Directly after she'd eaten her dinner, she'd have to rush back to work because she was only allowed half an hour. So I had to do the washing-up before I went back to school again. Right after I came out of school in the afternoon, I would collect the two children from the day nursery, take them back home, and then set to and clear up the place and make the beds.
I never used to feel that I was suffering in any sense from ill-usage. It was just the thing. When you were the eldest girl in a working-class family, it was expected of you. Of course, Mum took over in the evenings. She came back about six and got us our tea which was the same as breakfast - bread and margarine.
Unlike so many people I've met, I didn't really make any lasting friends in my school days. But, being a member of a family, I wasn't worried and, you see, we had the town itself.
Excerpted from Below Stairs by Margaret Powell. Copyright © 2012 by Margaret Powell. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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