“For Ruth, the memory of the time she spent in the house of ‘her loving friend’ was the reverse of pleasant. It comprised a series of recollections of petty tyrannies, insults and indignities. Six years of cruelly excessive work, beginning every morning two or three hours before the rest of the household were awake and ceasing only when she went exhausted to bed, late at night.

She had been what is called a ‘slavey’ but if she had been really a slave her owner would have had some regard for her health and welfare: her ‘loving friend’ had had none. Mrs Starvem’s only thought had been to get out of Ruth the greatest possible amount of labour and to give her as little as possible in return.”

(p. 71 Wordsworth Classics edition, or click on the link and search for ” slavey ” http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3608/3608-h/3608-h.htm )

Advertisements