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The Factory Girl's Last Day

by Michael Sadler

'Twas on a winter's morning,
The weather wet and wild,
Three hours before the dawning
The father roused his child;
Her daily morsel bringing,
The darksome room he paced,
And cried, 'The bell is ringing,
My hapless darling, haste!'

'Father, I'm up, but weary,
I scarce can reach the door,
And long the way and dreary,--
O carry me once more!
To help us we've no mother;
And you have no employ;
They killed my little brother,--
Like him I'll work and die!'

Her wasted form seemed nothing,--
The load was at his heart;
The sufferer he kept soothing
Till at the mill they part.
The overlooker met her,
As to her frame she crept,
And with his thong he beat her,
And cursed her as she wept.

Alas! What hours of horror
Made up her last day;
In toil, and pain, and sorrow,
They slowly passed away:
It seemed, as she grew weaker,
The threads they oftener broke,
The rapid wheels ran quicker,
And heavier fell the stroke.

The sun had long descended,
But night brought no repose;
Her day began and ended
As cruel tyrants chose.
At length a little neighbour
Her halfpenny she paid,
To take her last hour's labour,
While by her frame she laid.

At last, the engine ceasing,
The captives homeward rushed;
She thought her strength increasing--
'Twas hope her spirits flushed:
She left, but oft she tarried;
She fell and rose no more,
Till, by her comrades carried,
She reached her father's door.

All night, with tortured feeling,
He watched his speechless child;
While, close behind her kneeling,
She knew him not, nor smiled.
Again the factory's ringing
Her last perceptions tried;
When, from her straw-bed springing,
' 'Tis time!' she shrieked, and died!

That night a chariot passed her,
While on the ground she lay;
The daughters of her master
An evening visit pay:
Their tender hearts were sighing,
As negro wrongs were told,
While the white slave lay dying
Who gained their father's gold!

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Last modified 4 March, 2016

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