Girl and the Scrubbing Brush – April 1907

The Scotch lass never goes on her knees to the task of washing a flagged floor. (We are picturing a farm kitchen, dairy, boiler-house, etc., in my part of Scotland) She takes a sack, or half a sack, dips it into a pail of water, and carries it dripping to the farther end of the apartment.

She bends from the hips, tucking her skirts in front well up out of the wet and sweeps the wet sack from side to side, with both hands, covering about eight square yards before she pauses to rinse her cloth and go over the wet surface with rather less water; lastly, the cloth is wrung — so large is it that it requires large and bony hands to handle it properly — and the flags — wiped dry in the same manner — that is, swept along between the extended arms.

Many times have I sat in the corner of a large kitchen fascinated at the sight, so quickly and efficiently was the operation performed. I used to like to watch the heavy flop of the wet “cloot” and the beautiful rhythm motion of the strong arms. I have had humiliating experiences trying to wash big floors in term week after this fashion. It is not so easy as it looks.

Now the ordinary English servant knows nothing of this magnificent way of cleaning flags and cannot be taught. We have often been sorely tried by the too patient drudgery of the girl who will lie for quite half a day on her knees, washing each flag with the aid of a scrubbing brush.

She is a very common type with us. It is difficult to prevent her using soap and a scrubbing brush weekly on the linoleums. Hours can be pleasantly passed in this way and what does it matter to her if the forenoon runs swiftly past and more important work is standing undone. No doubt the Scotch lassies have ingenious ways of wasting their time but wearing out brushes with perfectly useless scrubbing is not one that I have observed.

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