The Womans Way (Chapter 7, page 1 of 16)

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Chapter 7

A week later Celia was crouching over her fireless grate. The Wolf was
no longer outside the door, but beside her, his red eyes watching her
balefully, his cruel teeth showing between his mowing jaws. The hunger,
for which the overfed rich man longs in vain, was gnawing at her; she
was penniless and well-nigh starving; no longer did she regard the
little chorus girl in the floor below her with tender pity and sympathy,
but with envy; she knew now how rich she had been with her pound a week.

For days she had tramped the streets, in the intervals of reading the
advertisements in the free library, in search of some employment, any
employment, which a woman could take up; and her last few pence had been
spent in one of those advertisements which tell their own tale of
despair. She was willing to do anything; she would have taken a
situation as a housemaid; would have gone out charing; for life is
precious to all of us, and scruples of refinement disappear when there
is no bread in the cupboard. But her applications, for even the lowliest
place, were turned down; she had no experience, no character; the
persons she interviewed saw, at a glance, that she was a lady, and that
was fatal: a lady willing to sink to the position of a housemaid--well,
there is something suspicious in it.

As she sat, with her hands tightly clasped, the cold of the early,
so-called, summer day chilling her to the marrow, she was cheerfully
employed in picturing her death; the discovery of the body, the
coroner's inquest, the leader which would be written in the Wire, the
properly indignant, stereotyped leader, dwelling with righteous
indignation on the "terrible poverty in our midst." She raised her head
and looked round the room. No, there was nothing left to sell or
pawn--for her dire necessity had driven her to the pawnshop, that last
refuge of the destitute, that dire rubicon which, having passed it, a
girl like Celia feels is the last barrier between her and self-respect.

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