Grace Livingston Hill and A Blue Serge Suit

More from Not Under the Law, by Grace Livingston Hill:

In my last post I explained how Joyce Radway managed to buy a tiny one room house due for destruction, find a place to move it, get workmen to agree to move it, and cook and serve a company dinner all within a couple hours.

Now the dinner is over and she slips out the backdoor of her new landlady’s home to settle down for the night in her new little home- but without furniture, what will she do?
In fact, she really hasn’t even looked at the inside of her new little house.  She finds a wooden box in the middle of the floor, and a stack of newspapers in one corner.  The papers turn out to be left over from a newstand, so they are unused, and the place is moderately clean.

She slides the box against the door (she cant find the key to lock the door).

“She covered the top of the box with a clean newspaper and put her hat and handbag upon them.  Then she attacked the pile of newspapers.  She unfolded theme sheet by sheet and crumpled them thoroughly, throwing them into the corner and when she had covered a space on the floor about six feet long by three feet wide with these crumpled papers crowded close together, she laid several open sheets smoothly over them tucking the edges well underneath, and began again crumpling papers and putting on the top another layer.  These in turn had several whole neewspapers laid smoothly on the top and then another layer until she had quite a comfortable couch of springy paper. She even opened out a couple of papers and filled them crumpled pieces for a pillow.

There were still plenty of newspapers left and she spread them out overlapping one another in layers, until she had a coverlet of good proportions.  Then she folded their edges back to hold them together.

This last layer is her blanket.

She opens the little windows for some air, determining that she must wake up before anybody else does so she can shut them again, and the first thing to buy with her small stock of funds is curtains. She considers using newspaper temporarily, but that would block the air.

She sheds a few tears over her difficult situation, remembers to pray and be grateful, turns the damp newspaper over and settles down for the night.

All I could think of was how much newsprint will be on her face and hands in the morning, but I wonder if newspapers were different back in the day.  She’s now been wearing the same clothes for two days and nights  (she’s slept in her clothes both nights).  She’s cooked two full and heavy meals, although she was wearing a large apron for both of them, spent the night in a hammock, taken a long trolley ride and then a long train ride, walked for blocks in the city, and still looks fresh as a daisy.

Happily, she’s wearing her blue serge suit.

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11 Comments

  1. Hagsrus
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear – I hope she had some spare undies!

    They used to iron newspapers (them as had the time or servants) to seal the ink in but obviously she couldn't do that!

    I remember when newspapers switched to a "clean" ink process, the pleasure of not having to scrub one's hands after reading.

  2. Megan
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I like you, and I love reading your blog. Thank you for sharing this one.

  3. DHM
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I wondered if some of the references to the nice little tolerably clean washroom stations in which she could get cleaned up were dainty references to rinsing out and drying some thin cotton 'smalls.' Grace Livingston Hill would not have mentioned underwear.

  4. Tamara
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Heading out on vacation today..you have inspired me to add a GLH to the pile of books I'm bringing.

  5. Hagsrus
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    And didn't one of Ramona's friends get into trouble for asking where and when Mike Mulligan went to the bathroom during the nonstop marathon? Not important, said the teacher, but the children knew it was…

  6. Hagsrus
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Just for anyone who might be interested: the Kindle store has a batch of her books available at very low prices (not Under the Law, alas, but perhaps it will show up later).

    And you can download free software to read Kindle books on your PC which I think is really neat for those of us lacking the device.

  7. Hagsrus
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Oh, Gutenberg has some too, though not Not Under the Law.

  8. DarcyLee
    Posted July 24, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    I remember reading this GLH book many years ago. I think I got it from the library when the library still carried more of her books.

  9. susanhumeston
    Posted July 25, 2010 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    I'd be more worried about bugs in amongst the newspaper. Roaches and spiders, for instance. Since she wrapped sheets around the newspapers that means she had some. Or were the "sheets" more newspaper? Yikes! She must have woke up looking like the Silly Putty we used to spread out and stick to comics and peel off to see the image transferred to the putty!!

  10. DHM
    Posted July 25, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    The sheets were more sheets of newspaper, not cloth sheets. Perhaps back then the ink and paper were just different.

  11. Sophie
    Posted July 25, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    That was Ramona herself, I believe.

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