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BILL GETS A MOVE ON



Bill Gets a Move On

MARIE VAN BRAKKEL



Published by ALEXANDER McCUBBIN
9 QUEEN STREET MELBOURNE



First Edition, December, 1922



?R
36(9 '3



BILL GETS A MOVE ON



Chapter I.

Bill was lazy. Bone lazy. For two years he
had not worked, or wished to; not because he
was an invalid, but simply that he had drifted
into idleness through the love and care of an
over indulgent wife. Sarah was a thin, cheer-
ful little woman, quick in movement and speech.
She adored her big husband. Her home was
her pride. Everything in it was spotlessly
clean. Her cooking, something to remember.

Two months after their arrival, Bill took ill
with influenza. He was ill, very ill. Poor
Sarah thought she was going to lose him, but
he rallied, though it was some time before he
gained sufficient strength to sit up. In the
meantime funds v>~ere horribly low. The bal-
ance of the furniture time payment bills were
due, but there was no money to meet them.
Things were looking very serious indeed. Sarah
was secretly worrying. It was no use to burden
Bill with money troubles as he was still very
weak. Besides, ever since they were married,
Bill had given her nearly all his wages, only
reserving sufficient for his fares, paper and to-
bacco. He did not touch alcohol simply be-
cause it did not agree with him.

Things looked at their blackest the day that
a neighbor greeted Sarah with:

"An' 'ow are yer, Mrs. 'Arris, an* 'ow's yer
'usband? My, an' its a long time since 'e's bin
bad. It's about time 'e was up an' doin'. If
'e was my 'usband I'd 'ave 'ad 'im up long afore
this."



10 BILL GETS A MOVE ON

"He's much better, thank you," answered
Sarah briefly, anxious to get home.

"Wite jist a minut 'till I tell yer about that
there Mrs. Ellis at the corner 'ouse, 'er as I do
the washin' for," continued the neighbor, catch-
ing hold of Sarah's sleeve.

"Larst Monday, I got there a bit late, when
me lady walks inter the washus an' ses: 'Yer
late agin Mrs. Forum.' I ses: 'I am, an' yer
lucky ter see me at all, for me 'ead's achin'
crool bad. Its rest I be wantin,' an' not a 'eap
o' washin' fer a lot o' partickler people.' With
that me lady up an' ses ter me : 'If the washin'
don't look better than it did larst week, yer
needn't come agin.'

'Ho !' I ses, jest like that, as quick as lightnin.'
'So that's it, is it? Well then, I want ter tell
yer that I don't want ter do yer bloomin' wash-
in' with yer 'Rinse them close properly please,
Mrs. Forum, an', 'don't put too much blue in
them whites.'

"I got that 'ot, I jist told 'er what I thought
uv 'er. Me that's washed for the best uv 'ouses,
so to speak, an' me with a big fambly ter keep.
So I puts me 'at on me 'ead, picks up me 'am-
per with me drop o' somethin* in it ter keep
me goin' as it were durin' the mornin', an' I
snaps me fingers in 'er fice 'That's ter yer,'
I ses, an' turns me back on 'er, an' marches off.
No good ter me them partickler women that's
allus watchin' yer."

"You'll excuse me," interrupted Sarah, "but
I must hurry away. I've left my husband all
alone, and I must get back to him."

"Ta, ta. That's more than I want ter. It's
no wonder that a woman takes a drop o' some-
thin' now an' agin. Washin' an' 'usbins is
enuf ter worry a poor woman in 'er grave, that
they is."

Sarah did not wait to hear any more, but hur-



BILL GETS A MOVE ON. 11.

ried on. Gradually her footsteps slackened.
She was thinking. Arriving, she found Bill fast
asleep. Leaving some food on a table near at
hand, Sarah crept softly from the house. Soon
she found herself at the side gate of the big
house at the corner. Quietly unlatching it, she
swung it open, and hesitated. Then, with a de-
termined air she walked to the back door. Tim-
idly she knocked, and waited. After what
seemed to her a long time, she knocked again.
The door opened, and a tall, severe looking wo-
man stood waiting for her to speak. Sarah
opened her mouth, but could make no sound.

"What do you want?" she heard.

Sarah felt too nervous to speak.

"It's no use coming begging here. I've got
nothing to give. People should work, not beg."

The very idea of being taken for a beggar re-
stored Sarah's voice.

"I've not come to beg, thank you," she said
quickly. "I heard you needed someone to do
your washing."

Mrs. Ellis looked at Sarah, then made a move-
ment to go inside.

Sarah gave a little cry. "Please don't go. I
do want work, and I'll show you how nicely I
can wash."

Mrs. Ellis hesitated, then said : "Wash ! What
nonsense ! Why you are only a child."

Sarah hurriedly replied : "Oh no, I'm not. I
have been married just three years, and I do all
my own washing and ironing."

"Where is your husband then? Surely he
ought to be able to keep a little thing like you,
without you going out by the day."

Sarah answered : "My husband has been very
ill, and not able to work.

Mrs. Ellis gave an impatient toss to her head,
saying : "The same old tale ; always the husband
sick. No ! No ! I can't believe that."



12. BILL GETS A MOVE ON.

Tears filled Sarah's eyes. "Please, it's true.
He's been so bad I thought I'd lose him, and now
we're short of money, I thought I would try and
see if I could earn enough to keep us going 'til
he was strong enough to get back to work."

Mrs. Ellis opened wide the door. "Come in,"
she said, "and I will see how you get on."

Sarah followed her to the washhouse and lis-
tened in silence to the many directions given
her. Mrs. Ellis finished with "What price are
you asking for half a day's work?"

Sarah looked at the severe face and replied
softly "Please I will leave that to you.

Mrs. Ellis glanced sharply at her companion.
"It's rather unusual, but I'll see."

During the two busy hours that followed Mrs.
Ellis overlooked the work, once demanding that
the article should be rewashed. Sarah com-
plied in silence. Within the two hours Sarah
had considerably reduced the pile of clothes
before her.

The housemaid's request of "Tea's ready"
brought a welcome relief to Sarah's tired body.

As she seated herself at the kitchen table, the
housemaid asked,

Well, 'ow did yer git on with 'er?" with a
backward jerk of the thumb and head in the
BILL TWO

direction of the closed door. "She's a bit uv a
tartar orlright, keeps me well up to the mark
I can tell yer."

Sarah looked at the speaker and quietly said :
"I got on alright."

"What's yer name?" she asked. Not wait-
ing for a reply continued : "Mine's Vilet May.
Yer see, me mother used ter go a lot to the the-
ayter in the old country, and she used to see
a lot uv Edna May the actress, an' she allus
'ad a bunch, leastways not a bunch, but a few
vilets in 'er 'and, the real ones when she cud



BILL GETS A MOVE ON. 13.

git 'em, an' when she couldn't she'd tike 'em
out uv 'er 'at, an' sprinkle a few drops of scent
so as to make 'em smell nice. Me mother was
a real lidy she was, allus knew 'ow ter be'ave.
Me father was a bit uv a rough'un, but me
mother brought us up real well."

As Sarah did not make any comment, Violet
May resumed : " 'Ave another cup o' tea, do.
Ter give 'er 'er doo, she ain't a bit mean with
ther vittals, but mind yer, she's a sharp un, gits
'er work done 'er wiy, an' won't stand no non-
sense. Only the other diy I ses to 'er: 'Mrs.
Ellis,' I ses, 'I wasn't brought up ter work like
a slive,' an' what do yer think she ses? 'Jones,'
she ses, jist like that, 'I don't think you've been
brought up ter work at all.' 'No,' I ses, 'my
mother was a lidy that come from a good fam-
bly, an' she wouldn't let us work nun.' 'What
rubbish," ses Mrs. Ellis, 'the biggest lady in the
land works.' I didn't answer 'er nun, but I 'ad
me thoughts."

"Excuse me," said Sarah. "I must get back
to work. I want to get finished as soon as I
can."

"Well, there's one thing I likes about the
missus, as soon as yer dun, that's the end of it.
She's not allus rakin' up bits o' things ter do."

Violet May looked after Sarah as she re-
sumed her work. "Not much change out o'
'er, I'm afraid. Looks ter me like one o' them
close mouth'uns."

When Sarah had nearly finished, Mrs. Ellis
appeared. "I am pleased with the way in
which you wash. Can you come to-morrow,
Mrs. er ?" she paused.

"Harris," supplied Sarah. "I will be glad to
do so."

Mrs. Ellis looking keenly at the young woman
handed her some money. Sarah took it.



14. BILL GETS A MOVE ON.

"Thank you," she said earnestly. 'It is
more than I expected."

"Well, you did your work quickly and tho-
roughly, and without a lot of needless chatter.
That is all I require. Now have your dinner."

"No thank you, I would rather go home," re-
plied Sarah.

"Please yourself," replied Mrs. Ellis. "Good
afternoon."

Sarah hurried home, tired, but happy to think
that she could find sufficient work to bring in a
few shillings until Bill was able to work again,
and also to know that her first attempt had given
complete satisfaction. She liked Mrs. Ellis.

Bill was fast asleep when she arrived. Ea'rly
he had awakened and ate the food she had left
by his side, and again went peacefully to sleep.
Sarah bent over and kissed him softly.

As soon as Bill awoke she told him of her do-
ings.

"Sally, old girl," said Bill, "you're one of the
best. It won't take me long to get back again.
I'm getting better every day."

"You're not to hurry, Bill. While I'm able
to work I don't mind in the least. All I want
is to see you get your old self again."



BILL GETS A MOVE ON. 15.



Chapter II.

On the morrow, Sarah hurried with her work,
left Bill well supplied with reading matter, to-
bacco, and his beloved pipe, and also a dainty
meal near at hand.

"Come in," called Violet May in answer to
her knock. "I guessed it was you. You're a
early bird, alright. The missus, she aint up fer
a wonder. She's got one uv 'er billyus attacks
an' it keeps 'er in bed, thank the Lord."

"Did Mrs. Ellis leave word what work I had
to do?" asked Sarah.

"Did she wot? I shud think she did. The
larst words she spoke ter me larst night was:
'When Mrs. 'Arris comes termorrow, give 'er
the ironing ter do.' I ses ter meself thank
Gawd fer that, fer if there's anything I 'ates,
'tis ironin.' She's that pertickler with it too;
must 'ave the lace pulled out an' all that sort
uv thing. Sich rubbish I calls it."

"Will you kindly show me where the things
are, and let me get on," said Sarah.

'Ho yus! but it's no good tryin' ter bustle me.
I'm no good if I 'ave ter bustle."

Sarah waited patiently while Violet May pro-
duced the clothes and board. She conducted
Sarah to the cupboard and pointed to an elec-
tric iron.

"That's the blessed thing I'm afraid of. I 'ad
it in me 'and one diy, an' was ironin' a blouse
when all uv a suddent it went S-S-S- an' nearly
burnt the 'and orf me. I giv' a yell an' drop-
ped the thing fair on me foot. I yelled worse'n
ever. The missus ran out, an' when she saw it
with the 'andle broke, she went orf pop. Didn't
think a thing about me 'and bein' burnt orf,
and me foot smashed ter bits. No; all she ses



16. BILL GETS A MOVE ON.

was: 'Stop ollerin', you're not 'urt.' An' when
I comes ter look, I wasn't reely 'urt, but the
fright nearly killed me."

Sarah did not wait to hear anything further,
but carried the iron and other things into the
washhouse and closed the door. Violet May
was deeply offended. As she gazed at the clos-
ed door she tossed her head and murmured:
"Well, I like that. H-n- the idea. Me a pro-
per 'ousemaid, so ter speak, an' she only go-
in' out be the diy. I'll see me chin drop down,
afore I speak to 'er agen. With 'er airs an'
grices."

Sarah continued to work swiftly and well,
taking pride in the appearance of the dainty
linen. Two hours later, Mr.s Ellis appeared
looking white and ill.

"Good morning, Mrs. Ellis," said Sarah. "I
am sorry you are ill."

"Thank you, I feel much better now," she re-
plied, and examined some of the work done.

"I am glad to find you are a careful worker,
and do not tear the lace. My daughter needs
some work of this kind done, but she lives some
distance away. Could you go to her?"

"No," replied Sarah. "I can't leave my hus-
band very long, but if you would trust me, I
would take the things home, wash and iron them
and return them to you.

"Yes," returned Mrs. Ellis thoughtfully, '1
feel sure I can. Where do you live? Sarah
gave the address. "Now have your morning
tea and finish as soon as you wish. Call here
for my daughter's things to-morrow morning,
and return them at your earliest. I am very
pleased with your work."

Sarah smiled at the praise, and said, "Thank
vou," when Mrs. Ellis placed some money on
the table beside her.

Some time later Violet May opened the door



BILL GETS A MOVE ON. 17.

and in a very haughty manner said, "Yer tea's
on the table. Ye'd better come at onc'st, else
it'll git cold."

Sarah immediately complied. After she had
eagerly drunk the tea, she held out her cup for
it to be refilled, saying, "Oh! that was good.*'
She sighed. "You make a good cup of tea, Vio-
let."

Violet May tried hard to resist Sarah's win-
some face with its pretty smile, but nature en-
dowed her with a talkative disposition, and she
dearly loved to hear her own voice.

"Yus, I does make a good cup uv tea, even
though I ses it as shouldn't. An' as I ses before
that's one thing I like about the missus, she
'asn't a stingy bone in 'er body. She allus gives
me full an' plenty. Not that I wastes a bit, oh
dear no, that aint my style, but as I ses before,
I likes a good 'elpin. The larst plice I was in,
they was that careful an' mincin' with the food
I couldn't abear it, an' afore I left I told 'em
so, too. The master was as bad as the missus.
As soon as the meals was over 'e would come out
an' siy: 'Gimme all them there pieces an' Fll
tike 'em to the fowls.' Then 'e'd turn 'em over
and siy, "Ere's a big bit uv meat. Who's plite
'as that come orf of?' Like as not it 'ud be
master 'Enery's. 'E was a bit pernickerty with
'is food. I wouldn't siy a word, but 'e was as
good as a witch! 'E would guess right awiy.
Then 'e would dig it up with a fork, an' siy,
Tut that on master 'Enery's plite fer 'is tea.'
An' I'd 'ave ter do it, too. I couldn't stand that
plice fer long. Then I 'eard o' this plice. It's
not too bad."

Sarah finished her work as quickly as she
could, then hurried home to tell Bill of her do-
ings and the additional work of the morrow.
As she showed him the money she had earned,
he caught sight of her right hand with a couple



18. BILL GETS A MOVE ON.

of blisters on it. He picked it up and said :
"Please God I'll soon be up an' about again.
Those hands are not meant to work so hard."
Then he kissed the blisters. All pain seemed
to leave her hand. Sarah felt happy.

The next day she called about ten o'clock.
Mrs. Ellis was out. Violet May handed her a
large dress basket, saying: "Them's the things
that Miss Mary brought over larst night. Won't
cher come in an' sit down a bit?"

Sarah shook her head, saying: "No thank you,
I'm in a hurry to get back."

"It seems ter me everybody's in a 'urry ter-
diy. First I speaks ter the milkman; 'e don't
answer, 'e never does, 'e's a gloomy cuss, 'e
is. Then the baker calls an' ses, 'Ow many?'
An' when I goes ter chip in a bit 'e ses, ' 'urry
up, I can't wite 'ere all diy.' I 'as to answer
'im quick an' lively; an' now 'ere you are, can't
wite a minut. I don't see as 'ow folks gits any-
think out uv life with this 'urryin' business."

Sarah smiled at the worried expression on
Violet May's face. "I'm sorry I can't wait to-
day, but I really have to get home. I want to
get on with this work," patting the basket.
"Goodbye."

Violet May took the basket in her hand, say-
ing : "Let me carry it ter 1he gite. I'm biggerer
than you." And when they reached it, she
added: "Would yer like me ter call round this
afternoon an' give yer a 'and with it? I'll be
dun me work be that time. It's no trouble."
Sarah thanked her but refused the kind offer.

Sarah's day was full but happy. As she
worked she sang softly to herself. It was late
ere she had finished all she wished to do. The
day seemed all too short.

Next morning she rose early, completed her
own work, then folded the dainty linen into the



BILL GETS A MOVE ON. 19.

basket, tallied it with the list, and again car-
ried it to the corner house.

Violet May opened the door. "Yer don't
mean ter tell me yer dun all that there wash-
in' already?" Sarah nodded, pleased at the
amazement written on Violet May's face. "Well
you're a marvel you are. Things fly when
you're about an' no mistike about it."

Mrs. Ellis appeared.

"Good morning, Mrs. Harris. I see you have
returned my daughter's clothes. Come in."

Sarah entered.

Mrs. Ellis then proceeded to examine the
washing and compare it with the list. Turning
to Sarah she said : "Give me your account,
please."

Sarah replied: "I did not make one, for I
did not know what to charge."

Mrs. Ellis opened a drawer. "Here," hand-
ing Sarah a paper, "is a laundry list. I will
pay you the same prices, providing you send
home the things as well washed as to-day. My
trouble is to find a consistent worker, and one
upon whose honesty I can rely. I have tried
many private washers, but invariably I find my
clothes have either been worn, or one or two
articles are missing. I much prefer the per-
sonal linen to be washed privately. They last
longer."

Sarah looked earnestly into the speaker's face
as she said : "You may rely on my honesty, and
I assure you I will never wear any of your
clothes."

Mrs. Ellis smiled at the sweet little, earn-
est face. "I think I am right to trust you. I
hope so, but I have been very often deceived."

Sarah replied: "You won't find me deceive
you. You have been very kind to me. Thank
you."

"Well, come again the two half days next



20. BILL GETS A MOVE ON.

week, and there will be about the same quan-
tity of my daughter's washing for some time.
Also, if you can manage to take my other daugh-
ter's washing home, I will be pleased."

Sarah again thanked Mrs. Ellis and departed,
jubilant.

The weeks passed swiftly in a succession of
washing and ironing at home and at the corner
house. Violet May and Sarah became excellent
friends. Sarah soon realised that beneath Vio-
let May's chattering manner, lay a heart of
gold, and that she really was lonely. So few
people understood her. Many times she would
rise early and do as many of her duties as pos-
sible before Sarah would arrive, so as to give
her a helping hand.

Mrs. Ellis, like a wise woman, ignored it, be-
ing quite content to have her work done so well
without fuss and bother. Since Sarah had been
coming to the house, Mrs. Ellis found many
extra duties attended to, and also could not
help noticing and appreciating the improvement
in the cooking. She would often come to the
washhouse and talk to Sarah while she was at
her work.

As the weeks slipped by Bill went from bed
to couch, then took to strolling for a walk. The
doctor on his last visit mentioned heart trouble,
which scared Sarah, especially during the first
stage of convalescence. Bill would come in
from a short walk with heart rapidly beating,
and sudden noises would easily startle him.
Sarah loved to pet and wait upon him.

'Bill was grateful at first, then he took all her
attentions as a matter of course. As for return-
ing to work, he felt he couldn't. He did not
feel strong enough.

Occasionally Mrs. Ellis would enquire: "Well,
Sarah, how is your husband to-day?" The re-
ply was invariably the same.



BILL GETS A MOVE ON. 21.

"He's a little better to-day, thank you."

"When is he returning to work?"

"Not yet; his heart's very bad."

"Mm. It's a long time bad."

The last time she enquired she said to Sarah :
"Don't think I am interfering Sarah, but if you
wish I will ask my doctor to see and examine
your husband's heart, then it will put your mind
at rest. Of course, it will not cost you any-
thing."

"I would be grateful if you would, thank you,
Mrs. Ellis," replied Sarah.

The doctor called and sounded Bill's heart
and thumped him about the chest.

"Nothing the matter with your heart or lungs.
Sound as a bell. You can return to work as
soon as you like," was the verdict.

Bill shuddered. The very name of work was
objectionable.

When Sarah entered she exclaimed : "Oh Bill !
isn't it lovely to think you haven't heart disease,
and you can go to work tomorrow if you like?"

"Nothing of the sort. The doctor's a fool an'
doesn't know what he's talking about. Just
you feel my heart." Sarah laid her hand over
his heart. It certainly was beating a good deal
faster than she considered normal. Perhaps
the doctor had made a mistake. Sarah's spir-
its fell to zero.

"I was hoping you would soon be strong
enough to earn a bit so that we can go some-
where for a nice holiday. All I have managed
is to have paid up the furniture, the doctor's
bills and the rent. I don't seem able to save
anything.

Bill replied : "Don't worry over that, my girl.
You've done very well."

"But supposing I should be taken ill ! What
would we do then?"



22. BILL GETS A MOVE ON.

Bill looked scared. "No good lookin' for
trouble, we've had enough, at least I have. That
influenda took it out of me alright. I've not been
the same since, an' it strikes me it'll take a long
time before I'm fit to go to work."

On her next visit to the corner house, Mrs.
Ellis said: "I thought I was right. There is
nothing the matter with your husband. The
doctor says he is fit to return to his work to-mor-
row."

Sarah hesitated before replying, then : "Don't
you think he may have made a mistake?" she
said. "Bill feels sure he has."

Mrs. Ellis smiled grimly as she replied: "No
doubt he does. It maybe suits him to think so.
My opinion of that gentleman is that he is a
schemer and doesn't want to work."

Sarah looked indignant, and replied hotly:
"You are quite mistaken, Mrs. Ellis; my hus-
band has been very ill and really is not fit to
work."

"He may not be fit to take up his old occu-
pation as boiler maker," said Mrs. Ellis, "but
he could do odd jobs now and then, or at least
make a start to do something."

Sarah did not reply. She was thinking.

That afternoon Sarah called : "Bill." "Hul-
lo," came the lazy answer.

"I want you."

"What for?"

"To chop me some wood for the copper."

No answer was forthcoming. Bill did not
appear, and Sarah went in search of him. He
was seated in one chair, his feet on another. He
was smoking placidly.

Sarah frowned : "Come on Bill, I want some
wood chopped. I've got such a lot of work to
get through."

Bill went on smoking.



BILL GETS A MOVE ON. 23.

"Oh come on Bill, hurry up. I've got no time
to waste.

Bill did not move.

Sarah v/ent white with temper as she grasp-
ed him by the shoulder and slightly shook him.

"It's time you made a move. I'm about sick
of doing everything."

Bill rose to his feet, his face red with anger,
there, I've had enough of this. Ever since that
bloomin' doctor's bin to the house there's bin
nothing but, 'Bill I want this,' an' 'Bill I want
that,' till I'm dead sick of it. I tell you since
you've been going to the corner house you do
nothing but nag, nag, all day. I tell you straight
I'll do just as I like, and when I want to go to
work, I'll go, an' not before."

Bill resumed his seat, filled his pipe and set-
tled down to smoke and read. Sarah return-
ed to her work.



24. BILL GETS A MOVE ON.



Chapter HI.

A day or two later, Sarah asked Bill to go
round to the wood yard to order some wood,
and bring a few pieces with him, as the carter
was sometimes slow in delivering it. Bill re-
fused. Sarah grew indignant.

"Surely you'll dp that for me? I have no
wood to cook the dinner with."

Bill shrugged his shoulders as he replied:
"You should have thought of that yesterday.
The heat's fair knocked me up."

What about me working all day? Don't you
think I feel it?"

Bill smiled in an irritating manner as he re-
plied: "Wome>* are different to men. They
don't feel the heat like we do."

Sarah was about to reply, when she paused,
then turned away.

As Bill sat down to lunch, he noticed there
was only a small plate and knife in front of him.
Then he looked at the table. He frowned as he
saw before him only bread and butter. Never
in all their married life had he sat down to such
scanty fare. He waited. Sarah cut a slice of
bread and proceeded to butter it, then she calm-
ly began to eat.

"Is this all we are going to have to eat?" Bill


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