From Jute to Jungle – instalment 2

Bob, Mary’s father, an easy-going, slightly bald, man lived for Saturday which was pay-day.  This was his time of glory.

‘Hi, Bob, come and have yourself a drink with your friends.’  He was greeted with warmth and camaraderie and feeling generous, more drinks followed, mostly bought by him; while his head became heavier his pocket became lighter.

At last it would be time to return home.  Mrs Slessor would be waiting anxiously with her family by her side.  She knew what to expect; it was a regular occurrence.  As Bob lurched through the doorway she quietly inquired, ‘Before you start your meal, have you any money from your wages for me?  I need to buy more food for the family.’

‘Money, money, money.  That’s all you think about.  Do you begrudge me relaxing with my friends? Her take this.’  He threw down on the table all that remained from his week’s wages.  Mrs Slessor knew she couldn’t feed the family for a week on that.

But without fail on a Sunday morning she prepared herself and her six children for church, dressed in their poor best.  Mrs Slessor had high hopes of Robert, the eldest becoming a missionary and allowed him to go to school.  Mary was eight.

‘Mother, I want to be a missionary too and go to the black children in Africa.’

‘Girls can’t be missionaries’ scorned her brother.

‘It’s far too dangerous for a woman, her mother warned her, ‘your job is to stay at home and help me look after the family.’

‘At least no-one can stop me dreaming, Mary muttered to herself.’

more to follow …………..