Page:Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.djvu/62

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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

and dry during the night. Near the plate she placed a clean cup and saucer and the milk and sugar.

In the morning Easton would light the fire and warm up the tea in the saucepan so as to have a cup of tea before going out. If Ruth was awake and he was not too pressed for time he generally took a cup of tea to her in bed.

Nothing now remained to be done but to put some coal and wood ready in the fender so that there would be no unnecessary delay in the morning.

The baby was still sleeping and Ruth did not like to wake him up yet to dress him for the night. Easton was sitting by the fire smoking, so everything being done, Ruth sat down at the table and began sewing. Presently she spoke:

'I wish you'd let me try to let that back room upstairs; the woman next door has got hers let unfurnished to an elderly woman and her husband for two shillings a week. If we could get someone like that it would be better than having an empty room in the house.'

'And we'd always have them messing about down here, cooking and washing and one thing and another,' objected Easton. 'They'd be more trouble than they was worth.'

'Well, we might try and furnish it. There's Mrs Crass across the road has got two lodgers in one room. They pay her twelve shillings a week each; board, lodging, and washing. That's one pound four she has coming in reg'lar every week. If we could do the same we'd very soon be out of debt.'

'What's the good of talking? You'd never be able to do the work even if we had the furniture.'

'Oh, the work's nothing,' replied Ruth, 'and as for the furniture, we've got plenty of spare bed-clothes, and we could easily manage without a washstand in our room for a bit, so the only thing we really want is a small bedstead and mattress; we could get them very cheap second-hand.'

'There ought to be a chest of drawers,' said Easton doubtfully.

'I don't think so,' replied Ruth. 'There's a cupboard in the room, and whoever took it would be sure to have a box.'

'Well, if you think you can do the work I've no objection,' said Easton. 'It'll be a nuisance having a stranger in the way all the time, but I suppose we must do something of the sort or else we'll have to give up the house and take a couple of rooms somewhere. That would be worse than having lodgers ourselves.'