written by Rosa Morgan
They were once a happy family: mother, father and six daughters in all, though many believed they were too original in their thinking. They were staunch suffragettes and believed their bodies were not merely temples for men to adore and control, nor solely to beget offspring, and so they vowed to never marry, lest they lost their independence.
Fate soon dealt them a heavy blow when their father died under mysterious circumstances. In order to not lose the very roof over their head through inheritance laws to a feckless male cousin, they vowed to keep their father's death a secret.
Initially they economized, selling off much of their property including their horse. They went without heat and ate thin gruel, but eventually were forced to obtain a livelihood to sustain their family.
Myrtle was the eldest and the cleverest of the girls and did not find difficulty in finding a position as a teacher at the Ragged School for street children off of the Strand. She was a respected instructor though she refused to flog her students.
Elsie was next to venture out and possessing no marketable skills, it grieved her to resort to house cleaning. She became a parlor maid to a fine family and telling herself it was honest work, she put her back into it.
Blanche was the prettiest with a well turned leg and so became an opera burlesque star named Ruby Rose. She was popular for her dance of the seven veils and found fame and notoriety in Gilbert's show, "The Little Duck and the Great Quack".
Influenced by the courageous adventures of Florence Nightingale, Dora became a nurse and changed many a bedpan at the Brompton Hospital for Consumption.
Charlotte was athletic and did not object to wearing flesh colored tights and so became a tightrope walker. Her greatest feat was doing somersaults on a tightrope spanning the Crystal Palace.
Bernice was the bravest of all and became the Tattooed Lady in a Freak Show, however she ended up in a Magdalene asylum for fallen women where Catholic nuns had her do backbreaking laundry for her penance.