A servant is taken advantage of once too often and swears never again to lower herself, literally or figuratively.  Note the task demanded was ‘on her afternoon off’. 

Joyce’s stint as a general maid in a grocer’s household was cut short only when the grocer’s wife asked her to clean the coal cellar on her afternoon off.  ‘It was only when I came to the final patch that I looked up and swore a terrible oath.  “This is the last time in my entire bloody life I will ever be on my knees with my nose to the ground, for I belong up there with my eyes to the light, and walking upright and tall”.

I hope and trust that the rest of her life, Joyce walked upright and tall.

Source: Lucy Lethbridge, Servants (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), p. 154

Photo credit: Kent Pilcher at unsplash


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