causes. Some girls who are in 
it for gain pick up any chance that comes their way 



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6« THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

to earn extra money. Others set apart stated portions 
of their time for it. Many girls give their noon hour 
to this. The cheap hotels and other places of public 
assignation (among which are reckoned to be eighty 
per cent, of saloons) house at every noon hun- 
dreds of girls — many of them no more than mere 
children — ^who sell their dearest treasure for the price 
of a rhinestone pin or a string of blue beads. Many 
girls who work in offices and stores spend one or two 
or three nights a week in some " resort," and earn 
the difference between shabby insufficiency and the 
ability to compete with, or even to dazzle the girls 
who work beside them. A department manager in 
one of Chicago's largest and finest dry goods stores 
recently told Dean Walter T. Sumner, head of Chi- 
cago's Vice Commission, that of the ten girls under 
him, seven — ^to his definite knowledge — spent either 
two or three nights each week in houses in the Red 
Light district. 

Probably they all began, like Katie, by trying to 
" be a good Indian I " 

It is the girls of this class who are engaging the 
most serious attention of all who have the nation's 
welfare at heart. The United States Government, 
through the Department of Commerce and Labour, 
has been investigating conditions among these girls 
for years. Many municipalities are waking to the 
girls' needs. And much of the religious and private 



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THE EFFORT TO SAVE GIRLS 68 

benevolence which used to be directed toward the pro- 
fessional prostitute class is now exercised to far bet- 
ter purpose in tr)ring to keep girls from getting into 
that class. When they are once in, it is exceedingly 
hard to get them to come out; or, if they come out, 
to get them to stay. 

The situation of greatest moment to students of the 
social question to-day is just this : Economic evolution 
has brought about a state of affairs wherein the 
world's labour mart has actually come to depend on 
the work of women outside the home. It is useless 
to rail against this development — to ask the march of 
progress to turn back ; the condition is here, and it is 
here to stay and to increase. 

The girls ccmie into the market young and, for the 
most part, unskilled. Not many of them expect to 
stay. It is an adventure. Partly it is, as with Katie, 
necessary; and largely it is, as also with Katie, quite 
voluntary. A girl goes to work, now, as eagerly as 
a boy does — ^but with different purpose. She has sel- 
dom any idea of developitig high proficiency — ^I am 
not speaking now of the tfainetf, professional girl, but 
of the great mass of girl labour — but is in the mart 
for two reasons: pleasure and matrimony. She 
wants a good time; she wants to approve the world, 
to find life thrilling and satisfying; she wants to be 
where there are others like her, loving laughter, wist- 
ful for romance, ardent for adventure, eager to flaunt 
attractions. She is a young thing, palpitant with all 



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54 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

that makes youth wonderful. There is almost noth- 
ing that she will not dare if her sensitive pulses are 
stirred. Nature made her that way, for her own 
purposes. Maternity calls for a sublime daring. 
Nature takes care of that daring, jealously. 

Now, the thing that this young creature can do to 
earn money is little likely to interest her. There isn't 
a great deal of place in a girl's interests, when Spring- 
time reigns in the heart, for packing soda biscuit or 
tucking shirtwaists or selling curtain rings or pound- 
ing out endless repetitions of " Yours of the tenth inst 
rec'd and contents duly noted." It isn't that she doesn't 
like working; only, she is iminterested in the work. 

Some very dull routines — ^like stitching and sorting 
and packing and filing — ^provide less entertainment 
than may be had in other occupations. But no matter 
what the surroundings, it soon becomes apparent that 
the Romance of which Katie is in such eager quest 
lies somewhere beyond; at a dance, maybe; or at a 
summer park. Occasionally Katie meets him in her 
work; but oftener she: must .'seek him outside. 

Where? Well, anywhefe that youth finds oppor- 
tunity for sport, for laughter, for the display of those 
guiles and graces Nature has given it to make it at- 
tractive. The female creature may be ever so able 
to take care of herself, but she loves a male creature 
with a longer reach and a stronger grasp than her own 
— ^some one to provide for her. She is thrilled by 
the experience of being with some one who will show 



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THE EFFORT TO SAVE GIRLS 66 

her rq)eated evidence of his ability and his desire to 
provide for her. If she is accustomed to a modest 
scale, she gets the thrill in successive ice-cream cones 
and nickel shows and in drinks after every dance — 
gets it just as deliciously as others do whose " tokens " 
come from the florist's or the jeweller's. 

And the male creature, driven by an instinct just 
as strong, loves to dazzle, to " show off " ; lov%s to be 
led a chase ; loves to overtake at last her whom he has 
singled out for his mate. 

Yet there are excellent people who wonder, sadly, 
why youths will go to White Cities and nickel shows 
and dances, and why they will not sit contentedly in 
" classes " for the improvement of their minds or the 
inculcation of domestic artsl 

The life these girls will enter upon when they 
marry is unromantic enough — full of toil and poverty 
and pain and severe renunciation. It is well for the 
future that Nature's power to dazzle is so strong; for, 
otherwise, what girl would have the courage to take 
that burden up? Some one has said of youth and 
play that, as the sunlight of one age goes into the 
earth to come out in energy for a later age — ^meaning, 
of course, our coal deposits — so the laughter of youth 
becomes in due process transmuted into power. All 
those of us who build for the future — and no one has 
truly lived who has not in some wise so builded — 
should be exceedingly tender of the gaiety of young 
girls, especially the gaiety of the little daughters of 



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66 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

the poor. The children of to-morrow ought not to 
have mothers who never knew Romance. 

In other days, play was better managed than it is 
to-day. In the folk-dances on the village green; the 
splendid pageants which celebrated ducal weddings 
and victories in war; the processions of the Saints' 
Days; the inter-township choral contests; the festivi- 
ties of the fair and the competitive exhibitions of the 
great guilds, many people took part. This is the 
wholesomest kind of play. But it was supplemented 
by much arena entertainment — ^gladiatorial contests 
succeeded by tournaments; bullfights in countries 
where Spanish feeling swayed; athletic games in 
countries where the Greek spirit survived. 

We offer our youths far too few occasions of com- 
ing together in play. One class of our young people 
has splendid opportunities to enjoy the pleasures of 
concourse, in the football games of every fall. But 
these scarcely touch the girls who toil. The Ameri- 
can boy has baseball to engross him from the time 
he is three years old. It is magnificent for him when 
he plays it, and it is great for him when he sees a 
spirited game played. In a vacant lot my window 
overlooks, some boys are playing as I write. They 
are young fellows of twenty or thereabouts, and they 
come every Sunday morning to that lot to play. The 
wine-sap air their lungs are drinking in, this golden 
October morning, is invigorating enough to offset 
all the dust-laden air they may have breathed through- 



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THE EFFORT TO SAVE GIRLS 87 

out the week in shop or office or factory. The exer- 
cise they are getting is glorious. Once in a while an 
unusually lusty yell breaks forth as the fringe of on- 
lookers screams encouragement to some player who 
is making a good run. What a thing that yeU isi 
When that same youth sits on the bleachers at the 
Ball Park and yells himself hoarse over some pretty 
play of a favourite, he is getting the fun of the con- 
course, and it is doing him a world of good. But 
here I Here he is himself, for a brief, breathless mo- 
ment, the hero who wins applause. And I exult with 
him in the yells that acclaim his prowess. 

But where is his sister, this wonderful morning— 
his sister who has toiled in shop or factory just as 
many hours of the week as he has? Where was his 
" girl '* yesterday afternoon when he spent his half- 
holiday on the " bleachers " ?• It is possible she was 
with him; it is more probable she was not 

On one point, nearly all persons who have had wide 
experience with girls agree; and that is, that few girls 
incline naturally to vice, and most girls incline nat- 
urally to folly. For their tendency to folly we must 
not blame them. We must remember why they yearn 
to deck themselves, to attract attention, to laugh and 
dance and be gay. And because we see through Na- 
ture's design in dazzling them, in making them mad — 
quite mad — ^with the madness of springtime and the 
mating season, we must not try to check their folly, 



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68 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

only to direct it. They must have their fling. But 
they ought to have it wholesomely. We owe it to 
them and to the future that they should have ample 
opportunity to laugh and to attract and to be courted, 
in conditions that do not menace them. They don't 
want to go wrong. When they go, it is because we 
who ought to be so infinitely concerned about them 
have neglected some simple safeguard. 

And safeguard the innocent we must. For after 
innocence (by which I emphatically do not mean 
ignorance) is gone, there is woefully little we can 
do to repair the loss. 

The safeguarding is being done in three ways: by 
law, by protection, and by warning. Our national 
laws are, within the last few years, fairly well designed 
to take care of immigrant girls. 

But these laws apply chiefly to aliens. A much- 
needed law for the protection of our own girls is re- 
cently operative in the Mann Law, which provides for 
the punishment of persons who transport women or 
girls from one State to another for immoral purposes. 
Practically every State in the Union has a strict law 
against the detention of females in immoral resorts 
against their will. But the detention continues. A 
law is worth just exactly what the overpowering major- 
ity of citizens wish it to be worth. We have laws, too, 
that regulate employment agencies, compelling them to 
operate under license and making it a misdemeanour 
for them to send girls unwittingly into vicious places. 



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THE EFFORT TO SAVE GIRLS 69 

Girls should know these laws, and they should 
know that there is redress for them beyond what their 
own feeble powers can accomplish. Every city, every 
State, has its associations for the prosecution of any 
who seek to wrong girls. A girl has only to tell her 
grievance, and competent pleaders will put it before 
the law. The nature of these associations differs 
in different States and cities. Some States have 
branches of the National which is itself a branch of the 
International Vigilance Association which exists 
solely for the protection of girls; and nearly every 
city of considerable size has a Women's Legal Aid 
Society and a Yoimg Women's Christian Association. 
One branch of the Vigilance Association's work is in 
acquainting girls and their parents with the dangers 
that beset girls; and with the places where they may 
apply for direction or protection. 

In our country the organizations known as Travel- 
lers' Aids are under Government direction only at 
ports of entry and in behalf of immigrant girls. The 
safeguarding of our own girls journeying from coun- 
try to city in search of employment, is done only by 
private philanthropy. In some cities it is a depart- 
ment of the Young Women's Christian Association; 
in others, it is a distinct organization. But no girl 
need go friendless into a strange city. There are 
scores of persons in every place where girls go for 
work, whose business it is to befriend them. If a girl 
leaves home to answer an advertisement, she may 



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60 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

send the advertisement in advance of her to the Secre- 
tary of the Vigilance Association or to the Employ- 
ment Director of the Young Women's Christian As- 
sociation, and have the advertiser investigated and 
reported upon. The same sources will yield her 
addresses of reliable places to board and to seek em- 
ployment If a girl has not written before leaving 
home, and made arrangements about where she will 
go, she should lose no time, on arriving at the railway 
station in the strange city, before asking for the ma- 
tron of the women's waiting room and telling this 
matron that she wants the Travellers' Aid. If a 
woman representing this organization does not happen 
to be at the station, she will come at once on the 
matron's telephoned request She will advise the 
girl where it is safe for her to go to look for lodgings 
and for employment, and will warn her against all 
the pitfalls of the city. 

The great lack is not of organizations to help girls, 
but of knowledge that such organizations exist The 
ignorance not only of girls themselves but of their 
parents is the thing that is hardest to overcome. 

The story is current that some employers, so far 
from taking any care like this, openly encourage im- 
morality among their girls. Government investigators 
have found, for one thing, that nearly every city has 
its whispered legend of a department store manager 
who tells each girl when he hires her that it is expected 
she will have " a friend." In other words, that the 



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THE EFFORT TO SAVE GIRLS 61 

store does not suppose any girl will try to live on the 
wages it pays; that it takes either clandestine or occa- 
sional prostitution for granted. Stories of these 
managers are told in circumstantial detail; but no 
actual case has ever been found agains^ any of them* 
This may be because they are innocent of the charge, 
or it may be because evidence in such cases is always 
hard to secure. Another widely current tale the Gov- 
ernment has tried hard to investigate relates to em- 
ployers who discharge all girls not found complaisant 
to the demands of manager, floor-walker, stock-buyer, 
or the like. There is one thing sure about this: no 
employer in his senses discharges a thoroughly com- 
petent girl for defending her honour. If a girl is 
incompetent — as such a terrible majority of them are ! 
— she may be forced to hold her place by sacrificing 
her virtue; an incompetent girl who is acquiescent 
may be preferred over an incompetent girl who is not. 
But in a day when the demand for skill so far exceeds 
the supply, it may safely be taken as axiomatic that 
efficiency is one of the best protectors a girl can have. 
Efficiency doesn't preclude immorality — ^but it helps to 
preclude it. For it usually means an interest in work; 
and if a girl has that and the wage that efficiency 
brings, and wants to be good, she can get along with- 
out any such severe temptations as beset the girl whose 
hold on her job is tenuous and whose wage is inade- 
quate to more than the barest subsistence. 
The two great safeguards for a girl are knowledge 



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62 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

of the pitfalls and skill to earn herself, independent 
of favour, a decent living — ^these, and the opportunity 
to engage in recreation that is lively, romantic, and 
wholesome. 

There are persons who deplore the necessity of set- 
ting girls on guard ; who declare with loud lamenta- 
tion that the sweetness of life is gone when fear enters 
in. " Fools, and slow of heart I " How can there be 
any who so misremember their own youth? 

I once took to the park to see the zoo a very small 
cousin of mine. In a moment when my slow wits 
were returning from some wool-gathering, she was 
under the railing and close to the bars of the bear 
cage, endeavouring to poke a sleeping grizzly with her 
wee foot " Baby 1 " I cried. " You mustn't do that I 
The bear will bite you.'' "Whuffor?" she asked. 
When I explained, was her joy in life — ^and in bears — 
gone, do you think? Why, long before she could 
either walk or talk, she had loved the thrill of danger 
— ^loved to be " boo-ed " at. Every normal creature 
is still rich in feelings handed down to him by his 
forbears, who lived the primitive life with all its 
instincts of self-preservation. We spiritually blind- 
fold any one when we ask that one to walk through 
life unseeing, uncomprehending, the dangers that 
beset the way. Every soul is entitled to the thrill of 
picking a safe path through dangers. Our ardour 
for adventure must have expression somehow. It is 
in us all to yearn to do battle against our natural ene- 



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THE EFFORT TO SAVE GIRLS 6S 

mies. Any wise parent teaches the young first of all 
how to feed; then how to go in search of sustenance; 
then how to avoid enemies or, having met them, how 
to give most effective battle. A field mouse does this 
much. Shall a human parent do less? 

So much for safeguarding. When more of it is done, 
we shall have less salvage work to do. Just now, the 
rescue of wreckage is a most necessary activity. 

Little by little, the efforts to reclaim girls have been 
tending to centre in two kinds of helpfulness. One 
branch reaches the young girls, under age, who trans- 
gress the laws against juvenile delinquency. The 
other branch reaches the girls who have been betrayed 
and are about to become mothers. 

What most surprises each investigator newly en- 
tered upon the study of girls* reclaim is that, with the 
exception of houses of correction to which girls are 
committed from the courts, nearly all the effort ex- 
pended on unfortunate girls is in what is called ma- 
ternity work. This is excellent work. It gets hold 
of great numbers of girls of the clandestine and occa- 
sional classes, and offers them refuge at a time when 
they are cast off not only by their associates in evil- 
doing but, all too often, by their own kindred. These 
girls are cared for during a period usually of several 
months; are taught to do some useful work, to forget 
the past, and to look hopefully toward the future. 
And when they are ready to leave the Home, there 
is always a place waiting for them to go to. 



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64 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

Almost without exception these workers believe in 
keeping mother and child together if it can possibly 
be done. Experience has taught them, they say, that 
a greater per cent, of girls who keep their fatherless 
children than of girls who let them go, are restored 
to the self-respecting life, become good women, and 
marry good men. On the other hand, there are work- 
ers no less earnest who deny this; who believe the 
struggle awaiting the girl-mother will be hard enough 
for her alone, and that it is asking too much of frail 
human nature to ask her to keep with her the father- 
less child. There are points to be considered in each 
argument. 

For the girl who wants to keep her child with her, 
there is but one class of work open — and that is house- 
work, which is usually the last work on earth that a 
pleasure-loving girl who has fallen from virtue wants 
to do. Yet every year hundreds of girls, in real hero- 
ism and beautiful mother love, go out of maternity 
homes into strange families where their shame is 
known, and take up the burden of life as domestic 
servants. And the demand for them always exceeds 
the supply — ^partly because they work cheaply; partly 
because most of them go on farms where female 
labour is extremely difficult to get; and partly because 
there are in the world many truly good people who are 
happy to do what they can toward giving somebody's 
daughter another chance. 

The greater number of these brave girls marry, and 



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THE EFFORT TO SAVE GIRLS 66 

those who keq) aflfectionately interested track of them 
say that on the whole they marry quite as well as the 
average girl who has not fallen. The Florence Crit- 
tenton work is nearly all maternity work; so is the 
girls' salvage work of the Salvation Army and the 
Volunteers of America, and of the Baptist and Meth- 
odist Deaconesses ; and nearly every city has its other 
maternity homes unaffiliated with any order, but 
nearly always under religious influence. 

All of these workers would welcome the girl of the 
streets, of the houses of shame; but she seldom comes, 
and when she does come she seldom stays. The rea- 
sons for this are many. One of them is that there 
is scant welcome anywhere in the industrial world 
for the one-time prostitute. Some persons are afraid 
of her diseased body, and some are afraid of her 
polluted mind; some are pharisaical; and some are 
fearful lest she betray confidence reposed in her 
and seek to undo some innocent one with whom she 
is thrust into association. Usually she is unskilled 
in any kind of labour; and if she has been any length 
of time in the life of public shame, she is almost sure 
to be mentally unbalanced by drink and drugs and dis- 
ease, and by the constant occupation of her mind with 
vile things. For lewdness gets to be a disorder of 
the mind and is hard indeed to eradicate. Also, the 
inability to earn at any form of honest industry more 
than a starvation wage soon discourages the girl who 
has been used to " big money." She may or may not 



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66 ITHE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

have learned to like the life of public prostitution- 
some do, and some do not — but she has never learned 
to love the life of self-respecting toil, or she would not 
be where she is. And when she comes out of the dis- 
ordered life and attempts to go back into the decently 
ordered, she finds that ordered life even less to her 
liking than it was when its humdrum monotony so 
palled on her that she fell an easy prey to sin. 

And yet, the public prostitute is not a wholly hope- 
less creature. She does reform, sometimes; and 
sometimes she does stay reformed. But she requires 
an almost superhuman patience in her would-be re- 
formers, and an almost superhuman knowledge of 
himian nature. She is nearly always emotional; she 
will weep hysterically at the mention of home and 
mother, and may respond with gratifying eagerness 
to the urging to repent The amateur reformer 
grows excited as she tells him how hard the world is 
on fallen women, and how she would love to do better 
if she could only get a chance. Perhaps he gets her 
a situation among people who have no knowledge of 
her past. And the chances are that she either puts 
him to shame by declaring herself for what she is 
(it is a part of the psychology of depravity that it 
loves to boast) or brings a hornets' nest of just in- 
dignation about his ears when it is discovered that 
she is so diseased as to be less safe, physically, than a 
leper. After one or two failures, the amateur gets 
discouraged. After scores of failures, even the wise 



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THE EFFORT TO SAVE GIRLS 67 

reformers grow disheartened. The girls lie pro- 
digiously—drugs make them lie, and the criminal per- 
version of their minds makes them lie — and their easy 
emotionalism hardly lasts beyond the appeal. Their 
minds have got beyond the power of any concentrated 
thought but one. Industrially they are worthless; 
they seem not only to lose power to think, but also 
to lose manual dexterity. Even the simplest tasks to 
which they can be put, are often beyond their power 
to accomplish. As one discouraged reformer said: 
" If you put one of those girls in a mahogany-lined 
library with nothing to do but answer the telephone 
and paid her twenty dollars a week, she wouldn't 
stay." But only a very unwise reformer would put 
a girl fresh from a life of public prostitution into a 
mahogany-lined library with nothing to do but answer 
the telephone. 

There is only one possible cure for the girl who 
might be reclaimed, and that is work — ^as hard work 
as she can gradually and with infinite patience be made 
capable of, and as interesting, fairly-remunerative 
work as can be found for her to do. A great deal has 
been said against those industrial homes to which girls 
are committed for correction. It is the belief of some 
persons who might reasonably be expected to know, 
that more girls graduate out of these institutions into 
total depravity than graduate out of them into decent 
self-restraint. If this is so— which is open to doubt 
and perhaps to proof in denial — ^it is sometimes the 



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68 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

result of ill-management, but quite as often the result 
of poor diagnosis. The fumbling diagnosis of med- 
ical doctors puts many patients in their graves. But 
also— <liagnosis being a science yet in the infancy of 
its development, and the doctors doing the best they 
can — they often strike it right and effect a cure. So- 
cial diagnosis is an even more undeveloped science; 
and in this dawn of our consciousness that there can- 
not always be one just law for many men, we are in- 
evitably " fimibling." It would be strange if we did 
not often commit to an institution some girls for 
whom an institutional life, or that institutional life, is 
almost predestined to bad results. But if we fail to 
cure some, it is no less certain that we do great good 
to others. And the proportion of failures is not 
greater than that among parents, and probably not in 
excess of what it would be if the erring girls were 
parcelled among amateur philanthropists. 

In hospital and clinic work, nowadays, the wise 
physician has learned that he fumbles unpardonably 
when he tries to treat a patient of whose living condi- 
tions he knows nothing. We have learned the same 
regarding the sin-sick; and some day when the spirit 
of social service, of social responsibility, is awakened 
in us all, we shall have so many persons of the edu- 
cated and earnest classes interested, each in some little 
group of the erring and the neglected, as shall make it 
possible for them to get their other chance in the world. 

But chiefly, as we have learned the value of hygiene 



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THE EFFORT TO SAVE GIRLS 69 

and of sanitation and of a pure food and drugs law, 
in the world of material health, in the domain of 
spiritual well-being we are also awakening to the 
realization that an ounce of prevention is worth a 
great deal more than a pound of cure. The hand of 
help, of rescue, of remedy, must never be stayed. 
But the hand of good guidance must be offered far 
oftener than it has been; and it must be so offered that 
the ardent, adventurous young creatures who need it 
so, will accept it— <:onfident of the love and imder- 
standing that hold it out. 

Now for a few words of suggestion as to what 
you and I may do. Charity — which is love — begins 
at home. Do you keep a domestic servant? Do you 
employ a clerk or an office girl? Do you hire sea- 
sonal help to aid you in harvesting hops or picking 
prunes? Have you girls in your employ, few or 
many, in any sort of capacity ? Do you know where 
they go to look for fun, and what they find? Does 
it ever occur to you that their innocent pleasure is any 
part of your obligation? Does it ever occur to you 
that, all other considerations aside, their every oppor- 
tunity for wholesome gaiety and recreation makes 
them of more worth, not to the community alone, but 
to you? Many employers realize this. Many more 
do not. But each year sees an increase in the num- 
ber of the wise. 

Know something of the moving-picture shows your 
maid-of-all-work loves to frequent. It will give you 



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70 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

another topic of common interest with her, and also 
an opportunity to satisfy yourself if the films are 
all they might be, if the conditions of the theatre are 
safe if a fire or panic should occur, and if the ventila- 
tion is sufficient. Go, once in a while, to the hall 
where your little office-girl dances. Make up your 
mind if it is a good place for her to go, or if there are 
not others where she could have as much fun with less 
menace. When you are coming home on Sunday 
nights, next summer, from your little place up the 
Sound or down the bay or across the lake, investigate 
conditions on the steamboat. And if you find — as 
you doubtless will — that the staterooms are largely 
used by young excursionists for assignation purposes, 
present your protest to the navigation company, to 
the Juvenile Protective League, or to anybody and 
everybody who will give it heed. Know what the 
laws made for girls' protection are, and whenever 
you see one infringed "holler"! The laws, as we 
have said before, are worth exactly what the majority 
of citizens manifestly desire them to be worth. Every 
one of us can do as much as any other one to pile up 
the majority on the right side. 

Find out what your community is tr)ring to do, and 
" get in on it." Chicago, for instance, has her mu- 
nicipal pleasure halls — ^beautiful big rooms with floors 
like glass, xnany of them decorated with palms and 
ferns from the park conservatories, all of them with 
the most up-to-date cloak-room arrangements. There 



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THE EFFORT TO SAVE GIRLS 71 

are about fifteen of these, scattered over the city in 
the small parks and playgrounds. They are free. 
Any society or individual may have the room on 
a desired date by speaking for it long enough in ad- 
vance. There is no charity about it. Every one un- 
derstands that the hall is a Park Board property, and 
feels entitled to use it if he cares to. And thousands 
of young people every week have their good times 
here, who used to have no other meeting-places than 
in the halls run by saloons. 

A post-card sent to the Superintendent of Small 
Parks, South Park Board, Chicago, will bring you a 
detailed history of how this movement has been 
financed and what it has accomplished. Perhaps you 
can start a similar movement in your community. 

Investigation proves that the girls who frequent 
Settlements seldom patronize the dangerous resorts. 
Perhaps you can do something to help "get up" 
things at a Settlement, and keep more girls entertained 
there. There is no one who cannot do something to 
help keep one little girl happy and safe. The cheap 
labour of these little sisters has brought within the 
reach of multitudes of us such luxuries and gratifica- 
tions as only the very rich in another age could afford 
to enjoy. Shall we not make them some affectionate 
return? If the laughter of youth to-day becomes the 
energy of the world to-morrow, do we not owe to 
posterity some investment in glee and the possibilities 
of Romance? 



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Ill 

WHERE THE TROUBLE BEGINS 

SIDE by side at the rail they stood, the American 
parents and the mother who was foreign-born. 
It was in the room of the Assistant Chief Pro- 
bation Officer of the Chicago Juvenile Court, whose 
business it is to hear complaints and issue warrants 
for bringing children into court. 

The American family group was composed of 
father, mother, and young man son, the latter perhaps 
twenty years old. They were people of more than 
comfortable circumstances — well educated, well man- 
nered, well dressed. The father, who gave his occu- 
pation as that of travelling salesman, was so overcome 
that he could not conclude his testimony, but had to 
retire. In his stead his son tried to do what had to 
be done. The mother grasped the railing for support, 
and bit her twitching lips in an effort to keep an out- 
ward calm. She was full of solicitude for " Papa " 
— as she called him — and was evidently trying des- 
perately to keep up for his sake. 

They were there to entreat the arrest of the only 

daughter of the household, on the charge that she 

was "incorrigible." She was not quite sixteen, and 

they hoped that she might be committed to some insti- 

73 



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WHERE THE TROUBLE BEGINS 78 

tution where she could be reclaimed from those l^st 
depths of degradation to which she was now slipping. 
They acknowledged their powerlessness to restrain 
her. Unless the law would intervene, they could sec 
no hope. 

Beside them, waiting their turn at the listening ear, 
stood the foreign-bom. The mother was a beak- 
faced, thin woman, with a curiously crooked, thin- 
lipped mouth, and small, bead-like eyes. Her head 
was wrapped in a dirty veil that had once been white. 
Her hands, gripping the rail beside those of the other 
mother, were toil-roughened and looked as if they 
had not been washed in a week. (The hands beside 
them were neatly kid-gloved.) This woman's sag- 
ging, dragging clothes exhibited not one last, linger- 
ing trace of that feminine pride of appearance which 
dies so late and so hard; they covered her nakedness 
and therewith they served their sole purpose. 

She had brought her daughter to the court. She 
needed no officer with warrant to enforce her will — 
one look at that thin, crooked mouth made this fact 
evident. The daughter was a rather handsome girl — 
or she would have been but for her quite terrible ex- 
pression, compounded of bold defiance and black sul- 
lenness; in her masses of dark puffs (which suffi- 
ciently marked her status; she was still wearing an 
effect like three pounds of frankfurters at the back 
of her head, instead of the newer effect of a row of 
buns all around it) were two large combs glittering 



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74 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

with rhinestones. She had no head-covering except 
the frankfurters (which in truth were plenty!), but 
she wore at least three " gilt " rings and her red dress 
had an indefinable air of having been chosen less to 
gratify her sense of beauty than to attract a certain 
kind of attention. She looked as irreclaimable as it 
is possible for a girl not yet sixteen to look; and yet 
she was still under a certain terror of that mother 
with the thin, crooked mouth. 

There they stood, neat suit of gray brushing non- 
descript garments of dirt-bespattered black; grimed 
hand with inky finger-nails, not a foot from shapely 
hand in well-fitting kid; face of flint, and face of putty 
— invoking the law against their yoimg daughters. 

That was a week ago. In the meantime the cases 
(with many scores of others) have been investigated. 
Here are the results of investigation : 

Myrtle Taylor is a high school girl. Her father's 
salary is forty dollars a week, and his expenses are 
paid when he is on the road. His wife knows exactly 
how much he gets, but she has no fixed and depend- 
able part of it. They have a good many unpleasant 
hours every time he is at home — ^nearly always about 
money matters. He has some ideas of saving, she has 
none; when he talks about it, he indicates that it 
should be done in the household expenditures; when 
she makes reply, she retorts that it could better be 
done out of his liberal allowance for himself. They 
live in a $35*00 flat. Some of the time they keep a 



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WHERE THE TROUBLE BEGINS 76 

servant. They sent their boy to high school until 
he was eighteen, and then to business college for a 
year. He has had three '* jobs," but he kept none of 
them, because they " weren't much." Just now he is 
"looking for something" — ^not too tirelessly. The 
mother belongs to that fast-growing class of American 
women who are committed to the belief that their 
young can do no harm and that the world should ask 
no better boon than the happiness of conforming to 
the wishes of their yotmgsters at least as slavishly as 
their mothers have done. Mrs. Taylor is mildly but 
inflexibly of the opinion that her children are the 
handsomest and cleverest and engagingest ever bom; 
that any pleasure they are tmable to attain without 
effort on their part, is withheld from them by an un- 
kind fate; and that any one who does not instantly 
fall captive to her children's charms, without waiting 
to ask that cause be shown therefor, is warped by 
envy or embittered by inferiority. 

Secure in her conviction that Myrtle's charms out- 
class those of every other girl in school, Mrs. Taylor 
has never been able to see why Myrtle should not have 
clothes at least as good as any other girl has; why 
she should not give parties of a superiority commen- 
surate with her own. In the high school Myrtle goes 
to, the girls " put on a lot of style." Not to own a 
silver purse is to be cheap indeed. Not to wear silk 
stockings is to show that one has none of the instincts 
of a lady. Not to be taken to parties in a carriage 



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76 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

is to prove that one is not considered worthy of two 
dollars of a school boy's pocket money — ^whereas, to 
be taken in a carriage for two, instead of one shared 
with another boy and girl, is to flaunt one's self as 
a belle indeed; one who can make a boy spend four 
dollars if he wants the honour of escorting her. Myr- 
tle did not have long to suffer the degradation of being 
silver-bagless. And her silk stockings (although they 
were only "boot-silk," meaning that all was cotton 
except the part that "showed") were of such an 
extra-ladylikeness that from a little distance Myrtle 
looked as if her feet were thrust bare into her pumps. 
As for the carriage! Mrs. Taylor glowed with tri- 
umph when she heard that Myrtle was going to a 
party with the only boy in the class who disdained 
to share his hired carriage, and the cost of it, with 
another fellow. Mrs. Taylor didn't know much else 
about that boy, but she felt signally honoured in her 
motherhood when he asked her girl to a party; and 
she got Myrtle a new dress for the occasion. She 
showed the dress, sorrowfully, to the woman investi- 
gator from the court, as a proof of her thorough- 
goingness as a mother. It was a "tunic" effect 
with a white satin foimdation and an overdress of 
gold-beaded white net, edged with gold bead fringe. 
With it Myrtle had to have white satin slippers and 
white silk stockings and long white kid gloves, and 
other finery of the same order. Mrs. Taylor's tearful 
manner was as if she wotdd say: *' Can you under- 



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WHERE THE TROXJBLE BEGINS Tt 

stand why Myrtle would do wilful, wayward things, 
when I have tried to give her everything she wanted? '* 

What she called Myrtle's " incorrigibility " had 
" developed suddenly," according to the weak-minded 
mother, who did not know that she herself had sown 
the seeds and coaxed along the harvest. 

Myrtle was " very popular," she said, with pride; 
she went to a great many parties, and to shows and 
amusement parks. " She always has lots of beaux." 
Her mother was gratified by this, and encouraged it 
all she could. But Myrtle began staying out very late 
— Plater than her mother thought was " ladylike/' 
Myrtle resented any criticism of these late-retumings. 
When the criticism persisted, she began stopping away 
from home — ^with girl friends, she said. Her mother 
had some vague mislike of this, but did not see how 
she could do anything about it. " I didn't want to 
^make her mad — ^I was afraid she'd run away or do 
something dreadful." Myrtle showed some signs her 
mother rather deplored; she was rather coarse and 
common in her speech ; she was loud and rude in her 
frequent laughter; and her mother often caught her in 
lies; but she thought "girls always get that way for 
a while, when they're growing up." No; she didn't 
always know where Myrtle was — ^Myrtle resented 
having to give account of herself. No; she didn't 
know much about Myrtle's friends; "they're lively 
young folks and don't spend much time around the 
house — ^there's nothing to do here." No; she had 



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78 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

never asked Myrtle to do any housework, or to learn 
to sew; " she may have to do these things by and by, 
and she can only be young once." And when it was 
brought home to her, so she could not deny it, that 
Myrtle was leading a fast life with boys, Mrs. Taylor 
blamed the boys — but she never blamed Myrtle, nor 
herself. It was only when Myrtle eluded home vigi- 
lance and, being caught, defied home authority, that 
Mrs. Taylor told her husband, on the occasion of his 
next being at home. He was outraged; he blamed 
her; he took matters into his own hands; he forbade 
Myrtle to go out of the house except with her family. 
When she disobeyed, he essayed to whip her; her 
mother intervened and Myrtle ran away. 

That is Myrtle. 

Tina, whom her mother had brought to court, is a 
garment-maker; one of those who, by the infinite sub- 
division of labour, make one small part of a man's 
coat. (About 140 pairs of hands are engaged upon 
every "ready-made" suit.) Tina's father is an im- 
skilled labourer. That means, he works, now here, 
now there, not as he needs the work but as this or that 
work temporarily needs him. Just at present he is 
employed at the Stock Yards, where he gets $1.75 
a day. There are eight children. Tina's mother has 
had to earn money to help keep them alive; she is a 
" home-finisher " on men's coats. By using her chil- 
dren as helpers, she manages to make sometimes as 
high as seven dollars a week. But this means the 



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WHERE THE TROUBLE BEGINS 79 

neglect of her house ; her own weariness — ^unto exas- 
peration; and the sacrifice of the children's playtime. 
But what else can she do? Last year, as nearly as 
they are able to remember, her *'man" worked 210 
days and earned about $350— less than a dollar a 
day to house, feed, and clothe ten of a fanflly! No 
one cotdd question the mother's urgent need to work, 
and even to " impress " the services of her little chil- 
dren. But also, no one could question th^ pity of it 
all from the children's point of view, and from hers. 
The ten of them live in four small, dark rooms. Most 
of the sewing is done by lamplight. The air is bad 
(and they don't realize what effect bad air has on 
tempers), the crowding is bad (and wears on strained 
nerves), and they are all habitually underfed (under- 
feeding makes any creature snarl). Tina's mother is 
what almost any well-fed and well-housed woman 
would call "cruel" to her children. But life has 
certainly not been kind to her. Her own youth was 
hard. ' So far as her experience has taught her, all 
life is bitter for the poor. If she were just a little 
less driven, she might be sorry for her children. But 
she isn't sorry for them — she is just exasperated by 
them. Like all foreign-bom parents, she expects 
Tina to hand over to her an unopened pay envelope. 
Tina, when she went to work in a shop (at fourteen), 
had never dreamed of doing otherwise. But when 
she got among other girls, some of whom had slightly 
less cruel pressure at home, slightly more indulgent 



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80 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

mothers, and saw them flaunting small fineries she 
could not imitate, her heart grew bitter. One Satur- 
day she steamed open her pay envelope and abstracted 
a dollar. (Being a piece-worker, as nearly all gar- 
ment-makers are, her earnings vary from week to 
week.) Then she gummed the envelope again, and 
changed one of the figures marked on it. With the 
dollar she bought herself a rhinestone comb which she 
passionately coveted. She told her mother a lie about 
her slim pay. She had to keep the comb at the shop. 
Once, she forgot and wore it home. Her mother de- 
manded to know where she got it. Tina said she had 
bought it. Her mother beat her, and broke the 
comb. She was infuriated, but she was too weary 
to know whether her fury was caused by fear that 
Tina had sold her virtue to get the comb, or by resent- 
ment that she had spent a dollar for it. Tina was 
made rebellious and deceitful by this experience. It 
was some time before she again tampered with a pay 
envelope. 

But she got another rhinestone combt She was 
careful to keep the new one out of sight. But the 
first experience had planted a suspicion in her mother's 
mind. It is a mind that has little ** usage of reason." 
Tina's youth, her inevitable love of adornment, of 
gaiety, do not plead for her with her mother. Life 
IS bitter and bread is scarce; what right, then, has 
Tina with a rhinestone comb? As if stripes wotdd 
beat out the love of finery, Tina's mother laid them 



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WHERE THE TROUBLE BEGINS 81 

on Tina unrelentingly. Tina is accustomed to being 
beaten; all her life she has paid the penalty for exas- 
perating her mother's nerves or her father's sullen- 
ness, by chastisement varying from a cuff on the ear 
to a whipping with a stick. Any beating that should 
be memorable to Tina must, in her mother's reasoning, 
be severer than the ordinary outbursts. Thus she 
hoped to cure Tina of a weakness for adornment and 
to prevent her from gratifying it by wrongdoing. 
By way of further precaution, she put sharp restric- 
tions on Tina's going out evenings and Sundays. She 
demanded that Tina come home from the shop, eat a 
few morsels of hastily-prepared supper, and sit down 
in the crowded, noisome rooms, to do " finishing " on 
coats. She thought thus to keep Tina "straight." 
Tina began to tell lies about " working overtime " — 
so she might go to a nickel show, or for a walk on 
the bright and busy streets. Once a fellow invited 
her to go to an amusement park. She did not get 
home till midnight. Her mother heard her, de- 
nounced her ** overtime " story as a lie, beat her still 
more cruelly, and next day took time from her " fin- 
ishing " to go to Tina's shop and inquire how much 
night work she had been doing. After that, Tina 
was obliged to be at home every evening before sup- 
per, unless she could bring her mother a card from 
the boss showing that he had detained her for overtime 
work. Tina was growing more and more sullen, but 
she came home regularly at six-thirty. Her mother 



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82 THE WOBK-A-DAY GIRL 

was satisfied that she had " cured " Tina. Then one 
day a neighbour asked: "Ain't Tina workin' no 
more?" and when answered that Tina was, de^ 
clared that she had seen Tina " to the park, yeste'day, 
with a fella." Tina denied this; the neighbour per- 
sisted, and the truth finally came out: Tina was 
" sporting " in the daytime, and leading a double life. 
She left home mornings at the regular hour for going 
to work. She came home evenings before supper; 
she brought home a pay envelope which she bought, 
every Saturday afternoon, from a girl she knew who 
had no parents and was glad to sell a $5.00 en- 
velope for $5.50 or $6.00. Her time Tina spent in 
the cheap stores, at the parks, and in any low, vicious 
lodging house where she could get a fellow to take 
her. 

That IS Tina. 

On adjoining benches in the waiting room of the 
Juvenile Court, Myrtle and Tina sit. Myrtle's face 
is swollen with much crying; Tina's is black with sul- 
len hate. Myrtle's mother is "overcome," and has 
frequent outbursts of hysteria which a woman friend 
tries to hush. Mrs. Taylor is surcharged with bitter- 
ness against the Law because it will not allow her to 
recant her plea and take Myrtle home, until the case 
has been given a hearing. Tina's mother fumes as 
she thinks of the coats she might be finishing — that 
she should be finishing, now that Tina is to be " put 
away " where she can contribute nothing to the family 



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WHERE THE TROUBLE BEGINS 83 

support; she is enraged at Tina. After all the starva- 
tion years, just when she could ease thfe pinch of pov- 
erty for them all by nearly as much as either of her 
parents earned, that she should " go an' do like this " 
proves conclusively to her mother that "she is no 
good/' 

Now, what's to be done with Myrtle? With Tina? 
Who can devise anything that Society may do for 
them, in its utmost tenderness for their sad fortune, 
whereby they may be absolved from further paying 
the penalty of their parents' insufficiency? 

The court may send them to reformatory institu- 
tions. Yet, every year we live and struggle to do 
justly, our social conscience rebels more and more 
against taking young people out of active life and 
segregating them with numbers of others who have 
all suffered like misfortune. It is a poor substitute 
for justice to Myrtle, to Tina, to brand them (how- 
ever gently and however reluctantly) on the county 
records as " incorrigible " ; to send them to the 
Women's Refuge or the Girls' Industrial School or 
the House of the Good Shepherd, to pass those years 
that should be their sweetest (from now till they are 
eighteen) in the exclusive company of other girls who 
have suffered moral shipwreck. Yet what may be 
hoped for them if they are sent back to their homes? 
What control over Myrtle can that weak-minded, 
vacillating mother establish at this late day? What 
realization of youth's needs, and of its rights, can 



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84 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

be brought home to that harassed mother of Tina in 
whom cruelty might well be diagnosed as nerves 
starved and strained to continuous exasperation? 

Not all the Myrtles, by any manner of means, 
get into court. Their misdemeanours are oftenest 
"hushed up"; their segregation is determined upon 
by their own families, and its nature is according to 
the family income. Thousands of Myrtles just ap- 
proaching ungovemableness, are sent away to schools 
in the hope of being made amenable to discipline. 
Hundreds of them are shifted to a distant locality — 
anjrwhere from visiting a relative in the country to 
making a tour of Europe — ^in the usually vain hope 
that removal from "contaminating company" (it 
always seems certain to weak parents that contamina- 
tion must come from without I) may miraculously de- 
velop a strong moral character. Change frequently 
makes it easier for an individual to start upon a new 
plane; but only if he has the strong desire to take 
advantage of fresh surroundings. Shift from one 
scene to another ought not to be depended on to create 
a moral imptdse, nor to evoke a careful self-govern- 
ment out of a chaos characterized by years of gov- 
ernment by whim. 

Nothing is so certain about any of us as that we 
must live under the Law. We may live under it 
willingly, intelligently, approving its wisdom and glad 
to live by it ; or we may live under it sullenly, grudg- 
ingly, accepting its dictates only because the strength 



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WHERE THE TROUBLE BEGINS 86 

of many is greater than our puny single strength. It 
is the business of parents to know the laws of nature 
and of the commonwealth, and to teach their children 
the wisdom of those laws, the necessity for them, and 
the sovereignty of upholding, the slavery of defying 
them. 

Now, consider the preparation Myrtle has had for 
entering upon a world where no one has any tender- 
ness for her except as she wins it ; where she must con- 
tinue to subsist either as a wage-earner or as some 
man's household director and the mother and in- 
structor of his children; where her failures in duty 
cannot be condoned by a mother " love " complacent 
in its sloppiness, but must be measured by society's 
standards and condenmed out of society's resentment. 

Myrtle has been brought up to earn nothing — ^not 
even respect. She has been nurtured in the belief that 
she deserved the world's best and that if " the best " 
recognized its duty, it would arise and come to her. 

Poor Tina, on the other hand, has been reared in 
an almost complete denial of her rights. Undoubt- 
edly she must continue to live without many of her 
rights; but she will not yield to this hard condition 
(she should not yield to it!) without making what 
effort she can to be happy. And who has ever taught 
her wherein happiness lies — even such meagre happi- 
ness as she may hope to grasp? 

As between the two girls, sympathy goes out most 
naturally and most abundantly to Tina. Few parents 



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86 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

of the well-fed, comfortably-housed classes are guilty 
of cruelty to their children — ^at least of such cruelty 
as Tina has suflFered; for that is largely an outcome 
of nerve-destroying conditions of work and rest and 
of life in general. It not infrequently happens that 
an overworked parent of the well-to-do or wealthy 
class, is occasionally harsh or unkind to a child in a 
moment of exasperation; but the liability to this de- 
creases as comforts increase; and the wrong from 
which too many children of the comfortable suffer, is 
the neglect that comes from full-fed sloth. 

So, let us consider Myrtle a little further. If the 
court commits her to an institution, she will be under 
restraint of regulations that are necessarily pretty 
severe. She cannot continue as she has been doing, 
because she will be shut away from all such opportu- 
nities, and unremittingly watched. But no institu- 
tional directors would be so benighted as to imagine 
for a moment that mere restraint from doing wrong 
is going to eradicate in Myrtle all those pampered 
propensities which have been developing for sixteen 
years. Locking her away from evil is not going to 
make her good — ^that is why so many parents fail sig- 
nally when finally they are awakened to the need of 
correction; they simply deny and prohibit and curb; 
they do not substitute and build up and encourage. 

The worst thing that could happen to Myrtle in an 
institution would be to give her time to dwell on the 
fact that she is under restraint. The restraint is 



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WHERE THE TROUBLE BEGINS 87 

there, and she will feel it every time she goes beyond 
certain bounds; but the effort, now, is to keep her from 
wanting to pass those bounds — ^to keep her interest- 
edly busy inside of them. And this, of course, is just 
what her parents should have done for her; and did 
not do. 

The bounds for a girl like Myrtle, living at home 
with her parents, ought to be firmly fixed once and 
for all — ^not shifted and altered according to the 
parental "nerves*' on different occasions nor yet 
according to the " nuisance " of withstanding Myrtle's 
teasing or pouting or storming. But if Myrtle can 
be kept busy — continuously busy — she will have a 
minimum of time in which to think about her bounds 
and long to break them. Idleness is the curse of the 
Myrtles, as overwork is the danger of the Tinas — idle- 
ness and indulgence, as against exhaustion and denial. 
Both extremes are full of peril. 

Myrtle shotdd have helped in the housework from 
the first day when she was able to serve by saving 
steps for her mother. She should have gone to the 
store ior purchases, and been entrusted with steadily 
increasing responsibility in buying, so that she might 
learn the great business of being a careful and wise 
spender. She should have been dressed out of a stated 
portion of the family income, determined upon after 
thoughtful consideration ; most persons of soimd sense 
would agree that the school-girl daughter of a family 
of four whose total income is $2,000 should not ex- 



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88 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

ceed $75 a year; many would put the amount as low 
as $50 or $60. By the time she is sixteen, Myrtle 
should have learned enough about money values and 
about her own needs to be given a monthly allowance 
for dress and all other expenses. It is little less than 
a crime against Myrtle to allow her to make demands 
beyond what the family income warrants, and to ac- 
cede to those demands. She must not and she cannot 
carry this demandingness beyond her parents' home. 
Why should they weakly fencourage her to do some- 
thing which will inevitably bring her sorrow when she 
tries it with others than themselves? All her life 
Myrtle, no matter what she attains, will have to con- 
tent herself without many things that she sees other 
people enjoying. What preparation for this content- 
ment is it to buy her a silver bag or a gold-beaded 
dress which are not only unbecoming her years and 
her station but are a gross pampering of the prepos- 
terous notion that Myrtle must have what *' other 
girls have " ? 

Myrtle is young and eager to be attractive and to 
be happy. She has a right to be attractive, and she 
has a right to be happy. She has a right, too, to such 
bringing-up as shall teach her how to be attractive 
without being tasteless and wantonly extravagant — a 
gaudy little puppet instead of a winsome, sweet yotmg 
girl. And she has a right to be taught from her baby- 
hood to find pleasures well within the bounds of safety 
and of possible criticism. She has, too, a right to 



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WHERE THE TROUBLE BEGINS 89 

be useful. Huxley declares that the sense of useless- 
ness is the severest shock which the human system can 
sustain, and that if persistently sustained, it results 
in atrophy of ftmction. Conversely the sense of use- 
fulness is the fotmdation of happiness. What excuse 
can any parent plead who has not given his child the 
ecstasy of earning approval, of feeling his usefulness 
to the world, of glimpsing the larger fields of useful- 
ness toward which his eager feet may press? 

There's the crux of the thousands of cases which 
Myrtle typifies! Lack of systematized industry in 
which girls can take an interest and which, by its regu- 
lating influence, may hold in check propensities to 
overleap the bounds. That is why the household, the 
home, directly contributes more than twice as many 
female offenders as all the new industrial pursuits to- 
gether; because, when a girl gets under the discipli- 
nary influence of the world of work, of usefulne^, she 
loses a very great deal of whatever liability she may 
have had to become a lawbreaker. Even in condi- 
tions like Tina's, she is less likely to go wrong if she 
works in a factory than if she stays at home. It is 
the home, deficient in industry or in leisure, that 
wrecks Myrtle and Tina. 



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IV 
THE INDICTMENT OF THE HOME 

A DULL session of the Women's Night Court, in 
/^ New York, was wearing on toward midnight. 
Since eight o'clock, there had been little va- 
riety in the deplorable procession that filed past the 
magistrate : one wretched, tawdry, and apparently un- 
moved girl after another denied the charge of the 
officer who had arrested her; and some were fined, 
some were given sentences, a few were put on proba- 
tion to Alice Smith, the strong and gentle woman 
who knows more about erring girls, perhaps, than 
any one else in the world. 

Any one of these cases would be a heart-breaking 
tragedy if the facts about it could be known. But 
the facts are usually undiscoverable. Nothing is cer- 
tain about the girls except that they are lying, and 
will continue to lie. One might easily pardon the 
poor creatures for not understanding that the Law 
would be able to deal more intelligently and more 
mercifully by them if they could be induced to tell 
the truth. But one finds it hard not to lose patience 
with them when, knowing perfectly well — as they do 
— ^that finger-print evidence of their previous convic- 
tions is on file in an adjoining room and will infallibly 

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THE INDICTMENT OF THE HOME 91 

be brought into refutation of their statements, they 
stand stolidly before their judge and swear that they 
have never been arrested before. 

Hour after hour, with little variation, these cases 
continue, night after night, year in and year out. The 
futility, the hopelessness of it weigh like a pall on 
magistrate and assistants, and on the sentient spec- 
tator. It is a dreadful clinic to which few come until 
they are incurably diseased. That is why the grind- 
ing of the mill grows dull. Despair is in every heart, 
from that of the judge, raging against his ineffective- 
ness, to that of the most wretched girl, sullenly resent- 
ful of this interference with what she considers her 
personal rights, and that of the soul-sick onlooker 
who feels himself arraigned with the rest of the social 
order, and yet doesn't know what to do to check that 
dreadful procession. 

On that particular night which Fm describing, 
there had been little variety, as usual, in the cases 
called, till toward midnight. Then a girl named Lily 
was arraigned. Lily had been arrested on complaint 
of her father. She was over sixteen, so her case was 
beyond the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court; but 
she was under eighteen, so she was still amenable to her 
father. He complained that she stayed away from 
home; that he thought she was '* going to the bad ''; 
that he could do nothing with her, and wanted her put 
under restraint. He was a brutal-looking little man; 
bullet-headed, cruel-jawed; and he was vindictive, not 



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92 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

sorrowful, in mannef. His wife was called to the 
stand. She was a frightened creature who kept her 
fear-fuU eyes on her husband rather than on the judge 
as she made her replies. Once, when she hesitated, 
a threatening glare from her husband caused her to 
go on quickly, repeating what she had evidently been 
ordered to say: that Lily spent a good part of her 
earnings on dress; that she " went to dances with an 
Eyetalian "; and that for two weeks she had not been 
home at all. 

Then the judge questioned Lily, who was crying 
heart-brokenly. She was a slight little thing who 
looked to be hardly more than sixteen. Asked why she 
left home, she said because her father beat her if she 
did not " give in ^' all her earnings. No one who had 
seen the father could doubt that. 

" Where do you live now, Lily?" the judge asked. 

Lily told him : at a rooming-house on the East Side. 

"Who do you live with?" 

"With a girl— Violet." 

"Violet who? What is the rest of her name?" 

" I don't know— just Violet." 

" Where did you meet Violet? " 

" To a dance." 

"And you went home to live with her without 
knowing even her last name ? " 

Lily's blue eyes opened wide in surprise at such a 
question. 

"Why, sure I" she answered. 



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THE INDICTMENT OF THE HOME 98 

*' How much do you make, Lily? " 

" About six a week." 

"Where?" 

" In a factory." 

"What factory?'' 

Again the surprised look. 

"Why, dif'rent factories — anywheres.*' 

The judge conferred with Alice Smith. Lily's case 
was held over for a half-hour or so, until Miss Smith 
could talk with the parents and with the terrified child. 

When it was re-called, the judge said, sadly : 

" Lily, I'm afraid I shall have to send you away for 
a little while, where you can learn how to take care 
of yourself. I'll have to send you to the House of 
the Good Shepherd " 

There was a scream of anguish from Lily that made 
every heart in the courtroom stand still. If the child 
had been on the torture-rack of ages we condescend- 
ingly call "Dark," she could not have cried out in 
greater agony. 

"Oh, Mamma! Mamma!" she implored. "Don't 
let them send me away. Mamma ! Mamma ! " 

The judge looked as if he would gladly exchange 
his job for that of any care-free street-cleaner. Alice 
Smith's face was a study in indignation and compas- 
sion. The spectators showed varying signs of dis- 
tress, nearly all acute. And as Lily was led away, 
doors had to be closed behind her, that her cries — 
rising above the roar of the Elevated and the rattle 



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94 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

of trolley cars — might not drown the hearmg of the 
next case. 

Only Lily's father was unmoved, and apparently 
satisfied. Her mother wept convulsively, despite the 
threatening glare of the bullet-headed little brute who 
hustled her out of the courtroom. Nearly every one 
else was bordering on actual physical sickness: the 
nausea that comes to the witnesses of torture. 

" But what," said Alice Smith, sadly discussing the 
case, "could be done? Lily hasn't good judgment 
enough to be living alone; and nothing could be so 
bad for her as to send her back to her home. Lily 
ought not to be in a correctional home; she ought not 
to be * shut away ' from her world; she ought to be 
guided, and guarded, and taught to understand. But 
there are so few places for the poor little Lilys. The 
world will never make up, to most of them, what their 
parents have caused them to suffer." 

This is the prevailing impression, now, among stu- 
dents of the Juvenile Court system, where cases like 
Lily's are the regular order of every court day. The 
feeling has been growing, for some time, that the 
homes of delinquent children are, in many, many 
cases, the last places in the world to which the children 
should be remanded with any hope of their reform. 
For three years, the Social Investigation Department 
of the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, 
aided by the Russell Sage Foundation, has been gath- 
ering and compiling data concerning the family condi- 



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THE INDICTMENT OF THE HOME 96 

tions of children brought before the Chicago Juvenile 
Court. 

The records of ten years have been used as a basis, 
and a corps of trained investigators has probed, as 
deeply as persistent effort could make possible, into 
the vital facts about those cases which could be traced. 

1 quote from the proof-sheets of this volume, which 
will probably have been published before mine is. 
With the many problems presented by the delinquent 
boy it is not possible to deal here. This is a brief con- 
sideration of the delinquent girl as a direct product 
of the home. 

More than half of the boys who come into the 
Juvenile Court are charged with offences which may 
be grouped as violations of property rights. This 
means, in the case of boys, window-breaking as well 
as stealing coal from the railroads, fence-burning as 
well as cutting lead-pipe out of empty houses; and so 
on. In the case of girls, only 15 per cent, of whom 
are charged with violation of property rights, it prac- 
tically always means stealing, and nearly always the 
theft of wearing apparel or of money to buy it with. 

More than 80 per cent, of the girls come into court 
on charges of immorality ; " because their virtue is in 
peril, if indeed it has not been already lost." Only 

2 per cent, of the boys are charged with immorality. 
More than half of the girls brought to court are 

committed to institutions; because, as the report says, 
" the girl is not brought into court until her environ- 



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96 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

ment has proved too dangerous to be rendered safe 
by the services of the probation officer. She is in 
peril which threatens the ruin of her whole life, and 
the situation demands immediate action; her only 
hope of rescue seems to lie in prompt removal from 
her old surroimdings and associates." 

Now, in connection with these statements, I ask 
you to consider some of the recent findings of the 
Government investigation into the Relation Between 
Occupation and Criminality of Women. 

There seemed to be a widely prevailing idea that 
modem industrial conditions, which take girls and 
women out of the home, are responsible for a great 
increase in criminality and immorality. The Govern- 
ment investigation shows that exactly the reverse is 
true. The traditional pursuits of women — ^housework, 
sewing, laundry work, nursing, and the keeping of 
boarders — furnish more than four-fifths of all the 
female criminals, compared with only about one-tenth 
furnished by all the newer pursuits, including mills, 
factories, shops, offices, and the professions ! And the 
number of criminals who have never been wage-earn- 
ers in any pursuit, but who come directly from their 
own homes into the courts and penal institutions, is 
more than twice as large as that coming from all the 
newer industrial pursuits together. 

The Chicago investigators gathered vital statistics 
concerning the occupations of 310 girls committed 
to the State Training School at Geneva. 53 of 



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THE INDICTMENT OF THE HOME 97 

these girls had never worked; 76 either could not 
or would not tell anything about their occupations 
(the Government Report says: "It is not uncommon 
to find a girl who has been at work for a few years 
who is really tmable to give any coherent accotmt of 
her industrial career; she has been into and out of 
so many places that she cannot if she would tell just 
what they have been "), 115 had been domestic serv- 
ants, 23 had been waitresses, and the small remainder 
had been in offices, stores, and factories. 

The Government found that nearly three-fourths 
of the women criminals come from among domestic 
servants and waitresses, although less than one-fourth 
of our gainfully employed girls and women are in 
those two occupations. They had more than three 
times their proper proportion of offenders; and the 
cash girls, saleswomen, bookkeepers, stenographers, 
telephone and telegraph operators had less than one- 
third of their " fair share " among the wrongdoers. 

I might go on and on, multiplying evidence in care- 
fully collected figures. But I am sure these are 
enough lor our purpose — which is to show that the 
unintelligently directed home is giving the powers of 
Law and Order more grievous concern than any other 
agency in American life to-day; and that, so far as 
our girls are concerned, the greatest safeguarding a 
very great many of them get is what they get in the 
disciplinary training of the industrial world. 

What is the relation between domestic service and 



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98 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

criminality and immorality? Between erring giris 
and their own homes as nurseries of weakness and 
wilfulness? It is this: housework, as a sad majority 
of women perform it, is the most unsystematized, un- 
standardized, undisciplinary, unsocial, and iminterest- 
ing work in the world. And family relations, as a 
sad majority of our citizens comprehend them, are 
the most unregulated relations in the world to-day; 
there are a few standards below which the social con- 
science of the community will not allow a parent to 
fall in the treatment of a child, or a mistress to fall 
in the treatment of a maid; but they are standards 
so low that almost any other human relationship is 
better regulated by law and by public sentiment. 
The home is the most haphazard institution of our 
day. 

Not yow home, in all probability; nor even, per- 
haps, the majority of homes you know. But of the 
twelve or fifteen million homes in the country, prob- 
ably not one million would pass an efficiency test based 
on the way they are run and the quality of their 
output. 

Years ago, every home was a factory where many 
things were made— everything that was needful to 
sustain life for its family-group. To-day, nearly 
every branch of what used to be household labour has 
been taken out of the home, put into a specializing fac- 
tory, and standardized. Homes now have but one 
product: citizens I And every year, the State has 



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THE INDICTMENT OF THE HOME 99 

to take more and more spoiled and spoiling products 
out of slipshod, ignorant, ill-governed homes, and try 
to repair or reform them in citizenship factories : in- 
dustrial and parental schools, asylums, refuges, and 
prisons. 

There is no other product comparable in importance 
with the product of the home. And every home that 
imloads a poor or bad product upon the commimity 
lowers the average of the whole, and complicates the 
problems of those who are earnestly and intelligently 
doing their full duty. That is why you women whose 
homes are not under indictment must help to solve 
the problem of what's to be done with the women who 
are unloading spoiled human product on the nation 
far faster than you are able to bring your chil- 
dren to your high standard of efficiency and useftd- 
ness. 

The plain truth about a child is that it is not a 
possession, but a trust: a citizen of the world, to be 
prepared for life in the world. And the plain truth 
about a home is that it is a place where persons are 
rested and refreshed after sharing in the world's 
work, and made more efficient for re-entering upon 
it each day. 

But how many of our hundred millions accept these 
truths and live by them? 

The mother of Lily, for instance, is not at all im- 
probably a " home-finisher," one of the tens of thou- 
sands of women in New York City who go to factories 



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100 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

and get bundles of partially prepared work which they 
carry home, perhaps to finish, perhaps only to add one 
process of manufacture. Bullet-headed brutes like 
Lily's father incline to despotize in inverse ratio to 
their industry and earning ability ; usually their wives 
as well as their children are made to work for them. 
Imagine, then, the mother of Lily to be a finisher of 
men's pants, at which she may earn as much as five 
cents an hour if she has one of her children to help 
her. If she gets her work from a shop that makes 
any effort to obey the law, she has first to show a card 
indicating that her living conditions have been in- 
spected by the State authorities and pronounced fairly 
sanitary; if any member of her household or other 
dweller in her tenement contracts a contagious or in- 
fectious disease, she violates the law if she finishes 
pants imder such conditions; if she takes her work to 
the factory and it is not up to the standard, she must 
do it over again; if she has spoiled the material, she 
must pay for it. Home-finishing i§ the worst-regu- 
lated of all industries, but, even at that, Lily's mother 
almost certainly finds the regulations about finishing 
pants more exacting than the regulations governing 
conditions in which she may rear Lily. When she 
has spoiled Lily, or suffered Lily to be spoiled by her 
father's brutality and tyranny, we take Lily away, 
and ask the Sisters of the Good Shepherd to patch up 
the botched job if they can. But even this we do, not 
of our oym initiative, because we are fearful for Lily's 



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THE INDICTMENT OF THE HOME 101 

safety; but on complaint of her father, because he is 
being defrauded of Lily's earnings. 

The Juvenile Courts and Juvenile Protective Asso- 
ciations show our disposition to interfere on behalf of 
some children who are being badly dealt by. But they 
have shown us, also, that we are poorly equipped with 
proper kinds of institutions to care for children 
whom we must take away from their parents ; and also 
that it is at best a sorry business when a child must 
be segregated from the world it should be taught to 
live in : the world of home, of play, of industry. 

A child who cannot observe family life is being 
poorly equipped to create and sustain family life. 
Before we go further than the most urgent necessity 
demands, in taking out of these homes like Lily's their 
last and greatest labour, let us see if something cannot 
be done to standardize the conditions under which 
parents may be allowed to bear and to rear children, 
as well, even, as we have attempted to standardize 
those under which they may finish pants. 

Here is work for you women who read this; you 
women who write me the fine, eager letters, saying: 
" I want to help. What can I do? " 

Some few of you are now voting. In a little while 
we shall all be voting — ^voting, not a party ticket, as a 
majority of men have voted, but for a specific princi- 
ple, a specific benefit. The suffrages of this nation 
have too long been cast each in the self-interest of 
the voter. With your advent into law-making and 



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10« THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

law-enactment, will come either a tremendous new 
spirit or a tremendous impetus to an old one. And 
one of the first of the great problems to which you 
direct yourselves will concern Lily and her ma — 
millions of Lilys and their ma's. For they also will 
hold suffrages. And in their ignorance, their fear, 
their complete imenlightenment, they will cast those 
suffrages against your most spirited and splendid 
effort to improve their condition, to make the home a 
safe and sane nursery for citizens. 

I entreat you to begin now on Lily and her ma. 
I ask you to do your utmost now to guard against 
their votes nullifying yours. I beg you to start now 
upon your study of their needs, so that you may be 
ready when the time comes for you to say what social 
and economic and legislative changes must be wrought 
for them. You may believe that Lily and her house- 
hold need your vote, or you may not; but you cannot 
believe other than that they need you. Much of all 
that must be done for them cannot be done by public 
processes, at least tmtil those processes are more 
adaptable than they are now; and if they are ever to 
be more adaptable, you must point the way. 

I ask every honest, earnest woman to imdertake 
one family as a study. None of you will have to look 
very far. If you can find a family with whom you 
have some sort of economic relations, so much the 
better. " Soimd *' the woman who does your wash- 
ing; feel your way into the confidence of the butter- 



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THE INDICTMENT OF THE HOME 108 

and-egg man, the grocery boy, the scissors-grinder, 
the milkman, the janitor, the iceman, the remover of 
garbage, or the purveyor of vegetables and fruits. 
Every woman has a " back-door world " which might 
well engross her. If the tailor who presses your hus- 
band's clothes had a daughter like Lily, would you 
know it? If the man who exchanges you new pots 
and kettles for old garments and shoes was a brutal 
husband, a cruel and neglectful father, would you 
know how he could be legally restrained? If your 
" odd-jobs man " had a drunken and vicious wife who 
was letting her little girl grow up to be like her, would 
you know what you could do about it? 

The work of maintaining an efficient home of your 
own probably leaves you with leisure either scant or 
indeterminable in advance. , You sigh, sometimes, be- 
cause so many of the " big " endeavours are beyond 
your reach. 

I wish you might spend even a single hour, on any 
ordinary evening, in some such whirlpool of big en- 
deavours as, say, Hull House. You would find it to 
be nothing more than an amplification of your 
"back-door world." Hundreds of people come and 
go; they bring problems, and they take away coimsel. 
Sometimes there is a known remedy for their trouble; 
sometimes the need they present demands a new sort 
of relief — ^legal or economic or social — ^and the resi- 
dents, when they feel this demand, set about whatever 
agitation is necessary for its fulfilment 



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104 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

You can run a Social Settlement of your own, at 
your back-door, no matter where the back-door may 
be. You can learn what conditions are in your own 
immediate bailiwick ; and you can discover what reme- 
dial possibilities exist, what others must be created. 
I have done this for a dozen years; and I know I 

Begin with one family. First step of all, divest 
your mind of any lingering traces of the notion that 
Social Service consists in the giving away of things 
you don't want. It consists in helping people to know 
their rights and to get them; to know their obligations 
and to discharge them. 

Let us suppose, for the sake of illustration, that 
instead of sighing over the piteousness of Lily's story, 
and wishing you lived nearer to the Night Court and 
could do something for that particular girl, you have 
sympathetically investigated your own immediate sur- 
roimdings and discovered another Lily — as any 
woman only too infallibly may, if she will look! 

Consider the questions you are confronted with: 
What are the laws of your State regarding a father's 
rights in the earnings of his wife and children? Are 
they just? What proportion of girls like Lily are 
probably required to hand over unopened pay en- 
velopes ? How many of them are getting a fair deal ? 
How many are being taxed beyond their moral 
strength? How common is it for girls like Lily to 
drift into and out of nondescript employments, gath- 
ering no jot of eflficiency as they go? What ought to 



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THE INDICTMENT OF THE HOME 106 

be done to prepare such girls for self-support? What 
ought to be done to protect them from moral dangers ? 
To fit them for probable matrimony and motherhood? 
How much does the State save when it allows Lily's 
ma to toil as a pants-finisher, and pays the Sisters of 
the Good Shepherd to take care of Lily? Why is 
Lily's mother in such abject terror of her husband? 
Does she know that he can be restrained from abusing 
her and Lily? If Lily were to be sent home instead 
of to the House of the Good Shepherd, what oppor- 
tunities for a wholesome social life would she have in 
their tenement? What "advisable" pastimes are 
open to Lily? Where is she to meet young men? 
Who is to safeguard those meetings? Lily is one of 
the mothers of to-morrow — ^probably. What is any- 
body doing to help her make a desirable marriage, or 
to insure that she will become a better parent than 
hers have been? 

I could go on and on and on. There is literally 
no end to the questions that Lily raises, to the prob- 
lems that she presents. So far, the world that Lily 
was called into has not given her a fighting chance. 
When you have fairly begun on her case, her day of 
hope will have dawned. 

Don't switch off; don't sidetrack; don't lose heart; 
keep after Lily. It may be all the better if you 
haven't a cent to give her; charity is a poor substitute 
for justice. If you can effect any actual betterment 
in Lily's home, any improvement in her outlook, you 



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106 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

are to be envied the happiness that will give you. But 
even if you can't do that, you can at least learn from 
that home a himdred lessons, get from it a new imder- 
standing of our complex social relationships. Do for 
it what you can; but don't be dismayed if this does 
not seem to you to be considerable, or productive of 
results. Remember that the wrong conditions which' 
made that home possible (if not inevitable) have been 
of long, slow growth. You cannot hope to change 
them in one onslaught — ^nor in a hundred. Rest con- 
tent with having got to the root of great matters when 
you have got to the study of home conditions that are 
responsible for the production of spoiled and socially- 
dangerous humans. 

If most men have been selfish in public affairs; if 
they have sought only such government as would fur- 
ther their own interests; so have most women been 
selfish in the affairs of their Kingdom. The day of 
social blindness is passing. We know, now, that self- 
interest is suicidal except it keep in line with com- 
munity-interest. There cannot be a law which is good 
for your husband's business and bad for the business 
of his competitors. There cannot be safety for your 
home and your children, while millions of other homes 
are disgorging a stimted and misdirected output. 

You are the wise woman who looketh well to the 
ways of her own household. But some of you, surely, 
have wisdom for that, and to spare. Won't you spare 
a measure of it for LUy's hotisehold? 



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HER DAILY BREAD 

EUGENIA did not "suddenly find herself 
obliged to seek a livelihood," like the story- 
heroines of two and three decades ago. No 
" crash came " in her family affairs. Her father did 
not die, their investments did not " prove worthless "; 
it was not necessary to raise the mortgage — because 
they had no mortgage to raise. 

She was eighteen years old and had graduated 
from high school. There were three younger chil- 
dren. Her father was a small-salaried man who 
earned no more now than he had earned when Eu- 
genia was a baby; and there was no human probability 
that he would ever earn any more. He carried two 
thousand dollars' worth of insurance, which would 
yield them almost two dollars a week if he should die. 
He had no savings. The cost of living was going 
up by leaps and boimds. The needs of four children 
between the ages of twelve and eighteen were a great 
deal harder to meet than the needs of the same four 
had been when they were little. Yoimg people in their 
'teens presented new demands — very just demands, 
too— which went beyond the filling of their stomachs 
and the covering of their feet and backs and heads. 

107 



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108 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

There were a score of reasons why Eugenia should 
go to work. She was perfectly aware of them, and 
for at least five years she had looked forward to the 
day when she might be able to " do something " about 
the eternal problems of the family budget, " instead 
of just lamenting." That she should lend a helping 
hand, when she could, seemed quite as inevitable to 
her as if she had been a boy. There was not nearly 
enough work in the home to keep three pairs of hands 
busy; and even if there had been, there was no further 
possibility in that household of earning a dollar by 
saving one. They had reached " rock bottom " on 
that, years ago. 

Eugenia must sell her labour where labour brought 
a price. And she faced this necessity far from reluc- 
tantly. She was generously eager to help. She had 
a sturdy desire to do for herself — ^to be adequate to her 
own support and able to gratify some of her long- 
repressed desires. And she loved the adventure of it. 
There is no reason in the world why every young soul 
should not crave the adventure of seeking its f ortime ; 
or, rather, of making it. And they all would crave it, 
as fledglings demand to learn the joy of flight, if we 
did not warp and twist their natural desires with our 
false social ideals and our false education. 

Eugenia hailed the opportunity of going to work, 
and as there seemed no place for her in their small 
home town, she went to the nearest big city. 

No one at school had ever inquired of Eugenia as 



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HER DAILY BREAD 109 

to her purposes. No one seemed to feel that it made 
any difference whether her twelve years of schooling 
had or had not a definite aim ; whether it left her with 
some specific ability or with only the vaguest notions 
of its adaptability to the world's needs. 

It happened, however, that — ^their town being too 
small to support a business school — ^there was a de- 
mand for instruction in stenography and typewriting, 
and a course was instituted in the high school. 
Eugenia took it. So did a great many other girls 
who were similarly circumstanced — so many that 
there were a dozen applicants for each stenographic 
job in town; and as a consequence, some girls worked 
for $2.50 a week, while $3.50 and $4.00 were excep- 
tional salaries for the inexperienced. 

Eugenia decided to go to the city. Her parents 
were a little apprehensive over this venture; but 
Eugenia had a lot of good sense and good principle, 
and they specially fortified her as well as they were 
able, with warnings against such dangers as they 
knew of. 

She must go to the Young Women's Christian 
Association ; she must avoid making chance acquaint- 
ances ; she must be careful what places of amusement 
she attended. These were the principal burden of 
the parental charges ; the school gave her no warnings 
or suggestions of any sort. 

She went to the Association House, or Home. She 
found that if she shared a room with another girl — ^the 



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110 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

cheapest room in the house — she could board there 
for $4.00 a week. She found that the labour market 
was glutted with inexperienced stenographers eager to 
work for $5 and $6 a week. She found the general, 
almost the universal attitude, toward her to be : " You 
ought not to have come here.*' 

Half-a-dozen employers to whom the Association 
sent her refused to take her because she did not live 
at home. 

" We can get beginners at $6.00," they said. " But 
$6.00 will not keep you. We make it a rule not to 
hire for less than $8 girls who do not live at h(xne. 
You would not be worth $8 to us. Sorry ! " 

Eugenia reported this at the Association employ- 
ment office, and was told that the employers were 
quite right. There was a decided opinion in that of- 
fice that inexperienced girls should not come flocking 
into cities, hoping to live on what they could earn. 

"What are we to do?" Eugenia cried. "There 
isn't work at home for us all. What are we to do? " 

The head of the employment office had no idea — 
except that the girls should not come. She was be- 
sieged by them, and every day it was getting harder 
to place them. 

Eugenia studied the Help Wanted columns. It was 
true that not many of the ads. called for beginners. 
But she answered the few that did. For some reason 
not at all clear to her, they nearly all read: "Ad- 
dress, stating full particulars and salary expected," 



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HER DAILY BREAD 111 

So-and-So, at the newspaper office. This necessitated 
a delay of at least two days, besides giving no clue to 
the location of the advertiser, nor to the nature of 
his business. She received several letters asking her 
to call. 

It did not occur to Eugenia to show these letters 
to the manager of the Association employment office. 
She was a little resentful of that lady's attitude. Nor 
is it at all certain that, if she had shown them, any- 
thing would have resulted save perhaps a general 
coimsel to " be careful." 

Eugenia did not know that it was necessary to 
be careful in seeking employment. All the adjura- 
tions with which she was familiar had to do with the 
need of care in seeking amusements or making ac- 
quaintances. 

The first place to which she found her way was in 
one of the older and dingier office buildings of a dis- 
trict where innumerable " skyscrapers " of recent ejec- 
tion had almost emptied the old structures or left them 
to a precarious class of tenants who could not take 
long leases. The elevator was an "afterthought," 
put in when the building was no longer new. The 
stairs were wooden. The halls were gloomy. The 
air was heavy and bad. 

Eugenia found Room 52. The lettering on the 
door said : " The Union Novelty Co." Inside were 
two men. The office was scantily furnished. There 
was a cheap roll-top desk of " golden oak " ; a giant 



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112 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

cuspidor; a swivel chair, and two others that looked 
like stray members of an erstwhile dining-room set. 
Smoking, and aiming at the cuspidor, seemed to be 
the only business of the place; and while the smoke 
was voluminous, the other half of the enterprise evi- 
denced some lack of expertness. When Eugenia an- 
nounced her errand, the man in the swivel chair gave 
the other man a meaning look. When the door had 
closed on the retreating one, he who remained faced 
Eugenia with a grin. 

" Si' down, Kiddo," he urged, nodding at the chair 
just vacated. " So you're a green one, huh? Just 
from the coimtry, ain't you? " 

Eugenia was uninstructed, but she was no fool. 
Her fear of this man was as instinctive as that of 
any wild creature for one of its natural enemies. All 
that troubled her was to know how to get out. 

She ignored the urging to " si' down." 

«I_I don't think I'd suit you," she faltered. 
"You see, I haven't had any experience at all. I 
ought to begin in a — ^in a place where — where " 

She floundered hopelessly, not knowing how to 
make a polite evasion. 

"Oh, that's all right I" he encouraged. "I can 
soon learn you all you need to know." 

Something in his manner made Eugenia forget her 
effort to be polite. She backed toward the door. He 
rose to his feet. 

Without waiting for more parley than if he had 



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HER DAILY BREAD US 

been a tiger of Bengal, Eugenia leaped for the door, 
jerked it open, and fled. When she got to the elevator 
shaft, the antiquated car was at the bottom. Eugenia 
ran down one flight of the wooden stairs. Then, 
hearing no sounds of pursuit, she sat down, weak and 
trembling. It was some minutes before she could 
gather strength and resolution to go on. 

She tried to reason with herself; to make herself 
believe that a dreadful thing like that might not hap- 
pen again "ever — ^in a lifetime"; to tell herself that 
she must be " plucky," and not easily dismayed. 

The next place she tried was some distance from 
the first. (One of her difficulties was that she did 
not know the city, and could not " group " her applica- 
tions.) It was in a large building tenanted by many 
small manufacturing concerns. The one she sought 
was "The Sovereign Remedy Co." The first door 
on which she found this read : " Private. Entrance, 
Room 112." In Room 112 there was considerable 
and varied activity. Two girls, neither of whom 
looked to be more than sixteen, were seated at type- 
writers. One of them was half-engaged with her ma- 
chine, which she used awkwardly and unaccus- 
tomedly: her interest was obviously not in what she 
was doing, but in the banter being exchanged between 
the other girl and a coatless, vestless, stoop-shoul- 
dered, narrow-chested, anaemic-looking youth, who 
lolled like a jelly-fish, on the end of the second girl's 
desk. At one table, a little girl with short dresses 



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114 THE WORK-A-DAY GIKL 

was pasting labels on bottles containing the Sovereign 
Remedy, and at another table, a boy was painting an 
address upon a wooden box containing one-half gross 
of bottles of the Sovereign Remedy. In a comer 
was a roll-top desk, half-closed down over a disorderly 
litter of papers. 

Everybody present turned an inquiring — ^not to 
say an inquisitorial— eye upon Eugenia. 

" Is the manager in ? " she asked. 

"Nope," answered the anaemic youth. "Wha* 
d'ye want?" 

" I came to see about a place — I answered the ad- 
vertisement." 

Just then, the door behind her opened and the 
manager came in. Eugenia dreaded being inter- 
viewed in the hearing of these " guying " employes, 
almost as much as she could have dreaded another 
tete-a-tete; but she rebuked herself sharply for her 
timidity, and tried to feel that she was adapting her- 
self to " business ways " when she answered the ques- 
tions which he " fired " at her without asking her to 
sit down — likewise, without removing his hat from 
his head or his cigar from the comer of his mouth. 
The other occupants of the office listened more at- 
tentively than most juries. 

Eugenia's voice shook ; but she tried to be " brave." 
She had her reward. She was engaged — ^to replace 
the bantering young person, who was leaving to take 
an eight-dollar job. 



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HER DAILY BREAD 116 

There were many things about the place that Eu- 
genia did not like — many even at the outset, and more 
as she got to know it better — ^but she told herself that 
she must not be "silly." She wanted experience; 
everybody told her that beginners were like beggars 
in that they also could not be " choosers " ; and " at 
least" this place was "safe," she thought, because 
there were so many employes. (In addition to the 
second typist, the labeller, the office boy, the anaemic 
youth, and herself, there were two girls, also very 
young and inexperienced, who worked in the room 
marked " Private," tmder the casual direction of the 
anaemic youth, compounding the Sovereign Remedy.) 

Rendering any help at home was out of the ques- 
tion on six dollars a week. But Eugenia meant to 
apply herself so earnestly that she would not have to 
work long at that wage. Her first concern was to 
" make good." And after that, she was not a little 
exercised to know how to live on her earnings. 

At first, she paid her $4.00 a week and stayed at 
the Association. She was given a light luncheon to 
carry with her; and when the weather was good she 
did not mind walking to and from work, a mile each 
way. She had clothes enough to do her for a while ; 
and by resisting nearly every temptation that involved 
spending a nickel, she got through, somehow. 

But as the fall wore on, she began to need things. 
Her shoes were nearly " impossible " — ^they had long 
been shabby t<— and she must have a winter coat, and a 



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116 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

pair of gloves, and some overshoes^ and a makeshift 
of some sort for a winter hat 

She told her plight at the Home. And she was re- 
minded of what they had warned her when she came : 
the city is no place for girls without homes, who 
cannot command more than $6.00 a week. She was 
advised to go home and work for what she could get 
there. 

*'I could earn my keep at home/* she reflected; 
"but that is about all — and there wouldn't be any 
prospect of doing better. I may have it hard here, 
for a while; but when I can earn more, there arc 
plenty of places that will pay it." 

So she stayed. She asked to be directed to a 
cheaper boarding-place, and was given the addresses 
of several Homes for self-supporting girls. Some of 
these gave board, and dormitory lodging, as low as 
$3.50 a week. But they were all full. 

Eugenia decided to rent a furnished room and 
" manage " her eating as best she could. Again she 
had recourse to the ad. columns, and spent two Sun- 
days in disheartening quest. Any room that she 
could get, even for two dollars a week, was in a tene- 
ment. And if she were to keep the cost of food 
down to the same amount, or less than thirty cents a 
day, she would be little better off than she was now, 
at the Association. 

After trudging weary miles in what seemed an 
insanely futile quest, Eugenia grew desperate. She 



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HER DAILY BREAD 117 

went to a newspaper office and handed in this 
"ad.": 

" Board Wanted: — By a young girl from the coun- 
try. Earns only $6.00 a week, and must live for 
$3.50 at most." 

It cost her the price of the needed overshoes; but 
she was hopeful that it would lead to economy in 
the long run. 

Her replies included several from ladies who said 
that they had " lovely " homes, but that their husbands 
were " away a great deal," and they would be " more 
than glad " to have a young lady boarder " for com- 
pany." 

This seemed perfectly natural to Eugenia, and she 
discarded in favour of these all the others — ^written, 
for the most part, in cramped penmanship and as 
cramped language, and emanating from districts 
which she was beginning to know as poor and 
mean. 

The first " lonesome lady " she called upon (it was 
in the evening — Sunday was four days off) seemed 
to be making fair feint at beguiling her desolation. 
Her flat, in a good residence section, was brightly 
lighted; a burst of ear-splitting ragtime, of the 
" canned " sort, was uninterrupted by Eugenia's ring. 
A coloured maid opened the door and summoned her 
mistress into the hall. 

" Hello, dearie ! " the mistress cried, as if Eugenia 
were an old familiar friend. " Got my note, did you? 



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118 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

Well, some o* my yoimg friends are tryin' to keep 
me from gettin' blue. Come on in." 

Eugenia felt timid about confronting a roomful 
of laughing strangers. 

" ril come again, when you haven't got company/' 
she pleaded, hanging back. 

"Don't be a goosie!" she was adjured. "You'll 
meet them sooner or later — and it might as well be 
now. They want to see my new boarder." 

So Eugenia followed her in. The yotmg people 
present, four in number, seemed very well acquainted 
with one another, and with their hostess. One of the 
young men, who said his car was outside, proposed 
a ride, and invited Eugenia to join them. She was 
tempted. The thought of a ride, in jolly com- 
pany, was an attractive alternative to going home and 
to bed in the cheerless little room she shared with a 
girl whose losing fight with the world had made her 
morose. But she had not notified the Association 
office that she might be out late. It was nearly nine 
o'clock now. 

" Thank you — I don't believe I can — ^to-night," she 
murmured. 

"You'll ask her again, when she comes here 
to keep me comp'ny; won't you?" the hostess 
said. 

And, assured that he would, she left her guests and 
showed Eugenia the room that was to be hers. 

"Where are you stopping now?" she inquired. 



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HER DAILY BREAD 119 

When Eugenia told her, a peculiar expression came 
into her face. 

" If you tell 'em you're comin' to live with me, 
they'll prob'ly try to poison you against me," she said. 
" I got my opinion o' them women — chargin' such 
money for board an' callin' it charity — an' I told 'em 
so, once. They got it in for me." 

" I don't have to tell them where I'm going," Eu- 
genia declared, with a flare of pride. " I'm not under 
any obligations to them." 

" That's right," her prospective landlady approved. 
"Well, will you move to-morrow?" 

Eugenia said she would, "to-morrow evening." 
She had a vague uneasiness about the new home, but 
tried to tell herself that she was getting as suspicious 
as her room-mate. Of course, the lady she was going 
to live with did not have gay company every evening! 
If she did, she wouldn't want a quiet working girl to 
keep her from " getting blue." 

Eugenia began packing her few belongings as soon 
as she was in her room. There was no time in the 
morning, and she wanted to move early in the follow- 
ing evening. Her room-mate was not there when she 
began to pack, but came in while Eugenia was about 
her preparations for bed. She knew that Eugenia 
was looking for a cheaper place to live. 

"Find a dump?" she inquired, semi-interest- 
edly. 

"I found a very nice place," Eugenia answered, 



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1«0 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

rather stiflBy. Her manner invited no questions, 
promised no confidences. 

The other girl caught the defiant note, and 
shrugged. 

" All right. Only I hope you're on to the kind of 
* nice ' places that'll take a girl to board for what you 
can afford to pay." 

" I don't know what you mean," Eugenia said. 

" I thought you didn't. Well, you better be care- 
ful." 

Eugenia's anxiety overcame her pride. She begged 
the other girl to explain, and her face was a picture of 
horror as she heard how nearly she had been caught 
in a trap. The older girl was moved by Eugenia's 
terror. She had felt that way, too, once on a time; 
now she was not frightened— only morose. 

" If you want, I'll take a room with you somewhere 
— a room we can get for a dollar each, or so. It's 
just about impossible to get dinners you can eat under 
twenty cents; but we can skimp on breakfasts and 
lunches, and maybe get through on three-and-a-half." 

** I've just got to 1 " Eugenia cried. " And even at 
that, I don't see how I'm going to get any winter 
clothes until it's nearly spring." 

"You can get clothes on easy payments, if you 
have to," the older girl said. " They soak you three 
prices, and hotmd you to death — ^but if you've got to, 
you've got to, I suppose." 

They found a room, within walking distance of the 



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HER DAILY BREAD 1«1 

business centre. It wasn't a " nice " room, but it was 
the best they could get for their price. And Eugenia 
got a hat and coat on " easy " payments. 

Meanwhile, at the office of the Sovereign Remedy 
Co., Eugenia was making very fair progress. She 
took most of the manager's letters, now, and the other 
" stenographer " did little more than addressing, bill- 
ing, filing, copying, and such work. 

There were things about the Sovereign Remedy Co. 
that Eugenia did not like ; but as they did not concern 
her, she thought she ought to ignore them, for the 
present. The "Remedy," for instance, was quite! 
frankly a "joke." Eugenia's heart and conscience 
both protested against the fraud; against the hilarity 
with which sick persons' too-confidential letters were 
read and passed from hand to hand; against the 
methods of getting "testimonials"; against the 
manager's slogan: "You can sell anything to any- 
body, if your ad. dope is right." He even thought 
well of himself, in comparison with some of his com- 
petitors, because there was no "knock-out" in his 
stuflf. He boasted of this to Eugenia, vhen he felt 
the protest that she durst not speak. And when he 
saw that he was not able to extenuate himself, he 
laughed, and called her "Miss Green," and prom- 
ised her that she would have "city sense" some 
day. 

In other ways, though, he was rather "nice" to 
her: he could tell by the look in her eyes when she 



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122 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

had one of her blinding headaches, and would send 
her home; he was fairly patient when she made mis- 
takes; and he taught her a good many things the value 
of which she could not but recognize. He had been 
an ad. writer for others, before he embarked with 
his modest capital on this business of his own; and 
he had a crisp, pungent style. He laid great stress 
on punctuation, always naming the " point " he wished 
used. And, although his office was without dignity 
or proper business decorum, it was not without a pre- 
vailing good nature which was friendly, if " fresh." 
Eugenia described conditions faithfully to her room- 
mate, Sarah, of whom she was becoming quite fond; 
and Sarah advised her to *' stick." For Sarah, in her 
varied experience, had found many places that were 
worse. 

One evening, Eugenia did not get back to their 
room in time to go out to dinner. She came in about 
ten o'clock, explaining that Mr. Ledyard had been out 
all day and couldn't get his letters done; so he asked 
her to work in the evening. 

"Did he take you to supper?" Sarah asked. 

"Oh, no! but he gave me fifty cents for supper 
money. I was glad to get it." 

The night- work grew to be almost a regular thing; 
and in consequence of it, Eugenia was allowed to 
come down late in the morning. Her salary was not 
raised, but her *' supper money " brought her income 
up to at least eight dollars. 



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HER DAILY BREAD 188 

" Does anybody else work, except just you and Mr. 
Ledyard?" Sarah demanded. 

" No. But he's perfectly all right — I mean, as far 
as that goes." 

" I don't think any man is ' perfectly all right * 
who wants an eighteen-year-old girl to work nights in 
an office alone with him," Sarah declared. " If he 
has so much night-work, he should get a middle-aged 
woman — there are plenty of them that work cheap." 

" Well, if I knew where I could get eight dollars 
in a safer place, Fd go," Eugenia replied. " But I 
don't know." 

" That's all right, then. But keep your eyes open," 
Sarah counselled. " Look out for the time when he 
suggests that you might as well eat together. That 
never means but one thing." 

The time came. Eugenia, fortified by Sarah's ad- 
monitions, declined the invitation as tactfully as she 
could, but was not able to conceal her dismay. 

"I'm surprised at you!" he cried. "You, who 
pretended to be such a sweet, unsuspecting little girl. 
But I can tell you that you misjudge me ! Tm sorry 
you have such an evil mind. But I do not see how 
I can have a girl go on working for me, that thinks 
such things of me." 

"Yes; that's the familiar spiel — ^that's what they 
always say," was Sarah's comment when Eugenia 
told her about the loss of her job. 

Eugenia could not use Mr. Ledyard's name for ref- 



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IM THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

erence when seeking another place. Sarah told her 
to keep her tongue in her head about why she had 
been discharged. " Those that tell mostly bring sus- 
picion on themselves," she said. " You get the credit 
for having tried to lead a perfectly good gentleman 
astray." 

"' But what shall I say when they ask if I've had any 
experience?" Eugenia wept. 

" Say you have, but " 

" But I can't get any references! Won't that be a 
mV^thing to tell?" 

" Well, you're a girl — ^and you're up against it. I 
don't know any way that you can get a fair show. 
Some girls, when they get up against this, think there's 
no use trying to fight it. I've fought it — but I'm a 
failure. I don't know whether I've got any right to 
recommend you to do as I've done." 

Eugenia's eyes flashed. "You don't need to 
recommend me to be decent ! I've got something in- 
side me, I hope, that will keep me pointed straight." 

Eugenia did "keep pointed straight." She did 
have something in her that enabled her to endure and 
to resist. 

But if that "something" had not been in her — 
what then? 

Girls like Eugenia ought not to be obliged to trust 
their own intuitions when looking for employment. 

They ought not to feel that they are " up against it " 
when they have angered a man like Ledyard. 



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HER DAILY BREAD 126 

To give them protection is not so difficult as many 
another task of conservation which we unhesitatingly 
undertake; and few tasks could be more important. 

In some of the best-governed German cities, all boys 
and girls under eighteen, who go to work, are placed 
in positions by the school board and may quit or be 
discharged only by permission of the school authorities 
after the reasons for the change have been thoroughly 
investigated. Edinburgh has a similar system. Lon- 
don is beginning to assume some responsibility for the 
early industrial experiences of its children. Cincinnati 
is doing a notable work in this line. Chicago is taking 
some first steps toward such guardianship. It is bound 
to come, everywhere, as people wake up to the great 
need for it. 

Nothing helps on a general awakening so well as 
making a beginning of showing what can be done. 
In some communities, a handful of earnest women have 
carried on experiments in safeguarding young workers, 
blacklisting unscrupulous employers, and rendering 
like service so successfully that the authorities were 
impelled to take over the work and make it a depart- 
ment of the public service. Women's clubs ought to 
concern themselves with this. They could not pos- 
sibly be more importantly engaged. 

There ought not to be in any community containing 
even one sweet, good, earnest motherly or sisterly 
woman, a girl like Eugenia, who feels that she has no 
one to whom she can turn for counsel, for direction. 



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126 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

for defence. And with the growth of organization 
among women, the rapid development of their sense 
of social service, they will— ont feels sure — soon see 
to it that their daughters and the daughters of other 
homes are given every protection necessary in their 
quest of daily bread, of sane, safe amusement; of those 
things that sustain life, and of those that transfigure it. 



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VI 
THE GIRL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 

"TX THAT could you do if I was to let you 

VV go?'' 

Mrs. Burkhart's tone was not so chal- 
lenging as it might well have been; it was merely 
plaintively inquiring. 

" Why/' Hazel answered, her confidence undimin- 
ished by the indefiniteness of her reply, " I could do 
what Minnie does, I guess. She don't know any 
more than I do— or she didn't when she went away." 

" Don't she say at all what she's workin' at? " 

Hazel referred to the opened letter in her hand. 

"No; she don't say what she does. On'y that 
there's hundreds of girls workin' where she does, an' 
she's almost sure she can get me took on." 

" Wouldn't it be better if she was to find out for 
certain before you go ? " 

Hazel looked the scorn she felt for her mother's 
ignorance of the world's ways. 

"How could she? Who's goin' to hire a girl 
they've never seen?" 

"I guess that's right," Mrs. Burkhart acquiesced, 
meekly. "But," with sudden spirit, "I'd hate for 

m 



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128 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

you to be a fact'ry girl. Qerkin's all right; but I'd 
hate for you to work in a mill or fact'ry." 

There were a few manufacuring industries in their 
own small town, and the girl operatives — mostly East 
European — ^were looked down upon as "tough" by 
the town folk, especially by the mothers who thought 
themselves and their offspring " nice." 

" It ain't likely Minnie would work in a fact'ry," 
Hazel retorted. " If she had been willin' to do that, 
she could have stayed home an' done it. She says 
she's eamin' six dollars a week, an' that if I come I 
can get as much, an' we can live awful nice by clubbin' 
together." 

" Well, I should hope you could ! " her mother 
ejaculated. " That's more'n fifty dollars a month for 
two girls to live on. Your pa didn't make more'n that 
when we was married an' had two children. Fact is, 
he don't spend no more'n that on us now. Whatever 
else he earns don't go on our backs, nor into our 
pleasures ! " 

Hazel recognized at the outset a wearisomely fa- 
miliar theme; she was in sympathy with it, but 
whereas her mother seemed to find satisfaction in 
reiterating her grievances. Hazel was tired of talking 
and eager to do something. 

She was sick of the home atmosphere; of its bicker- 
ings and its pinch-penny restrictions and denials. 
And, too, she was yoimg and so eager for adventure 
that she would have left a far softer home-nest for 



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THE GIRL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 199 

the chance to try her own wings. What we are 
pleased to call our educational system is such that, 
while we ply our adolescent things with theory upon 
theory, we sedulously seek to keep them from testing 
any of the theories in practice. But Nature is not 
easily outwitted ; she provides younglings, human and 
otherwise, with a deep desire to test life for them- 
selves; with a tingling to do and dare, which no cer- 
tainty of hardship can overcome. 

It seemed to Hazel that her parents had made a 
squalid failure of life. What compromise they had 
effected with their youthful dreams they never hinted 
to her, and it was not possible, yet, for her to guess. 
She wanted to get away from the home frets and into 
the great, free world where one might fly and soar, 
looking on at life, fetterless, and occasionally dipping 
down into a bit of it that invited. She wanted move- 
ment, nights. She wanted to earn money. And she 
wanted social opportunities. She told herself that it 
was natural for her to want to be with Minnie; be- 
cause she and Minnie had been good friends for years. 
But there was a stronger urging, though Hazel did not 
recognize it : Minnie might have thrived, forgotten, in 
the city if the home town held a hope of romance; 
but it didn't. Hazel did not know a young man about 
whom she could build a dream. Minnie said that 
hundreds of young folks, girls and fellows, worked 
where she did. The statement made Hazel's pulses 
leap. What infinite possibilities for good times, for 



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180 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

new acquaintance, for selecting "Mr. Right" from 
among a host of eligibles! 

Mr. Burkhart expressed no fearfulness about Ha- 
zel's going to the city to join the wolf-packs of the 
unskilled. He had been an inefficient, less-than-half- 
equipped worker all his life and had grown dulled to 
the miseries and the dangers of the condition. It did 
not even seem to him vital that any of them should 
discover what Minnie was working at, or how she 
was living. He took it for granted that Hazel should 
accept the chances of her class, and bear with what 
she did not like — ^unless, by some chance, she could 
better it. 

A woman who was a fellow-member with Mrs. 
Burkhart of The Friendly Workers' Aid called when 
she heard of Hazel's intended departure, and told of 
some magazine articles she had read about ^' the girl 
and the city." She warned Hazel against speaking 
to any one on the train; against going with any one 
who came up to her in the depot offering her employ- 
ment; against answering advertisements that offered 
large salaries and said "no experience required." 
She seemed horrified that the Burkharts knew so little 
about what Hazel was going to do. Unforttmately, 
she was the sort of person whose cravings for the 
dramatic led her always to make things out very 
grave : when any one had the measles she always told 
of a large list of persons who became permanently 
blind or deaf or weak of heart as a result of that 



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THE GIRL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 131 

malady; when any one bought a navy blue suit, she 
could be counted on to tell of many navy blue suits 
which had " faded something shameful." Cassan- 
dras are still being discredited, and always will be. 

Hazel laughed at the warnings; her father swore 
at them, good-humouredly, because the Cassandra was 
a spinster and had never been to the city, and he was 
one of the many men who feel sure that an unmarried 
woman cannot possibly know anything in general and 
that no woman can possibly know anything she has 
not personally experienced. Mrs. Burkhart was 
faintly perturbed, but allowed herself to be overborne. 

So Hazel went to the city, having advised Minnie 
on what train she would arrive. She did not know 
enough to be fearful that Minnie might not be there. 
She had Minnie's address, plainly written on a strip 
of paper, in her purse; and she felt confident of find- 
ing the place if she needs must. 

As it happened, Minnie was able to meet the train. 
Hazel was a bit dismayed when she reached what 
Minnie called '* home " : a windowless wee room off 
the kitchen of a cluttered, unclean, sour-smelling four- 
room flat But Miimie explained that when they 
" clubbed together *' they could have a room twice as 
good. 

Hazel had an uncomfortable night, trying to sleep 
on half of Minnie's cot, whose mattress was so thin 
that the woven-wire springs seemed to be pressing 
into Hazel's weary muscles. She was not loath to 



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138 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

get up at six; and though she was tired and sleepy, it 
seemed " fun " to go out to a cheap little restaurant 
and order a fifteen-cent breakfast. 

" This is a celebration," Minnie said as they sat at 
their fried eggs, coffee, and rolls- " We dassent do 
this again— ever." 

" Dassent we? " Hazel echoed. " What dast we do 
other times?" 

" Well, it's like this," Minnie went on : " we gotta 
plan awful careful. Say I get you a job like mine, 
as I'm hopin' to: we each have six a week. Now, 
here's what we got to choose from : We kin board in 
a Home; there's enough of 'em, but they're all fierce. 
You kin sleep in a dormitory with five other girls, an' 
get two meals a day, fer three-fifty a week. With a 
ten-cent lunch a day, and mostly with sixty cents a 
week carfare, that's four-seventy — ^leavin' you one- 
thirty a week fer clothes an' amusements an' every- 
thing. Maybe you could stand it if they wouldn't 
always be tryin' to improve you. You come home 
at night dead tired after sellin' brass tacks or makin' 
paper boxes, and they set you up in the parlour an' 
have a missionary woman tell you how the Chinese 
girls bind their feet. It's awful — ^when what you're 
dyin' for is a chance to shake a leg. You have to get 
a permit to stay out after 10:30. And you gotta pray 
before you eat and pray before you sleep, an' give 
an account of everything you do. Then the matrons 
or superintendents or whatever they call 'em are the 



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THE GIRL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 133 

limit. The rich dame that gives the most money to 
furnish the Home with elevatin' pictures, or some- 
thing like that, always has a Cousin Maria that's the 
family Jonah — that nobody can stand, but somebody's 
got to support. So the rich dame says: * Ah, ha I I'll 
put Cousin Maria into the Home as matron.' An' 
she does ! Cousin Maria has an easy way of knowin' 
right from wrong: if you ever want to do an3rthing, 
it must be wrong; if you hate it, it's sure to be what 
you ought to do. You kin try one o' them places if 
you want to— I've had enough o' them." 

" I don't want to try," Hazel hastened to declare. 
"Why don't we live in some nice boardin'-house 
where we can do what we want to?" 

Minnie laughed. " Say, but you're green ! " she 
said. "There ain't no nice boardin'-houses where 
six-dollar girls can live. I don't know of one — ^not 
a nice one, but any old kind — ^where you can get room 
an' board for four a week. If you gotta board that 
cheap, it's a cinch you have to pay some other way — 
give some flossy dames the fun of bossing you around 
and kidding themselves they're doin' good. Nobody 
that really respecks you is goin' to board you for four 
a week. Now, what we kin do is this: We kin get 
a pretty punk room in walkin' distance for about 
three a week; or we kin get a better room, far out, for 
maybe two-fifty. That means one-fifty each for the 
punk room, or one-eighty-five each, countin' carfare, 
for the decent one. If we want to live on four a 



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184 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

week, so as to leave something for clothes, amuse- 
ments, and emergencies, we gotta eat twenty-one 
meals every week for two-thirty-five or two-fifty. If 
the meals cost ten cents each, well have a few cents 
over for times when we're extra hungry. Or we 
could have fifteen-cent dinners. But breakfasts have 
got to stay at ten cents or below, you bet." 

** Maybe," ventured Hazel, whose appetite was 
healthy and whose expenditure for clothes and amuse- 
ments had never reached anything like so large a sum 
as two dollars a week, " we won't need so much for 
clothes." 

Minnie regarded her scomf tdly. " You wait and 
see," she admonished. 

Another thing which she had no right to expect hap- 
pened to Hazel: she got work at Minnie's place for 
six a week. It was a factory; but she and Minnie 
were employed in the offices where they filed letters, 
addressed envelopes, and did like work — which was 
better than going into a department store, Minnie ex- 
plained, " because you don't have to buy black clothes 
an' look like you was gettin' at least fifteen." 

For two or three evenings the girls did a little 
desultory room-hunting, then returned to their sour 
little hole where they could sleep, fitfully, only because 
they were so tired, and where they woke almost as- 
phyxiated because one of the members of the family 
from whom they sub-let was a " fresh guy," and they 
had to keep their door closed (it wouldn't lock) and 



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THE GIRL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 185 

tilt their chair so that the back served as a catch for 
the door-handle. 

They inquired, vainly, among their fellow-employes 
about rooms to rent; scanned advertising coltmms, and 
visited a variety of lodgings all distinguished by dirt 
and smells, but differing in such details as price of 
room, extra charge for use of kitchen stove, and so on. 
Finally they decided to " commute," as Minnie called 
it : to take a room far out, in one of the newer build- 
ings which, if they smelled of the present tenants' un- 
cleanness, at least did not cherish the smells of un- 
counted past inhabitants. This meant a forty-minute 
ride, night and morning, in a jammed elevated car 
which was invariably full when the girls got in, so 
that they had to sway, strap-hanging, for both prelude 
and postlude to their day's work which kept them 
almost constantly on their feet. 

However, they got a decent little room, with a 
fairly comfortable bed, for ten dollars a month; and 
their landlady was kind about letting them boil their 
coffee on her gas-stove in the mornings and selling 
them a penny's worth of milk from her own supply. 
They brought rolls in with them when they came home 
at night, and sometimes a couple of eggs or of apples. 
This kept their breakfast cost down to about five cents 
each, on an average. At noon, they could go to a 
bakery lunch-room and have coffee and rolls, or coffee 
and pie, or coffee and doughnuts, for ten cents. The 
coffee was invariable; and usually what went with it 



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186 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

was a sweet something far from filling. At night 
they were voraciously hungry, and the temptation to 
spend more than they could afford had to be fought 
down almost every dinner-hour. 

Minnie always resisted this temptation because she 
was clothes-crazy, and resented the demands of her 
stomach as taking so much from what might else have 
gone on her back. Hazel was a little slow in accus- 
toming herself to insufficient food; when a fifteen- 
cent dinner failed to fill her, she went recklessly on 
and ate another nickel's worth; she was even known 
to supplement her luncheon by five cents' worth of 
jelly-roU or doughnuts which she carried in for sur- 
reptitious consumption in mid-afternoon. Minnie's 
scorn of this improvidence had less effect than Min- 
nie's exemplification of the other course: Minnie was 
able to " blow herself " to an enormous bunch of new 
hair, which had transformed her from what she called 
" a back number " to " something dead swell." Ha- 
zel watched the transformation at home ; she watched 
its effect among their fellow-workers; she tried the 
hair on her own head, and was fascinated by what the 
mirror showed her. Then, moved by Minnie's sudden 
bloom into "style," and by the manner she put on 
along with the new hair, a youth in their department 
asked Minnie to a dance. At once, Hazel's attitude 
toward her stomach changed, and she began to regard 
its demands resentfully. No more surreptitious jelly- 
roll; no more twenty-cent dinners; no more eggs for 



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THE GIRL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 187 

breakfast, at three cents each. She wotild have a 
" bun " of hair, and a broad ribbon bandeau, and be 
taken to a dance. 

Meanwhile, Minnie's beau was causing complica- 
tions. He called one evening soon after the dance. 
It was a rainy evening. The parlour of their land- 
lady's flat, which served also as sleeping-room for 
her two school-girl daughters, was in use : the school- 
girls were entertaining some school-boys. Minnie 
took her young man into her room. In a few min- 
utes the landlady knocked peremptorily at the door. 
When it was opened, she stepped inside and closed 
the door behind her. 

" I can't have nothing like this in my house,*' she 
declared with virtuous indignation. " I got my girls 
to think of, and anyway I'm a respectable lady myself, 
and, even if I wasn't, the other tenants would be sure 
to make trouble if they knew I let to girls that ain't 
partic'lar." 

Minnie's cheeks blazed, and her eyes flashed fire. 
The young man looked uncomfortable, but said noth- 
ing except : " I guess I better go." 

Then Minnie's tears came. She would lose himi 
He would never come again! He would go back to 
the office and tell everybody about this call, and they 
would all laugh ! 

" You ain't any more respectable than I am! " she 
cried. " I can't entertain my comp'ny in the parlour 
when it's full o' kids." 



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138 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

" You ain't payin' rent for no parlour," the land- 
lady retorted. " It belongs to my family." 

" Well, then, I guess I can have who I want in the 
room I am payin' rent for." 

" Not in my house, you can't I " 

"Can't I? Well, so long as I'm behavin' myself, 
I don't take no sass from you nor the likes of you. 
We'll move to-morrow." 

" You're lucky I don't make you move to-night," 
was the parting shot of the landlady. 

" Say ! " burst from the young man, when the in- 
vader had departed, "you got spunk; you're a 
dandy!" 

So Minnie was mollified. She had not lost her 
young man; rather, she had established herself still 
further, it seemed, in his admiring regard. 

She sent word by Hazel next morning that she was 
" sick " and could not go to work; and when she in- 
spected rooms that were for rent she was careful to 
ask about where she might have her company. In no 
place within their means was the parlour available. 
In flats, if the parlour was not rented, it might be 
shared, occasionally, with any member of the family 
who chanced to be sitting in it, although it must be 
vacated when the persons who slept in it wanted to 
go to bed. In lodging-houses the parlour was inva- 
riably rented ; it had to be, to make ends meet for the 
landlady. Some places were particular about men 
company in girls' rooms; some were not. Minnie 



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THE GIRL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 189 

hired a room in a lodging-house whose keeper assured 
her, " What ain't none o* my business I don't see." 
This soon became evident. 

They moved in the evening. The new room was 
not inviting, but they thought that perhaps they could 
make it a little more so. At any rate, it offered 
" freedom," and to girls looking for mates that 
seemed worth any price. There were other girl room- 
ers; and it was not long before Minnie and Hazel had 
to admit, between themselves, that *' things were kind 
of queer." Still, they argued, " so long as we don't 
do anything wrong, it ain't goin' to hurt us what some 
other girls do." But apparently it did. Minnie's 
young man friend who had been attracted by her 
" bun " of hair, and aroused to enthusiasm by her de- 
fiance of conventions, jtunped to the not unnatural 
conclusion that Minnie had no scruples of any kind. 
He gave Hazel half a dollar one evening when he was 
calling, and said: " Here, Kiddo! chase yerself." 

Surmising a proposal of marriage. Hazel reluc- 
tantly withdrew. She went alone to a nickel theatre, 
wandered about the streets for an hour or so, then 
returned to their room. Entering cautiously, she 
heard Minnie sobbing. " He — ^got fresh," was Min- 
nie's anguished reply to her entreaties. " An' when 
I said I wasn't that kind of a girl, he was mad and 
told me I was playing him for a fool." 

Minnie cried all night. She was incensed at hav- 
ing been so misunderstood; she was desolated by the 



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140 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

loss of her young man whom she mourned, m true 
feminine fashion, not as he was but as she fancied 
hun; and she was mortified, because she knew he 
would treat her sneeringly before all their fellow- 
workers, and when called to account for his change 
would not hesitate to tell the reason. Any consoling 
moralist could have told her she ought to be proud 
of the reason; as, indeed, she knew without being 
told. But better fortified persons than poor little 
Minnie have quailed, if they did not waver, when 
their virtue was made sport of. 

It took real courage to go back to work next morn- 
ing; but Minnie went. One thing that helped her 
was her woman's hope that, when he came to think 
things over, he would understand, and be sorry for 
what he had done, and love her better than ever. All 
our early counsels advise us that this is virtue's re- 
ward. Or at least that is the way we interpret them. 
When experience fails to verify this expectation, we 
are very philosophic indeed if we are able to remind 
ourselves that the commonest and most natural effect 
of virtue upon lack of virtue is a fine pretence of con- 
tempt. Maybe it is pretence and maybe it isn't. But 
bravado demands a show of contempt; if we break a 
rule, we must make it appear that we break it, not 
because we haven't strength to keep it, but because 
we hold ourselves too clever to be bound by it. So 
what is there left for us to do toward those who still 
abide by the rule but look down upon their inferior 



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THE GIRL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 141 

intelligence? Even if, in his heart, Minnie's young 
man was forced to respect her, the hurt to his pride 
would never let him acknowledge it And Minnie 
hoped in vain. 

She was very sore of spirit for a while. Then her 
bravado asserted itself. Their fellow-workers knew 
that something had happened between her and Ray; 
not many of them credited her with making the break. 
She must show them! Must let them see that she 
could get another fellow, and a better one than Ray. 
Then maybe they would believe that she had thrown 
Ray down! 

As soon as they could, she and Hazel moved. This 
time they avoided tminquiring landladies, and delib- 
erately bound themselves to entertain no men in their 
room. " I don't care," Minnie said. " The kind of a 
fellow I want is the kind I wouldn't want to have 
know I lived like this, anyway. If he's any good, 
he can find places to take me to when he wants to 
enjoy my society. The kind of fellow that wants to 
sit arotmd in a parlour is a cheap skate, and I don't 
want none o' them. What we gotta do, though, if we 
want to be taken around by fellows that ain't afraid 
to spend, is to get ourselves some clothes, so a swell 
fellow won't be ashamed to be seen with us." 

To this end, they took the least desirable room on 
their list of possibilities ; because they could get it for 
two dollars a week. It had no heat, except such as 
came in from the kitchen, and no light but that of a 



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1*« THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

small glass lamp, and no closet (of course), and there 
was no bathroom; the toilet was down three flights of 
stairs, in a dark closet at the back of a black hall. 
Furthermore, the woman of whom they rented had 
a sickly baby that cried almost incessantly, and a hus- 
band who drank with nearly the same persistence. 
But the place was within walking distance of their 
work — ^not a short walk, but still it could be done — 
and they could spend on clothes just as large a part of 
five dollars weekly as they could induce their stomachs 
to do without. 

It was getting late in October, by this time, and 
every air the girls breathed was full of ''winter 
clothes": the office girls gathered in the washroom 
to discuss ulsters; the girls who sat across the table 
from Minnie and Hazel at the bakery lunch place 
joked merrily about cutting their food allowance to 
the limit, because they were saving to buy new furs 
or velvet shoes or a swell purple hat; the shop win- 
dows, which were one of the chief sources of enter- 
tainment and delight to Minnie and Hazel, were an 
endless display of gaily caparisoned wax ladies with 
velveteen suits and plumed hats and furs whose be- 
comingness was more alluring than their cold-defy- 
ingness; the girls and women in the streets were be- 
ginning to flaunt their winter gear; there was no get- 
ting away from the thing. 

But the best compromise they could make with their 
stomachs did not leave them quite three dollars a week 



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THE GIHL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 143 

for' clothes. Of course they did their own washing 
and semi-occasional ironing; for the former they had 
to buy naphtha soap, because only cold water was 
available; for the privilege of doing a bit of the latter 
at the landlady's range on Sunday mornings, they 
paid a dime. Their daily and Sunday newspaper 
— which, obedient to one of the wisest of her instincts, 
is among the last things a working girl will deny her- 
self — cost them eleven cents weekly. They limited 
their indulgence in nickel shows to two a week; 
their candy allowance to rare half-pounds from the 
five-and-ten-cent stores; their carfares to nothing at 
all. Yet the clothes funds grew slowly — ^very slowly. 
One week Minnie had to have shoes. She bought 
velvet ones, which were what her heart craved; but 
even to her far-from-finicky taste, they mocked her 
battered hat and shabby suit, heart-breakingly. 

" By the time I get me a suit, or a ulster, and a 
good hat, the shoes'U be frights," Minnie wailed. " I 
can't get a hat fit to look at under $4.98 — ^that's two 
weeks off; and by the time I've got twelve or fifteen 
dollars saved for a coat or suit, it'll be Christmas 1 " 

This dilemma, disclosed in a burst of washroom 
confidence, led one of the other girls to ask Minnie 
why she didn't try the installment plan. Minnie was 
dumfounded, because she had never thought of it. 

"The ninny I am!" she cried. "An' me starin' 
them ads. in the face every day I live. Where's a 
good one o' them places? " 



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144 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

The girl recommended several, but one in particu- 
lar. " I get everything there," she went on. " It's a 
reg'lar department store — that one is. Some is only 
for ready-made clothin'. But at WefBer's you can 
buy shoes an' gloves an' veils and jew'lry an' toilet 
articles, and anything. You have to tell 'em where 
you work, an' how much you get I guess they rub- 
ber around some, to make sure you ain't stringin' 'em. 
Then you pay a dollar down, an' a dollar a week, or 
so. 

A dollar a week I And wear your clothes while 
you're paying for them I It was a " cinch," as Minnie 
said. 

That evening she and Hazel could hardly think of 
eating — they were so excited. They had a hasty 
" supper " of coffee and doughnuts, and hurried, their 
hearts beating deliriously, to the big "emporium" 
where, on the payment of only " a dollar down," they 
wotdd be able to select a winter wardrobe. 

Hazel had determined on a suit, a hat, a silk waist, 
a pair of kid gloves, velvet shoes, and possibly a set 
of furs. Minnie was charmed with the new ulsters — 
double- face cloth with self-trimming, and big buttons; 
she could see her outfit in her mind's eye : gray ulster, 
with purple cuffs, revers, and sailor collar; purple hat 
to match; purple kid gloves; and a purple messaline 
dress. 

They spent nearly three hours in the emporium — 
hours of pure ecstasy. And they tried to be prudent 



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THE GIRL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 146 

in the face of so much temptation. Minnie sacrificed 
a velvet hat for a quite plain one of felt, and forced 
herself to turn from a purple messaline with gold lace 
trimming to one adorned simply with cream-coloured 
net. Hazel vacillated a long time between fur and 
feathers, feeling that she hardly dared have both. 
She had on her blue velveteen suit, pinned for altera- 
tions; and she tried the effect of furs and a plain hat, 
feathered hat and no furs, till Minnie declared Wef- 
fler's would charge her for wear and tear on them all. 

The salesgirl tried to help. " Are they for best or 
everyday wear?" she asked. 

" For both," Hazel laughed. 

" Then I b'leeve Td take the furs an* the plainer 
hat. An' I dunno but I'd git me a cloth suit. They 
ain't so dressy; but if you wear velveteen to work in, 
it gits awful mangy-lookin'." 

"That's right," Minnie counselled. "An' the 
woman that calls you down if you wear too flossy 
things might tell you you couldn't wear that suit to 
work. Then you'd be sore I'* 

" I hear they're doin' that now in some places," the 
salesgirl said. " O' course they do it in the depart- 
ment stores. But wouldn't it jar you when they get 
t' doin' it in fact'ries!" 

" We work in an office," Minnie declared with dig- 
nity. 

But Hazel accepted the advice given Her, and 
though the department manager demurred about put- 



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146 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

ting the pin-marked velveteen back in stock and tak- 
ing a double amount of fitter's time to pin a cloth suit, 
he finally yielded. And Minnie and Hazel, feeling 
that they had been very prudent indeed, were not so 
dismayed as they might well have been, when their 
respective purchases footed up to $41.75 and 
$42.47. 

On these amounts they must pay at least $1.75 a 
week, and of course they understood that the longer 
they took to pay the more their interest would mount 
up. They hadn't thought about interest; but they 
didn't say so. They agreed, however, to pay $2.00 
a week each. That meant that by April, when they 
needed spring clothes, they would have the winter 
ones paid for. It seemed providentially kind and 
simple — ^this " Weffler's Way " that they were learn- 
ing. 

" And if we get up against it fer underdo'es, we 
can get 'em here — can't we? " Minnie asked. 

" Surest thing you know," was the response ; which 
so assured Minnie that she added fifty cents to her 
bill, and ordered a bunch of artificial violets to put 
the finishing touch of elegance to her ulster. Hazel 
refrained from a similar extravagance; for Hazel had 
not yet bought her new hair, and her hat would " look 
fierce " until she got it. 

The new clothes were turned over to them on Fri- 
day evening, and worn to work on Saturday — ^with 
effect electrical: two of the best-looking fellows in 



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THE GIRL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 147 

the mailing-cage asked Minnie and Hazel to go to sup- 
per with them that evening " and take in a show." 

"You see," said Minnie when they were back in 
their little room at midnight, " what a difference a 
few good clothes make ! If you want to get any no- 
tion took of you, you gotta have some style about you. 
And anyway! Them clothes has saved us some 
money a'ready — ^got us free dinners an' free shows — 
an'U save us more. Say ! that hamburger was bad — 
huh? My! I didn't know there was anythin' in the 
world as good as that and them German f rys. Hon- 
est, I didn't." 

The attentions of the young men continued — ^not 
often to the extent of suppers and twenty-cent shows, 
for the young men earned only $12 a week, and they 
knew nothing of such self-denying frugalities as Min- 
nie and Hazel practised; but often to the extent of 
nickel shows and sometimes to the extent of a Satur- 
day night dance. But it was impossible to stay longer 
than an hour at a moving-picture show; the November 
nights were far too chill to permit of much comfort 
out of doors; and one cannot dance every night and 
work every day, even if one had the price of so many 
dances. Of Social Settlements and their classes Min- 
nie and Hazel knew nothing. Minnie had a bitter 
aversion for all benevolence, bom of her experiences 
in " Homes " that were ill-managed. Hazel had no 
prejudices, but she shared Minnie's apathy with re- 
gard to self-improvement. They had no yearning to 



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148 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

join any kind of a ''class." They craved pleasure* 
and opportunity to exercise their feminine wiles to 
charm a mate. They would dearly have loved a hay- 
ride or a sleigh-ride, a candy-pull or a men's hat-trim- 
ming contest with its shrieks of superior feminine 
glee. They could have giggled coyly through " kiss- 
ing games," or played merrily at tableaux or charades; 
have bobbed for apples at Hallowe'en, or stalked in 
sheet and pillowcase, mystifying their best friends by 
comic devices. But none of these innocent gaieties 
came within their range. So they did what they 
could. 

When Joe and Walter took them to a nickel show, 
and they were out in the street again at eight-thirty, 
there was just one place, or one kind of place, that 
the boys knew of where they could go : into the back 
or side room of some saloon. If they went to a soda 
fountain they were expected to drink hurriedly and 
give place to others. But in one of these *' family " 
rooms, reached through the " ladies' entrance," they 
could have a table for quite a while for the price of 
four beers. The room was warm ; usually there were 
a number of other young people at the other tables; 
almost always there was " something doing " in the 
way of music : a phonograph or piano-player with an 
inexhaustible repertory of ragtime and popular songs ; 
sometimes there would be a little impromptu dancing, 
or some fellow who had, or thought he had, a voice, 
would sing to the *' canned " accompaniment. It was 



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THE GIRL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 149 

gay; and at first it looked as innocent as a country 
school-house spelling-bee. The girls did not touch 
the beer at first. Later, to avoid " bein' kidded/' they 
drank a little. 

Their semi-starved bodies responded pleasurably to 
the least bit of alcoholic stimulant; the glow felt won- 
derfully good to them; and by and by they craved 
it — found themselves looking forward to "a 
glass of something" when their day's work was 
done. 

At dances it sometimes happened that a fellow with 
whom they had taken a drink " got fresh " ; but the 
girls "called him " in no timid tones, and nearly al- 
ways he laughed it off, and no offence was taken. 
Once in a while some unknown, on the street, or at a 
nickel show, would chance a " Hello, Kiddo," but with 
no response. Minnie and Hazel were happy, as girls 
incline to be, with Joe and Walter; every work-day 
was fun, because the boys worked beside them; sev- 
eral evenings a week were red-letter evenings, spent 
in a gay quartette; Sundays nearly always had some 
little pleasuring. Two dollars a week went regularly 
and quite ungrudgingly to Weffler; and things were 
going very well indeed, according to the girls' idea 
of things, when business went into its January slump, 
and Minnie and Hazel were both " laid off." 

Things were dull everywhere. There is always 
room at the top, but seldom at the bottom for all who 
crowd there with their meagre efficiency. Minnie 



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160 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

and Hazel were totally unskilled; they had neither 
special ability, nor general intelligence. It was a fore- 
gone conclusion that unless some intercession were 
made for them, some powerful influence exerted in 
their behalf, they would not be re-absorbed into the 
world's work until another seasonal rush created a de- 
mand for cheap " extras." 

But they did not realize this. Their experience was 
exceedingly limited, and no part of their colossally 
futile " education " had dealt out to them the most 
fundamental, kindergarten ideas about supply and 
demand, the uncertainties of the market for unskilled 
or semi-skilled labour, or anything like that ; althotigh 
it had caused them to struggle with cube-root and to 
memorize a vast number of grammar rules which had 
no relation to language as the persons of their sphere 
used it to express themselves, and had held it shameful 
not to know the date of Brandywine and the gist of 
the Monroe doctrine. 

So Minnie and Hazel stumbled more and more de- 
spairingly on; hunting for work as best they knew 
how to hunt, and picking up what few crumbs of in- 
formation they could get about the labour situation 
from other girls only a degree " wiser " and bitterer 
than themselves. They knew of no one they could 
go to for advice or for help. Joe and Walter 
" staked " them to a dinner now and then ; the land- 
lady was willing to wait as long as there seemed any 
hope of the girls getting work and paying her up- 



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THE GIRL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 161 

but if she let their debt grow too huge, the probability 
of their ever discharging it would be remote; and she, 
poor creature, had her main subsistence off what they 
paid her. Quite promptly, on the failure of their 
weekly payment, Weffler's collector came, employing 
the time-honoured methods of "bawling out" and 
threatening. His manner made the girls, apprehend 
nothing less than State's prison if their payments were 
not made. And no one had ever instructed them as 
to their rights, nor as to their wrongdoing, in a case 
like this. The same smirking complacence which had 
taught them cube-root, but not usurers' interest and 
their ways of collecting what the law does not allow, 
had taught them to pronounce the names of places on 
the field of Waterloo, but not to reckon what is and 
what is not a justifiable debt to incur or, having in- 
curred a debt, what is the legal and what the moral 
responsibility therefor. 

Because WefHer's collector was so terrifying they 
began to hate Weffler; to feel as if he had entrapped 
them. They forgot how eager they had been about 
" WefHer's Way," and how foolhardily they had reck- 
oned their ability to pay. They were hungry. They 
cooked coffee, mornings, on the landlady's stove, and 
ate dry rolls for breakfast. Luncheon they tried to 
forget about. Dinner was more coffee and dry rolls 
unless the boys bought them a meal. Hungry crea- 
tures snarl easily; and the girls resented the pathetic 
eagerness with which the landlady, her wailing baby 



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16a THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

at her flabby breast, would question them as to the 
result of their day's seeking; they thought she was 
trying to press them, and they overlooked her need to 
be pressing. Nothing made life even briefly endur- 
able except the occasional "glass of something" 
which the boys provided in those back or side 
rooms. 

Hungry creatures snarl easily, and they breed rap- 
idly. Cattle perishing of hunger on the plains, hu- 
man beings dying of famine in India or China, multi- 
ply like rabbits. There are two extremes that affect 
the passions: hunger and over- feeding; but want 
gnaws wildly, and repletion tends to somnolence. 
Nature has no morals as we define morality; and Na- 
ture in these girls was crying for food and crying, 
too, in the interests of the future— crying that, 
whether they lived or whether they died, life should 
go on, and on. 

No part of their " education " had taught them to 
recognize that cry or how to answer it. Blindly they 
fought Nature in their waking hours, and while they 
slept she tormented them in dreams. No one stood 
by to tell them what it all meant, to fortify them for 
this so unequal fight. 

One evening when they came in from their fruit- 
less seeking they found their landlady sobbing, her 
head buried in her arms outstretched upon the kitchen 
table. It was Saturday; " he " had been paid off at 
four o'clock, and she had gone to his place of em- 



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THE GIRL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 168 

ployment, hoping to^get some of his wages before he 
reached a saloon with them. 

" The rent's due, and I asked him f er it. He cursed 
me awful, an' yelled out that I should git it from 
youse," she sobbed. '* I don't want to press you girls. 
I was in your fix a lot. o' times before I got married — 
that was why I took a chance on him. Good God I 
We're in fer it, whichever way we turn — ^us 
women!" 

Sullenly the girls boiled their cheap coffee and ate 
their bread. They were going to a dance with the 
boys, and they hoped that some one, during the even- 
ing, would buy them a little food along with " a glass 
of something." 

When Hazel and Walter were ready to start home 
they could not find Joe or Minnie. ... It was cold 
winter dawn-light when Minnie came in. 

*'For God's sake where you been?" Hazd cried, 
wildly. 

Minnie flung herself on the bed without un- 
dressing. 

*' Where I never thought I'd be! " she laughed hys- 
terically. " I've given up, Hazel ; there ain't no more 
fight left in me. I gotta eat, and I dassent be particu- 
lar how I do it. I gotta have a bed to sleep on, and 
I dassent be particular who pays fer it — ^because / 
canU. Joe says he'd ask me to marry him, but he 
can't— on twelve a week. So we're — goin' to do the 
next best thing." 



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164 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

There was a moment's silence. Hazel understood, 
but no immediate reply came to her. 

"You're shocked," Minnie taunted, self-defen- 
sively. 

" I'm not," Hazel retorted. " I don't fed like I'm 
any better'n you, or you're any worse'n me. That 
ain't got nothin' to do with it, as I can see. We're 
up against it — ^you see yer way out an' I don't see 
mine — ^I don't blame you. I know it ain't what you 
would of done if you could of had a show. But — 
well, I guess it's just the way you feel ; you feel like 
it was worth that to live; / don't That's all." 

Minnie melted. " It's on'y to see me through," 
she wept, her head on Hazel's shoulder. " I ain't 
goin' to stick to it a minute longer'n I have to. When 
the spring rush comes on I'm goin' back t' work. But 
I can't live on hopes an' virtue." 

"Minnie!" 

Hazel was on her feet, staring wildly, as if some- 
thing had suddenly run amuck in her poor, dazed 
brain. 

In the tenement hallway, as they talked, they had 
heard the stimibling, drunken footsteps of their land- 
lord. As Hazel jumped to her feet, they heard his 
wife's shrill scream of terror. 

Hazel clapped both hands to her ears, but there was 
no drowning out the sound of blows. She toppled 
faintly toward the door, opened it, and was gone. 

" Hazel ! He'll hurt you," Minnie screamed. But 



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THE GIRL WHO EARNS $6 A WEEK 166 

Hazel did not answer. Fear-frozen, Minnie sat on 
the edge of their dingy bed, and waited. In a minute 
or two, which seemed like an eternity, two frowsy, 
semi-attired men from the floor below, came carrying 
Hazel. They had picked her up, a limp bit of human 
wreckage, in the dark hallway, four floors below. 



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VII 
MINIMUM WAGE 

THE last article written by William T. Stead 
for his own publication, The Review of Re- 
views, and so far as we know the last thing 
he wrote before going down to his death in the Ti- 
tanic, was on the outcome of the recent coal strike in 
England, and the passing of the Minimum Wage bill. 
The concluding paragraph of that valedictory ar- 
ticle is this: 

"When the Minitnutn bill was passing, a Scandinavian ob- 
server in the Lobby said: 'This is the greatest event that has 
happened since the French Revolution/ And a vision of a new 
Heaven and a new earth has undoubtedly begun to dawn on 
many darkened eyes all over the world." 

Therewith a trenchant pen concluded an advocacy 
of more than forty years in the passionate service of 
humanity. 

What is this vision of a new earth which is dawn- 
ing on darkened eyes all over the world? It is this: 

"The body is not one member, but many. . . . And whether 
one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one 
member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it." 

Or, as a decree of the United States Supreme Court 

reminds us, the welfare of the whole nation is "no 

166 



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MINIMUM WAGE 167 

greater than the sum of all its parts " ; for " when the 
individual health, safety, and welfare are sacrificed or 
neglected, the state must suffer/' 

We have endeavoured very valiantly, especially in 
the years since the French Revolution, to palliate the 
suffering of some members of our social body. We 
are waking to a realization that most of our earnest 
charity is no better than an opiate : it deadens pain but 
does not cure the cause; and it breeds, like all opiates, 
a horrid habit. 

For a long time we handed out this palliation more 
or less unquestioningly; it eased our consciences, and 
it seemed to ease a little of the world's want and pain 
— for which we felt so comfortably irresponsible ! 

Then we advanced in diagnosis ; we saw that what 
we have been doing is a weak evasion, as if we were 
keeping down the pain of an ulcer with morphine 
and disregarding the practical certainty of blood- 
poisoning. We have learned, too, that circulation in 
the social system is as circuit-completing as in the 
physical. 

And now, because we know we are one body with 
many members, we are alarmed by the ntunber of 
impotent poultices we wear, and by the danger of 
blood-poisoning. We demand that these poultices be 
stripped off; we look, not without nausea, at the 
sores; and we cry to Science for a cure. 

Science replies to us that a cure cannot be local: 
it must reach back to prime causes; that the outward 



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168 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

sore is but the indication of impure blood, and to 
attack the sore without purifying the blood is only 
to leave the evil germs to make a new attack. We 
have known this for some time in physiology; we are 
only waking to it in sociology. And that is the vision 
of a new earth which has begun to dawn. 

People used to believe that disease was a dispensa- 
tion from God. When they learned that it was, very 
largely, a penalty of dirt and disorder, we will hope 
that they apologized to the Deity for their former im- 
piety. They used to think that pestilence was "a 
visitation," and that it could not be cured. Now we 
know that it can flourish only throtigh gross negli- 
gence — ^and it is practically eradicated from the civ- 
aized world. There are still some people who think 
that poverty — other people's poverty! — is either by 
the will of God or because the poor " have got all they 
deserve "; and that insanity and immorality and crime 
are devastating disorders that must be endured. But 
they are not ! They are the outcome of gross negli- 
gence; and they can be as nearly eradicated as is 
smallpox, from which, also, the world suffered 
through many centuries until we learned how to pre- 
vent iti 

And that is why the passing of the Minimum Wage 
bill was understandingly pronounced the "greatest 
event that has happened since the French Revolu- 
tion." Because it proclaims our discovery that, just 
as there was once a degree of filth which bred small- 



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MINIMUM WAGE 169 

pox that rotted kings on their thrones as well as peas- 
ants in their huts, so there is a degree of poverty 
which breeds grievous disorders that we have no right 
to bear and every right to eradicate. 

England has realized that when the father of a 
family delved in the bowels of the earth for the coal 
which is the essential basis of England's prosperity, 
and got for his long day of fatiguing, life-endanger- 
ing labour less than five shillings ($1.20), he was not 
being paid enough to sustain himself and his family 
in decency and safety; enough to maintain them in 
health and in surroundings which might encourage 
self-respect and discourage vice, crime, and other dis- 
orders of poverty. What standard of htunan effi- 
ciency it is possible to maintain on $7.20 a week, 
without obliging the wife to become a wage-earner, 
to the neglect of her children, or sending the children 
to work at the earliest moment the law will allow, it 
is not the purpose of this one small article to discuss. 

This is an attempt to state the urgent economic 
necessity of a minimum wage law for women workers 
in these United States; of laws, rather — for each 
State must, of course, make its own. 

In 1900 there were in the United States, according 
to the reports of the census, 4,833,630 women bread- 
winners of 16 years and over, or one out of every 
five in the population. The Government has under- 
taken to find out all it can about the earnings of 
those millions of women; how many of them are corn- 



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160 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

pletely self-supporting; how many are the partial or 
sole support of others besides themselves; ^nd so on. 
And on the nth of May, 191 1, the Commonwealth 
of Massachusetts authorized its Governor to "ap- 
point a commission of five persons, citizens of the 
Commonwealth, of whom at least one shall be a 
woman, one shall be a representative of labour, and 
one shall be a representative of employers, to study 
the matter of wages of women and minors, and to 
report on the advisability of establishing a board or 
boards to which shall be referred inquiries as to the 
need and feasibility of fixing minimum rates of wages 
for women or minors in any industry/' The com- 
mission presented its report in January, 1912. 

The Massachusetts census of 1905 gave the total 
number of females gainfully employed in that State 
as 380,675. Many of these were in the cotton textile 
industry, which was admirably covered in the Fed- 
eral investigation, and the Massachusetts commission 
made use of these figures and added to them its own 
investigation of three others : retail stores, candy fac- 
tories, and laundries. "Thus altogether, informa- 
tion, more or less detailed but all of a thoroughly re- 
liaUe character, being based upon payrolls and first 
hand inquiries by trained investigators, was gathered 
covering 15,278 female wage-earners engaged in four 
diflferent occupations in the Commonwealth," 

They found that 41 per cent, of the candy workers, 
10.2 per cent of the saleswomen, 16. i per cent of 



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MINIMUM WAGE 161 

the laundry workers, and 23 per cent, of the cotton 
workers earn less than five dollars a week; and that 
65.2 per cent, of the candy workers, 29.5 per cent, of 
the saleswomen, 40.7 per cent, of the laundry work- 
ers, and 39.9 per cent, of the cotton workers earn less 
than six dollars a week. 

The Government found that considerably more 
than a fourth of the store girls and women and just 
a third of the factory girls and women investigated 
earn less than six dollars a week; and that more than 
two-thirds of them earn less than eight dollars a week. 

The Government figures show that more than one- 
fifth of these girls and women are completely self- 
dependent and in many cases the partial or whole sup- 
port of others (on an average wage of $7.33, which 
high average more than a fourth of them do not come 
within $1.33 of touching) ; and of those who live at 
home, more than four-fifths contribute their entire 
earnings to the family fund. 

" What," asks the Government report, " has this 
condition to do with the faith current among so many 
employers and accepted by the public that the girls 
who have homes work only for 'pin-money'?'* 

And what constitutes the right of the employer to 
make his wages to women on a pin-money basis, 
smugly replying to all criticism that he knows 
girls cannot live on the wages he pays but that he 
" endeavours to employ only girls living at home "? 

If a girl worker is a member of a family of fhre 



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162 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

who all work (the mother as housekeeper for the 
group) and they live in five rooms for which they 
pay $3.25 a week, her share of the rent will be 65 
cents. If the heat and light cost $1.50 a week, her 
share will be 30 cents. If the furniture cost $300 
and the annual upkeep is $25, her share of the in- 
terest on the inviestment and of the repair and re- 
placements will be 15 cents a week. If the cost of 
food for five is $10, her share will be $2. And if 
the services of the mother are reckoned at $8 a week 
(based on rates for housework, with board) the 
girl's share will be $1.60. This totals $4.70 which 
a girl living in a decent home should contribute as 
her share of its support. 

The same authorities (30 prominent social workers 
in conference on "what it would cost a woman of 
average ability, initiative, and intelligence when liv- 
ing at home, and also when living away from home, 
to secure the necessary comforts of life ") estimated 
the fair personal expenses of such a worker to be : 

Carfares $a52 

Qothes 1.92 

Dentistry, doctor's fees, medicine, ocnlist 5a 

Recreation and vacation 54 

Education (papers, magazines) .07 

Church 10 

$3.67 

This would put the minimum wage for such a 

worker at $8.37 a week exclusive of savings or in- 

sturance, and taking for granted 52 weeks of pay — 



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MINDIUM WAGE 168 

which only a small fraction of all these workers 
receive. 

So that if an employer hires a girl or woman, a 
member of an average family who live in a tenement 
even as decent as can be rented for $14 a month, and 
knows that she is one of four wage-earners none of 
whom contributes less than $4.70 a week to the 
family support, he can justify himself in paying her 
less than $8.37 a week only by denying her right to 
spend $100 a year on clothes, or $27 a year on the 
preservation of her health, or a little more than that 
on a two weeks' vacation and fifty weeks of such 
recreation as can be bought for twenty-five cents a 
week. Yet few girls working for a low weekly wage 
live in families where there are three other continu- 
ously employed woricers none of whom contributes 
less than $4.70 to the family budget. And 57.5 per 
cent, of store employes and 74.3 per cent, of factory 
workers earn less than $8 a week. 

For the girl or woman not living at home, the fol- 
lowing estimate was made: 

Rent and carfare $3.00 

Food 4.00 

Laundry 55 

Qothes 1.92 

Dentistry, doctor's fees, medicine and oculist's fees . • 43 

Recreation and vacation .54 

Church 10 

Education (newspapers) .07 

Total $1060 



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164 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

Here, again, is no margin for unemployment, sick- 
ness, accident, nor for saving toward old age; nor 
for those contributions to needy relatives which 
almost every self-supporting woman makes. 

In determining what rent a woman should be able 
to pay to maintain her efficiency and her self-respect, 
the conference decided that: 

"She should have a window in her room. 

" She should have a room larger than a hall bedroom because 
this room is her home, where she receives her friends of both 
sexes and passes her leisure. 

"She should have a heated room, and not have to rely on 
an oil or gas stove for heat, on account of her health. 

"The standard should not require her to live in one room 
with another woman. She may prefer to do so, but most wage- 
earners over twenty-five, where they can possibly do so, room 
alone, showing a willingness to sacrifice other things for privacy." 

Rooms of this sort, comfortably furnished, lighted, 
and heated, in respectable rooming houses within 
walking distance of industrial centres, are hard to 
find for less than $3.00 a week. 

" The principles considered in determining a standard of food 
were that it should be sufficient in quantity, quality, and variety, 
to preserve health/' 

Four dollars a week for food allows 15 cents each 
for breakfast and luncheon, and 25 cents for dinner, 
with 15 cents a week for fruit or other extras. 

"Board and lodging with heat and light would be $7.00 a 
week at the lowest in a decent boarding house with a standard 
room." (This was based on Boston prices. They are hardly 
lower in any of the principal cities, although they would be 
considerably less in small communities.) 



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MINBIUM WAGE 166 

The laundry allowance is based on the presump- 
tion that the girl will wash her own handkerchiefs, 
stockings, flannels, and send away principally shirt- 
waists and a limited supply of muSlin underwear. 

With one hundred dollars a year to spend for 
clothing a worker who refrains from the tax on her 
strength of more sewing at night than is necessitated 
by mending and remodelling will have to be an intel- 
ligent buyer to make a good appearance on that dress 
allowance. The St. George's Working Girls' Qub 
of New York City estimated $65.85 as the smallest 
practicable yearly expenditure for clothing for a self- 
supporting girl in New York. But they reckoned on 
two pairs of $2 shoes, which is insufficient for most 
girls ; and their allowance was based on such items as 
" I flannel petticoat, 25 cents; 4 corset covers at 25 
cents, $1 ; 2 combination suits at 50 cents, $1 ; and so 
on — ^including two hats at $2.50, $5." Whereas in 
the Working Girls' Budgets tabulated by Mrs. Qark 
and Miss Wyatt ("Making Both Ends Meet") few 
girls were found who were able to dress themselves 
for $65 a year, even when they earned much less than 
the $8 a week which the St George's Qub estmiated 
as the smallest wage on which a girl could live in 
decent comfort and have a margin of $65 for clothes. 

And this brings us to the question propounded: 
"Who pays the deficit?" 

From $8 to $10 is the variously computed mini- 
mum at which a woman or girl worker may maintain 



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166 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

efficiency by affording herself "the necessary com- 
forts of life." Less than a third of our women or 
girl workers earn so much as $8 a week. Who pays 
the deficit? 

If the underpaid girl lives at home, and contributes 
less than her fair share of the family expense, her 
father — if she has one, and he is working and paying 
all that he earns for day-to-day family upkeep- 
pays part of the deficit, either by having to forego 
saving for his old age, or by a continued denial of 
his desire for comforts. 

The average workingman has reached the zenith of 
his earning powers long before he has a child old 
enough to go to work. He has probably, while sup- 
porting a wife and three or four or more children, been 
able to make no provision for those days of declining 
industrial worth which set in so comparatively early 
for him. When his daughter goes to work, she 
should be able to relieve the strain by a little more 
than the cost of her keep; but she should be able to 
do it without those hardships of renunciation to which 
so very many of our young workers are driven by 
their parents' desperate desire to save against old 
age. 

The girl's mother pays part of the deficit if the 
household budget is too small to provide her with a 
share of tmchallenged income for her personal de- 
sires. 

The girl's yotmger brothers and sisters pay a part 



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MINDIUM WAGE 167 

of the deficit if they have to be hurried into the wage- 
earning ranks the moment the law will allow, re- 
gardless of whether they are fitted to take a place 
in industry that may give them a good opportunity 
for competence. (About 90 per cent, of the boys 
and even more of the girls who leave school at or 
under fourteen to go to work enter industries whose av- 
erage weekly wage for all employes is under $10. 
And so great a commonwealth as Massachusetts has 
to admit that only 2 per cent, of her army of child- 
workers are in high-grade industries where they can 
hope to maintain themselves and, eventually, their 
families in decent comfort.) 

And the girl herself pays the deficit in many ways. 
She almost undoubtedly pays part of it in too-crowded 
living quarters where she has no parlour to which 
she can bring her friends (obliging her to have her 
social life in the amusement parks and dance halls 
and skating rinks and on the crowded streets, all 
beyond the guardianship of her parents) and where 
dhe sleeps in a small, perhaps unventilated, room with 
one or two other members of the family. The phys- 
ical drain of modem industry, with its constantly in- 
creasing tendency toward " speeding up," is frightful. 
And the recuperation so desperately needed is hard 
to get in such sleeping quarters as the vast majority 
of underpaid working girls are herded into. She 
pays it in insufficient food, quite certainly. (Pro- 
fessor Frank Underbill of Yale estimates that of 



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168 THE WORK-A-DAY GIKL 

families with less than $600 income 76 per cent, are 
underfed; they eat actually less than enough to repair 
the waste of tissues and supply heat and energy.) 
Or, if she does not pay in hunger for food, she must 
pay in hunger for pretty clothes and for girlish pleas- 
ures, as well as in foregoing a vacation and probably 
in neglecting her teeth or other things necessary to 
her health. 

And when the girl is idle (as the " seasonal '* nature 
of many industries causes so many thousands of girls 
to be for weeks out of every year) the family pays the 
deficit in supporting the girl whose inadequate wages 
have left her nothing to save. If she is ill, the family 
pays if it can — ^if not, the community pays with its 
clinics and hospitals. 

The " girl adrift," as the Government characterizes 
the girl not living at home and solely dependent on 
her own resources, pays the deficit in hunger of some 
sort, if not of many sorts. Most commonly she pays 
it in hunger for food. If she does not do this, she 
denies herself many little indulgences in dress and 
pleasure, which denial is more than likely to make her 
bitter in heart. 

She pays in health if she tries to save in the price 
of lodging; if she wearies herself by working at night, 
washing and ironing, mending and making, to present 
a decent appearance without sacrifice of sufficient 
food; if she neglects her eyes or her teeth because 
she cannot afford to have them attended to; if she 



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MINIMUM WAGE 169 

cannot give herself a restful vacation; if she is ner- 
vous, yet forces herself to keep down her room-rent 
by having a room-mate whose tastes clash with hers; 
and so on. 

Sometimes she pays that deficit in morals; not 
because she is weaker than she should be, but because 
the pressure upon her is much stronger than it has 
any right to be. Where she resists, she shows a 
sturdy power far, far beyond what I dare to believe 
I should have under equal pressure, to be met with 
equal advantages. When she falls, it is seldom if 
ever for clothes, or even for food — ^in the first in- 
stance. She falls because she thinks some fellow 
loves her; and the strongest desire in her is, by 
Nature's ordering, the desire for love. Afterward — 
when she feels that, having begun, she may as well 
go on — she may cold-bloodedly acknowledge to her- 
self, and even to you, that she is " in it " for fun or 
for feathers. But the vilest vulture that preys on 
the weakness of girls will admit that they must prac- 
tically always be wooed to the downward path with 
some pretence of love. 

And, lastly, the community pays that deficit — ^in 
part. The community helps to ease the mind of 
many employers every time it contributes toward the 
support of some Home where girls adrift may board 
for $2.50 or for $3 a week. There are never enough 
of these places to house one in a hundred of the girls 
adrift. But without troubling to find that out, or to 



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170 THE WORK-ADAY GIKL 

remember it if the fact has been called to his atten- 
tion, the salary-paring superintendent, eager to make 
a great showing for his hundred-million-dollar 
boss, goes on hiring girls at wages no girl can live 
on; and, if reprehended, retorts that "there are 
plenty of Homes where they can get board for $2.50 
a week." 

The conununity pays the deficit of those girls in 
other ways; in fresh air charities and vacation funds; 
in tubercular asylums; in clinics and hospitals; in 
Homes for the Aged Poor, and for the friendless; in 
Juvenile and Night Courts; in Maternity Homes and 
Erring Women's Refuges; in industrial schools; and 
sometimes in prisons and houses of correction. Only 
8 per cent, of the women in our penal institutions are 
serious oflfenders; the others are what are known as 
" accidental or occasional " criminals, and those that 
have come out of the industrial world have come, 
almost without exception, out of the ranks of the 
poorly paid. 

For an employer to answer his workers, and you 
and me, that he cannot afford to make up any of this 
deficit is no excuse. As the report of the Massachu- 
setts Commission says : " If an industry is perma- 
nently dependent for its existence on underpaid 
labour, its value to the Commonwealth is question- 
able." 

But few, if any, industries are so dependent. The 
cost of labour in a potmd of chocolates which whole- 



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MINBIUM WAGE 171 

sale at fifty cents is from 4 to 5J4 cents. What part 
of the other 45 cents may be charged to the cost of 
materials, overhead charges, and cost of doing busi- 
ness I do not attempt to say; although it seems doubt- 
ful that a manufacturer would let them total much 
more than four times the cost of labour — which would 
still leave him a net profit of 100 per cent. 

A company owning a number of five-and-ten-cent 
stores, and wishing to increase its capital stock, 
assured prospective shareholders that: 

" Five-cent articles cost $2.50 to $5.50 per gross, 
and ten-cent articles $5.50 to $11 per gross, showing 
a profit of 33 per cent, to 188 per cent, on the cost." 

Yet there is almost no other labour in the country 
so poorly paid as that of the overworked girls in the 
five-and-ten-cent stores. 

Boston finds that more than 12 per cent, of its girls 
and women employed in retail businesses receive help 
from organized charity. The percentage would 
probably be higher in some other cities. Think of 
this, the next time you pridefuUy escort a country 
cousin through one of your city's many-million-dollar 
department stores. Think of it, you in the small 
town, the next time you gloat over a " bargain " in 
your five-and-ten-cent store. 

The man-of-many-millions who owns an ocean-to- 
ocean chain of five-and-ten-cent stores cannot answer 
you that, out of his hundred per cent, gross profit, he 
is unable to pay his girl employes a living wage. He 



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172 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

must answer, if you can get him to answer at all, that 
while the wage he pays " may not be " half enough 
to subsist on, it is all the girls are worth to him, and 
that he never has the slightest difficulty in getting 
plenty of girls to work for it. 

And as long as the Law allows him to so do, he 
may take advantage of its latitude and try to cut the 
throats of such competitive merchants as hceve seen 
a vision of a new day and are endeavouring to live by 
it. Even in the days when sea-piracy was at its worst 
there was a preponderance of men whose consciences 
were infinitely above such villainy. But it was grimly 
enforced Law on the high seas that put down piracy 
— ^and not the example of the conscientious. 

A noble example of enlightened and high-minded 
merchandizing has recently been given in Boston, 
where the following circtdar was issued : 

MINIMUM WAGE SCALE 

EFFECTIVE BEGINNING MARCH I, I912 

Much work has been done by our employ^, by the 
Filene Co-operative Association, and by the Manage- 
ment to increase the efficiency of our force. In view 
of this and also of the needs of our coming New 
Store, we believe the time has come when we can 
justly and for the benefit of the business make the 
following announcement: 



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MINIMUM WAGE 178 

The study of conditions has convinced the man- 
agement that a female must have a wage of at least 
$8.00 to pay her way, living even very moderately. 
While a great part of our female force now receives 
more than $8.00 a week (our saleswomen, for in- 
stance, averaging $10.00), we have apprentices, bun- 
dle desk girls, examiners, etc., who now get less than 
$8.00 per week. 

With this in mind, and believing that every one 
in our employ can make themselves worth $8.00 a 
week, beginning March i, we shall establish a Mini- 
mum Wage of $8.00 a week for females, and, on a 
sliding scale, a Minimum Wage of $6.00 a week for 
males (boys, etc.)> under the following votes of the 
Board of Managers 



That beginning March first, 1912, no female 
in our employ shaU receive a fixed wage of less 
than eight dollars ($8.00) per week. Any tern- 
porary female employ^ hired for a period of less 
than a week shall receive a wage of not less than 
$1.50 per day. 

No male employi shall receive a fixed wage 
of less than $6.00 per week for the first six 
months of employment, of less than $7.00 per 
week for the second six months, nor of less than 
$8.00 per week if employed for one year or 
longer. Male employes engaged for a period of 



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174 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

less than one week shall receive a wage of not 
less than $i.oo per day. 

BOARD OF MANAGERS, 
F. W. TuLLY, Chairman. 

This is an answer better far than any argument 
you or I could make to the reiteration that four and 
five dollar wages are all that it is practicable to pay, 
in view of competition among employers and of the 
over-supply of cheap help; and that such wages are 
all that the girls who receive them can possibly make 
themselves worth to the firm. 

Kindly note the declaration of the managers of 
this big department store, that they believe there is 
no apprentice, bundle wrapper, or other girl in their 
employ who cannot make herself worth $8.00 a week; 

AND THEN NOTE THAT AS A FIRST STEP TOWARD SUCH 
EFFICIENCY THEY PAY HER THE EIGHT DOLLARS! 

They do this not because they want to make a noble 
test of a noble theory; but because their experience 
in the results of fair treatment for their workers jus- 
tifies them in their expectation that this announce- 
ment will be " for the benefit of the business." 

That is enlightened conunon sense. It is, however, 
too much enlightenment to expect from some, save 
imder compulsion. 

So, when your Association of Commerce, or your 
City Qub, or your Federation of Women's Clubs, or 
whatever agency for social betterment is yours, gets 



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MINIMUM WAGE 176 

before your legislature a bill to establish a Minimum 
Wage Board, you write to your assemblyman and to 
your state senator, and say : 

" Fm tired of passing my share of the deficit. I am tired of 
seeing working women and their families passing their far 
heavier share of it / tvant that bill passed." 

And when your assemblyman or your senator dis- 
regards your plea and argues in defence of his act 
that the appointment of Minimum Wage Boards is 
"of doubtful constitutionality," reply to him by the 
next mail that you will welcome any amendment to 
the Constitution which may make it more conform- 
able to the spirit of the times. 

If, then, he hedges by declaring that such wage 
arbitration cannot be made practicable, refer him to 
what has been accomplished in Australia and New Zea- 
land, and in England even before the coal strike. 

Then, when you have helped to get such a law 
passed, do not think to rest! The making of laws 
is comparatively easy; the enforcement of them is 
enormously difficult. The success of such a law will 
lie with the number and the vigilance of the volun- 
teers who will make its enactment their business. 
Don't let it become another of those dead-letter laws 
for which humanitarians have fought valiantly. 

Your power and mine seem dishearteningly lim- 
ited against some abuses, but here at least we can do 
a good deal. To a producer or a merchant every 



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176 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

purchaser is sovereign; every buyer's good opinion is 
courted; no customer is affronted if he can possibly 
be pleased. It is a long way from us to the repre- 
sentatives who make our laws — and much lies be- 
tween. It is a short way from us to the man who 
wooes our wages and courts our trade. Good lusty 
public opinion will reach him promptly. 

See to it that the minimum wage board bill is 
passed in your State, 

If you are not benevolent, do this because you are 
selfish. If you are not selfish, do it because you are 
benevolent. 

Remember that " whether one member suffer, all the members 
suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members 
rejoice with it" 

Or, as Jane Addams says: "The best speculative 
philosophy sets forth the solidarity of the human 
race; the highest moralists have taught that, without 
the advance and improvement of the whole, no man 
can hope for any lasting improvement in his own 
moral or material individual condition.'' 

The seers have had this vision from aforetime. 
But now, as Stead declared with his final words, it 
" has undoubtedly begtm to dawn on many darkened 
eyes all over the world." 



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BEING PREPARED TO EARN THEIR LIVING. 

These little girls will never wander about looking for " Girl 
Wanted " signs. They arc being taught, in a public trade school, 
to make straw hats. They will probably have jobs awaiting 
them, and they will not have to start on apprentice pay. 



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VIII 
MAMIE'S DEFICIT 

ON the way home from school in the afternoon 
Mamie met Rose Smulska, who used to live 
" upstairs of " Mamie. 

" Ain't you workin' ? " Mamie asked. 

" No; I'm laid off. It's fierce. My pa's sick all 
winter." 

"Can't you git you another job?" 

"I'm lookin'. But this here's a slack time; there 
ain't hardly nobody hirin'. I chase aroun' all I can 
without spendin' carfare. But gee I you git sore 
when you been turned down about ten times a 
day." 

" I'm goin' to be fourteen by May/' Mamie said. 
" I hope they'll be hirin' good then." 

" You can't never tell," Rose answered. " I s'pose 
you'll stay in school till June; won't you?" 

Mamie didn't know. Some one had told her that 
it would be better to hunt a job as soon as she was 
fourteen and could get a "stif'kit," because at the 
end of June there are thousands of foiuteen-year-old 
girls looking for jobs— either vacation or steady jobs. 

"That's right," Rose agreed, gravely. "I'll tell 

you what, though I If I was you, I'd stay in school 

177 



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178 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

up to sixteen, if you can. I b'lieve you git better 

chances." 

. Mamie shook her head 

" I don't know's I can/' she said. " But in some 
ways I'd like to. I'm pretty good at leamin' ; I'm in 
seventh grade already. Teacher's awful nice; but 
the eighth grade teacher ain't — ^the kids hate her; 
maybe I wouldn' learn good next year, anyways." 

Rose looked at her as one old in experience looks 
at the young who are so blissfully ignorant. Rose 
was sixteen and had been a wage-earner for two 
years. 

"Take it from me," she counselled, "there ain't 
no teacher that's in it with most foreladies fer bein' 
mean. Teachers dassen't be as mean as foreladies 
dastf" 

"Dassent they?" Mamie echoed, apprehensively. 

"You bet not!" 

This was putting upon wage-earning a new aspect 
for Mamie, who had thought of it as a delightful ad- 
venture, even apart from the crowning feature, the 
pay envelope. She was still pondering when she 
reached home. 

Mamie's father was a teamster. He earned twelve 
dollars a week when he " was on reg'lar," and he was 
a bit more than ordinarily steady in his habits and 
successful in getting jobs and fortunate in the posses- 
sion of health. Once he had had pneumonia, and 
since then he had to be a little more careful about 



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MAMIE'S DEFICIT 179 

exposure; and every winter he was more or less both- 
ered with rheumatism. But he was a perfect tower 
of health and strength compared with most of the 
men of his age in their tenement, their neighbour- 
hood. In consequence of this, and of the compara- 
tively small amounts he spent on beer and tobacco, 
his family lived on a far more even plane of comfort 
than most of the families they knew. 

They paid eleven dollars a month for their four 
rear rooms. That was more than they could afford; 
but Mrs. Costello (Mamie's ma) could not find a 
three-room flat, and though there were four-room 
flats to be had for nine dollars, they were few and 
highly undesirable — in damp basements, in old frame 
houses impossible to heat in winter, or at great dis- 
tance from Joe's work. (This was in Chicago, where 
rents, especially tenement rents, are very much lower 
than in New York.) So they took the eleven-dollar 
rooms and sub-let one of them, or a part of one, as 
they could. Mrs. Costello had tried various kinds of 
lodgers and boarders. Sometimes she let the room, 
without board, to a man, for two dollars a week. 
This would have been an ideal arrangement if some' 
of the lodgers had not been obstreperous when they 
were drunk, and some had not been lecherous when 
they were sober, and some had not been bad pay — 
and so on. Two or three experiences had made Mrs. 
Costello think fearfully for Mamie and Nellie — ^and 
she let her room, next, to " a widow lady " who paid 



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180 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

only a dollar and a quarter a week and, having few 
interests of her own, had too many of her neighbours' 
and was in consequence exasperatingly " incompat- 
ible." Sometimes she had a boarder — a boy earning 
small wages, whom she lodged in the room with her 
own two boys, and fed for $2.50 or $3.00 a week; 
or a working girl who roomed with Mamie and Nellie 
and paid a like sum. 

The flat was like most four-room flats in tenement 
houses of the cheaper class: it had two fair-sized 
rooms and off each of them a small bedroom. One 
of the fair-sized rooms was the kitchen ; the other was 
"the rentin' room." The disposition of the family 
in their available sleeping-space depended on "who 
had the rentin' room," because (as is usually the case) 
the small room off it had no communication with 
the kitchen and other small room, except through the 
"rentin' room." If there was a man lodger, Mrs. 
Costello put Joe and the boys in that " front " bed- 
room, took Nellie and Annie in with her, and mad^ 
Mamie a shake-down in the kitchen. If the lodger 
were female, she and two of the girls would move 
into the " front " room and leave the kitchen bedroom 
to Joe and the boys. If they had a boy-boarder, it 
was awkward and unpleasant because either Mamie 
and Nellie, or Mrs. Costello and Annie, had to go 
back and forth through the boy's room to the kitchen. 
A girl boarder was better, for some reasons, but still 
a disturber of family life, because Mr. Costello was 



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MAMIE'S DEFICIT 181 

separated from his wife and relegated with the boys 
to the kitchen-quarters. Mrs. Costello was usually, 
now that all her children, except possibly Annie, were 
of age when the decencies should be considered, at 
her wits' end to know how to parcel out her flock 
and get from that " rentin' room " something con- 
siderable toward the rent. 

This may seem like a good deal of consideration 
to devote to the Costellos' housing problem; but in 
reality it is far too little — ^as I hope presently to help 
you to see. 

When Mamie came in from school, her mother 
was ironing. The day was damp and chill — ^Winter 
was lingering in the lap of Spring. Mr. Costello's 
thick woolen underwear had not dried out of doors, 
and it was hanging on a line in the kitchen, along 
with Annie's "galatea" dress, and Mrs. Costello's 
gray cotton-flannel petticoat, and sundry other slow- 
drying things. The room smelled of soap-suds— of 
those that had " boiled over " onto the stove, and of 
those Mrs. Costello had dumped on the floor when 
her washing was done, to give it a "broom scrub- 
bing " ; the boards were still wet and reeking of suds. 

Annie (who was seven) had not gone to school 
that day because she. had a sore throat; for the same 
reason, her mother was afraid to let her go out to 
play; so she was confined to the kitchen — ^the only 
room that had any heat in it — and she had Bessie 
Cohen in to play with her. 



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lae THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

" Wash them dishes, will you, Mamie? " her mother 
said, nodding toward the sink where the lunch dishes 
were piled. 

Mamie took off her hat and coat and got out the 
dish-pan. 

** I seen Rose Smulska when I was comin' home," 
she said. '*Her pa's been sick all winter, and she 
ain't got no work." 

" Her pa ain't never goin' to git no better," Mrs. 
Costello declared, not unsympathetically yet with that 
matter-of-fact acceptance of such situations which 
comes from much experience of them. " He's got 
the con; I could see it comin' when they lived here. 
I'm thankful your pa ain't no tailor — not that it's a 
real man's business, anyhow I Teamin's hard, but 
it's healthier. I wonder what them Smulskis'U do 
— ^nine of 'em ! Lord I " 

" Rose says if she was me she'd try'n' stay in school 
till I'm sixteen," Mamie said — more intent on her 
own prospects than on the Smulskis'. 

"Why?" 

*' She thinks you git on better if you got more edu- 
cation. It's hard to git took on in a good job when 
you're on'y fourteen, she says." 

" Well, if you was leamin' anything in school that 
might help you — ^bul land! seems to me you'd be 
leamin' faster if you had almost any kind of a job — 
an' be drawin' pay besides ! I'll be awful glad when 



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MAMIE'S DEFICIT 188 

you can earn enough so's we can pay the rent without 
havin* no lodger." 

Yes; Mamie would be glad of that, too. Even if 
she could only get three dollars or three and a half a 
week, it would be enough to pay her carfare, buy her 
shoes and clothes, and help the family dispense with 
a stranger in the house. 

Mamie's pa, when the matter was broached to him, 
couldn't see what Mamie might hope ^o get in two 
more years of schooling that would recompense her 
for staying on and him for keeping her there. 

" If they learned you anything you could earn a 
livin' with, I wouldn't care," he said. *' But, like it 
is, I don't see it. I'll be glad when you can earn your 
keep. I'm forty, an' it won't be no matter of a 
hundred years before bosses git to thinkin' I'm too 
old to drive a team, or my rheumatiz'll be that bad 
I can't git the best of it. I ain't never laid up a 
cent of all I've earned — ain't got a 'red' between 
me and the poorhouse. Strikes me you might as 
well fall to, when the time comes." 

So Mamie went to work in May ; she got a job as 
errand girl in a cheap department store, at a weekly 
wage of three-fifty. The store was fully a mile and 
a half from her home, and as she was on her feet all 
day the walk to and from work seemed a hardship ; 
but she usually endured it, because fifty cents was all 
her mother gave her back, each week, out of her pay 
envelope. A dollar of the three "went again' the 



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184 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

rent," a dollar " again' food," and the third dollar for 
clothes and shoes — ^principally, it seemed, for shoes; 
Mamie had to have a pair at least every six weeks, 
and several pairs of ten-cent stockings. 

She carried her lunch with her — a couple of pieces 
of bread and a piece of pie or cake, an apple or a 
doughnut. But it was hard to save anything from 
supper for the next day's lunch — ^the boys would 
always eat up everything in sight — and in the morn- 
ing there was little time to stop and buy a bite of 
something. Moreover, dry, cold lunch did not " taste 
good " to a growing girl who was making heavy de- 
mands on her energy; and most of the other girls 
bought lunch in the store lunch-room, or outside. 
Mamie was " crazy " to buy lunch ; to sit at a table 
or counter and have things served to her order. She 
liked the food and she liked the sensation of choosing. 
It made her feel blissfully important to "order" — 
and get what she ordered I But the cheapest " meal " 
of currant buns and coffee or baked beans without 
bread, or rolls and cream-slice, was ten cents. And 
out of which of those three dollars could Mamie hope 
to requisition sixty cents? She asked her ma, and 
her ma agreed to give her thirty cents weekly out 
of the food-allowance; the rest she would have to 
make up out of her fifty cents for carfare. 

Alternately, Mamie trudged and bought lunch, 
rode and ate *' three bananas f er a nickel " or, on very 
hot days, tried to sustain life and (what is equally dear 



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MAMIE'S DEFICIT 189 

to the heart of youth) delight, on a " five-cent soda.'* 
Sometimes she " fell f er " a nickel show — ^at the ex- 
pense either of food or feet as she chose. Once— on 
Fourth of July — she went to an amusement park and 
" blew in " thirty cents, which crippled her finances 
all the rest of the week. 

During the intense, humid heat of the " dog-days," 
Joe Costello suffered a sunstroke and narrowly es- 
caped more serious injury by falling off his wagon. 
He was laid up for ten days; but that was, as re- 
garded suffering and loss of pay, nothing compared 
with his fear that he might thereafter be considered 
less " safe " to trust with horses and loads than he had 
been before. 

It had long been his custom to give his wife nine 
dollars of his weekly twelve, keeping three for his 
lunches, beer, tobacco, clothes, and Union dues. Out 
of her nine dollars she paid rent, bought fuel, and 
paid gas-bills, fed seven, and clothed six. Mamie's 
wages helped to the extent of nearly three dollars a 
week. That didn't pay Mamie's way, but it was 
"something," and it seemed to her parents to be 
urgently needed. 

At the end of three months, Mamie was "raised 
to four " dollars. But she got a dollar a week of it 
for carfare, lunches, and spending money, and very 
nearly a dollar more for shoes and clothes. She was 
eking out the family income by not more than ten 
dollars a month. Stilli that nearly paid the rent. 



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186 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

t 

Mamie had deep longings for pretty things, but in 
the main she stifled these longings — although once in 
a great while she " fell " (as she phrased it) for a ten- 
cent string of beads or a red ruching or a new hair- 
bow, or some other thing that was not necessary to 
cover nakedness of body; she had more or less con- 
tinual hunger, like all young, growing things, for 
food — ^not merely that which fills the stomach but that 
which satisfies the cravings of the " sweet tooth " and 
of the eye — but in the main she stifled this hungei; 
too, although she indulged it to the extent of spend- 
ing her ten cents on two sweets, sometimes, instead 
of on rolls and milk which would have been better for 
her; she had her full share of youthful ardour for 
excitement, for entertainment, for romance in life, 
but she resigned herself with fairly good grace to 
the idea that these things were, in the main, impos- 
sible to her. 

One day, a girl in the store who had taken quite 
a liking to Mamie, asked Mamie to go to her house 
for supper on Sunday evening. Mamie had never 
been to anybody's house "to eat" except to the 
houses of some of her relatives. She was shy about 
going, but her eagerness was greater than her shy- 
ness. 

When she came home, her eyes were shining. 

"Oh, Ma!" she cried, "they live grand. They 
got six rooms — a parlour an' a dinin'-room an' a 
kitchen an' three bedrooms. We et in the dinin'- 



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MAMIE'S DEFICIT 187 

room. They had ham an' potato salad an' bread an' 
butter an' choc'late cake an' tea an' canned peaches. 
It was swell. An' after supper we set in the parlour, 
an' they have a phonograph. There was another girl 
there besides me, and two real nice boys — ^they go 
to her church. Say, Ma ! How much d'you suppose 
six-room flats cost?" 

" More'n we'll ever be able to pay," her mother 
answered. "Your pa ain't never goin' to make no 
more'n he does now, an' it's on'y a question o' time 
till he gits to be an 'extra,' on odd shifts an' no 
tellin' what he'll git for a week's work. / used to 
have dreams of a sittin'-room, an' all that goes with 
it; but I've give 'em up, long ago." 

" I can't never ask Myrtle to come here^' Mamie 
declared. 

" No, you can't — ^an' I'm sorry f er it I I'd like 
f er you to go with nice folks, an' be somebody ! I'd 
be willin' to work my fingers to the bone if I knew 
how I could git you them things. But what kin /do? 
An' what kin your pa do? He's a good, steady, 
hard-workin', reliable man. But he don't earn no 
more wages now'n what a boy of eighteen kin earn 
at drivin', an' hardly any more'n he earned when we 
was married. Yet he's took care of seven, an' I 
can't say as we've ever been what you could just call 
hungry, once! I'd hate fer him to think we was 
complainin' — ^he might git discour'ged. An' I'd hate 
fer you to git discour'ged, neither. I'll tell you what 



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188 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

ril do: If yer pall agree to it, he kin take the kitchen 
bedroom with the boys, like he used to do sometimes, 
and me an' you three girls kin have two beds in the 
other bedroom, if we don't try to have nothin' else in; 
an' I'll try to fix up the front room for a parlour, 
go's you kin have a place to ask yer f rien's to." 

''IVmyovL? Oh, Mai'' 

Mamie went to bed that night happier than she 
could remember ever to have been in all her life. She 
dreamed wonderful dreams — her own little Apoca- 
lypse — of a stuffed parlour suite and a carpet with 
red roses in it, and " worked " sofa pillows and pic- 
tures with " drapes " on the comers of their frames, 
and a centre-table with a fancy lamp on. Yes, even of 
a phonograph. Myrtle's ma had said she never knew 
the like of the phonograph for keeping the young 
folks in and giving them a lively time. They sang 
with it and danced to its gay ragtime and laughed at 
its minstrel jokes. You could get them " on time,'* 
Mamie knew; and even in her sleep she wondered 
how much you have to pay " down," and how much 
a month. 

The next night, after supper, she and her ma and 
Nellie and Annie went over on the Avenue and wan- 
dered blissfully among the furniture "emporiums," 
admiring and pricing and planning. But when they 
came to "figger," Mrs. Costello was dismayed. 
Carpet and stuffed suite and centre table and lamp 
and a couple o' pictures couldn't be had under forty 



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MAMIE^S DEFICIT 189 

to fifty dollars — ^three dollars " down " and two-fifty 
a month. 

"Why, that ain't much/* the clerk assured her. 
" Two-fifty a month ain't even nine cents a day. An' 
how could youse spend nine cents a day an' git you as 
much fer it as what this here swell parlour'U be? " 

True I Mamie thought that the parlour would be 
so sustaining that she could forego some nickels, 
weekly, from her lunch-money. So they "ordered 
it"; but could not pay the three dollars "down" 
until the next Saturday, because last Saturday's pay 
envelopes (Mamie's and her father's) were already 
depleted by reason of last Saturday having been the 
first of the month — rent day. 

However, one could spend a quite endurable week 
with such anticipations. And on the way home they 
stopped in a paper-hanger's to ask the prices of wall 
paper and of a fresh coat of calcimine. The next 
day, at lunch hour, Mamie "priced" phonographs, 
in the store where she worked. Of course, she 
couldn't hope to get one yet; not until the furniture 
was paid for — unless, of course, she should get a 
raise. 

When she thought how pretty that parlour was go- 
ing to look, and how she would have Myrtle and the 
nice boys " over to see " her, if not for supper — yet 
awhile — at least to spend the evening and have " re- 
freshments," she was so happy she wanted to skip 
and dance and sing. Myrtle told her that she knew 



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190 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

a boy who had a machine that you could stick picture 
post-cards in and show 'em up grand, on a sheet, like 
a magic-lantern. And this boy had promised to bring 
it over "by" Myrtle's house some evening. When 
he did, she would ask Mamie to come. Mamie had 
never supposed there could be so much pleasantness 
in the world. 

But the sword fell I On Saturday evening when 
the papers were to have been signed and the three 
dollars paid that would have insured the delivery of 
"the parlour" on Monday, Joe Q)stello had to tell 
his family that he was " let off." He had had sev- 
eral " spells " of giddiness, since his stroke. One day 
that week, when his head went queer, he had not 
pulled up in time to keep his wagon-pole from scrap- 
ing a fine limousine; the chauffeur, to save himself 
from censure, reported Joe as drunk; the owner of 
the limousine complained to Jde's boss and demanded 
from him the price of the repairs to his car. So the 
barn-boss discharged Joe. No, not " just for that "; 
but because he had been a little fearful, anyway, since 
Joe had the stroke; if Joe "was to let one o' them 
valuable horses git injured, who'd have the blame?" 

It was the beginning of the end! Joe looked for 
another job. He got one, after a while ; but it wasn't 
" steady." When it was finished, he looked for an- 
other. He had reached that dreaded state of " odd 
jobs," intermittent work. . . . There was no par- 
lour, let alone any phonograph! The rentin'-room 



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MAMIE^S DEFICIT IM 

had to go to a lodger. Mamie " got ashamed," after 
a while, to go to Myrtle's house and never ask Myrtle 
to hers. And the crowded, noisy kitchen irked her 
as it never had before she knew an)rthing better. 

Her mother was afraid to "leave her go by 
dances," because of the inevitable "bar"; nickel 
shows were an expensive luxury, impossible except 
maybe once a week; the weather was too cold to per- 
mit of pleasant lingering in the parks; and it was a 
mile and a half to the nearest small park with a free 
dance hall — ^pretty far to walk often, after walking 
home from work, and not to be thought of if carfare 
must be spent. Mamie went to it, sometimes — ^when 
her shoes were good — and came home unescorted, 
because she had to promise her mother that she 
wouldn't " pick up nobody, nor go no place with 'em, 
nor leave 'em bring you home, nor get you nothin' 
to drink." Several times some nice boy, circum- 
stanced much like Mamie's self, wanted to take her 
home; but she was afraid. A girl who lived "up- 
stairs of " Mamie, where Rose Smulska used to live, 
had gone terribly, flagrantly wrong, so wrong that 
she got arrested; and it was said that the dance halls 
had done it. Mamie's mother was afraid to hold 
Mamie in too tight; but she filled her with fear-full 
caution. 

When Mamie was sixteen, she was getting five dol- 
lars and a half ; she was a bundle wrapper, called " an 
inspector." Nellie went to work, then; she started 



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19« THE WORKADAY GIRL 

at three-fifty, as Mamie had done. But Joe Costello 
was not averaging nine dollars a week, now; and the 
family lived in terror lest his discouragement lead 
him to drink. His wife did all she could to keep 
him in that crowded kitchen at night, and away from 
its alternative, the saloon; she encouraged him to 
bring his men friends there to play cards and smoke 
their pipes and drink beer. The present lodger was 
a man; a good-natured, decent, kindly chap who 
worked in a bam where Joe sometimes got a job at 
driving. The lodger was a hostler. He had few 
places to go and no particular predilection for saloons ; 
so he and Joe used to spend most of their evenings 
at home, sometimes with friends, sometimes without. 
Mrs* Costello and the three girls slept in the tiny 
bedroom oflF the kitchen, and they often woke up in 
the morning with headaches which lasted all day. 
But anything was better than having Joe in a saloon 
wasting his bit of money and making himself drunk. 
Mamie and Nellie acquiesced in this, and did what 
they could on their mother's urging, to hide their 
repugnance for the "smelly" barn-men with their 
rank pipes and loud talk and vocabulary none-too- 
nice. But after a long day in a store so " close " and 
with air so vitiated that two hours of breathing it 
leaves most shoppers " tireder than if I'd done a hard 
day's work," the reeking kitchen and crowded wee 
bedroom still further sapped the two girls' energy and 
tried their spirits. Their mother couldn't blame 



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MAMIE'S DEFICIT 198 

them for wanting to go out, evenings. ... So 
Mamie and Nellie sought diversion where they could, 
and had no one to scrutinize it in their interests and 
tell them what promised real happiness and what 
threatened to destroy. They had to use their own 
undeveloped discretion as to how their mother's cau- 
tion should be applied. And if they were not always 
successful, is it any matter for surprise? Not one 
semblance of the old social intercourse between young 
persons of their class, remains. Gone are the may- 
pole and the village green, the public rejoicings when 
kings married or queens gave birth to heirs; gone the 
pageants and most of the great games or fights for 
the equal enjoyment of both sexes and of all classes ; 
gone are the sleigh-rides and the barn-raisings and 
the spelling matches and the husking and quilting 
bees — gone, at any rate, put of the lives of these mil- 
lions, herded in city tenements; gone is all the old 
neighbourhood life, and nearly all the old social life 
of schools and churches. What per cent, of the little 
Mamies and Nellies live in flats of more than four 
rooms? What per cent, of them have any possibili- 
ties of social life in their homes, under the guardian- 
ship of their parents? What per cent, of them have 
ever known the simple happiness of asking young 
friends to their home to eat a meal, or of being asked 
to sit at the table of a girl like Myrtle? 

Mamie and Nellie went to Wonderland, one night 
in the summer after Mamie's seventeenth birthday. 



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194 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

(Mamie was getting six a week now, and Nellie, 
four; and though the family income was no better 
than it had been years ago, because Joe Costello's 
jobs grew fewer and farther between, Mrs. G^stello 
allowed each of the girls to keep two dollars a week 
for carfare, clothes, limches, and amusements.) And 
in the dance hall at Wonderland, Mamie met a fellow. 
She danced with him, and he bought her lemonade; 
later, when they left the dance hall, he treated her, 
and Nellie, to ice-cream cones and to rides on the 
scenic railway. He wanted to " see them home," but 
they thought they'd "better not." But he learned 
where Mamie worked, and the next day he came by 
her counter and said Hello to her in her perch aloft; 
and that night he was at the employes' entrance when 
she came out. Mamie thought it wouldn't be any 
harm to let him walk home with her " before supper," 
and she was delighted to let the girls she knew see 
that she had a beau. He was " real swell-looking," 
and she was loath to let him know how mean a street 
she lived in ; also, she felt she must make some excuse 
for not being able to ask him " to call." So she told 
him her folks thought she was too young to have 
company, and excused herself at a distance of several 
blocks from her home. He took her to lunch, next 
day, in a grand place with men waiters and an orches- 
tra. Mamie was entranced. And he asked her to 
go to a show at a " reg'lar theajrtre," a down-town 
one, and see a show such as Mamie had never seen. 



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MAMIE'S DEFICIT 195 

Mamie just had to tell Nellie these things; she felt 
as if she would burst if she couldn't tell somebody. 
But they agreed that it would be better not to say any- 
thing about Ralph to Mrs. Costello— yet. 

" Mais always scairt we'll fall fer some fresh guy,'' 
Mamie explained to Nellie. "But Ralph ain't like 
that, at all. He's as nice an' gen'lemanly as he can 
be. And oh, Nellie! I love him like everything! I 
don't know how I used to live, before this. And if 
anjrthin' was to happen between him an' me, I know 
I'd die/' 

It being summer, and very hot, there was no ex- 
pectation at home that Mamie would sit in the stifling 
kitchen, evenings; so her absence, in the parks or at 
the beaches or the Magic Cities or Wonderlands, 
excited little comment. Sometimes she said where 
she had been, sometimes she didn't. But she never 
mentioned Ralph; because she knew that if she did, 
her mother would want to see him, and the idea of 
bringing Ralph to that stewing kitchen was intoler- 
able — she might lose him! Ralph loved her dearly, 
she told Nellie; and she believed she loved him more 
than any girl had ever loved any fellow in all the 
world before. There were some things she did not 
confide to Nellie. 

In September there were several days Of intense 
heat; scorching, withering winds blew clouds of dust; 
the store was like a furnace. About three in the 
afternoon, Mamie fainted and fell forward, limp and 



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196 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

ghastiy white, across her wrai^ing paper, paste pot, 
and pneumatic carriers. She was carried to the 
store's hospital-room, and " brought to." The nurse 
questioned her sharply. Mamie denied the imputa- 
tion. That night she told Rali^ what the nurse had 
suggested. • • . She never saw him again. She 
had no idea where to look for him; she could only 
wait, and wonder, and pray, in an agony of fear 
and shame. On Sunday she got on a car and rode 
miles, then hunted a doctor to whom she gave a false 
name. He confirmed her fears. 

Mamie came out of his office and walked and 
walked, in a daze. She would lose her job! She 
couldn't get another for — a long while. She would 
disgrace her family. She would never see Ralph 
again. Her brief bliss was over. There was noth- 
ing left but misery and shame. • . . Somebody 
called her by name. Startled, she shodc off her 
trance. 

" Say I you look as if you'd lost your last friend." 
He was one of the men in the store; he came 
around, several times a day, pushing a box on wheels 
and collecting packages for delivery. Mamie knew 
him to speak to, to chaff with as she tossed bundles 
to him; but that was all. She made an effort to 
appear gay. He asked her to go to a show. Grasp- 
ing at anything as an escape from her thoughts, 
Mamie went After the show, he invited her to a 
chop suey place. And after they left the chop suey 



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MAMIE'S DEFICIT 197 

place, he begged her to go to a "hotel." Mamie 
hesitated. 

" I'll be good to you, little girl," he urged. And 
Mamie, her eyes tear-filled, pressed his arm in voice- 
less assent. . . . 

Mamie never went home again. She never went 
back to the store. The store's nurse told Mrs. Cos- 
tello what she surmised. 

"Why didn't she tell mef* the mother moaned. 
"Oh, God! it's terrible. If on'y we could of had 
some place at home f er her, where she could bring 
her friends an' leave us see what they was like I " 

Nellie told what little she knew about "Ralph"; 
but it was vei7 little, and led to nothing. • • . But 
how tell, in a paragraph, of the months that followed? 
Of the unending search, the undying hope, the un- 
ceasing prayer? They could not understand how 
Mamie could so doubt their love as to stay away. 
They could not realize that somewhere, somehow, lit- 
tle Mamie was in bondage — ^in bondage to threats, to 
force, or to persuasion that she was an outcast and 
in the only kind of place where she would henceforth 
be tolerated. 

As those months of anguish in the Costello home 
wore on, something happened in Mamie's city: The 
Senate of Illinois, stirred by reports of the prevalence 
of white slavery, and confronted with a bill to make 
a minimum wage for any female worker in Illinois 



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196 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

two dollars per day, appointed a Commission to probe 
the connection, so repeatedly alleged, between low 
wages and vice. The Chairman of this Commission 
is Barratt O'Hara, recently elected Lieutenant-Gov- 
ernor and, as such, presiding officer of the Senate. 

After taking the testimony of a great number of 
fallen women and girls, most of whom attributed 
their descent into the evil life to their inability to earn 
in any other wise enough to live on, the Commission 
determined to call before it a number of employers, 
to see what they had to say as to the wages they paid 
and their ability or inability to pay more. The first 
employers subpoenaed were the heads of two large 
mail-order concerns, one big clothing house (men's 
and boys' clothing) and nine department stores. 

On Friday morning, March 7, at ten o'clock, the 
Commission met for the public hearing of witnesses. 
The sessions were held in the red banquet-room of 
the La Salle Hotel — ^heavily gilt and crimson, flag- 
decorated and "gilt-chaired." On that platform 
where, usually, the speakers' table is, sat the Commis- 
sion, Lieutenant-Governor O'Hara in the chair. At 
four tables in front of the Commission sat reporters, 
" covering " this dramatic and pregnant story for the 
press of the city and of the nation. A squadron of 
newspaper photographers hovered on the fringes of 
the scene, busy with their flashlight apparatus. The 
gold chairs were filled with eager auditors — a class of 
auditors (or classes, rather!) clearly indicating what 



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MAMIE'S DEFICIT 199 

kinds of persons feel intense concern in white slavery 
and low wages. Here sat a deaconess from the Red 
Light district, there a group from some prominent 
woman^s club; here a representative of a chain of 
homes for underpaid working girls, there a well-known 
magazine editor from New York; here a "welfare 
worker" in the employ of a big corporation, and 
there a wealthy woman specially devoted to the work 
of the Immigrants' Protective League. In the in- 
tensity and almost complete unity of interest, every- 
body felt akin with everybody else; everybody ex- 
changed views with everybody else. It was a re- 
markable audience, considering the occasion. Almost 
every one in it was more or less deeply informed on 
economic questions and more or le§s unified with 
regard to many of them. 

The first witness called was a public-spirited gen- 
tleman who is a generous contributor to a major pro- 
portion of the worthiest charities in his city, and to 
a great many outside of it. He was a member of the 
Chicago Vice Commission which returned its report 
two years ago. This report said: 

" Let us do something to give her (the girl who 
gets six dollars a week, or less) at least a living wage. 
If she is not sufficiently skilled to earn it, let us mix 
some religious justice with our business and do some- 
thing to increase her efficiency which through no 
fault of her own she has never been able to develop." 

Nevertheless, he testified that his payroll for that 



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800 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

week included the names of 4,732 women drawing 
an average weekly salary of $9.12. Some salaries of 
from $21 to $60 brought up the " average." 1^65 
girls in his employ are paid less than $8.00 a week, 
which sum he admitted was probably the least on 
which a girl not living at home should be asked to 
subsist. But he contended that it was the rule of his 
house not to employ for less than $8.00 a week any 
girl who does not live at home. Asked how he knew 
those 1,465 girls lived at home, he said he had only 
their own word for it; that his firm made no effort 
to verify the statements of girls seeking work. He 
declared his belief that there is practically no connec- 
tion between low wages and immorality; that the home 
conditions of girls are the determining factor in their 
ability to resist temptation. No one asked him if he 
thought there was a possible connection between low 
wages and home conditions. He testified that the 
profits of his company in 191 1 were " approximately " 
$7,000,000. The company is capitalized at $50,- 
000,000. Senator Juul figured rapidly, as the exami- 
nation proceeded, and announced that something like 
a quarter of a million dollars, or one-twenty-eighth 
of the annual profits would bring all those 1,465 girls 
up to the " bread line '* where they would not have to 
depend on the assistance of their families or of any 
charity. Witness admitted that this could be done 
without materially affecting the dividends; but he did 
not admit that he thought it necessary, nor that he be- 



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MAMIE'S DEFICIT JWl 

Ueved it would keq) any girl from vice. " A girl who 
gets $io a week is just as likely to use that as a subter- 
fuge," he declared, " as a girl getting any other wage." 
The second witness testified that his store employs 
1,866 women and girls at an average wage of $9.86. 
Sixty girls get $5 and under. He was not aware that 
any girls in his employ were of other than the highest 
moral character. He was not aware that floor-walkers 
or others attempted to persuade girls into occasional or 
professional prostitution; he was not aware that any 
girl seeking employment in his store and complaining 
that the wages were too small to live on, was told that 
she could have " a gentleman friend." He was con- 
vinced that wages have nothing to do with the 
morality of women. He did not cause the girls* liv- 
ing conditions to be investigated. When a girl said 
she was living at home, he believed her. Asked to 
submit an estimate of what an entirely self-dependent 
girl might live on, he gave the following: 

Qothes, including shoes • • • w . • • $i«oo 

Laundry 25 

Room and board 4.00 

Carfare • .60 

Lunch 70 

Church 10 

Sickness, dentist, oculist and emergencies • • • • 1.25 

I7.90 

He did not know where a girl could get room and 
board for $4.00, but he -had "heard that there are 
places." He did not know how $52 a year can be 



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20« THE WORKADAY GIRL 

made to keep a girl neatly dressed in black and white 
— when $15 of it at least would have to go for shoes 
and stockings. He did not consider that amusements 
or a two-weeks' vacation trip might be any part of 
"living/' He did not believe that girls were worth 
$6 a week as beginners; he refused to tell his firm's 
earnings, but admitted that the $26,000 a year neces- 
sary to lift all his girl employes to the $8 "bread 
line " would not cripple his business. 

The third witness represented a store which employs 
4,222 girls and women at eight hours a day, and 440 
others at short hours. The lowest wage of the " regu- 
lars" is $5, the lowest wage of the waitresses and 
other "short-hour" help, $4. The full average is 
$10.76, and the average of the 1,895 who sell mer- 
chandise (exclusive of department heads) is $12.33. 
(" Department stores out here," whispered a New 
York woman with great knowledge of the wages and 
conditions in New York stores, " must be the nearest 
thing to Heavenl ") 

This witness admitted that he had no idea on what 
wages a girl who was not partially supported by her 
family, her friends, charity, or vice, could live; but 
he had " heard it asserted by good authorities that 
$8 was about right." He has 1,035 ^^^ employ& 
who get less than $8, including 163 women of over 
18 years who receive only $6. He refused to give 
any figures showing his firm's earnings — even when 
reminded that he was liable to be cited for contempt 



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MAMIE'S DEFICIT 208 

of court. He was sure that wages have nothing to 
do with morals. And he thought that it was "the 
business of parents " to board young workers and to 
shield them from temptation. 

Next witness testified th>t his firm employed 1,200 
girls " at an average of $8.56," but about 500 received 
less than that average. He said " morality is a state 
of mind. Our girls are model girls. ... A good, 
honest girl will not resort to anything immoral to eke 
out her salary. . . . Girls do not become immoral be- 
couse of low wages. They turn in such a direction 
because they have immoral minds.'* 

The vice-president of a firm employing 1,973 women 
and girls, 1,140 of whom average $9.25 a week, con- 
tended that employers were relieving, not oppressing, 
families when they paid $5 a week to inexperienced 
girls living at home. He shared the belief of most of 
the witnesses (if not all!) that a girl is entitled to 
support by her relatives and that whatever she gets in 
wages is a sort of " velvet" The old idea dies hard I 
He does not believe that girls tell " the entire truth " 
when they blame low wages for their downfall. 

The testimony, as a whole, was marked by these 
conclusions : 

None of the employers had given any thought to 
the purchasing power of the wages they paid, further 
than to make a rule (which hard-pressed girls might 
break, unchallenged, if they wished) that the low-paid 
workers must be girls living at home. None of the 



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S04i THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

employers had thought of a girl's continued depend- 
ence, in part, on her family as tending to make the 
overburdened poor households subsidizers of busi- 
nesses that pay 30 per cent, to their stockholders. 
None of them believed in a probable connection be- 
tween low wages and immorality. None of them 
denied that they could pay a good deal higher wages 
and still do business at a more than fair profit 
None of them ventured to say that a self-dependent 
girl could sustain life in any sort of tolerable com- 
fort, for less than $8 a week. 

The most interesting points in the general discus- 
sion provoked by the hearings are: 

First, the notion that some unthinking persons got, 
that the moral characters of all low-paid girls are 
impugned. Nothing could be further from the truth. 
A very great majority of those girls are straight, 
sturdy souls with a resisting power far beyond what 
you or I dare to say we would have in their places. 
But ought they be obliged to wage so fierce a battle 
between pinching want on the one hand and the art- 
fully-covered lure of the white-slaver? Has any em- 
ployer a right to take eight, nine, ten hours a day out 
of youth in service more or less uncongenial and per- 
formed under conditions more or less undermining to 
health, and pay for it a wage so small that the worker 
is continually semi-starved either for food or for 
recreation? Can society do much toward regulating 
and diminishing the social evil, whilst^ it allows thou- 



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MAMIE^S DEFiaT 806 

sands of little girls in the first flush of physical awak- 
ening and of mental excitability, to live on or under 
the dry-bread line? 

Another curious misconception that many persons 
got, was that when a girl may be said to have suc- 
cumbed to the evil life because she could not get 
along on the wages paid her, she rose one morning 
and said : " I'm tired of the struggle. I'll go to the 
devil." They argued that a girl would not do that 
" once in a thousand times." Of course she woiddn't. 
That isn't the way they go! That isn't the kind of 
relation there is between low wages and going astray. 
That's why I wanted to tell about Mamie. Mamie 
was better protected than most girls on low wages; 
poverty had not wreaked its worst on her home. 
Consumption had not sapped the life of their bread- 
winner, industrialism had not crippled nor poisoned 
him. Her mother was less disheartened than many 
poor mothers are. Their tenement was less crowded, 
and left some show for the maintenance of modesty, 
of decency! There was no drunkenness. There 
was no quarrelling of the hungry-wolves sort. But 
neither was there " a fair show " for Mamie. Some 
girls survive valiantly in conditions no better, or even 
worse. But ought anybody to be surprised when they 
don't? 

Thirdly, but by no means lastly, it was argued that 
few girls are worth $8 a week when they are begin- 
ners. Senator Juul's reply to this was that such 



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806 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

girls are apprentices; that $8 a week no more than 
houses, feeds, and decently clothes them; and that 
apprentices have always been reckoned " worth their 
keep." What might further have been argued is that 
expenditure for the development of an A-i working 
force is one of the most legitimate items of business 
upkeep; it may as fairly be charged to the necessary 
running expenses as advertising — more fairly than 
that lavish "entertaining" which most firms charge 
to the " cost of doing business." One of the men who 
testified spends thousands of dollars annually giving 
free automobile rides to country customers; this is 
reckoned legitimate expenditure, for which his firm 
gets a good return. Why might not wages that 
would enable a girFs family to have five rooms instead 
of four, to have a room for social life instead of leav- 
ing that social life to the streets and nickelodeons and 
dance halls, be also a good economic, not merely sen- 
timental, investment? The Chicago Telephone Com- 
pany finds it remunerative, not philanthropic, to give 
its girls, free, a good, hot luncheon. Why might it 
not " pay " to give every girl who works eight, nine, 
ten hours a day, in more or less nerve-racking condi- 
tions, wages enough to assure her a room to herself 
at night, a room with a window, a room where she 
might have recuperative sleep and nerve-relaxation? 
Considering her as probably one of the mothers of 
to-morrow, might it not actually save money now 
outlaid on repair and reform institutions? The em- 



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MAMIE'S DEFICIT 207 

ployers said they could pay for this without materially 
affecting profits, but they all expressed solicitude lest 
there be some " smaller concerns " that could not do 
it As this is probably the first time they have ever 
been solicitous about those " small concerns/' nobody 
need feel too terribly harrowed by this sympathy. 

It is not likely that any State will pass a " $12 mini- 
mum " law. It is not at all desirable that any should. 
That would be going too fast. The immediate results 
would be very disastrous. Thousands of the neediest 
little girls and young women would be " dispos- 
sessed/' with no hope or chance of getting back or 
going elsewhere. A Minimum Wage Board, of Ar- 
bitration, is better. . . . Failing that, the minimum 
wage should not be over $8, until things have been 
worked out on that basis. It would better be raised 
a second time, than put too high at first. 

One result of a minimum wage will be to discon- 
tinue the employment of fourteen-yearnDld girls; to 
force girls to undergo a longer, a more thorough, and 
a more specific preparation to get $8 jobs. This will 
seem hard in many families, where the pressure of 
poverty is very great by reason of the death or deser- 
tion or incapacitation of the adult wage-earner. But 
it were better that some of our present philanthropy 
be applied to the " tiding over " of such cases (pend- 
ing the general adoption of mothers' pensions by the 
States), thereby saving money from what is now spent 
on the reclamation of industrial wreckage. 



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«08 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

There must be longer childhood, to store up energy 
for the frightful drains of modern industrial and 
commercial life. There must be better-directed edu- 
cation. There must be far more abundant opportu- 
nities for healthful, wholesome play— during child- 
hood and in youth. There must be a tremendous 
reform in housing conditions — in the interests not 
alone of physical but of social well-being. There 
must be a check — ^not in sumptuary laws such as are 
actually pending now in some States, but in the edu- 
cation of taste from the top stratum downwards 1^- 
on the riot of extravagance and unfitness to which 
dress has gone in this country as in no other. But 
there must be a check on the ever-widening inequality 
between the richest and the poorest, or our social 
structure will not endure; we shall have revolution, 
not evolution; cataclysm, not growth. Revolution 
destroys indiscriminately; years are required to re- 
cover from its devastation. It is only about a hun- 
dred and eighteen years since Thomas Paine brought 
to George Washington the great key of the Bastille, 
symbolizing the attitude of the new French Republic 
toward these colonies which had given France the 
encouragement of an example. It is a great deal 
less than half a hundred-and-eighteen years since 
these United States ceased to exemplify such sim- 
plicity and sincerity of true democracy as made even 
the dreamers of Utopia, in the Old World, marvel 
and admire. Those men are not yet old men who in 



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MAMIE'S DEFICIT 809 

their boyhood knew a social structure that now seems 
as remote as the Golden Age. In some of the Old 
World countries the inequality is of such long growth 
that one can hardly imagine its breaking-up without 
violence- With us it is not yet so adamantine. Pray 
God it never may be! 



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IX 

GIRLS' SCHOOLING 

"TOOK at herf Eighteen years old — ^never had 
I J a year's schooling in her life — and earning 
$225 a week; not merely getting it, but eam^ 
ing it!" 

"Never a year's schooling? Why, she's been 
schooled for sixteen years to do this thing : ever since 
she could toddle across a stage and lisp a sentence or 
two. After sixteen years of concentrated application 
to any trade or profession, one usually begins to 
realize fair rewards from it. Of course, on the stage 
$225 a week doesn't mean $11,700 a year. Acting's 
a seasonal occupation — ^veryl But this girl is em- 
ployed for as long a season each year as almost any 
one in the business: she averages thirty-two weeks. 
That puts her annual income at about $7,000; which is 
not extraordinary after sixteen years of well-directed 
study. One reason more professions do not net their 
practitioners so well after a like term of service, and 
that this girl's earnings are very exceptional even in 
her profession, is because most persons begin their 
special training so late in life that by the time they 
have given sixteen years to it they have reached, if 
indeed they have not passed, their meridian of life 

210 



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GIRLS' SCHOOLING 811 

and of energy. This girl will enter her * glorious 
twenties ' splendidly equipped not only in her calling, 
but in general culture and understanding; most girls 
enter them in a state of unpreparedness which is ap- 
palling. The average girl wage-earner of eighteen 
gets under six dollars a week. At least eight years of 
her * schooling ' have been years of sheer waste; from 
four to six years she has wasted her youthful adapta- 
bility, her energy, her precious time, at the expense 
of the payers of school taxes ; and from two to four 
years she has cost the public quite heavily in increased 
cost of living, because her complete lack of skill or 
efficiency makes her a waster of good material and a 
consumer of unearned wages while the industrial 
world endures her apprenticeship." 

As statements of a sane and thoroughly-informed 
student of social, educational, and industrial condi- 
tions, these could not easily be denied; they challenged 
investigation — and they sustained it! 

The average girl who goes to work for a living 
when she is sixteen has spent probably about i,8oo 
days in school, or not far short of 9,000 hours, ex- 
clusive of home study hours which are now quite im- 
perative. And when she has finished this she is the 
merest apprentice at earning or at spending, or at 
applying her energies in any direction. If she be- 
comes a mill or factory operative, she may hope to 
reach the high level of $8.48 a week after about ten 
years of work, or when she is twenty-six. After ten 



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ilft THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

years in a dq)artment store she may hope to be eamr 
ing $9.81 a week, with a possibility of rising to $13.33 
a week after sixteen years of service, or when she is 
thirty-two years old; subsequent to that, the average 
saleswoman will earn less and less. The average 
factory woman's earning ability also begins to de- 
crease after about twenty years of service. 

It takes ten years of schooling and ten years of 
application to reach a living wage (this is for the 
average, of course ; some do better, some never do so 
well) and if a woman has not married by that time 
she may hope to hold her own for ten years; then 
" old age " begins to set in for her, at thirty-six, and 
her earning abilities wane steadily — certainly if she 
is in mill or factory, and almost certainly if she is in 
office or store. If she marries about the time she 
is reaching her full earning powers, and comes back 
(as so many do) into the working world after four or 
eight or twelve years of domestic life, she does not 
resume where she left off, nor even where she might 
have been by this time if she had never quit; she 
enters as worse than an apprentice, usually, and her 
dire necessity is preyed upon until she is made to work 
for pay which any sixteen-yearnDld girl may well 
scorn. Yes ; and so far from hope of increase, which 
spurs and sustains the young apprentice, the burdened 
woman of thirty-odd, who returns to wage-earning 
to support helpless dependents, has to face the cer- 
tainty of steady decrease in her money-making pow- 



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GIRLS' SCHOOLING 218 

ers. A surprisingly large proportion of those who 
marry are widowed or deserted or become the sup- 
port of maimed, insane, drunken, rheimiatic, or syphi- 
litic husbands, as well as of their children. No girl 
leaves the industrial ranks to marry without facing 
the probability of becoming again a wage-earner 
and probably a handicapped one. Consider! Fifty 
dollars a month is unskilled workers' pay; it will 
buy necessities for a family, but it will not pro- 
vide comforts. Yet no girl who marries and brings 
children into the world has any kind of certainty of 
being able to keep herself and them in necessities un- 
less her husband has insurance or property to the 
extent of about twelve thousand dollars. This means 
that practically every girl who leaves the wage-earn- 
ing ranks to marry takes a wild chance on the health 
and fidelity of her husband, on his ability to keep 
employed, on his immunity from accident, and on a 
lot of other things over which she has little or no 
control. 

Now, what are we doing for this girl who goes to 
school until she is fourteen or sixteen; works for her 
living until she is twenty or twenty-five; marries; be- 
comes the mother of to-morrow's young workers; 
and in many cases is herself again forced into the 
wage-earning ranks? 

Education comprehends many things, but perhaps 
most of them fall within one or the other of four 
categories: Self-discipline; intelligent — ^not coercive 



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214 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

— acquiescence in the laws made by the majority for 
the government of all; efficiency for participation in 
life; and appreciation of the beauties of life and of 
conduct, with direct reference to the growth of ideals 
for oneself and for one's community or generation or 
species, as the case may be. 

That is to say, an individual in process of education 
is learning to understand and to govern and direct 
himself in both his public and his private relation- 
ships; he is improving his usefulness to himself and to 
the community; and he is growing in his perception of 
ideals for himself and for others through him — ex- 
panding in knowledge how to raise his family, his 
city, or all humankind, to a higher plane made possi- 
ble, in part at least, by his efforts. " Schooling " is 
not to complete, but only to set in motion these en- 
deavours ; the truest education is the most continual — 
it can never stop. But are we setting in vigorous 
motion those energies that make for continued alert- 
ness, for eager self-improvement? That is the one 
great gift we may give to our young people: zest. 
Such knowledge as we hand on to them can become 
theirs only in so far as they test and approve it. Zest 
to make the tests is the supreme essential. 

What quality of eagerness are we inspiring in 
them? To keep within the special bounds of this 
article, what attitude toward life characterizes the 
vast majority of girls between fourteen and sixteen 
years of age, who leave the fostering care of educa- 



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GIRLS' SCHOOLING 216 

tional institutions, and dump themselves as sore 
"problems" on employers, on social and economic 
students, and too often on the State as delinquent or 
dependent wards? 

Catechize any of these girls, and be surprised. 
Catechize hundreds of them, day in and day out, year 
in and year out, as some do whom I have interviewed 
— ^and be dumfounded at the blind inadequacy of 
their foster-parent, the State; the incredible selfishness 
or stupidity of their actual parents. What a girl of 
fourteen knows is not much; it couldn't be. But 
what she is eager to know is the test of her worth 
to herself and to her world. 

If her eagerness is to know how to dance the tur- 
key trot, how to marcel her own hair, how to buy 
silk stockings on a five-dollar weekly wage — in short, 
how to catch a beau — ^she is indeed only following 
the dictates of her nature in its passionate ado- 
lescence. But even a lower animal has a further 
function than to reproduce; the most rudimentary life 
is woven of two strands; the struggle for life and 
the struggle for the life of others. A girl is less 
intelligent than any other animal, from the lowest up, 
if she trusts to the presumption that mating and 
motherhood will absolve her from further struggle 
for life. She may be that exceptional woman who 
will never again, after entering wedlock, have to earn 
a dollar for her own support or for the support of 
others; but she will be a less efficient mother than any 



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216 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

she-wolf if she cannot give her children better in- 
struction than they can get elsewhere, in how and 
where to forage and when and how to fight. And 
if she were as effectively trained as a she-wolf is, she 
would have eagerness for self-sufficiency; indeed, she 
would be such an able self-provider, that a Mr. Wolf 
would have to make himself specially personable if he 
wanted to attract her. It is reserved for the compla- 
cent human species to provide the only female in na- 
ture who tries to get her living by her charms rather 
than by her intelligence. It is nature that makes the 
girl of sixteen eager to mate and to mother; it is 
not nature, but perverse education, which makes her 
confine her eagerness to that. 

Let us consider a typical girl of sixteen about to 
enter upon a more or less self-dependent existence. 
She has had an extraordinary period of "infancy," 
of complete economic and moral dependence — almost 
a quarter of a long lifetime. Let us see what has 
been done in those sixteen years to prepare her for 
self-sufficiency. 

Suppose we say that Molly graduated from the 
grammar school when she was fourteen, and has had 
two years in high school. That means that she went 
along, taking a grade a year for ten years, as the 
school board intended an average child should do. 
And here she is, after ten years of schooling, looking 
for a job. 

She will continue to live at home, and, like nearly 



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GIRLS' SCHOOLING «n 

four-fifths of the working girls who live at home, she 
will hand over to her mother each week her unopened 
pay envelope. By and by this will become very irk- 
some, and the irksomeness will be fraught with dan- 
ger. But just now, Molly thinks it will feel delight- 
fully important to have a pay envelope for handing 
over. She is confident that when she is earning 
money her mother will "not be stingy" with her 
when she makes requests for things she would not 
dare to ask for now. 

Molly has no idea what she wants to do — except 
that she wants to earn money. Investigations have 
shown that a majority of girls drift into this or that 
employment because they have a friend or friends in 
it; their notion of the number and variety of possible 
employments is usually limited by what they know 
of the occupations of their acquaintances. 

Molly knows a girl who went to business college 
and is now a stenographer. She knows another girl 
who did not go to business college, and is now a filing 
clerk in a mail-order house. They are each getting 
five dollars a week. It takes six months to learn 
stenography and costs, with tuition, carfare, lunch 
money, and etceteras, about a himdred dollars. But 
the stenographer retorts that whereas her present pay 
is no better than the filing clerk's, her prospects are 
infinitely better; to which the filing clerk answers 
that in the huge concern where she works department 
managers are always on the lookout for efficient help 



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218 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

and if a girl shows promise, they will see that she 
gets a chance to learn whatever will improve her use- 
fulness. 

Of other girls that Molly knows, one is a sorter in 
a candy factory. She left school when she was four- 
teen, after finishing the eighth grade, has been work- 
ing a year, and she earns five dollars; another puts 
shoe laces into the finished shoes in a factory where 
her father is employed — she has been doing this for 
one year, or since she was fifteen, and she gets $5.50 
a week on an average, working by the piece; a third 
works in a neighbourhood dry goods store and gets 
only four dollars a week; she has no carfare to pay, 
and can go home to lunch and supper, but she has to 
be at the store evenings until ten, except Wednesdays 
and Fridays. Molly knows that she doesn't want a 
job like that; she is not attracted by the shoe factory, 
either, because her liking for the girl who works there 
is "nothin' extra," and Molly would rather work 
where she can " see more " ; she would like to be a 
saleslady, so she could " dress nice " and be down- 
town. The opportimity to watch many people, and 
see pretty clothes, makes a stronger appeal to her than 
working in any factory or office where her observa- 
tions would be limited to her fellow-workers. 

So Molly makes application for a position as sales- 
girl, and finds that inexperienced salesgirls of sixteen 
years, living at home with parents, are expected to 
start as low as four dollars a week. The family 



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GIRLS' SCHOOLING «19 

incline to think that Molly ought to do better; that 
she might more profitably take factory employment 
anywhere near home where unskilled help is needed. 
But Molly does not want to be a factory girl, and 
she has her own way. 

There isn't any class of goods that Molly is less 
Ignorant of than she is of others. So far as her 
employer is concerned, she is just one of the ordinary 
" chances " : she can read and write and add simple 
figures; she can understand and speak the prevailing 
language; she appears to have a normal complement 
of senses ; presumably she can be taught to make out 
a sales-check and to acquire a fair knowledge of her 
stock — also to be reasonably civil and attentive to 
customers. She has had ten years of schooling; but 
in so far as it is available for her employer's uses, she 
might have learned all that is of service to him in 
a single yean 

For her own uses, what has she learned that will 
enable her to recognize Opportunity when she sees it? 
To analyze her abilities and her limitations, so that 
she may know where to apply herself, and how, with 
greatest probability of success? 

Side by side with Molly works a girl who does not 
live at home; who has no one to decide for her, either 
helpfully or arbitrarily, what she shall do with her 
money. This girl has a great many problems, nearly 
all of which deeply concern her efficiency ; but she has 
little realization of them as bearing on anything but 



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JWO THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

her immediate comfort. She has to decide whether 
she will live close to her work, in the congested lodg- 
ing-house districts, or seek board with some, family 
living out where rents are cheap; whether strap-hang- 
ing for forty minutes morning and evening is com- 
pensated for by decency of surroundings and some 
one to take a friendly interest in her; whether it is 
wise or unwise for her to try to make her own shirt- 
waists and trim her own hats, evenings after her long 
day in the store (her washing and mending she must 
do, of course) ; whether she will profit most by 
" keeping her hand in '* on sewing, or by going out 
of doors and filling her dust-laden lungs with fresh 
air. She has to make momentous decisions, daily, 
about companionships and pleasures, and occasionally 
about incurring debt and social obligations which she 
cannot pay. 

Now, what relation to the present and future prob- 
lems of Molly and that other girl have those 9,000 
hours of schooling which the tax-paying commtmity 
provided? 

I do not attempt to say. But I do urge that some- 
where in the curriculum now considered "educa- 
tional,'' there be a little elimination or combination, 
or what-not, to the end that one hour of every school 
day from the first to the last may be devoted to 
studies which have a direct bearing on equipment for 
self-sufficiency. 

This is, perhaps, not the place to set forth a detailed 



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GIRLS' SCHOOLING 821 

plan for such instruction, but I have made a plan 
which might serve at least suggestively for educators 
or for parents in their urging for educational reform. 
Of this plan, which covers the eight years of compul- 
sory school life, I will try to make a digest which 
shall suggest the scope of the whole, and something 
of its details. Some of the needful instruction is 
comprehended in the best kindergarten courses; bits 
of it are contained in grade school study, either by 
authority of the school board or at the personal dis- 
cretion of the teacher. But so far as I have been 
able to discover, the teaching, where it exists at all, 
is desultory and not systematic. Not being an edu- 
cator, I have not presumed to make a plan which could 
be considered more than a probable basis for a prac- 
tical working plan. But such as it is, here are some 
of its main features: 

There are four general subjects imder which may 
come all the most necessary instruction. And in 
making the plan, I have tried to keep in mind all the 
difficulties which teachers encounter the moment they 
touch on " questions at issue." Ethics, to be publicly 
taught, must be fundamental indeed. But there are 
fundamental ethics 1 And as for physiology, many 
parents who do not object to having their children 
told how to distinguish their cerebrum from their 
cerebellum fly into frenzied protest against having 
them taught the origin of life or the rudiments of 
social hygiene. Very well I Chicago is getting 



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22« THE WORKADAY GIRL 

around this, now, by having classes for the physio- 
logical instruction of parents, with a view to teaching 
them how to tell their children what children ought 
to know. Where there's a will there's a way. But 
no really grave objections need be raised by a wise, 
temperate handling of any of the subjects I advocate. 
These are : comprehension of law, protective and pro- 
hibitive; understanding of the body; ways of sustain- 
ing life; and ways of making life gladder and more 
useful. 

Does this sound " highfalutin' " for first grade? 
It isn't; it is very simple. 

A child who is old enough to go to school soon 
learns that she must be punctual; and almost imme- 
diately thereafter she learns that she must not whis- 
per or create any distraction. Why must everybody 
get to school at a certain time? Why may she not 
come when it is convenient? What diflFerence does 
five or ten minutes make ? Why must she keep quiet 
and not disturb other little girls who are trying to 
learn their lessons ? A very little instruction on these 
elemental points will give her, for her first year in 
school, an excellent beginning in comprehending the 
necessity of one rule for many who work together. 

In physiology for that first year, I wotild recom- 
mend only the simplest instruction in taking such care 
of a baby as a majority of six-year-old children are 
obliged at times to take. It is enough for this year 
to teach a little girl how to hold a baby to make it 



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GIRLS' SCHOOLING 223 

comfortable and protect its spine; to caution her 
against making it sit in its buggy facing a too-strong 
light; to warn her against letting injury befall the 
"soft place in baby's head"; and to urge upon her 
that she must not let baby get anything to eat or to 
put in its mouth, except what her mother orders. A 
very few minutes once a week will serve for this; but 
it might well be supplemented by a little talk about the 
babies of the households represented; leading the 
children to tell about their wee brothers and sisters, 
what they have observed about them, and so on. 
" Our baby, when he don't git what he wants, he yells 
somethin* awful," can be made the starting point for 
a tactful talk on wilfulness. Children can be taught 
from a very early age to observe traits of character 
and to draw conclusions therefrom. 

With regard to ways of sustaining life, beginnings 
must be made with food and clothes — for most per- 
sons must consider clothing first as a necessity and 
only secondarily as ornament or luxury. " Who has 
been to the store to buy something for her mother? 
What did she buy? A loaf of bread? How much 
does bread cost? What is it made of? What is 
flour made of? Where does wheat grow? What 
part of the wheat is flour made from? How is it 
made? What is yeast? What does it do to bread? 
How much did the coffee cost? What did it look 
like? Where does it grow? What is done to it be- 
fore it is good to grind up for drink? " And so on, 



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224 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

including such simples as sugar and potatoes and but- 
ter and eggs. Pictures, and narrative skill, may 
make all this absorbingly interesting. Prices are in- 
cidental, now, but should be mentioned and kept in 
mind. Then as for clothing, a few bits of ordinary 
muslin (or domestic, or cotton cloth, or whatever may 
be the local name for it) in different degrees of 
coarseness and bleaching, may serve for many lessons. 
What is it? How much does it cost a yard? Where 
do we get it? What do we use it for? After it 
grows in its Southern field and bursts its boll, all 
fleecy white, and the negroes pick it and get paid for 
it by the pound, and it goes to the gin to be cleaned 
and to the compress to be squeezed into flat bales, 
and onto boats or freight cars, what happens next? 
And so on. Then, a piece of wool cloth and its story 
from sheep to shop. 

And in training in perception of beauty, that first 
year, an occasional hour spent on the child's first 
beauty-sense: colour. "Is this a pretty colour? Is 
this? Do they look pretty together? In a flower? 
Yes. In a dress? No. Why not? They arc too 
bright. Angelina's mother has a red-and-yellow 
shawl which she wore in Italy? Ah, yes! In Italy 
there are many wonderful colours: the sky and sea 
are so very, very blue; the fields a vivid green; the 
globes of oranges and lemons hang thick in myriad 
trees. A red-and-yellow shawl there, on Angelina's 
mother, would be beautiful. Here, where the skies 



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GIRLS' SCHOOLING «25 

are often gray and the houses are gray and the streets 
are gray, we shotild be very conspicuous if we wore 
red and yellow. And one does not like to be con- 
spicuous. 

For law in the second year, we might deal with the 
policeman as the child sees him. What is the police- 
man- for? Who pays him? He is there to keep 
things safe for everybody. He is there to take care 
of you. As long as you obey the laws, he is your 
servant. When you break a law it is his business to 
take you to the judge; because when you break a law, 
you are hurting some one else, tnany^ others, whom it 
is his business to protect. Why does he arrest the 
peddler? Because the peddler had no license. Why 
must a peddler have a license? And so on. 

Health instruction of this year should deal with 
cleanliness of person: why we mxxst be clean to be 
healthy and to look nice. 

For food, a year may well be spent on those aspects 
of meat and its by-products which a child of seven to 
eight can understand. Who knows the names of any 
kinds of meats? What animals do they come from? 
Where do we get them? Where does the butcher get 
them? What becomes of the skins? Of the bristles 
and hair and wool? Of the bones? 

In clothing, varieties of woollen and cotton goods 
and of mixtures, may be learned; simple tests taught 
for the detection of cotton threads in cloth that is 
sold as "all wool" 



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9Jte THE WORKADAY GIRL 

In the third year, the discussion of clothing might 
be based on what the girls are wearing: shoes, stock- 
ings, garters, underwear, dresses, hats, hair-ribbons. 
What they are made from, and how; what it would 
cost to buy new ones; what kinds they would like to 
buy. And so microscopic a thing as a glass bead the 
size of a pin head, may lead the talk 'way to Murano 
in the Adriatic, where black gondolas glide across the 
blue waters to Venice, laden with great baskets of 
these coloured beads. A yard of ribbon may lead to 
Asolo, and Pippa singing in the fields at dawn. 
There's a world of romance and of poetry in the dull- 
est clothing, if only one knows how to find it. 

And food studies for that year wotild do well to 
follow such lines as: "Who can tell what she had 
for dinner last Simday? Where did each article 
come from ? What would you like to have for dinner 
to-day? Where would you go to get it?*' 

The fourth year might profitably deal with store- 
keeping. " How does the storekeeper know how 
much to charge for things ? He adds to what he pays 
for them the price of his rent and all other costs of 
doing business, allows for the percentage that spoils 
or deteriorates, and then figures in what he considers 
a fair profit, a fair return on his investment and 
recompense for his time. If we telephone our orders 
and ask for things several times a day, who pays the 
wages of his telephone clerks and delivery boys, his 
purchase of many wagons and his stable-bills? If 



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GIRLS' SCHOOLING 227 

many of his customers charge things and some do not 
pay, who loses? We who do pay! When we get 
premiums on trading stamps, do we save anything? 
Would a storekeeper give us anything? Who sees 
to it that his weights and measures are just? Who 
pays the City Sealer?" And so on. 

Girls in the fifth grade average ten to eleven years. 
They are old enough to understand some of the fun- 
damentals about property rights: why we must re- 
spect those rights of others and they must respect 
ours; and to be taught pride in public properties, such 
as parks and playgrounds and schools and monu- 
ments. 

The girl of ten to eleven is old enough to be taught 
some simple principles of digestion and its part in 
headache and other common ills. She can be made 
to appreciate the uses of fresh air if her knowledge 
of fire is employed in analogy: if she lights a fire in 
an air-tight receptacle, will it bum? If she opens 
drafts and doors, why does the fire burn so much 
brighter? If she neglects to clean out her grate, lets 
clinkers accumulate, what effect does that have? 

About this time she begins to be insistently curious 
about the beginnings of life. She should learn the 
simple facts, preferably from her mother. 

And about this time, too, she begins to have more 
to say about her clothes. Suppose she is to get a new 
winter coat; what must she consider? First, if she 
has to wear it in all weathers and for all occasions, 



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««8 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

or if she can keep it for best. Then, what colours 
are becoming and suitable? If she selects brown, will 
it go well with her best and everyday dress, and with 
her hat or hats? If she cannot pay enough to get an 
all-wool cloth, well-made, would it be better to get a 
semi-shoddy cloth cut by expert cutters and pretty 
well tailored, or to buy good cloth and try to have it 
made? What are the advantages or disadvantages 
of each? What cheapens clothing? This paves the 
way for consideration of the pay of mill and garment 
workers. Discussion of hats introduces millinery as 
a trade; of shoes, the girl operatives in shoe factories. 
On a piece of underwear she considers purchasing is 
a label of the Consumers' League. What is this 
doing for factory conditions? If she buys a lingerie 
shirtwaist, how much will it cost her to have it laun- 
dered? Why so much? What do laundry workers 
get? Does any girl know a laundry worker? How 
does the worker like her job? 

In the sixth year, let us rent a place to live, and 
furnish it. How many in family are we? Must we 
be near father's business? If there are four or five 
to pay carfare, is it economical to live far out? Or 
do we prefer what we get for twenty dollars' rent and 
ten dollars' carfare to what we could get in walking 
distance for thirty dollars? What proportion of in- 
come is it considered wise to pay for rent? Is it 
economical to buy furniture on the easy-payment 
plan? Is it foolish to try to furnish all at once? 



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GIRLS' SCHOOLING «29 

Isn't It " more tony " to get a little at a time, and 
get it good? And so on. 

By the seventh year we shall have come to such 
questions as: If we spend a fifth of our income for 
rent, how much ought we to spend for clothes? for 
insurance? for amusements and improvements? for 
savings? We can learn some simple banking laws 
here; be taught how to open a savings account, how 
to compute interest due us, and what kinds of banks 
are safest for us to deposit in. The eighth year is 
the last of schooling for many. In this year they 
ought to learn something of the elemental laws be- 
tween employer and employe, with regard to contract, 
liability for damage, etc.; something of the laws re- 
garding debt, with reference to "easy" payments, 
chattel and salary loans, rents, and the like; and 
something about their personal rights, what agencies 
exist for the legal protection of women and children; 
what they should do if they chanced to be arrested. 

By this time, too, their studies of law (which I 
have not been able in so brief a space to outline for 
each year) should have taught them their share of 
responsibility for the high or low standards of the 
community, and inculcated an interest for the stricter 
enforcement of our good laws and eagerness for the 
making of needed new ones. They shotild know who 
makes the laws, and what voice each of us has in the 
making of laws for all. 

In physiology they ought now, preferably through 



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280 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

their specially instructed mothers, to have instruction 
in the fundamentals tending to self-protection, care 
in choice of a mate, and jealousy for the health of 
their probable children. 

And more than an hour a day would be well spent 
asking and debating such questions as: How many 
girls here are going to work next year? How will 
you look for it? What would you like to do? What 
do you think you can dof Why do you think you can 
do that? Have you any idea what the prospects are? 
What advantages and disadvantages that work has? 
What the pay for beginners is? What is the best you 
can hope to earn at it? If you answer advertisements 
in the papers, how would you select ads. for answer- 
ing, and how would you answer them? Do you 
know that some ads. are misleading? Would you ask 
your friends about work? Would you apply to an 
agency? Would you go about asking for emjdoy- 
ment? What wage would you be satisfied to begin 
with? If you could not live at home, how much 
would you have to earn? How do you think you 
cotild live most cheaply, satisfactorily, and safely? 
Would you go in debt for clothes? Would you en- 
tertain men callers in your room? Would you go 
out to dinner or theatre with the boss? 

The questions that a girl of fourteen, probably fin- 
ishing with qualified instruction and going into the 
world to make her own way, ought to be made to ask 
herself and answer for herself, are so numerous that 



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GIRLS' SCHOOLING 881 

I cannot begin to set them all down. But at the risk 
of sacrificing some cube root and the date of the battle 
of Brandywine, I do maintain that she shotild be 
encouraged to ask and answer them. 

During one school year in Chicago 12,538 children 
under sixteen years of age were granted working cer- 
tificates. Of these children, 4,560 of whom were 
girls, 8,985 were only fourteen years of age, and 
1,557 had not yet reached the fifth grade. They 
came from homes where the stress was no greater 
than the ignorance of how these children were to 
bear it. 

Supported by a grant from the Russell Sage Foun- 
dation, the Social Investigation Department of the 
Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy undertook 
a study of this situation. The findings with regard 
to boys are beyond our present scope. But with re- 
gard to girls their report was that " in many cases — 
one might almost say the majority of cases — ^the girls 
under sixteen seemed hopelessly unfitted for any good 
place." And yet, effort to induce the girls to stay 
longer in schools is often futile. What do the schools 
teach them that recognizably enhances their effi- 
ciency ? 

The haphazard way in which these thousands of 
girls annually drift into employment with little or no 
thought of their fitness for it, its promise of future 
advancement or even of present safety, is alarming. 
Especially so when we reflect that the irregular em- 



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28« THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

ployment of young workers at the beginning of their 
industrial careers is one of the most insidious evils 
that they have to combat in their ignorance and in- 
adequacy. 

So, in June, 191 1, the investigators undertook — by 
way of an experiment educational to themselves as 
well as helpful to a few children — " to interview and 
to place all of the children who were planning to go 
to work at the end of the school year in the Wash- 
bume School, one of the largest on the West Side, 
Office hours were kept in a neighbouring settlement, 
and the principal was glad to cooperate by sending 
the children to us and by giving his personal advice. 
Besides interviewing the children, the homes were all 
visited, and when the parents seemed able to keep 
the child in school longer they were strongly urged to 
do so/* 

Of the 254 children interviewed, 80 were girls 
whose ages were as follows : 

Age Number of girls 

14 years 23 

15 years . . • 21 

16 years .•••••••. 23 

over 16 years 13 

80 

Of these girls, 7 were persuaded to take fur- 
ther schooling; 4 found work for themselves or 
through parents or friends; 49 were placed in posi- 
tions; 15 are still on the waiting list — ^idle; neither at 



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GIRLS' SCHCX)LING «83 

school nor at work, and in the gravest moral danger 
— ^and 5 were given up as hopeless, " for whom noth- 
ing could be done." 

The industries in which the 49 girls were 
placed included sewing trades (5), engraving (9), 
bookkeeping (18), office work (10), piillinery (2), 
weaving (3), sample work (2). 

Many things were considered in placing a girl; her 
preference, the kind of ability she had shown in 
school; her health; her family circumstances, and 
so on. 

The result of the experiment is that Chicago is 
waking to the need of vocational training and to the 
duty of the school board not only to fit young persons, 
definitely instead of vaguely, for life; but to help them 
find their earliest industrial associations, and to give 
them, during the first years of their struggle to apply 
what they have learned, benevolent oversight and 
advice and even intercession. 

Vocational training — ^special instruction through 
theory and practice, in some specific work for which 
the student has taste and ability, and at which she 
may hope to make a living — for the years between 
fourteen and sixteen is so urgently demanded 
as to leave no room for debate. But it is a sub- 
ject far too great to be taken up here in a para- 
graph. 

What I beg to emphasize here, is the recently 
published Government report on "The Relation of 



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284 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

Occupation to Criminality and Immorality Among 
Women/' 

It finds, as every investigation into the subject must 
find, that efficiency is the greatest moral safeguard 
we know; and that specific efficiency is like armour- 
plate in a woman's defence against crime and im- 
morality : there may, indeed, be lances that can pierce 
its joints, but that is no reason for sending any one 
into the fight without it. 

With regard to women in prisons and other penal 
institutions, the investigator foimd that "the ma- 
jority are usually imintelligent, and their training, or 
rather their lack of training, has left undeveloped 
what capacity for clear thinking they may originally 
have possessed. In the overwhelming majority 
of cases a distant acquaintance with the three R's 
was the limit of intellectual culture. But the low 
scholastic training is of infinitely less importance than 
the lack of training in self-control, in the domestic 
arts, in a realization of the rights of others, in a sense 
of social interrelations; in a word, in the science of 
living. . . . Everywhere the officers were agreed 
that the prison woman is in the main a woman who 
does not know how to do anything well. They are, 
for the most part, untrained and unskilled, women 
without a trade, who, if they work at all, drift from 
one low grade of employment to another." She 
quotes an authority on women in prison, who says: 
" Our girls as a class are antisocial. It is very hard 



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GIRLS' SCHOOLING 286 

for them to see their conduct in its relation to the 
lives of those around them. They are individualistic 
in the extreme." 

The industrial status of most of the girls received 
into maternity homes for unmarried mothers, " seems 
to parallel closely that of the women foimd in the 
courts and prisons." 

In a study of thirty typical girls from the " red 
light " district of New York, some significant facts 
were disclosed. One girl had left school at 9 years 
of age, two at 10, three at 12, six each at 13, 14, 
and 15, four at 16, and two at 17; but one who had 
gone till she was 15 had not reached the first gram- 
mar grade, and one who had gone "off and on" 
until she was 16 could not remember what grade 
she had reached, but had difiiculty in reading simple 
prose. Most of them idled for a while after leaving 
school. Only 2 of the 30 had any industrial 
plan or preference, let alone any skill. The other 28 
had taken up and dropped, in the course of very brief 
industrial careers, more than three different varieties 
of work each, on an average. " There was no trace 
of any idea that one occupation could be used as a 
training school for something better, no slightest sign 
of any general purpose, imderlying their work. . . . 
Apparently they are simply imtrained girls, with little 
knowledge of how to do anything well." 

Merest self-interest should teach us to do better 
than we are doing. If Chicago alone annually 



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ftse THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

dumps twelve thousand children under sixteen into 
the labour mart, what must be the total for the whole 
country? Of what are we thinking, even with ref- 
erence to our own selfish protection, when we try 
to assimilate such a mass? And if we have any 
vision of the future, any sense of our solenm re- 
sponsibility for the youth entrusted to us to prepare 
for their work in continuing and improving the race, 
arc we not mad — stark mad? 



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FORCED OUT 

WEARILY, resentfully, Mattie set the table 
for supper: one, two, three, four stone- 
china plates from which the stencilled pat- 
tern was all but obliterated in thousands of washings ; 
one, two, three, four knives at the right of the plates 
and forks at the left; one, two, three, four cups and 
saucers of the same faded sort; the sugar-bowl and 
the glass spoon-holder; two sets of salt and pepper 
shakers; four saucers for the spiced plums. Then 
she fetched the butter and the cream ; set the cake on 
the table in the spot where it was always set; sliced 
some cold meat left from dinner; looked into the 
oven to see if her biscuits were browning; stirred her 
skilletful of frying potatoes; and drew the boiling 
coffee back from the front of the stove. 

Mattie was small and slight. Her hair was a 
pale brown, and her face was nearly the same hue — 
rather muddy than pasty. Her eyes were gray-blue ; 
there was a vertical line between them, witness to 
repeated puckers which I hate to call scowls. And 
her mouth was set in the mould of fretf ulness. Mat- 
tie was twenty-six. 

287 



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288 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

The back door opened, and her mother came in. 
She had been feeding hef chickens. 

*' That quilt didn't get dry. I knew it wouldn't! " 

Mrs. Williams was fifty-two, and twice as much of 
everything as Mattie was, except twice as small; but 
she was more than twice as tired and twice as resent- 
ful of something — she didn't know just what. 

" Well," Mattie answered, as if it wasn't her fault 
that the quilt didn't dry, "you can leave it hang 
there till it does; there ain't no hurry." 

"Leave it hang there for the Portuguese, you 
mean I I guess not!" 

The neighbourhood had been invaded, in recent 
years, by several families of Portuguese who seemed 
to be provided with none of the necessities of life 
except innumerable children. These people had rented 
small abandoned farms which they were proceeding 
to cultivate almost without any other equipment than 
the family muscle; they all scratched and dug and 
planted and weeded, and cut grain with sickles, and 
did other archaic things — ^but they bought the farms, 
eventually, and got a living out of them for the 
numerous progeny, and had money in the bank, be- 
sides. People like the Williamses, whose forbears 
had tilled this valley for a hundred years, bitterly re- 
sented the Portuguese invasion; and most of them 
professed a belief thart the foreigners " got on " not 
merely by industry and frugality, but by supplying 
their needs out of back yards and chicken-coops and 



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FORCED OUT 28d 

orchards, and saving their money to put in the bank. 

So Mrs. Williams brought in her quilt, still heavily 
damp, and hung it in the siunmer kitchen and wash- 
house. 

She and Mattie kept the rambling old farmhouse 
in a condition of speckless cleanliness and rigid order- 
liness which would have appalled the Portuguese 
women, to whom a house was little more than a shel- 
ter for sleeping in. They made layer cakes with 
fancy fillings, and hot breads every day, and white 
and graham loaves twice a week, and twenty-odd 
kinds of sauces and jellies and preserves, and pies 
or pudding for every dinner, and ice cream on Sun- 
days in summer, so that it was nearly always time 
either to bake something or to set forth a meal or 
to clear away and wash up. No wonder the Portu- 
guese, who " ate out of their hands '' and spent little 
time on the preparation of food, could work all day 
in the fields I 

" Your pa's late," Mrs. Williams observed, return- 
ing from the wash-house. " He gets to gossippin', 
down there, and never thinks that we might like to 
eat an' get through." 

Eben Williams had long ago given up general farm- 
ing, and had become a specialist, a milk farmer. He 
kept forty cows, and once a day he drove with his 
cans of milk four miles, to the milk depot in High- 
port. He kept a farm-hand, a Bohemian boy; and 
the boy was sent, sometimes, on the trips to the vil- 



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«40 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

lage — but not often; Eben liked to go; he liked to 
get away from the company of the stolid Bohemian 
lad, who spoke little English, and to mingle with men 
of his own sort, who had interests in common with 
him and a companionably similar outlook. He had 
never known any other life than farm life; and he 
was not conscious that he had ever actually desired 
any other. Yet he knew what his boys meant when 
they rebelled against its " monotony." He had given 
his two boys more schooling than he had had; but 
it was not the kind of schooling which inspired, or 
fostered, any enthusiasm for farming. Eben was 
" old-fashioned "; he had found it hard to believe that 
"perfessers can teach farming"; he couldn't "see 
the sense " of sending his boys to a school of agri- 
culture; he felt sure he could " learn 'em more about 
farming 'n what any perfesser can." So he sent 
them to study things of which he knew nothing — 
that was what he called " giving them advantages " — 
and the consequence was that they acquired tastes 
and interests which divorced them utterly from farm- 
ing: one was a skilled mechanic, with a wanderlust; 
he could earn his way wherever he went — and he 
went far and wide ; the other was a clerk in a Chicago 
mercantile house, married, the father of two children, 
and getting along on $75 a month — ^but content to 
live " cooped up " (as his parents phrased it) in four 
small rooms of a great barrack-like flat building, be- 
cause he believed that in the city, in mercantile life. 



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FORCED OUT «41 

he was in the path of progress. The elder of the two 
Williams girls had married a farmer, a young scien- 
tific farmer, who knew a lot about irrigation and soil- 
enrichment and like lore, and was turning all these 
things to profit out in Idaho, whither he had mi- 
grated. Eben had a good many different kinds of 
news to retail among " the gossips of the port." 
When he was at home, going about his work, he felt 
very desolate — because he could not see what was 
to become of the ancestral farm when he could no 
longer work it for a living. But when he was sitting 
on the platform of the milk depot, telling his old ac- 
quaintances how much his children were getting out 
of life, he felt somehow recompensed. 

" It don't make so awful much difference when we 
get through,'* Mattie answered her mother. "All 
there is to do afterwards is just go to bed." 

This was by no means a new plaint, but it never 
failed to cause Mrs. Williams' heart to yearn sym- 
pathetically. Mattie felt that life was cheating her 
unpardonably; and her mother felt so, too. 

It seemed impossible to spare Mattie from the 
farm, to let her go away seeking, as her brothers had 
gone. It seemed impossible even to let her go out 
to Idaho, where Annie would have welcomed her help 
pending the time when one of the neighbouring farm- 
ers should woo Mattie and make her his wife. 
(Wives were as scarce in Idaho as husbands were in 
New York State.) Mrs. Williams felt deeply cha- 



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S4« THE WORKADAY GIRL 

grined to have a twenty-six-year-old daughter who 
had no beau, nor any prospect of one. For other 
families round about were little different from the 
Williamses: there had been a scattering, particularly 
of their yoimg men. Some of the old settlers de- 
clared that the Portuguese had driven the native sons 
out and away; but of course they hadn't — ^they had 
only come in to fill the void. 

If Mattie were to go away, her mother could not 
do the work of the farmhouse alone — ^not unless she 
closed her memory to the parlour and the spare room 
as if they did not exist; not unless she eliminated 
layer-cakes and pies and puddings and hot biscuits 
and twenty-odd kinds of jellies and sauces and pre- 
serves, from her menu ; not imless she reduced life to 
a mere matter of keeping alive, and forswore all 
aspirations engendered by women's magazines and 
mail-order catalogues. There was one alternative! 
She might have hired a girl to help her, as Eben 
hired a boy to do for him what one of his own sons 
might have done had he stayed at home. But the 
idea scarcely occurred to her as a serious one — it was 
just a wild, impractical notion she entertained for 
brief moments when Mattie's revolt was acutely bit- 
ter. Eben had grudged paying anywhere from 
thirty to forty dollars a month in cash, besides giving 
board and washing, to a boy to help him take care of 
the cows; but he consoled himself for having to hire 
help, by the reminder that he got pretty good money 



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FORCED OUT 243 

for his product, and got it regularly. It would have 
been impossible to reconcile him to the idea of hiring 
house help for his wife, because he conceived it to 
be her " business '* to run the house, and would have 
refused to spend any money on household labour on 
the ground that such labour is unproductive. 

The two women pored over the magazines to which 
they subscribed out of the only money they ever han- 
dled or could call their own: the egg money. They 
pondered the huge catalogues of the mail-order 
houses. Mattie yearned to buy pretty things to wear. 
Her mother yearned to buy pretty things for the 
house. But they were seldom able to satisfy their 
yearnings. They could work wonders in fashioning, 
but they could not create. They could make remark- 
able shift with odds of this and ends of that, but they 
could not make something out of nothing. Just now, 
Mrs. Williams was exceedingly anxious to have some 
new dishes; but she couldn't make dishes — ^long ago 
that industry, originated by women, was taken out 
of the home and appropriated by men. Just now, 
Mattie was exceedingly anxious to have a suit. She 
might have made one, of a sort, if she had the doth. 
But sheep-raising has moved to the great open wastes, 
and shearing, combing, carding, spinning, dyeing, 
weaving are no longer home industries; men have 
taken them over, and specialized them, and although 
women work at them, no woman works at all of them 
nor at all the processes of any one. 



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244 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

A primitive household had to be entirely sufficient 
unto its own needs. As men grew civilized, they did 
fewer things — each inclined to do what he could do 
best, and sold his product to supply his wants. And 
as man's original share of the world's work was hunt- 
ing game for food, and fighting his human and brute 
enemies, he had — when those occupations were no 
longer so demanding as to keep all the males busy — 
to take over women's occupations, one by one. But 
each man tended to take over only one, that he liked 
to do, and to leave his women all the rest. 

Women were the first tillers of the ground. They 
were the first tanners and weavers and spinners and 
dyers; the first millers and potters. They invented 
the processes, and the instruments for carrying them 
on. They were the first architects and the first deco- 
rative artists. They tamed the first wild animals 
and made them domestic helpers. They were the 
earliest physicians, and the first priests and prophets. 
If the theory of the matriarchate be not denied, they 
were the first lawgivers. 

Little by little, man has taken woman's work, spe- 
cialized it, and made himself an independent economic 
factor. Even to the extent of making her hats and 
clothes and cooking her food and teaching her chil- 
dren, he has invaded the last of what she supposed 
were her inviolable fields, and has made money and 
won distinction by doing things that, when she did 
them, were considered as much a part of her business 



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FORCED OUT 245 

of self-sustaining (and therefore as little entitled 
to reward) as respiration and sleep and digestion. 

Eben Williams did fewer kinds of work than his 
father had done, but it seemed to him that he worked 
as hard as his father had ever worked. Mrs. Wil- 
liams and Mattie did as many kinds of things as 
Eben's mother and sisters had done ; but because some 
of the things his mother and grandmother had per- 
formed unquestioningly were refused by his wife and 
daughter, Eben thought that women nowadays are 
determined to take life easier. He could not realize 
that although his womenfolk did not "milk," they 
had a great deal of work with the cans and pails and 
strainers of an " inspected " dairy farm beyond what 
his mother had ever known; that although his mother 
had made her own soap and lard and candles, she 
had not made iced layer-cakes or embroidered centre- 
pieces for her table. He felt that women nowadays 
make fewer of the things they need, and want to buy 
more and more. He knew that he himself bought 
many things which his father would never have 
thought of buying; but he argued that he was justi- 
fied, because his concentration in industry paid him 
a cash profit The women were not justified in want- 
ing to buy, because (he argued) their diffused indus- 
try paid no cash profit. 

Williams wasn't a hard man; he was only " slow." 
He knew that Mattie was discontented, but he sup- 
posed that it was more or less natural for a girl to 



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246 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

feel bad if she hadn't any beau. That there might 
be any way for a girl to feel tolerably satisfied with 
life other than by getting married, did not occur to 
him as possible. That he "supported" his two 
womenfolk, it never occurred to Eben Williams to 
doubt. Just what they might be said to do for them- 
selves by their unremitting labours, he had not trou- 
bled himself to define — ^not even as he drove home to 
his supper this evening that I have described. 

"Joshua Winter's most desp'rate," he annoimced, 
at table — ^looking meaningfully at Mattie, as if here 
was something to silence a girl that was afraid she 
might not always be took care of — " he says he can't 
seem to get nobody that's worth her salt, to keep 
house for him." (The Bohemian boy had bolted his 
supper and gone out.) 

Joshua Winter was also a dairy-farmer. He was 
sixty-five; his only son was ranching in Oklahoma; 
his daughters were married, and lived at some dis- 
tance; and his wife had died six months ago. He 
was amazed to find that nowhere among the unat- 
tached females of his connection and acquaintance 
was there one who was willing to come and run his 
house " for her keep." He was more than amazed — 
he was indignant. 

"He's had to let that last woman he got, go," 
Eben went on. " She wouldn't do but just so-much, 
and she had to be drove over to Highport every little 
while because she said she was lonesome an' needed 



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FORCED OtJT «47 

a change. And he had to pay her twenty dollars a 
month! Upshot of it'll be, Joshua'll have to get 
married again. Too bad he's such an old one, Mat- 
tie!" 

Mrs. Williams' eyes flashed. 

" If Mattie's goin' to work to save some man 
payin' wages, she might's well do it here. It's about 
what marryin' mostly comes to, anyhow!" 

Eben looked at her in astonishment. 

"How you talk!" he answered, reproachfully. 
" When folks belong in f am'lies, they all work to- 
gether, for each other. You work an' I work. But 
do I get any more out of it than what you do? Do 
I get a better bed or more to eat an' drink than what 
you do?" 

"Bed an' board ain't everything!" his wife re- 
torted. " I work as hard as you do, but / don't get 
to decide when we need some new dishes! Mattie 
works as hard as either of us — ^but when she wants a 
suit o' clothes she's got to ask you if you're willin' 
for her to have 'em! If we're all workin' for each 
other, why is there only one of us that says what the 
others shall do an' have? If /'m earnin' my way, 
same as you're earnin' yours, why don't I have any- 
thing to say alx)ut the earnin's? Why are you the 
only one that says if we're to have a new thing now 
an' then to make the house decent? " 

" Because," Eben answered, trying to keep his tem- 
per, and growing quite judicial in manner, "there 



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S48 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

has got to be a head to everything, and Fm the head 
of this house. It's my house, and my land. Fm 
sharin' with you all I can. Most women'd call me a 
mighty good provider. Women ain't got sense about 
money — they don't know what 'tis to earn it, and 
their one notion is to spend." 

" They know what 'tis to earn it, all right! " Mrs- 
Williams declared. " But they don't know what 'tis 
to get it." 

Eben Williams considered such talk profaning to 
the home. His mother had never thought about 
"wages" and "rights"! She did what there was 
to do, and if she wasn't grateful for the opportunity, 
no one (that he was aware !) had ever heard her com- 
plain. 

He couldn't see what ailed Euphemia and Mattie: 
but he believed it was reading about the ranting, rav- 
ing creatures that wanted to vote, that had put crazy 
notions in their head. Lord knew he was no tyrant. 
But he sometimes thought women would be better off 
if they didn't know how to read. There used to be 
a lot more contentment among 'em; and they worked 
harder and had more children. His mother had 
given birth to eleven. If he had had six sons — as his 
father had — ^he wouldn't need to be hiring a Bohe- 
mian boy for thirty dollars a month I . . . 

Thus and thus the Williamses! And it came to 
pass that presently they left the farm and moved to 
Chicago. The reasons were many. One was that 



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FORCED OUT «49 

Eben had a good chance to sell the farm. Once upon 
a time Eben would not have considered that that was 
any reason at all. But what with his boys' distaste 
for farming, and with the practical certainty that the 
farm would be sold after his death, and with the in- 
vasion of the Portuguese, and the unsatisfactoriness 
of hired help, and the growing dissatisfaction of the 
women, AND the offer (secured by Bob) of a good 
job in Chicago as general indoor man at a branch 
depot of one of the big milk companies, with a salary 
of $65 a month, he decided to go. Everything 
worked together for the move. Some things about 
it were hard — Cleaving the old home; parting from the 
live creatures, even to the beloved Collie; turning their 
backs on everything familiar, and facing a world all 
strange — and the wrench was more severe than any 
of the Williamses had anticipated it would be. But 
by that time it was too late to turn back; the money 
for the sale was in the bank " against " Eben's and 
Euphemia's old age and their children's inheritance, 
and the future must be faced. 

The transition was less sharp than it might have 
been. The neighbourhood in which Eben was to 
work was a semi-suburban one, and they were able 
to find a five-room flat on the first floor of a detached 
frame house. There was ground enough to give 
Mrs. Williams some opportunity for flower-garden- 
ing. There was electric light and a gas-stove. They 
would have to depend on stove-heat for warmth in 



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«50 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

winter, but as they were accustomed to that it was 
no hardship. There was a bathroom, which was a 
luxury. They paid sixteen dollars a month for rent. 
Bob's wife (Bob was the Williamses' son in Chicago) 
seemed to feel that they were subject to commisera- 
tion because they had no steam heat and no janitor 
service. But Mrs. Williams and Mattie laughed, and 
declared that even as things were, they did not know 
what to do with themselves. 

They still baked bread, and on Saturday mornings 
Mattie made a cake and a couple of pies. They did 
their washing and ironing. They kept the five small 
rooms clean and orderly. They got ready three 
meals a day. But time hung heavy on their hands. 
At first, it seemed to them that they could never tire of 
the shops, the crowds in the streets, the parks, the 
sights. But the only truly zestful holidaying is that 
which is snatched, as 'twere, from demanding work; 
the moment leisure loses its " all-too-brief-ness," that 
moment it begins to become irksome or, at least, only 
measurably joyfuL Moreover, it requires a consid- 
erable mental equipment to make loafing without 
spending, enjoyable; it requires a stoic philosophy to 
look on at a never-ending display of attractive things 
and be content to possess none of them. 

At first, Mattie regarded the " stylish " girls and 
women, the overwhelming displays in the shops, as 
quite apart from herself. She was a delighted, be- 
wildered onlooker at a glittering parade. If she felt 



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FORCED OUT 261 

that it would be " lovely " to be in the parade, she felt 
it only as a child does who looks on at a circus-parade, 
trying to imagine herself part and parcel of such a 
splendidly unreal life, but never quite believing in 
the possibility of her entering it. In those days, 
Mattie looked upon it all with hardly an idea of ap- 
propriating any — ^the Robespierre collars any more 
than the diamond necklaces, the silk stockings any 
more than the paradise feathers, the boutonniere bou- 
quets any more than the French gowns with their slit- 
skirts and rat-tail trains and glitter of rhinestones. 
Then, gradually, she began to differentiate, to select. 
The girl who lived upstairs wore silk stockings on 
Simdays, with her Colonial pimips; little shop-girls 
who were not even "salesladies" wore Robespierre 
collars ; Bob's wife wore a boutonniere on her tailored 
coat. Mattie began to feel herself "unnecessarily 
countrified." Her last summer's hat, which would 
have answered perfectly well for another simimer in 
the country, "wouldn't do, here, at all"; it was not 
only not in style, but it was conspicuously out of style. 
It was one thing to be an unobserved onlooker at the 
show, and it was quite another thing to feel that you 
were yourself "a show" — of an unenviable sort. 
Mattie wanted a new hat. She found that it would 
be cheaper to buy a Robespierre collar than to get the 
materials and make one, and she wanted some money 
for that. She wanted some gloves. She wanted to 
buy lace and embroidery and ribbons and patterns. 



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«6« THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

and try to make herself some lingerie like that dis- 
played in the cheaper department stores. 

But Eben Williams was not prepared to meet these 
demands. He was willing, he said, to provide Mattie 
with what she needed — but he felt that his idea of 
need, and not her notions of want, ought to determine 
what she should have. He was alarmed at the way 
money had, apparently, to be spent in a city. It was 
hard to get used to buying chickens and eggs and 
fruits and vegetables and butter and milk and even 
cottage cheese. The idea of paying twenty cents 
a pound for salt pork instead of pulling it out of the 
pork barrel; of having to give fifty cents a peck for 
apples of the sort he had been wont to feed to his 
pigs; of paying forty cents a peck for potatoes and 
forty cents a pound for butter and nigh onto a dollar 
for a sizable chicken, was paralyzing. No wonder 
it made him feel that money for clothes must be kept 
to the minimimi I No wonder he felt that for people 
in their circimistances, " a hat's a hat " 1 

Mattie, however, could not be satisfied merely to 
be fed and housed and clothed. Food and shelter 
meant comparatively little to her because she had 
never suffered for lack of either. Qothes would 
probably have meant no more to her if she had had 
anything else to fix her mind upon, and if the rest of 
the world — ^in so far as she was able to see it! — had 
found anything else to fix its mind upon. But Mattie 
had no great preoccupation. She had no splendid 



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FORCED OUT 263 

absorption which rendered dress, like food and lodg- 
ing, merely incidental. She had no driving ambition 
at whose behest sacrifices of trifling gratifications be- 
came sweet. She was just an ordinary little person, 
living along from day to day, " somehow," on what- 
ever interests the day provided — ^and they were 
neither many nor worthy. 

She was not analytical. She did not realize that it 
was her uselessness, her superfluousness, which made 
her restless, miserable. In the coimtry she had cer- 
tainly not been useless; she had felt that her mother 
could not get on without her. And while it did not 
seem to her that she was fully recompensed for her 
toil, she had (although she was not aware of it) a 
deeper source of self-respect than getting all you 
earn — ^which is, earning all you get ! 

Here, she was instinctively, if not reasoningly, con- 
scious of being a dependent. There was nothing to 
look forward to but the chance of getting married. 
And that seemed to be a poor chance. Mattie 
thought it was a poor chance because she was " not 
pretty" and because she could not buy attractive 
clothes to enhance her appearance. Many girls as 
plain as she, and plainer, married; and Mattie sup- 
posed they must have had the wherewithal to make 
themselves attractive. It was one of the articles of 
faith in Mrs. Williams' rules for bringing up a 
daughter, that beauty is only skin deep, and another 
that housewifely arts are prized by " sensible " yotmg 



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254 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

men when they go a-courting. But nothing in Mat- 
tie's little experience seemed to impress her with the 
desirability of qualities deeper than the cuticle, or 
even than the "peekaboo" dry goods wherewith 
women now cover their skin without concealing any 
more than they have to. She met the yoimg people 
who were Bob's and Ida's acquaintances; most of 
them were young married folk, struggling mightily 
to make five-thousand-dollar-a-year appearances on 
thousand-dollar salaries. Mattie had no reason to 
suppose that these young wives had been chosen for 
their ability to keep house and sew and save money. 
Perhaps their talk was deliberately misleading; but 
they seemed to think that the more they proclaimed 
their uselessness as housewives, the more evident it 
would become that they had been wooed and won on 
a plane of high romance. As if romance moved in 
inverse ratio to suitability. 

Mattie listened to the talk at Ida's, and to her 
mother's counsel, and drew her own conclusions. 
She was not especially eager to get married, but she 
was eager for adventure, for something that might, 
even briefly, transmute existence into life; and she 
was now convinced that demure apprenticeship to the 
housewifely arts is not, whatever it may once have 
been, the woman's one straight road to happiness, to 
safety, to well-being. 

After a family council, it was decided that she 
might " go to work." Her father felt a little shame 



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FORCED OUT 266 

in allowing her to go, because the traditions of his 
family were that the men always managed to support 
their womenfolk ; also, he had heard tales of the dan- 
gers which beset working girls. But he yielded to 
the weight of contrary opinion. Bob declared it 
would " do Mattie good, sharpen her wits, and show 
her what life is.'' Ida pleaded that she had been a 
bread-winner before she was married, and she was 
sure it hadn't hurt her — ^that, as for temptation, she 
had heard of more than one girl being led away from 
prayer-meeting. Mrs. Williams smothered her re- 
gretfulness at the prospect of long, lonely days, and 
urged that it was a pity for Mattie not to be able to 
have things like other girls had, and she didn't see 
why Mattie shouldn't earn them as other girls 
did. 

So it was agreed that Mattie should go to work. 
All that remained to determine was what she should 
do. Eben had been able to find a place in the com- 
plex city life, and to find it quickly, because he knew 
a great deal about an important article of universal 
consumption: milk. If he had been a "general" 
farmer, with no specialized knowledge, the city would 
less easily have assimilated him. Mattie was hard 
to place because she was a " general " manufacturer, 
or houseworker; she did not know enough of any one 
branch of domestic manufacturing to enter it as an 
expert; and of the two demands for general house- 
workers — i.e., wives and maids-of-all-work — she did 



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856 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

not know where to find a place as the former, and did 
not fancy the terms of the latter service. 

Bob and Ida were strongly opposed to the idea of 
Mattie's " working out/' on the grounds of the social 
stigma. Mrs. Williams was opposed to it because it 
would oblige Mattie to live as well as to work away 
from home. Eben Williams objected to such service 
when it was explained to him that, contrary to such 
custom as he had known in the country, his daughter 
if she hired herself out to do for strangers such work 
as she had always done at home, would have to go 
in and out by back doors, to receive him and her 
mother at a back door if they went to call upon her, 
and to eat her meals alone, apart from the family 
she served. Mattie wanted to live in her home. 
She wanted to have her parents' companionship in the 
evenings and on Simdays. She couldn't bear the 
thought of sitting down alone in a kitchen bedroom, 
after her day's work was done; of having no one to 
talk to, to listen to her account of the day's adven- 
tures, to sympathize with her over its unpleasantness. 
She wanted to live where she could entertain young 
people she might meet. Her social hunger, which had 
become almost starvation in the country, was per- 
haps the strongest impulse of which she was con- 
scious. She yearned to be among people; to work in 
company and in competition with others of her own 
sort ; to feel the thrill of the race to excel. She was 
told that she could get six dollars a week and her 



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FORCED OUT 267 

board and lodging, if she went into domestic Service. 
But she had never learned to reckon board and lodg- 
ing in terms of compensation; she had a home in 
which she preferred to live; and she could get six dol- 
lars a week as a beginner in factory, office, or store. 
Further to strengthen her resolution, Bob reminded 
her that whereas, in domestic service, it was seldom 
possible to get more than seven dollars a week for 
general housework, in other kinds of work it was " up 
to you how much you earn." He did not tell her 
(because he did not know) that the (vuerage derk or 
factory-hand or store-girl is not so well paid as the 
average domestic worker. But he was quite within 
the truth in saying that to a girl who hopes to reach 
above the average, one branch of service oflfers little 
if any chance, and others offer chances limited only 
by the workers' capabilities. Not many girls rise 
from the position of stock-girl to buyer, from office 
girl to private secretary of the firm's president, from 
machine operator to forewoman; but some do— some 
are always unmistakably so rising. Whereas no girl, 
in all probability, ever rose from general house- 
worker to become a high-priced chef, or a high-sala- 
ried managing housekeeper, or a club steward, or 
anything that might satisfy the ambition of one who 
worked harder than "the average" and developed 
more than average skill. 

Mattie didn't know what she could do, but she 
wanted to work at something that held rewards if 



\ 



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iSS THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

she could earn them. Whatever she went into she 
must enter as an unskilled worker, practically an ap- 
prentice. It was difficult for her to say what kinds 
of specialized labour might attract her, for which 
ones she might develop an aptitude; because there 
were so few kinds of which she had any knowledge. 
She could not compare office, factory, and store, be- 
cause she knew nothing whatever of the two former. 
She knew a little about retail selling in that she had 
at least seen it done. So, inasmuch as she lived '* at 
home, with her parents" and seemed, to think $6 
an entirely satisfactory wage for a beginner, she was 
given a position to sell certain kinds of kitchen hard- 
ware in the housefumishing section of a big depart- 
ment store. 

Thus Mattie Williams became a wage-earner; one 
of those " restless " girls so censured and decried by 
the short-sighted old aunties and the bewildered 
grandmas. Her father was earning enough to house 
her and feed her and cover her nakedness: "she 
should have stayed at home ; this traipsing off to work 
gets girls into all kinds of trouble, and rubs the bloom 
off them. But they must have fol-de-rols, and ex- 
citement. Fm sure I can't see what we're com- 
mgto!" 

These agitated persons are quite earnest, and quite 
unaware that they are seeing no further than the ends 
of their noses. They see Mattie selling tack-lifters 
and screw-drivers and door-hingeS| and she typifies 



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FORCED OUT «69 

to them potential wifehood and motherhood and 
home-management, perverted to strange, unsexing 
occupations. They hear of the five-room flat which 
could not continue to contain Mattie because it could 
not keep her self-respectingly busy, and they weep 
over Mattie's faring forth "in quest of gewgaws." 
Not even though Mattie, interrogated, were to swear 
that it was to get gewgaws she went forth, would 
that make gewgaws anything but a confusing inci- 
dent of her wage-earning. There was a time when 
women who went beyond their homes to earn their 
living, felt ashamed of the necessity (they never 
thought of it, then, as Opportunity!) and lied, feebly, 
about wanting " pin money." There is some of that 
spirit left; there are still some women who feel that 
while it would be derogatory to work for bread, it is 
perfectly lady-like to work for cake— or that, if bread 
must be earned, it preserves the nice traditions of 
femininity to pretend that the work is being done for 
"sweets." Girls like Mattie, whose fathers were 
alive and well and working, used to feel that they re- 
flected, somehow, on the " natural breadwinner " of 
the family, if they admitted that they went to work 
for any other reason than to get " spending money." 
And in their silly pride, these women and girls con- 
fused themselves, and others. Such notions still 
flourish in England, to a considerable extent, and in 
the Southern States of our country. But they are dis- 
appearing so rapidly that it is easy to foresee a day. 



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«60 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

not distant, when such strange concepts of dignity 
&nd propriety will be as difficult to tmderstand as 
to-day it is difficult for us to appreciate how a " fe- 
male '* in the eighteenth century preserved her sense 
of delicacy by feigning not to eat and by swooning 
easily and frequently. 

Women — barring the parasites among them — ^have 
always worked; they have always worked wherever 
(that is to say, in whatever fields) the labour of their 
hands was most urgently demanded. They have 
never created the conditions imder which they la- 
boured; they have always adapted themselves and 
their work to conditions created for them. 

"The women of no race or class,'* says Olive 
Schreiner, " will ever rise in revolt or attempt to 
bring about a revolutionary readjustment of their 
relation to their society, however intense their suffer- 
ing and however clear their perception of it, while 
the welfare and persistence of their society requires 
their submission ; wherever there is a general attempt 
on the part of the women of any society to readjust 
their position in it, a close analysis will always show 
that the changed or changing conditions of that 
society have made woman's acquiescence no longer 
necessary or desirable. 

"In our woman's field of labour, the changes 
which have taken place during the last centuries, and 
which we sum up under the compendious term * mod- 
em civilization,' hive tended to rob wcrnian, not 



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FORCED OXJT 261 

merely iti part but almost wholly, of the more valu- 
able part of her ancient domain of productive and 
social labour; and, where there has not been a deter- 
mined and conscious resistance on her part, have 
nowhere spontaneously tended to open out to her new 
and compensatory fields. . . . Looking aroimd with 
the uttermost impartiality we can command, on the 
entire field of woman's ancient and traditional la- 
bours, we find that fully three-fourths of it hcBue 
shrunk away forever, and that the remaining fourth 
still tends to shrink. 

" It is this great fact, so often and so completely 
overlooked, which lies as the propelling force behind 
that vast and restless * Woman's Movement ' which 
marks our day. It is this fact, whether clearly and 
intellectually grasped, or, as is more often the case, 
vaguely and painfully felt, which awakes in the hearts 
of the ablest modern European women, their passion- 
ate, and at times it would seem almost incoherent, cry 
for new forms of labour and new fields for the exer- 
cise of their powers. 

"Thrown into strict logTcal form, our demand is 
this: We do not ask that the wheels of time should 
reverse themselves, or the stream of life flow back- 
ward. We do not ask that our ancient spinning- 
wheels be again resuscitated and placed in our hands ; 
we do not demand that our old grindstones and hoes 
be returned to us, or that man should again betake 
himself entirely to his ancient province of war and 



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nest THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

the chase, leaving to us all domestic and civil labour. 
We do not even demand that society shall immediately 
so reconstruct itself that every woman may be again 
a child-bearer (deep and overmastering as lies the 
hunger for motherhood in every virile woman's 
heart !) ; neither do we demand that the children 
whom we bear shall again be put exclusively into our 
hands to train. This, we know, cannot be. The 
past material conditions of life have gone forever; 
no will of man can recall them. But this is our de- 
mand: We demand that, in that strange new world 
that is arising alike upon the man and the woman, 
where nothing is as it was, and all things are assum- 
ing new shapes and relations, that in this new world 
we also shall have our share of honoured and socially 
useful human toil, our full half of the labour of the 
Children of Woman. We demand nothing more 
than this, and we will take fiothing less. This is our 
'Wotnan's Rightt"' 



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XI 

THE PRICE OF PROGRESS 

"XT'S no use strugglin' on/' Fritz BueMow had 

I declared, some years ago; "things ain't never 

goin' to get no better for us. You can't sell 

preservin' kettles an' Mason jars to women that buy 

all their fruit, a can at a time as they want it. And 

you can't sell wash-boilers an' clothesracks and 

wringers to women that send all their washin' out; 

nor skillets an' saucepans to women that get their 

meals from the delicatessen's. We might's well 

give up." 

" Well, / say let's give up tryin* to sell what no one 

wants to buy," his wife agreed, "an' start sellin' 

something everybody's got to buy. The people 

'round here have changed a lot from what they was 

when we come here. Flats was scarce, then; now 

it's houses that's scarce. Everybody lives in few 

rooms; and you see how 'tis: as the neighbourhood 

gets thicker an' thicker, the flats get smaller an' 

smaller — fewer rooms an* littler. More'n half these 

big new buildin's are four-room flats, an' less; I see 

one or two signs out sayin' that them buildin's have 

flats of two an' three rooms. Now, you know 's well 

as I do, how much housekeepin' can be done in two 

268 



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264 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

an' three rooms I All you got to do is look around 
you, an' see the way laundries an' dry-cleaners an' 
bakeries an' delicatessens flourish an' multiply. Any 
amount o' the women around here work for their Hv- 
in's, same as men do. They make their good money 
an' hire their clothes washed an' their fruit canned 
an' their suits cleaned an' pressed an' their bread 
baked. 

" The thing for you an' me to do, Pa, is to start 
sellin' something that people have got to have. Now, 
/ say that we clear out this store, takin' what we can 
get for the old stock, an' start a good delicatessen. 
An' I say, let's not keep just the kinds o* stuflf all the 
others keep. / say let's keep some things that you 
an' me could imagine hungry folks wantin' to eat 
when they come home from a day's work." 

That was how the Buehlows started in the delica- 
tessen business. Mrs. Buehlow had a strong instinct 
for the value of appearance in the salability of food. 
She realized that people were getting daily more de- 
manding as to the looks of what they ate, and also as 
to the way it was handled; she it was who insisted 
on having " the place done up white," the store-front 
painted, the inside oil-finished so it could be washed 
and kept spotless; she it was who insisted on white 
enamel paint for the counters and shelves, and who 
went to other lengths of extravagance which 
Fritz complained their small savings did not jus- 
tify. 



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THE PRICE OP PROGRESS 265 

" When we're startin', / say let's start right I '' she 
retorted — ^and went ahead with her expenditures. 

She was speedily justified in the shop's success. 
At first they bought a major part of all they sold, 
just as did their competitors— every delicatessen 
dealer buying from practically the same line of " spe- 
cialists," whose supply wagons stopped daily at his 
door. Mrs. Buehlow was " feeling her way," learn- 
ing what people would and would not buy; and as 
fast as she could, she was substituting the readily 
salable for the unsalable. 

" This here baked macaroni we're gettin' is like a 
bunch o' rubber hose," she declared. " By the time 
people take it home an' warm it up in an oven, the 
wonder to me is they can chew it. / say let's not 
take any more of it. I'll cook some myself, an' fix 
it in little pans, all creamy inside an' nice crimibs on 
top, an' customers can put it in the oven to heat 
through an' have a Christian dish." 

But it was Mary — ^the Buehlows' only daughter — 
who laid the foundation of the family fortime. 

Mary was eighteen at that time. She lived with 
her parents and her two younger brothers, in the 
rooms behind the store. She waited on customers, 
helped her mother with the family housework and 
with the ever-increasing manufacture of things to 
sell in the store. She was alertly intelligent, and 
deeply interested in the new business, for which she 
had an aptitude no less strong than her mother's. 



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266 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

There was this about a delicatessen shop: you 
couldn't get away from it; it had to be opened in 
the morning early enough to meet the demands of 
seven-o'clock breakfasters, and it had to be kept open 
till nine or ten in the evening, and Sunday was its 
busiest day — Sunday and holidays. But there were 
five Buehlows; they all waited on customers in the 
" rush " times, if necessary, and they took turns in 
sticking to the job evenings and Sundays and holi- 
days. And no one felt unduly restricted. The com- 
ing and going of the various supply men, each day, 
brought a score of friendly gossips and a constant 
replenishment of conversational topics as well as of 
smoked meats and cream cheeses. The customers 
were nearly all " regulars," and many of them 
brought bits of news or of opinion which enlivened 
the business of buying and selling. The life was a 
social, life and the Buehlows had less need than most 
folks have of going far afield from either home or 
business to satisfy the craving for human intercourse 
and fresh interests. They had a large circle of com- 
mon acquaintances— common to them all. They had 
an unusual number of common toerests. The 
source of the family income was as clearly understood 
by young Fritz as by his father, by Mary and her 
mother as by any of the group. Georgie knew as 
well as his pa what boiled hams ought to cost per 
pound and what they ought to bring. Young Fritz, 
who made bicycle deliveries, brought back many 



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THE PRICE OF PROGRESS 267 

shrewd reports about the living conditions he 
glimpsed. Mary kept her eyes open wherever she 
went, to note what other delicatessen shops purveyed. 

And it was Mary, as I have said, who laid the foim- 
dation of the family fortime. 

Mary went out to supper one evening, at the home 
of a girl friend. Baked beans were served. Mary 
had never eaten any so good. She got directions for 
preparing them this way, and without delay she 
** tried some on the family." 

*' Those pans of beans, baked hard as stones on top, 
that we get from Schmulzer, aren't fit to eat," Mary 
declared. " Fm going to bake a big earthen crock 
of these, to-morrow — and see what happens." 

What happened was that the crockful sold " in no 
time," and that everybody who bought those beans 
wanted more. In a little while, people were passing 
other delicatessen stores to come to Buehlow's for 
beans, and Mary was baking three and four big crock- 
fuls a day, instead of one — ^with very little more 
work. 

One day the driver of a dairy wagon that supplied 
the Buehlow store, said to Mary : 

"I was tellin' one of our delicatessen customers 
about your baked beans. An' he says, he's so far 
away from here he ain't no competitor of yours, an' 
if you want to fix him one of them crocks, he'll take 
it; and if it goes, he'll order reg'lar." 

Mary took coimsel of the family, and no one could 



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268 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

sec any objection to supplying a shop in another 
neighbourhood. So Mary sent the distant delicates- 
sener a crockful of beans, and then two crocks, and 
then three. And soon she had to have an oven built 
for her. There was " money in beans." There was 
so much money in them that in course of no great 
while the Buehlows began to be a "bean supply 
house," sending their product all over the city; and 
presently they ceased to be keepers of a delicatessen 
shop; and as time went on, Fritz Buehlow became a 
manufacturer, and Buehlow's Beans became a by-word 
— and Mary was out of a job! 

The store was sold, and the family moved into a 
house — an eight-room house, with a bathroom, and a 
good, big yard, which speedily became a thriving gar- 
den under Mrs. Buehlow's loving care. 

At first she and Mary did their housework; and 
the three menfolk ran the business — ^the elder Bueh- 
low directing manufacture and his two sons do- 
ing the buying of raw product and the selling of fin- 
ished product. Occasionally, Mary went over to the 
factory and made suggestions about improving the 
quality of the beans; but her father and brothers did 
not like this. They felt fully capable of carrying on 
the business, and they did not care to have their 
employfe get the idea that the business owed in any 
way its origin to the women of the family and not 
to the men. Besides, they said there was enough for 
Mary to do at home. 



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THE PRICE OF PROGRESS 269 

There wasn't enough 1 Not even in the beginning 
of the new home, when Mary and her mother did all 
their work except the washing— omitting the latter 
not because they felt unequal to it but because it 
would have " looked queer '* in their new neighbour- 
hood for them to be seen in their back yard hanging 
out their clothes. Mary was twenty-four, now, and 
splendidly vigorous. She had always worked hard 
and always enjoyed it. Of course she got tired, at 
times; of course there were occasions when she 
sighed for more leisure; but on the whole, she was 
contentedly busy to a degree which almost any one 
might well envy. Housework didn't give her enough 
to do: it didn't provide half enough variety. She 
missed the social aspect of the store. She missed the 
stimulus of business. She missed the companion- 
ship of her menfolk, who left home early in the 
mornings, now, and came home later and later in the 
evenings. All these things that Mary missed, her 
mother missed also. " Progress '* had suddenly de- 
prived them of a great deal that they cherished and 
enjoyed. Very shortly, it deprived them still further. 

" I want you to get you a hired girl. Ma," Fritz 
Buehlow said. "There ain't no need for you an' 
Mary to be workin' your heads off " 

*' But we ain't workin' 'em off. Pa," Mrs. Buehlow 
interposed. " Fact is, we don't have enough to do." 

" That's because you stick around here all day and 
have no ambition about you I" Georgie complained. 



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«70 THE WORKA-DAY GIRL 

"You act like you still had the store. What's the 
use of getting on, if you're going to do that way? 
We work hard all day, and when we come home what 
do we find? You and Mary in the kitchen cooking 
supper. And after supper, you and Mary in the 
kitchen washing dishes or setting sponge or soaking 
the clothes. Then, in the morning, you and Mary 
in the kitchen cooking breakfast. And all day Sun- 
day, you and Mary in the kitchen 1 " 

Mrs. Buehlow looked her natural astonishment. 

" Why, Georgie I '* she exclaimed. " What would 
we be doin'? What you want we should do?" 

" Get a hired girl," he answered. " Dress your- 
selves up nice; go out somewheres once in a while; 
have some company sometimes; and look like the 
family was getting on!" 

Mrs. Buehlow hadn't a great deal of patience with 
this demand, until Mary explained to her: the men- 
folk had made a lot of new acquaintances in business; 
Georgie and Fritzie had met some nice girls and 
wanted to appear well in these girls' eyes; it would 
be a great pity to let the men get ashamed of their 
home and keep all their social as well as their busi- 
ness life outside. Mary had been pleaded with by 
each of the men in turn ; slie had all their arguments 
by heart; she could not help seeing that they had a 
great deal of right on their side; and, too, she was 
more willing for the change than her mother was — 
not because she wanted to work less, but because she 



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THE PRICE OF PROGRESS 271 

hoped that the new arrangement would enable her 
to work more, and at something to which she coidd 
give a quality of interest like to that she had given 
the work wrested from her by the factory. 

So a servant was installed, and Mrs. Buehlow and 
Mary set about the tremendously difficult task of find- 
ing employment. They essayed considerable sewing. 
Mrs. Buehlow worked her garden till it was the won- 
der of the neighbourhood. Still the days were long 
and too scantily filled. The menfolk were not keen 
about keeping up many of the old acquaintances of 
store days; and Mrs. Buehlow and Mary found it 
difficult to establish community of interests with 
their new neighbours, who had, for the most part, 
been much more gradually accustomed to regard as 
the main facts of life those things which the Buehlow 
women had always regarded as incidentals. 

Two women whose wit and wisdom and untiring 
industry have contributed so much to lift their fam- 
ily out of failure and despair into success and confi- 
dence, cannot easily magnify into prime importance 
the length of their jackets, the height of their hat- 
crowns, the way portieres should hang, or the multi- 
plication of doilies; and questions of infant feeding 
and child rearing could not enter vitally into lives 
that children did not touch. 

Most of the women of the neighbourhood suffered 
more or less from ennui, although nearly all of them 
thought they had too much to do. The resort of the 



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rift THE WORK^A-DAY GIRL 

majority m their leisure hours was cards — bridge 
whist or rhum or five htmdred. 

Mrs. Buehlow could not rouse in herself the slight- 
est interest in cards ; but Mary, yielding to the invita- 
tions of her brothers' girl-friends, joined a card-and- 
luncheon club, and a matinee Dtitch-treat dub. 

In the interests of these, Mary tried to develop an 
absorption in collarless blouses and grape fruit cock- 
tails and Waldorf salad and leading men and "tri- 
angle " problems and ** finessing ** and the simplifica- 
tion of hair-dressing styles. But the effort was 
abortive. Nothing really interested her until she be- 
came, in desperation, a member of a Simbeam Society 
whose pet enterprise was the maintenance of a noon- 
day rest and cafeteria lunchroom for working girls. 

The members of the Society took turns waiting at 
the food counters, the steam-tables, and the tea and 
coffee urns — thus saving wages and keeping down 
the price of food. 

At once, Mary was in her element and happy. At 
once she came into a position of command, because 
she was in a field where she knew — and knowledge is 
authority. The Sunbeam cafeteria absorbed her, and 
it rewarded her: it developed and flourished under 
her direction until it gave her a sense of elation in 
her usefulness — the most satisfying sense that any 
soul can ever have. 

But Mr. Buehlow was ill-pleased when he heard 
that Mary was working so hard in a cafeteria, " wait- 



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THE PRICE OF PROGRESS 278 

ing on a lot of shop-girls." He couldn't understand 
such behaviour. " There's some people you just can't 
raise up or do nothing with! " he complained, bitterly. 
"My goodness! Here I am, anxious for Mary to 
enjoy herself and go around among nice people. 
And what does she do? Spends her time waitin' in 
a cheap restaurant ! " 

" But, Pa! " his wife pleaded, *' the other girls that 
go there and wait are fine girls. They don't have to 
go, neither; they're society girls; they're richer and 
sweller'n what our Mary is. Doin' things like that 
is a kind of craze with rich girls now, it seems. And 
you can't blame 'em! Maybe the poor girls don't 
need their clubs an' things; but I bet the rich girls 
need to have 'em! 'Tain't nattural for any human 
bein' to be no use to any one alive." 

" Mary should be thinkin' of gettin' married," her 
father declared. *' She's twenty-five. First thing 
she knows, she won't get any one to have her." 

" Don't seem like she's ever seen any one she fan- 
cied," her mother answered. She, too, felt that Mary 
ought to be thinking of getting married. 

"How can she see anybody she might 'fancy,' 
dishin' up hash to a lot of shop-girls? You talk to 
Mary and make her see she should be marrying! " 

Mrs. Buehlow "talked to Mary"; and Mary re- 
plied that she hadn't seen any one she wanted to 
marry. But it was evident that Mary had not 
"looked very hard." 



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874 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

Her father had — ^it seemed. He knew a young 
man he thought would do very well for Mary. He 
asked him to the house. The young man was not 
ill-pleased with Mary, and he came quite frequently; 
he invited her to the theatre; he sent her candy and 
flowers. Eventually he asked Mary to marry him; 
and Mary said No. She had accepted his courtesies 
because he was her father's friend; but her sense of 
obligation to her father did not lead her so far as to 
marry his friend; and she defied the friend to say 
that she had ever given him any encouragement to 
believe that she would marry him. No; she hadn't! 
But her father had ! Then her father was exceeding 
his authority! 

"Father" was incensed. "What's the matter 
with him?" he demanded of Mary. "What's the 
matter with youf 

" Nothing's the matter with him that I know of," 
Mary replied; "but I don't love him; he doesn't in- 
terest me; I won't marry him." 

" This's what comes of running around, picking up 
crazy notions ! " her father raged. 

" Well," Mary reminded him, " I wanted to work, 
and you wouldn't let me. I wanted to keep on look- 
ing after my beans — but you took them away from 
me. I had to do something t** 

" What you should have been doing was to see how 
you could get you a good husband and a nice home. 
What do you think is going to become of you? Are 



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THE PRICE OF PROGRESS 876 

you forever going to dish up hash and live off 
me?" 

Mary flushed. " I don't need to live off you ! " she 
retorted. " Til be glad enough to go to work and 
earn^my own living. And FU certainly do it before 
I'll think of marrying a man I care nothing about." 

" I don't want you earning your own living," her 
father cried. " How would that look for mef As 
if I couldn't afford to keep you! I won't have it I 
And I won't have you fooling all your time away 
with hash, neither. This funny business has got to 
stop. I'm willing to work for you, but you got to 
have some consideration for me." 

But Mary steadfastly refused to be separated from 
what her father called " the hash." She clung to it 
desperately, as she might well cling to the one thing 
that furnished opportunity for usefulness. She 
wasn't needed, now, in the family business ; she wasn't 
needed in the home; and she couldn't bring herself to 
marry in the hope of creating an occupation, an in- 
terest ; because her observation did not encourage her 
to believe that she could be satisfied with the kind of 
life most young matrons lived. 

So she threw herself unreservedly into the work 
of the Sunbeam Society, not only into the cafeteria 
part of it but into other things which developed out 
of that. And she bore as best she could the thick- 
ening cloud of displeasure under which she lived at 
home — at least in so far as her father was concerned. 



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276 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

The thing that hurt worst was that her mother was 
made imhappy by these strained relations. 

There were times when it seemed to Mary that 
nothing could possibly justify her for refusing to fol- 
low meekly any path in life that might be laid out 
for her as helpful to the family reputation and con- 
ducive to family peace. Apparently, women were 
but pawns in the game of life: they could "take'* 
nothing; they were for the service of their superiors 
in whatever way that service was demanded. When 
a father is poor, his daughter is his to work for him; 
when he's well-to-do, she is his to advertise his suc- 
cess by her idleness; in either case, it is her duty to 
marry for the advantage of the family, if she can, 
and thereafter to further the advantage of a new 
family at whatever cost to her own desires. 

Then, again, she passionately protested against 
such submission; she felt that women had a right to 
be something besides daughters and wives and 
mothers, just as men have the unchallenged right to 
be something besides sons and husbands ^nd fathers ; 
she saw that many women must needs be something 
instead of wives and mothers, and that the tendency 
of modem life is to increase rather than to decrease 
the proportion of these. She learned why a great 
many women of to-day who might marry, do not 
marry. She learned why a great many women are 
miserably childless. She said little or nothing to her 
father about these things, but her ideas percolated to 



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THE PRICE OF PROGRESS 277 

him through her mother. Mr. Buehlow considered 
it shocking, disgusting, for a woman to know any- 
thing about social purity or impurity; and outrageous 
for her to argue her right to work, to struggle, to be 
a useful, self-sustaining creature first, and after that, 
if possible, a wife and mother. 

Mary did all she could to preserve family peace; 
but her father made her feel his displeasure. When 
he gave her any money, he stipulated that none of it 
was to go to "your hash-house." He missed no 
slightest opportunity to revile persons whom he sus- 
pected Mary of admiring, nor to extol persons whom 
he suspected Mary of despising. 

It was a wdl-nigh intolerable situation. Mary en- 
dured it for her mother's sake, as long as she could. 
Then she got out. She got herself a job as assistant- 
manager of a big lunchroom ; and she and a compan- 
ionable girl friend rented a three-room and kitchen- 
ette apartment where they might " live in peace, ac- 
cording to their lights " — and to their earning powers. 

This raised a tremendous storm in the Buehlow 
home. 

"What right have you to disgrace us?" Mary's 
father demanded of her. 

"Why am I disgracing you?" Mary asked. 
" What am I doing that is wrong? " 

"The place for a decent girl is in her father's 
home I" he thundered. "When she can't live there 
no longer, it's a sign she's not decent I " 



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278 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

" It's a sign of nothing of the sort ! " she retorted. 
" You have been very anxious for me to have a home 
of my own. Why is it decent to leave your home 
and be supported by a husband, and indecent to leave 
it and support a home of my own? " 

Mr. Buehlow's answer to this was purely selfish: 
in leaving his home to make one of her oym, Mary 
reflected on his ability to maintain her, or else on 
his endurableness as a father and provider. He re- 
sented her doing this; he resented her having power 
to do it; he resented her desertion, as he called it, of 
her mother — although he would have heaped approval 
on her desertion by marriage, even though the bride- 
groom might live in Cape Town; whereas her own little 
apartment was not a mile away. 

But there were, Mary found, other objectors. The 
social code is still rather undiscriminatingly set 
against young women keeping house within a mile of 
their parents' homes. If girls who cannot live at 
home go to distant cities, no scandal is created by 
their setting up their lares and penates in an abode 
of their own; their desire to create an atmosphere 
favourable to their best development, is respected, even 
reverenced. But the new home, husbandless, close 
under the shadow of the parental roof, is looked upon 
askance. It is not much more easily condoned in the 
case of a man. People seem to feel an instinctive 
doubtfulness of either son or daughter who cannot 
come to some tolerable arrangement in the parental 



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THE PRICE OF PROGRESS 279 

home. The parents may be intolerable; but they are 
(unless known to be unendurable) sure to get the 
benefit of the doubt, and quite likely to deserve it. 
Society recognizes, now, that the house was never 
built which was large enough for two families; it 
concedes the self-preserving wisdom of young cou- 
ples who leave the most spacious of homes echoing 
to the slow foot-falls of the middle-aged and aging, 
and crowd themselves into the tiniest " ownest own " 
nests in cottage or apartment. But that concession 
(which probably rocked tribal and patriarchal and 
feudal society to its foundations, before it was made) 
is demanded because the new family is compotmded 
of equal parts of two older families, neither of which 
parts (in the interests of peace and progress) should 
be required to conform absolutely to the rules, the 
traditions, and customs of either of the old-estab- 
lished households; the interests of the race demand 
constant new beginnings. But a son or a daughter 
going forth alone (unless to a distant city) seems to 
the present point of view to be disrupting a family 
without making recompense to society in the promise 
of .a new family; and society does not take kindly to 
this idea. Perhaps it will come — and with less strain 
than was entailed by the breaking up of patriarchal 
households. But at present, the young woman who 
separates herself from her parents' home, to live as a 
" bachelor maid " in the same city, must do so at con- 
siderable cost of disesteem; must face the conse- 



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880 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

quences of that poptdar judgment which will suppose 
her to have left her home because she demanded a 
freedom beyond what her parents could cotmtenance, 
and must bear with the attitude that is always seeking 
to see what orgies she will be guilty of, now that she 
has " bust loose." 

Mary encotmtered all of this. She found people 
in general no more inclined to look favouringly on her 
desire for independence than her father had looked. 
She found that something in the manner of many per- 
sons, which suggested (often none too delicately) 
that her idea in leaving home had been to get away 
from censorship; that what she wanted was liberty 
to smoke cigarettes and drink highballs and go " slum- 
ming " — ^perhaps to " have affairs." 

" All I ask is leave to work; to earn my own bread 
and butter; to be beholden to no one; to maintain 
my own ideals. Yet people act as if they were 
always expecting me to do something outrageous! " 

Doubtless she could have lived this unjust but not 
unnatural suspicion down. Perhaps, but for her 
mother, she would have tried to do so. But what 
with her mother's sorrow, and with the general lack 
of sympathy, she gave up her little flat and went bade 
home. But she kept her position. And when she 
returned to her father's roof, she insisted on paying 
her board, just as her brothers did. 

In one highly important particular, Mary's situa- 
tion as a bread-winning daughter living at home. 



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THE PRICE OF PROGRESS «81 

lacked an element of difficulty which most working 
women who live at home have to face : the disposition 
of her wages. More than four-fifths of the daugh- 
ters who work, it is estimated, turn over to their 
parents (usually to their mothers) all their earnings. 
Sons seldom do this after the first two or three years 
of wage-earning — rafter that they usually "pay 
board," clothe themselves, and begin (supposedly) to 
lay the fotmdations of their futures by saving and 
investing. 

*'I believe,'' writes Cicely Hamiltdn, "that in all 
ranks of society there is a pronounced disposition on 
the part of the family to regard the income, earned or 
unearned, of its female members as something in the 
nature of common property — ^the income of its male 
members as much more of an individual posses- 
sion." 

This was far less true of Mary Buehlow than it is 
of most women workers, because the family income 
was so easily adequate to its scale of living. There 
was no pressure which Mary's earnings were needed 
to relieve. But this was true : Mary felt her mother's 
want of money (in the old days of the shop, the 
mother had been not only her husband's partner, but 
the financier of the firm, of the family; now she was 
a dependent: her household bills were paid; her cloth- 
ing was paid for; but she had no income that she 
could feel was hers to spend as she chose) and sup- 
plied it, gladly, to save her mother the shame of beg- 



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282 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

ging. And when the servant was ill, or the family 
was temporarily servantless, it was Mary who, after 
her own day's work downtown, came home and 
helped her mother; her father and brothers whose 
work she and her mother had joyfully shared for so 
long, showed not the slightest disposition to share 
in that part of the work of the family which they 
considered the business of the women. 

That Mary, whose earnings were not considerable, 
was taking from what she might have saved, to sup- 
ply her mother's perfectly legitimate desires, did not 
disturb any of the Buehlow men. They were not 
consciously mean, but it did not occur to them that 
Mary might be eager to save her money and go into 
business for herself; they simply couldn't get used to 
the idea that she was trying to establish herself in 
life and to insure her future — and not working to 
gratify some whim, escape from some "peculiar" 
restlessness. Nor were they deliberate in their atti- 
tude as they sat at ease (in those servantless intervab 
which are frequent in most households, these days, 
whatever their ability to pay for service) and allowed 
Mary to come in from a hard day's work and go into 
the kitchen to relieve her mother. Yet, if asked, 
these menfolk would have declared unhesitatingly 
that one of the reasons why women are imfitted to 
compete with men is because women are physically 
the weaker and inferior vessels. 

Once when Mary said something about this, her 



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THE PRICE OF PROGRESS «83 

father reminded her that she did not " have to work '* ; 
that helping her mother was her "business"; and 
that if she tired herself out doing other things, that 
was her " own funeral." 

" Is it necessary for Georgie and Fritzie to work? " 
she asked. 

" Sure it's necessary." 

" Couldn't you afford to support them if they didn't 
work?" 

"I could afford to; but I wouldn't do it. What 
kind of idiots would they grow up to be — ^living off 
me and doing nothing for their board but eat it ? A 
man's got to work or he don't have no self-respect, 
nor no respect from other men." 

" That's what I thought," Mary answered, quietly, 
" because those are the same reasons why a woman 
has got to work." 

" But a woman should work in her house — for her 
family," her father declared. " I raised you up, a 
good many years. You owe me something!*' 

"I owe you a great deal," Mary granted him. 
" And I owe Ma a great deal more — ^more than I can 
ever pay back. But I thought that parents kind of 
passed the debt on: *You can't pay me for all you 
cost me; but you must pay it to your children, or to 
posterity.' I can't pay you for giving me life — I 
thought maybe the happiness of being a parent was 
your compensation for that. But as for my keep! 
I've worked for it ever since I can remember; and 



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884 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

it strikes me that I had something to do with found- 
ing the fortitoes of us alll " 

Her father stared at her with bewilderment. Mary 
was startlingly incomprehensible to him, and he felt 
sure that she was hurrying to some sort of horrible 
self-destructioa 

"I can't think where you got such ideas," he la- 
mented. " In my young days, if a girl talked that 
way I don't know what would have happened.*' 

Mary abandoned hope of making him understand. 
She went on her course, feeling her way as best she 
could, without chart or compass. Almost every 
problem she encountered was one which she had to 
face alone and without the help of rule, precedent, or 
other woman's experience. Nothing in the history 
of hiOTianity has in any way foreshadowed this world- 
shaking movement now going on in the scattered 
ranks of womankind. Few of the *' restless " women 
themselves are aware of the causes of their restless- 
ness. Few men are able to realize the inevitableness 
of this that has now " in the fulness of time " come 
to pass. 

It was woman who, when she suffered unenduraUy 
in her children's hunger, and the hunter came not 
home from the chase, discovered earth-products that 
could be made to sustain life — and, groping her way, 
became an agriculturist. It was man who, when 
woman had taught him how much of the necessary 



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THE PRICE OF PROGRESS «86 

sustenance may be planted and reaped^ and how wild 
animals may be tamed and made man's servants, 
turned agriculturist and drove his mate from the posi- 
tion of pioneer and commander to that of follower 
and helper, and finally freed her from field toil so 
that she began exercising her ingenuity in the utiliza- 
tion of field products. It was she who began all 
manufactures, and he who took them from her one 
by one. This he did because he needed the work. 
And each time he left to her to devise other kinds of 
useful labour wherewith to busy herself and, in time, 
to provide him with more varieties of productive toil. 
At no time in all this, probably, did men act with con- 
scious selfishness, or women yield with conscious re- 
luctance. Those who can create have their greatest 
joy in creating. Woman's ingenuity was being de- 
veloped; it was constantly, as changing economic con- 
ditions required, finding new exercise, and enjoying, 
doubtless, the exquisite happiness of being adequate 
to the demands encountered. But, " as woman's old 
fields of labour have slipped from her, she must either 
grasp new, or must become wholly dependent on her 
sexual function alone, all other elements of human 
nature in her becoming atrophied and arrested 
through lack of exercise." 

Women who fail to grasp, or to create, new fields 
of labour, and who sit unresistingly in their gleaned 
comers, are hastening the decay of their class or kind. 
Women who refuse to be inactive, unproductive, are 



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S86 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

sustaining the best ideals of their sex and continuing 
to raise the status of the race. 

But because most of us are so utterly ignorant of 
the industrial and economic history of humanity (is 
it conceivable that the history of toil should never be 
taught except in college and university? that the 
world's toilers should never be given a glimpse of the 
way over which they have come, nor of the goal 
toward which they press?) we are confused and dis- 
tracted by the movement of our times, and misread 
the signs of vitality for threats of destruction, the 
signs of decay for pledges of security. 

Millions of women to-day, most of them young, 
are struggling more or less desperately with a vague 
sense of mislike for the conditions of life as they in- 
herit it. The mightiest instinct of youth (if not of 
all life) is self-preservation; and in blind obedience 
to this they are fighting for the right to perform such 
a share of the world's work as shall sustain them in 
self-respect, develop their powers, and bless them with 
that highest happiness, the sense of usefulness. 

Not many men or women are giving these valiant 
race-preserving strugglers sympathy or help. Some 
are exploiting them — overworking them, tmderpaying 
them, and consigning vast numbers of them to the 
human scrap-heap. Some are selfishly or stupidly 
opposing them. 

Woman's movement to reclaim not all of what was 
once her foremothers' but only a share in it, to adjust 



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THE PRICE OF PROGRESS 887 

herself to new conditions of labour and of social status, 
is so tremendous that we may be pardoned if we are 
awestruck by it, and so unparalleled that we may be 
excused for ignorance as to what we ought to do. 
But we can at least have sympathy — and out of sym- 
pathy grows understanding. Every one of us has 
daily contact with some of the struggling millions, 
and our respect is due to all — ^to the women whom 
the bread of idleness fails to feed, as well as to the 
women who must work if they would eat, and who 
are seeking work and wages where they can find them. 

Every one of us, every day, is making life on terms 
of self-respect either harder or easier for more than 
one of these millions of women. 

The world is waking up to the needs of its women. 
Here, there, and everywhere, movements are on foot 
seeking to solve their problems. Most of these move- 
ments look toward legislation, to stop exploitation, 
to fix the legal rights of women, and so on. And 
legislation will come as fast as public opinion demands 
it; just and protective laws will be worth just as much 
as the public opinion back of them that demands 
their enforcement. 

If you think that the girl in the mill is there be- 
cause she " doesn't like housework," or that the girl 
in the shop is there to earn a new feather, or that 
the girl in the office is there because she likes to work 
among men, you are little likely to give any sympathy 
to movements endeavouring to better her working- 



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988 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

condition, safeguard her leisure, or increase her pay. 
But if you know why she is a worker; if you know 
that not all the powers of all the earth could (even if 
they should!) re-create for her conditions as they 
were; if you feel the value to the race of the woman 
who struggles and endures to keep woman's hold an 
industry, your contribution to the public opinion 
which fetters or frees her, will be different — ^will it 
not? 



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HER FATHER'S ASSISTANT. 

This fiftecn-year-okl girl is her father's assistant. She began 
learning to cobble when five. When ten, she begged to be taught 
the trade. Father and daughter work side by side. When her 
father becomes incapacitated she can continue the business. 



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XII 
"THE WOMAN OF IT" 

I 

THE kindly neighbours couldn't understand 
Sarah's willingness — ^nay, her evident pref- 
erence — ^to stay alone. 

" Sure you don't want to come over an' sleep with 
Minnie to-night?" Mrs. Joe Darch insisted. "Or 
have me or Minnie stay here with you?" 

"Sure!" Sarah answered, grateful for the kind- 
ness shown her, but not dissuaded by it. 

So they left her. And for a while she sat on her 
doorstep, in the April gloaming; a lone-looking crea- 
ture in sooth, framed against the shadowy interior of 
a cabin no emptier (actually) than it had been a 
thousand times before when she sat there likewise, 
but awesomely empty in feeling, now, because of one 
who would never return. His blackened pipe was 
above the fireplace. His wide-brimmed hat hung on 
its peg on the door. But he was lying out yonder, 
in the bleak little burial patch, his sandy grave unre- 
deemed from its full dreadfulness by so much as a 
single flower. 

Times without number had Sarah sat here, gazing 
888 



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890 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

into that area of space — now near, now far — ^where 
visions form and flit. She was used to being lonely; 
she couldn't remember ever having been other than 
lonely. Occasionally, in those countless other times, 
Sarah's thoughts had been reminiscent, the things she 
visioned were back in the way she had come; but far 
oftener she had dreamed of a possible future, when 
life might wear a glory or at least disclose a meaning. 
The existence she had, seemed to lead nowhither; but 
Sarah was young, and she could not but believe that 
some day, by some miracle, or by some energy of her 
own, the purposelessness would fall away and she 
would glimpse her destiny. 

Always, hitherto, her hope of the future had sus- 
tained her in her empty present and comforted her 
for her bitter past. But to-night she was afraid of 
the future. She ktlew that her life must make a 
fresh beginning; but she could see no paths. Her 
thoughts were busier with the past than with that 
long-looked-for change which was now imminent. 

Sarah's grief for her father was not such grief as 
shakes the soul; nor even such as bruises the heart. 
She was full of a profound pity for her father, be- 
cause she realized that he had failed of happiness, he 
had failed of any victory in life that might have 
reconciled him to the toil and hardship of living. It 
seemed to her as if he must still have been hoping, 
expecting — ^as she was — and that before anything 
came to redeem life, he had to go, into that harsh^ 



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" THE WOMAN OF IT '' 291 

sandy grave on the outskirts of the mining camp. 
The piteousness of it kept her tears falling. She 
could not realize that, in weariness of spirit or in 
mortal weakness of flesh, he might have been, as the 
Door swung outward, willing to pass through. It 
was for him, more than for herself bereft of him, 
that she wept. If he could have gone out of her life 
in any other wise, Sarah would have missed and re- 
gretted him really very little. He was never, in life, 
an endearing person. It was the coming of the In- 
exorable that invested him for the first time with 
an appeal to the heart — ^the appeal of helplessness. 

Sarah had only vague recollections of him in her 
childhood; of the disquietude he seemed always to 
bring into their poor little home. She remembered 
him only as a hard drinker; as one who was bitterly at 
odds with the world; as one who frequently made 
her mother cry, and who — ^when the discomfort of 
his creating grew too great for him — went away, in 
one of his sullen fits, and left them (her mother and 
herself) penniless. She could recall something of 
her mother's desperate struggle. And then, in the 
short interval before she was put in a good school, 
the child had sensed a mystifying change: her 
mother had cried more than ever, though they had 
plenty to eat and to wear; and a great many times 
when Sarah thought — ^waking with a start in the night 
— ^that her father had come back, she was told that the 
stranger was " Mamma's brother,*' and that he had 



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292 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

left money to buy little Sarah some new shoes. Then 
Sarah was sent to the school. Once in a great 
while her mother came to see her. At first, the 
teachers and the principal were kind to Sarah's 
mother, and acted glad when she came. But by and 
by they were much less kind to her, and she came 
much less often. And one day, Sarah's father ar- 
rived and took her away. Sarah did not know, then, 
but she knew, now, that the Law had allowed him 
to do this, because he was her father and had an 
indisputable right to her if he wanted her. It was 
an additional argument that her mother was unfit; 
but he needed no additional argument, then. Nor 
was he held in anywise responsible for having left 
Sarah's mother to become " unfit." 

He took Sarah to the mining camp. She was only 
twelve, and the principal pleaded for more schooling 
for her. But J^rry Bloodgood had no money to pay 
for schooling, and he said Sarah had more than she 
would ever need, now. When the lady principal 
asked him, apprehensively, if a camp was a good 
place for a girl of twelve with no woman to look 
after her, Jerry answered that he reckoned he could 
keep it safe for Sary. 

He had been as good as his boast. The little town 
was as full of viciousness as most camps; but Jerry 
had defied it to come near Sarah, and as he was " a 
bad man to tackle," Sarah had been safe. 

She kept the cabin — ^somehow; she got the simple 



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" THE WOMAN OF IT '' 29S 

meals; she washed and mended. There wasn't much 
to do, and there was a dearth of things to turn 
to in the long, dragging hours of unemployment. 
But, after a dull fashion, the years had worn 
away. 

Sarah was twenty, now. There were, in the camp, 
only three or four respectable girls of ages near her 
own; there was Minnie Darch, whose hands were full 
helping her mother care for the big brood of young 
children; there was Selma Ogreen, who, to escape 
a situation like Minnie's, had married Manny Ort 
aria had no joy of her bargain; and there was Tillie 
Myer, who had been on the eve of marrying Newt 
Evers when a girl in the Coyote Saloon shot and 
killed him for his intended desertion. 

" If I told Al Brady I'd have him, like as not one 
o' them girls 'd shoot him too," Sarah reflected. But 
that wasn't the only reason she hadn't accepted Al's 
attentions. 

While she was thinking about him, he came; and 
for the first time, Sarah felt a terror of him. Some- 
thing was gone out of her life — something harsh and 
even, at times, brutal, but something strong to protect 
her against other harshness than his own. While her 
father was alive, she had refused Al Brady without 
a qualm. To-night, she realized that she had no one 
to sustain her in her refusal; no one to keep her shel- 
tered and fed and safe tmtil she could find a mate 
whose call she'd gladly heed. 



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«94 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

" Joe Darch told me you was stayi^' here alone," 
Al said, by way of greeting. 

"Yes; I wanted to set quiet an' think/' she an- 
swered, resentfully. 

Al ignored the thrust. 

" What you goin' to do ? " he asked, seating him- 
self on the step beside her. 

" I ain't thought yet" 

" There's not much to choose frcMn." He did not 
attempt to conceal the satisfaction in his advantage 
that this gave him. 

" I know there ain't much! " she retorted, mean- 
ingfully. " But I ain't goin' to decide until I'm sure 
I've had all the choice there is." 

He enjoyed this show of spirit; because he was 
sure he would win, and his htmter's instinct made him 
relish a good chase, an elusive quarry. 

They sat in silence for some time, he smoking his 
rank pipe and already proprietary in his air. Why 
trouble to court, to please? Let her have her moody 
little fling of resistance. She couldn't get away. 

And Sarah, desperately thinking on alternatives, 
grew faint of heart. There was no sale in that primi- 
tive community for the labour of woman's hands, ex- 
cept in a marriage contract The women of the camp 
were of two classes only: those who neither toiled 
nor sptm but were not like the lilies of the field; and 
those who, in making their bargains with men, in 
order to keep (as they hc^)ed) a permanent union. 



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« THE WOMAN OF IT '' 295 

asked no wages, but accepted, rather, the toil of do- 
mestic labour without other pay than their " keep." 

The situation Sarah faced was this: she could 
marry Al Brady and keep his cabin for him and bear 
him children, and in all things do his will or endure 
his anger; or she could go to one of the saloons and 
become an attache, and work for money and blows 
and dishonour; or she could go away and try to main- 
tain herself in some place where there was a market 
for such work as she could do. 

The life of shame she would not think of for a 
single instant Her mother had accepted it for her 
sake; but how futile had been the sacrifice! Nothing 
in her troubled memories nor yet in her scant observa- 
tion, deluded Sarah with regard to the wretchedness 
of that living death. 

And from the thought of what Al Brady offered 
her she shrank scarcely less. Nor was there in the 
commimity any man whose offer she would have pre- 
ferred. It was to the idea of getting away that she 
clung. But she had no money. 

Some instinct made her refrain from telling Al 
that she hoped to go away. She felt that his peace- 
ableness was due to his sense of security, and although 
she longed to show her resentment of his attitude, she 
dared not — for fear of arousing fight in him. She 
knew — ^somehow, in her woman's heart — ^that Al 
would take what he wanted if he felt the least danger 
of its slipping a^ay from him. So she put off his 



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S96 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

oflfcr with more gentleness, to-night, than ever before. 
And he, sitting beside her in the dusk, was gratified; 
he believed her surrender was near. How could he 
know the peculiar terror that was hers to-night for 
the first time in her life? How could he suspect that 
the speech, fairer than usual, with which she en- 
treated him, was guilefully fair — in her own protec- 
tion — and not coyly fair, preparing the way for her 
yielding? 

Big and brawny and forthright was Al; as ele- 
mental as some of his prehistoric progenitors. He 
was tired of living as he had been living: tired of the 
greasy, "sour dough" cooking of the saloons; tired 
of buying the expensive favours of the saloon women 
and having no one to wait upon those other wants 
than passion which every creature has. He had 
come to a time when he fancied having a cabin of his 
own, and a woman to keep it comfortable for him. 
Sarah was the "likeliest" girl he knew, so he had 
selected her for his mate. He knew, from what he 
had seen and from what other men had told him, that 
it was foolish to expect much from any woman unless 
he married her. " The other kind," as they existed 
in a place like the camp, were disinclined to the rough 
labours of housekeeping in a cabin; also, they were 
more demanding than wives, and less dependable. 
They could ply their trade and make their living any- 
where; " you got no cinch on 'em," as Al put it. He 
wanted a "cinch "; he wanted a woman who would 



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•*THE WOMAN OF IT»' «97 

feel bound to do her best by him; who would be little 
likely to run away; whose demandingness (if she 
developed any) could be ignored without fear of her 
seeking a better market for her labours. He was not 
afraid of making a marriage contract in order to 
secure to himself such a " cinch/' because he had not 
the slightest intention of allowing it to restrict him 
in any way; and he knew that if he tired of the ar- 
rangement, nothing cotdd be easier than for him to 
move on, to some other mining camp, and make a 
fresh beginning — alone. 

Sarah knew all this; because she had been observ- 
ant of the common lot of women as she saw it about 
her, and because Al had not attempted to persuade 
her that his desire for her was romantic. He felt 
that "courting" was unnecessary. Instinct, not 
reason, made him arrogantly aware th^t Sarah had 
few alternatives and none so promising as his offer. 
She "couldn't afford to be sassy," he told himself. 
And he could! Because if Sarah didn't choose to 
marry him, there were others who would, even here 
in the camp with the usual frontier preponderance of 
males. 

Mrs. Darch had urged this fact on Sarah when the 
girl sought counsel from her, weeks ago. 

" He's the best-lookin' an' other ways the likeliest 
fellow you got to pick from," she reminded Sarah. 
"An' yer lucky to live where there's any pick or 
choosin'." In England, she said, girls grew up in 



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298 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

the knowledge that for several millions of them there 
couldn't be any husband. '' You take what you can 
get, over there, I tell you ! An* say Thankee for the 
chance at anythin' at all ! " 

Yet Sarah's mind clung desperately to the idea of 
escape. Day after day she planned and hoped — as 
the bacon and meal and sugar and coffee dwindled in 
quantity on her cabin's shelves. Al came around sev- 
eral times, and good-humouredly asked her if she 
wasn't ready for him to "move in"; and sfie con- 
tinued to put him off without arousing his suspicion. 
Then, one night when Jerry Bloodgood had been 
more than a fortnight in his sandy grave, Bud Dutton 
came lurching up the path to the cabin door where 
Jerry's similarly unsteady feet had so often brought 
him. Sarah was in bed and asleep, when Bud 
knocked at her door. She threw her shawl about her 
shoulders and went to the door. 

"Who's there?" 

Bud annotmced himself. 

"What do you want?" 

" Wanta see you. Dearie." 

" Well, I don't want to see you, Bud Dutton ! You 
get off my place. What do you mean by coming 
around and annoying a decent girl ? " 

" Thought you might be lonesome," Bud answered, 
suggestively, from his side of the barred door. 

"If I was, that wouldn't make you welcome!" 
Sarah retorted, from her side. 



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" THE WOMAN OF IT '' 899 

"Ain't you goin' to lemme in?*' 

" Not in a million years, you hound! '' 

Sarah was shaking with fright and with anger — 
and with weakness, too; for she had kept to herself 
(lest the news reach Al Brady's ears) how meagre 
her supplies were. 

Bud put his weight against the door; but it was a 
stout door, and he was enervated by drink. Then he 
went from one to the other of the two windows. 
Sarah snatched down her father's old hunting-piece 
and pointed it at Bud's leering face. In his alcoholic 
idiocy he laughed, and did not desist in his efforts 
to climb in. Sarah pulled the trigger, and Bud fell 
back, cursing. 

Her first impulse was to flee to the Darchs' and 
tell them what had happened. They would believe 
her, she thought. But would others, when the story 
got around, as it was sure to do? Some instinct of 
caution made Sarah hesitate. 

She went out and stood over Bud. When she saw 
that he was helpless, she dragged him into the cabin 
and looked for his wound; it was in his right shoul- 
der, and the pain of it was sobering him rapidly. 

"Can you walk?" 

She helped him to his feet. He cursed her hor- 
ribly. 

" It serves you right," she retorted. " I ain't 
sorry! If you come here again, I'll aim to get you 
for good and all. Now you go get you 'tended to. 



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800 THE WORE-A-DAT GIRL 

and you can explain it as you like; but if you try to 
blacken my name, 111 kill you. This ain't no idle 
threat. I'd far rather die for havin' killed you than 
live most o' the ways that's open to me." 

The next evening Al Brady came. His humour 
was not so tolerant as it had been; his supper " set " 
badly. 

**rm gettin* tired o* this fool business," he de- 
clared. " Now, you name the day — an' make it soon 
—or I'll get Till Myer to do it" 

Sarah had not been bred to be exacting, but she 
felt the insult none the less. She had been thinking, 
all day, of this and her few alternatives; and more 
than once, in her hunger and her despair, she had 
looked up at her father's hunting-piece and — ^won- 
dered; but the memory of that sandy grave restrained 
her. 

"You can set it when you like," she answered 
faintly. 

"That's a good girl," Al commended, taking her 
into his arms to kiss her with a sudden access of new 
tenderness, now that she was his. And Sarah, catch- 
ing the protective note, yielded herself unresistingly 
to his embrace, closing her eyes in an effort to shut 
in her flooding tears. 

II 

Sarah's marriage proved quite as productive of sat- 
isfaction as many another much more romantically 



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" THE WOMAN OF IT " 801 

inaugurated. Al was a very good sort, as men went 
in Conchita Camp. He worked more steadily and 
drank less excessively than most. And in return for 
Sarah's unquestioning obedience to his will and for 
her unremitting service in behalf of his comfort, he 
gave her shelter and food and protection against all 
such as Bud Dutton, and clothes sufficient for her 
needs. 

From Al's point of view, the situation had only 
one drawback: the meekness of Sarah's submission. 
He had really liked her better, in a way, in those days 
when she had rather contiemptuously refused him. 

Sarah felt this. She felt that she had just two 
kinds of hold on him, one through his passions and 
the other through his comforts ; and she was not long 
in realizing that the former is a poor hold, because 
there are so many who can, and will, gratify a man's 
passions, and also because it is so natural for him to 
fail of gratification in a creature that cannot escape 
from him. The instincts of the chase die slowly; 
perhaps they do not die at all, but in an age when 
men pursue sustenance in every other way than the 
primitive hunter's, the game of life is played on the 
same old principles. At any rate, woman's necessity 
has always been, viewed in one way, her bitterest mis- 
fortune. She has had to live with a hunter and to 
keep, somehow, a hold on him in spite of his realiza- 
tion of her captivity. But woman's guiding Provi- 
dence has made her necessity serve her progress; 



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80« THE WORKADAY GIRL 

made her, in her seeking to throw around her lord 
those meshes that might hold him when the lure that 
drew him to her failed longer to pique his interest, 
develop her ingenuity, her wit, her manifold capa- 
bilities. 

At first, Sarah gave Al only such degree of comfort 
as, lacking her, he could have got from any other 
woman. And it was not long before she felt that 
he was not only lightly bound to her, but growing 
restive. And Sarah knew, then, that she must hold 
him if she could, because of one-who-was-to-be. 

It was then that she began to make her simple 
housekeeping unusual; to improve the quality of her 
cooking; to increase the cosy look of the cabin. 

In those countries where Nature provides a kindly 
climate and an abundance of food to be had for the 
reaching, women have neither been able to establish 
any very firm hold on the loyalty of men, nor to 
develop any considerable independence of them. But 
where there is more natural rigour, more discomfort, 
woman has come more measurably into her own, by 
catering to her lord's needs and making him content 
with her ministrations. Comfortable habits are hard 
to break; and as men grow older, they form a 
stronger bond than passion — ^always fickle, always dy- 
ing of its own satiety — has ever formed between a 
man and a woman for any length of time. 

Like millions of her predecessors, Sarah felt, in- 
stinctively, that she must hold Al with a snare of 



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" THE WOMAN OF IT '' 308 

creature comforts. And in obedience to this prompt- 
ing, she became quite remarkably adept in making the 
most of her simple resources. 

When the baby came, Al manifested not much more 
paternal delight than most male animals show for 
their offspring. A lion will eat his cubs, but his mate 
guards them with a ferocity more terrifying than any 
he has ever displayed as " King of beasts." Sarah 
realized that Al had little sentiment for the tmy 
creature who meant so much to her. Al would not 
cling to her for the baby's sake; but for the baby's 
sake she must hold Al ! 

In the weeks before the baby came, and the weeks 
following his birth, Al spent a great deal of his leisure 
away from the cabin; and it was in the first flush of 
her maternal ecstasy that Sarah learned of Al's return 
to the female society of the Coyote and other saloons. 

Sarah had entertained few ideals. She knew what 
Al was, when she took him. He had not made her 
any promises, and she had not asked him for any. 
A wisdom deeper than that of the women who con- 
tinually ask for protestations of undying love, made 
her realize how little promises and protestations are 
worth; made her feel that, in spite of the marriage 
troth before the justice of the peace, her hold on Al 
would be just what she could make it, and no more. 
She had no knowledge of the Scarlet Women as dis- 
seminators of the plague which rots homes as it rots 
bodies; she had none of that fear which makes him- 



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804 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

dreds of thousands of recently-enlightened wives re- 
gard the husbands returning from '* primrose '" dal- 
liance with no less dread than if they were coming to 
their homes from lazar houses. She was not 
wounded in her ideal, nor made fearful for her health 
and her baby's; but she suffered, none the less. 

Mrs. Joe Darch essayed to comfort her. 

"Don't take it too hard, dearie. So far as my 
knowledge o' life goes, this happens to most women. 
It's one o' the things that make you believe we're 
ctu^d, like the preachers say. Otherwise, why 
should child-bearin' be so hard on us an' so light on 
him, an' yet the children held to be his'n — ^if he wants 
'em — and not oum, although we faced death to give 
'em birth, while he was at tavern, drinkin' and makin' 
gay with girls?" 

But Sarah, although she lived practically untouched 
by the thought of her day and generation, did not in- 
cline to accept the theory that women are expiating 
the sin of Eve; and Mrs. Darch's evangelical consola- 
tion fell short of its mark. 

Sarah was not "modem"; she was primitive. 
But she was too primitive to be good soil for Mrs. 
Darch's mid- Victorian orthodoxy. Al Brady was 
her boy's father. The hcmour and the responsibility 
sat lightly on Al? She must make it a pride and a 
delight, so Al would stick to them, and work hard 
for the boy, and keep steady for the boy, and give 
the boy schooling and a chance to get on in life. 



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**THE WOMAN OF IT" 806 

Thus Sarah's maternal passion, instinctively refus- 
ing the doctrine of woman-accursed, became the foun- 
dation of her power. 

• She taxed her ingenuity to the utmost to make the 
cabin attractive to Al; to make his meals so tempting 

■ that he could not bear the thought of the greasy, un- 

palatable saloon food ; to make herself pleasing to the 

j;: eye; to keep herself in happy humour. She taught 

the baby to hold out his little arms to Al, and to crow 

u' delightedly at sight of him. 

f Her little garden of lettuce and onions and rad- 

^: ishes had cucumbers this second summer, and squash, 

U and string beans, and a few stalks of com. The day 

when she served Al, for his dinner, sweet com on the 

> cob was a day of triumph; he not only praised it 

loudly to her, but bragged of it even more loudly 

^ among his mates at the mine. Sarah was able to sell 

some of her "truck" that summer, and buy a few 

^ prettifying trifles for the home and for baby and her- 

self. 

The men in camp told Al he had been "d 

lucky " when he got Sarah. And Al thought so, too. 
But he didn't tell Sarah! 

However, Sarah knew that she was giving Al more 
comforts than most of the women in camp were giv- 
ing their menfolk. She knew, too, that he was grow- 
ing very fond of little Al, and very proud of him. 
But money which should have gone toward insurance 
(life, sickness, and accident) kept going into the tills 



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306 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

of the Coyote and its competitors. Al's occupation 
was a hazardous one. The chances of his disable- 
ment or death were high, and he had made not the 
slightest provision for his family in the event of dis- 
aster to him. Sarah urged such provision. She felt 
entitled to it. Al ignored the urging. 

One night he squandered, at the Coyote, his 
month's wages — on gambling and girls and drink. 
When he came home, he was penniless, and 
drunk. 

Sarah waited until he was sobered, and then up- 
braided him. 

" It's my money," he retorted. " I earn it I can 
spend it as I choose." 

Sarah did not know how to reply; but she did not 
feel convinced because she was silenced. 

It was about this time that the mine-manager's wife 
died. The best-equipped house in camp was without 
a mistress. Sarah knew herself to be the most capa- 
ble woman in the community. She could run that 
house, and earn good wages for it, over and above 
her board and keep— and the baby's! She didn't 
need to go hungry, and see her child only half-fed 
because Al, careless of responsibility toward them, 
squandered their substance! 

She reminded Al of this. He promised to do bet- 
ter. But when, in answer to the bantering of the 
Coyote's proprietor, Al said " the Missus is hoUerin'," 
that past-master in the turning of a deaf ear to wives' 



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'' THE WOMAN OF IT '' 807 

protests counselled: "Let 'er holler. She can't do 
nothin'/' 

" She says she'll quit me" 

"An' leave the kid? Not on your life, she 
won't!" 

" No— take the kid." 

The Coyote's proprietor laughed at Al as an in- 
credible " softy." 

" She can't take your kid away. You can get the 
law on her ! " 

"Thafn hold her!" Al declared, grateful for the 
advice. 

It did " hold her." And, since stay she must, she 
put forth effort more intense than she had hitherto 
deemed possible. She became expert in the arts of 
cajolery. 

Al had little or no ambition. To have a comfort- 
able bunk to sleep in, and plenty of appetizing, hearty 
food ready for him when he wanted it ; to have a few 
clothes, and those kept mended and washed, tobacco 
enough for his pipe, and money enough to buy the 
"fellowship" that saloons purvey; these were the 
sum of his desires. It was difficult to get him to 
aspire further. But Sarah overcame the difficulty. 
Somehow, by some sorcery of her own invention, she 
contrived to rouse ambition in Al. She appealed, 
adroitly, to his vanity, his desire for prowess. She 
felt her way, driven by her maternal love, guided by 
her woman's instinct, which ages of maternal love 



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808 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

have made so much more divining than the instinct 
of the self-protective, self-seeking male. 

Roused to the pleasurability of preeminence, Al 
coveted foremanship of a mine gang — and got it 
Heretofore, he had worked as a slave works — because 
he must work or die. Now he began to work with 
a master's zest; to know the pride of power, and to 
covet more of it. It was an awakening indeed. And 
Sarah, in her cabin, crooning her boy to sleep and 
waiting for the coming of " Baby Sister," was prais- 
ing Providence for the miracle — and taxing to the 
uttermost her woman's wit, to keep Al spurred and 
encouraged. 

One immediate result of his better wages was the 
increased effort (at the Coyote and among its com- 
petitors) to get the wages away from him. Sarah 
had to fight against the whole wolf-pack — and to keep 
him from suspecting that she sought in any way to 
restrain him. Her success was by no means abso- 
lute; but it was measurable enough to make her quite 
happy. She had made some pretty clothes for Baby 
Sister — prettier by a good deal than the clothes which 
commonly awaited babies in Conchita Camp— and one 
evening when Al was at home, some of the neighbour 
women came in to see the tiny things. They praised 
Sarah's cleverness; but Sarah turned the credit all to 
Al, who made it possible for her to buy what she 
wanted. 



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** THE WOMAN OF IT '' 809 

" It's a grand thing, bein' married to a man with 
gumption," one of the women sighed enviously. 

Al smoked, and made feint of reading, and listened 
" with both ears," as men almost invariably do when 
women are talking among themselves. And he be- 
gan, then, to feel a, pride in making his wife and his 
children still more the envied of their community. 

When Baby Sister came, Al hired Minnie Darch to 
take care of " Buddy " and do the housework and 
wait on Sarah, for two weeks. He paid her ten dol- 
lars. This set all the women in the camp to talking 
of " what a grand husband " he was. He was held 
up as an ideal of a man both " able an' willin' " to da 
handsomely by his family. Al knew this — and he 
liked the feeling! 

Things went increasingly well for a year : Al's am- 
bition growing; Sarah's adaptability developing. 
Then came a time of suppressed excitement on his 
part, of suppressed anxiety on hers. Al quitted his 
job. He said he was thinking of going ranching, in 
Southern California, and he wanted to go out there 
and look things over. For some reason, no one be- 
lieved him — Sarah least of all. Her heart was heavy 
with misgiving; but she couldn't hold him. 

When the time for parting came, she clung to him 
in an agony of apprehension in which fear lest she be 
losing her provider and the babies' was lost sight of 
in a greater dread — ^that of losing the mate who had 
become endeared to her by Just so much as she had 



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810 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

suffered and toiled and hoped and planned for him. 
He was her child (in a way that she was as far as he 
from realizing) as well as her man. Her life was 
wound about him infinitely. She could get her sus- 
tenance, if he left her now; she could keep her babies 
from want. But that was no longer what she 
thought of as life. 

"You'll come back?" she pleaded, her arms 
around his neck, her tear-wet face against his breast 

" Why, of course I'll come back. What do I want 
to go for except to find a better place for you an' the 
children?" 

"Take us with you!" she entreated. 

"I can't, rfl tell you, Sarah, there's something 
about this that I don't want nobody around here to 
get wind of— or they'd be trailing me. But I've 
heard of — well! I ain't goin' to tell you what I 
heard of, for fear it'd slip out o' you when you didn't 
mean it to. You trust me, girl — ^trust me an' wait. 
I'm leavin' you enough to live on. And when I find 
what I'm after, I'll send for you. If I don't find it, 
I'll come back." 

He found it! A month after leaving home he 
wrote her that "the hunch was a good one. But 
don't say nothing to nobody." At the end of another 
month he wrote : " Things are pretty rough. But if 
you want to bring the kids an' come along, I'll be 
mighty glad to see you. I guess you've got me 
spoiled for camp-cooking." 



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« THE WOMAN OF IT '' 811 

So Sarah took her babies and a few of the most 
necessary household articles, and went into the wil- 
derness, where Al had located "pay-dirt." And 
there she made him comfortable and happy for five 
years. There she gave birth to two more children. 
There she watched a tiny community grow around 
Al, obedient to his mastery; and the triumph was 
sweeter to her even than to him. 

She was sorry when he said they ought to leave 
camp; to go where their children could have schooling 
and other advantages, and where they themselves 
could buy luxuries and pleasures with the money that 
was now theirs. There, in the wilderness, she was 
everything to Al: creator of all his comforts; com- 
panion; wife of his bosom, mother of his children, 
architect of his fortune. He came to her in every 
perplexity and in every triumph. She was loath to 
adventure, with her golden galleon of happiness, into 
an unknown sea. But she told herself that she must 
not be selfish; must not stand in the way of those 
she loved. 

In the city where they took up their residence, Al 
bought his family a handsome house. Sarah was 
appalled at the idea of having to buy so much furni- 
ture, and to create a home out of so much new ma- 
terial. This new life had grown out of neither her 
needs nor her desires; it was thrust upon her, and she 
had to make what shift she could not only to adapt 
herself to the new life but also (because she was a 



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81« THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

woman who had long known the happiness of feeling 
that the conditions of her life were largely of her 
making) to find some coign of mastery from which 
she could shape and direct and serve as she had been 
wont to do. 

She struggled heroically to meet Al's idea of the 
way he wanted his house to look, his wife and chil- 
dren to appear. They went through the regular 
course: first they acquired the things that seemed to 
be needful — the furnishings, the clothes and jewel- 
lery; then they strove for the manner which seemed 
to make some people's possessions dignified and en* 
viable— education for the children, "cultivation** 
and travel for the adults. 

Al was interested in the family progress; but he 
was also very deeply interested in the progress of the 
mine. He travelled back and forth a great deal, be- 
tween the mine and' the city where he was investing 
the mine profits. His world was widening, day by 
day. And dky by day Sarah knew less about it — 
not because he was consciously shutting her out, but 
because many of his new concerns were so remote 
from anything in her experience that he did not 
think of them as likely to interest her. The days 
were gone by when, on his telling her "that nasty 
piece of wall in the east chamber has caved again/* 
she knew exactly what he meant, and the amount of 
setback entailed upon his plans. 

He gave her generously of his earnings; but she 



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** THE WOMAN OF IT "" 818 

felt the widening separation between them« and it 
made her heart heavy. 

As in the old days, when he was made foreman of 
a gang, there was no lack of those who were eager to 
share his increase. But Sarah had known how to 
draw him away from the wiles of those wantons and 
wastrels of the Coyote; she had opposed their lure 
with the lure of such comforts at home as tended to 
draw him thither, and such tender cajolery as tended 
to keep him happy there. Now, there was small 
question of creature comfort. He could buy himself 
a high degree of comfort for a tithe of what he gave 
her to keep her house. The hunger he felt, now, 
was not the primitive man's hunger for satisfying 
food, for refreshing sleep, and for absolute obedience 
to his desires; it was the hunger of the somewhat 
sated man, filled to repletion with the common satis- 
factions, and seeking stimulus for new appetite rather 
than satiety for old ones. The eagerness of young 
and pretty and elegant women to attract his admira- 
tion, flattered his vanity. The obsequiousness paid 
to his money he easily mistook for tribute to those 
qualities of his by which he made money. Sarah's 
intuition did not fail her, now; she realized what she 
had to contend against; but she was sore beset to 
think how she should plan her fight 

She did what she could to make herself pretty and 
"smart" and clever; but, studying the situation to 
discover what, if anything, held men loyal to their 



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314 THE WORKADAY GIRL 

wives in this stratiun of society where there was so 
little natural partnership between them, she satisfied 
herself that it was very difficult for housekeeping skill 
to hold a man whose business keeps him away from 
home a good part of the time, and whose income en- 
ables him to purchase for himself, wherever he is, 
the highest degree of comfort and service. She sat- 
isfied herself, also, that it was very difficult for a 
woman to achieve and to retain a degree of personal 
attractiveness which could hold secure against rival- 
ries the admiration of a man for whom a continual 
succession of fresh young beauties assiduously flaunt 
their charms. What did hold them? Paternal 
pride? Sarah scanned her new world for evidence 
of this. If only she could get confirmation for her 
fond hope that, notwithstanding all that tends to 
separate husbands and wives in this complex modem 
world, their common interest in their children tends 
still more strongly to hold them together! But ob- 
servation did not sustain this hope. She saw, as 
time went on, a good many families go upon the 
rocks, and in a ntmiber of them the parents had each 
an interest in the children, yet no longer any interest 
in each other. 

The women in this new world of hers seemed to 
her to be trying desperately to divert themselves. 
They had a surprising number, but a tragically small 
variety, of diversions with which they appeared to 
be " killing time," rather than in any way lessening 



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« THE WOMAN OF IT " 816 

the gulf between their husbands' interests and their 
own. 

Groping, stumbling, but never despairing, Sarah 
went on. All around her, women gave up — some in 
one way and some in another. Some became mothers 
preeminently and wives only in name; some spent 
their efforts on attaining social or club distinction; 
some dallied with the arts; some sought divorce, and 
entered hopefully upon a new marriage; some settled 
into neurasthenia or hypochondria; some threw their 
unemployed energies into Foreign Missions or Chris- 
tian Science or Suffrage. Sarah considered all these 
things, successively (except divorce), but not as 
alternatives for that working partnership with her 
husband which she had once enjoyed — she considered 
them as possible paths she and Al might travel to- 
gether. 

At length a way opened to her. Other paths had 
looked as promising and had led nowhither. Never- 
theless, she tried this one. It might be the " way 
out." For her, it was. She joined the City Club. 
She attended its lectures zestfully. She learned a 
great deal about social service and civic programmes 
and the need of enlightened, enthusiastic citizenship. 
Then, as once upon a time she had roused one kind 
of ambition in Al and lured him from the debauchery 
of the Coyote to self-respect and success, so now she 
roused in him another kind of ambition — ^the ambition 
to serve ; to win esteem not for what he could acquire 



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816 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

but for the good he might do with it. The second 
conquest was not so difficult as the first, and it ad- 
mitted Sarah to a partnership even more active than 
she had known before. It was thus Sarah regained 
her happiness. It was thus she found her way out 

I ask you to consider Sarah's story as typifying 
and epitomizing woman's upward struggle through 
ages of htmian history. Few women have lived so 
much of that history as Sarah, in the span of a single 
lifetime; but for one woman to comprehend it all 
within her own experience would not be at all im- 
possible. 

However, I have — ^in writing — had not one woman, 
but Womanhood, in mind. From the time when 
woman took, perforce, a protector and defender be- 
cause life for woman alone was not possible in primi- 
tive times or conditions, down through the course of 
the ages her struggle as a subservient creature to im- 
prove the conditions of living has been the struggle 
of her race for civilization. What she has striven 
for, to that has her social order attained. 

She strove, first, to make her man comfortable. 
He was a roving, predatory, fighting animal ; none of 
his instincts impelled him to "stay put," either in 
place or in fealty. If she wanted to keep him, she 
must give him something that would bring him back 
to her each time he fared forth. He had no natural 
love of his offspring, no natural sense of responsi- 



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" THE WOMAN OF IT " 317 

bility toward them. To hold him to them, to herself, 
and to their biding place, was a stupendous under- 
taking; but she addressed herself to it, unflinchingly. 
She essayed to create meshes of comfort and of cus- 
tom which might hold her restive freebooter. Think 
of the task! She was virtually his slave, because so 
her necessity made her. Against his bestiality or his 
brutality or his infidelity or his desertion, she had no 
redress. Because she wanted a home to rear her 
children in, and a home must have a defender and a 
provider, she submitted herself abjectly, absolutely to 
the terms on which man would take her. And yet, 
she — slave that she had become — ^undertook to create 
in her lord and master a degree of dependence on her 
which would bring him back to her, no matter how 
far he might roam in the chase or in war or in any 
other of his roving pursuits; she undertook to make 
him fond of their children, and proud of them, and 
eager to do well by them; she undertook to wean his 
vaingloriousness from pride of prowess in the hunt, 
in fight, to pride of possessions which his family 
shared in his lifetime and inherited at his death. 
Think of the task I 

As fast as she taught herself the domestic crafts, 
she submitted to his taking them f roiA her and mak- 
ing them his — ^because so she kept him at home and 
bound his interests closer with hers. 

Then came those tremendous economic changes 
brought about by machinery, the centralization and 



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818 THE WORK-A-DAY GIRL 

specialization of industry; and woman was con- 
fronted with a thousand new problems, of adjustment. 
The tendency of the new order was separative. Man 
had developed — measurably — ^the home instinct; he 
had come — measurably — ^to accept monogamy, to re- 
spect the obligations of husbandhood and parenthood. 
But these were the developments of habit; under- 
neath lay the old freebooter instincts; and the new 
order threatened to give those instincts a chance to 
throw off some of the restraining habit. Man goes 
afield again for sustenance; his pursuit of it leads him 
whither his mate cannot follow. Much of his life is 
lived beyond her fellowship, beyond her ken. They 
have no community of interest in his labour — only 
community of interest in its wages. They have an 
increasingly small number of common social concerns. 
They have alarmingly little connection in their 
children — whose education and whose pleasures and, 
eventually, whose work in the world, tend more and 
more to withdraw them from that close association 
with their parents which a community of working in- 
terests fosters. 

A few years ago. Woman — the daughter of all 
those generations of mothers who had fought so hard 
to create homes — faced what seemed to be the stiffest 
situation in the history of her race: She saw the old 
idea of home breaking up under the economic pres- 
sure that drove her husband forth to become an in- 
dustrial unit; imder the social pressure that drove her 



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" THE WOMAN OF IT " 819 

children forth to acquire their preparation for life at 
the hands of specialists in education — ^teachers; under 
the domestic pressure which cramped her facilities 
for performing the labour necessary to sustain her 
own household, and made her a spender of wages 
rather than a producer of things needful. The nat- 
ural tendency of play is for it to grow out of work 
or out of the conditions and associations that work 
engenders; in consequence, her husband and chil- 
dren not only worked remote from her and from her 
knowledge of their problems and defeats and victo- 
ries, but they found much of their recreation among 
those who did have knowledge of their labours and 
common interest in them. 

There stood the housemother — undisputed director 
of a home which was no more than a lodging-place to 
her mate and to their brood. If she wanted amuse- 
ments, she must seek them among her own kind. If 
she wanted outlet for her unemployed energies, she 
must find it as best she could. 

Hence her much-derided clubs and teas and lunch- 
eons and study classes ; her leagues for the protection 
of this and the suppression of that and the develop- 
ment of t'other. 

Multitudes of women are still groping their way 
blindly through a morass of foolish " hen-parties *' ; 
others have progressed as far as Browning or Brahms 
clubs; others are studying Current Events; and some 
are grappling with "Neighbourhood Improvement/* 



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820 THE WOAK-A-DAy GIRL 

or " The Shame of Our City." Fools laugh at them. 
But any one who knows aug^t of human history 
looks on in admiration too deep for words. 

What is she doing, that dauntless creature who for 
ages endured all things, endeavoured in all things that 
she might found a home, and who now feels herself 
mistress of an empire whose glory has departed? 
She is doing what she has always done : she is strug- 
gling to turn defeat into victory, to create out of her 
deprivation, her necessity, a new progress for the race. 
She is striving to establish a new communion of in* 
terests with her mate and with their children. If the 
work of the world must evermore be divided, and 
dividing, then she must weave her bonds out of other 
things than those done to sustain life : she must estab- 
lish her co-partnership in those things which are 
done to beautify life, and to justify it. 



nONTXD Ur THB UKITKD STAHS OP AWBKSCk 



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