The Girl-Bachelor

A clever nest builder.

The girl-bachelor is often a comfortable creature. She can make a home out of the most unpromising materials. A dreary little flat, consisting of three tiny rooms, with hardly any chance of sunshine getting into any of them for more than three minutes in the afternoon, has been known to be metamorphosed into a most inviting little nest by the exercise of taste and skill, and at a minimum of cost. Two rooms on the second floor of a dull house in a bleak street have often been transformed, by the same means, into a cheery dwelling-place. Much merry contriving goes to this result and serves to make, like quotations and patchwork, “our poverty our pride,” and, indeed, there is a keen pleasure in the cutting of our coat according to our cloth; in making ends meet with just a little pulling, and in devising ways and means of adjusting our expenditure to the very limited contents of our exchequer.

“Sweet are the uses of adversity.”

What a mistake it is to fall into an abyss of discontent just because we are poor! Poverty may become the cause of a thousand unsuspected joys; as it certainly is an education in ever so many ways. Some of us would hardly know ourselves if we never had been poor. Did not poverty teach us to cook, to sew, to make our dresses, to trim our hats, to cover our chairs, to drape our windows, to use a dust-pan and brush and to find out at first hand the charms of active cleanliness, that may be evoked with the aid of a humble duster? And was it not poverty that taught us to appreciate the day of little things, to enjoy the scores of small pleasures that, like wild flowers, are too often passed carelessly over? It has its hardships, truly, and some of them are bitter enough, but many who now are rich enough look back to the days of “puirtith cauld,” and recognise how good it was and how much it brought out of undivined capacity; yes, and looking back, can remember the actual pleasures of poverty!

The retrospect.

Is there not a pleasure in conquering circumstances—in fighting poverty and making it yield to economy, contrivance, and industry? The fight is often hard and long-continued; and there are sad cases in which it ends in failure and disaster. But when courage and endurance have resulted in victory, and firm footing has been won on the steep hill of success, it is not unpleasant to look back and scan the long years of struggle, endeavouring to compute what they have done for us; how they have enriched, like the snows of winter, ground that might otherwise have remained for ever arid and unprofitable.

Bargain hunting.

“The little grocer’s shop.”

There is a wonderful cheap world to be found in London, like an entresol between a palatial shop and a magnificent first floor. Into this curious world the girl-bachelor soon finds her way. She knows exactly the twopenny-halfpenny little shop where she can get art-muslin at a penny-three-farthings a yard. Most of it is hideous, but she is clever at picking out the few pretty pieces. She sometimes purchases a quite beautiful bit of colour for the brightening of her rooms in the shape of pottery vases for a couple of pence. No one better than the girl-bachelor knows that the best value for her money is to be found at the little grocer’s shop in a poor neighbourhood. The poor are, naturally, intent on getting at least a shillingsworth for every shilling they lay out, and no tradesman can make a living in such localities unless he purveys the best provisions at fair prices. It is notorious that customers who buy in small quantities, as the poor are obliged to do, living from hand to mouth with their few shillings a week, are more profitable than those who can afford to buy largely, and the tradesman who conscientiously provides good wares at a moderate profit flourishes comfortably in such circumstances. Here the girl-bachelor gets her stores. Not for her are the plate-glass windows of the great West End “establishments,” which have to pay high rentals and the cost of horses and carts and extra men to send round daily for the convenience of their customers. The little shop in the back street is good enough for her.

Her thrift.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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