Jimmy, Jock, and Da – John Paton Sharp, as he was formally known – had returned from the mines. The rain turned the coal dust they always brought home with them into black streaks on their faces and work clothes. The three stood outside, scrubbing their hands, hair and faces in the rain before they, too, stripped down. They took their filthy clothing off and dumped them in the washtub by the back door, like they did every night, before heading upstairs for some clean clothes.
Bess, meanwhile, had commandeered her small army of children into getting supper on the table: fresh haddock, bannocks, crowdie cheese, potatoes, and turnips. She looked at the washtub and the drying rack and sighed. She would be up late tonight with the washboard. Laundry was hard to do when it rained: she had to wash the
clothes at night and dry them on the rack overnight instead of washing them in the morning and hanging them outside. The children’s wet clothes would have to wait; work clothes came first.
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