ページの画像
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

was delighted. Why, my dear boy,' she said, I should have spent four or five hours over them; and they

. are really quite clean, and not a bit the worse for it. I thought these things tore the clothes.'

Some of them do,' said Harry ; 'but this has all the newest improvements, mother. You will do double the washing, and be able to do it cheaper than any one else. Why, mother, you'll be making your fortune; you won't look at a poor fellow like me when I come home next time.'

My dear boy !' said his mother, and she went to bed that night with a grateful heart.

6

PART II. —CAPITAL AND COMPETITION.

[ocr errors]

The next day the rector's wife, who had a large family, and wanted her washing done as cheaply as possible, called on Mrs Bertram, and when she saw the machine, arranged with her the price of her washing per dozen, and promised her regular employment. Harry was much pleased; it was enough to provide for his mother, and she could undertake more with a little help. You might have William's eldest girl in, mother.

She seems a nice child; she could help you, and be learning herself,

! and you could well afford to keep and clothe her.' William was very glad to send Patty to his mother, and Patty was glad to go, for she was fourteen now, and able to do something for herself.

But think of poor Harry's sorrow when, two days later, he found his mother in tears, and on asking the cause, was told that Mrs Somers had been calling, and she said the machine was a wicked invention, just meant to take the food out of poor folks' mouths. * And I am afraid

P

ز

a

a

she is right, Harry,' said Mrs Bertram; 'for why should I undersell the other washerwomen, and lower prices—I, a lone widow, and they with little mouths to feed maybe? It does not seem right now, Harry ; does it?'

“No, mother, not as you put it. But I know it is right for all that. Let me just think it out quietly, and I shall find the reason.'

He sat with his head in his hands for some minutes ; and this is what he thought : 'If a washing machine is wrong, then all other machines are wrong; but every one uses a machine of some kind. A plough 's a machine, so 's a spade, and if a spade 's a machine, so is a knife and a spoon. Then the first wicked man must have been the man who left off eating with his fingers. Come, that won't do; and besides, iron and wood were not given us for nothing—and we can't eat them.

• I have heard of people in the factory-places destroying machines; but they did it because they were better than the old machines, for I suppose if there were no machines at all, no weaving could be done; we should have to go back to the skins of wild beasts, sewn together. Halloa ! that won't do, for we can't sew without a needle, and a needle is a machine, if ever there was one.'

Harry looked up with his merry laugh, and saw his mother putting a saucepan

on the fire.

Mother! mother !' he said, 'how can you be so wicked ?'

What is it, Harry ? said his mother.
Why, that iron machine you are putting on the fire !'
My dear! it's a saucepan.'

Well, mother, but a saucepan is an iron machine. There was a time when people put their food on the embers, or ate it raw, till some clever body invented a thing to cook with.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

• I hope you

But, my dear, what would become of the poor men who make saucepans, if we refused to use them ?'

* True, mother, and what would become of the washingmachine makers, if we refused to use them ?'

• Well, my boy, I can't argue; but what I feel is, that I may be taking the bread out of other people's mouths !'

• The first man who used a plough instead of a spade, felt the same, maybe; and the first man who used a spade, instead of grubbing a hole in the ground and putting seed in, may have said as you do; but it would have been a dreadful thing if no one had begun to use these machines, we should have been starved long ago.'

Just at this moment Patty came in from the grocer's, where she had been to buy tea and sugar. went to Smith's,' said her mother, “and not to Somers's ?'

“Yes, indeed, grandmother,' said Patty ; trust me for knowing the cheapest shop!'

•Why, is Smith's the cheapest ?' asked Harry.
“Yes,' said his mother, and the best too.'
"How is that?' asked Harry.

• Well, you see,' said Mrs Bertram, "he was a saving man in his youth was Smith ; and when he opened that shop, he had plenty of ready money, so he could go to the best markets and pay at once for what he got, and sell it cheaper than poor Somers, who was always behind-hand, poor fellow.'

And you deal with this wicked Smith !' said Harry laughing

• Wicked! he is a most respectable man !' • But he does more business than Somers.'

* Twice as much, Harry; and surely he has a right to benefit by his own savings and his father's !'

6

6

6

6

“Yes, mother, the same right that you have to benefit by mine,' said Harry, pointing to the washing machine.

‘That is true,' said his mother. · Yes! I see what you mean.

Smith profits by his savings, and I profit by yours; and it would be hard if the thrifty didn't profit by their thriftiness, and if mothers didn't profit by good sons too, Harry!'

They've a right to do so, mother, when they have brought them up, as you did us!' said Harry, kissing Mrs Bertram.

"But, Harry, about the underselling ?'

'It simply means, mother, that you can afford to do it cheaper, and you do it cheaper, because you can do so much more in a day than those who use their hands only; and so you earn more money than others. The machine -or my savings, if you like it better-would be no profit at all to you if you could not wash cheaper than other people.

'I know this,' said little Patty, 'we have had a deal more good grocery since Mr Smith began. Why, the very first day mother went to his shop, Uncle Harry, out of the difference of price paid for a pound of rice, bought a pot of treacle for us children, and a rasher of bacon for father's Sunday breakfast !' There, mother, you see others profit by it as well as

many

families like William's have had more comforts because Smith and his father saved

money,

and now lay it out to the best advantage ?'

As he spoke, they heard a light step on the gardenpath; it was Miss Gardiner's, the village dressmaker. Oh, good-day, Mrs Bertram,' she said, as she put her smart little head in at the door. I called to askis that your son come home from Australia ? Well, I'm

[ocr errors]

a

6

you. How

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Dear me,

[ocr errors]

sure, we're very glad to see him back again ; what pleasure for you, Mrs Bertram !

Mrs Bertram ! I was saying I called to ask about your washing-machine. We hear washing is to be done cheap; and, oh! the blessing it will be to us if it . is. Why, you know, I am always busy, and my poor sister Annie—do you remember Annie, Mr Harry Kshe is so delicate that washing half kills her, and spoils her hands for fine work besides. I have said to her again and again : “ Annie, if we could afford to put out our washing, we should be able to do more work and cheaper work,” and she has said to me: “But we can't afford it, Milly, and it's no use talking;" and now, if only you can wash for us at a cheaper rate; do tell me all about it?'

So they told her all about it, and poor little Annie was delivered from slaving at the washing-tub from that day.

But this was only one of many instances in which the blessing was felt in other homes; and wherever money was spared in this way, it was expended in another, so that the benefit was much more widely spread than it seemed likely to be at first. The sufferers were the other washerwomen; but Mrs Bertram often gave them ironing to do at as profitable a rate as formerly, she had so much more than she herself could manage. One or two who were not well-skilled took to charing. The rector's wife regularly employed a charwoman, now her washing was not so great an expense; and some began to lay by, with a view to possessing machines of their own; so that in time, there was some hope that the machine would prove a blessing to every one.

And you must remember, mother,' said Harry, that you are filling two mouths instead of one. Here is little

6

« 前へ次へ »