The Woman Who Toils

Being the Experiences of Two Gentlewomen as Factory Girls

Author: Marie Van Vorst
Language: English
Wordcount: 69,209 / 201 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 83
LoC Categories: HB, HQ
Downloads: 502
Added to site: 2005.03.02 9892

Any journey into the world, any research in literature, any study of society, demonstrates the existence of two distinct classes designated as the rich and the poor, the fortunate and the unfortunate, the upper and the lower, the educated and the uneducated--and a further variety of opposing epithets. Few of us who belong to the former category have come into more than brief contact with the labourers who, in the factories or elsewhere, gain from day to day a livelihood frequently insufficient for their needs. Yet all of us are troubled by their struggle, all of us recognize the misery of their surroundings, the paucity of their moral and esthetic inspiration, their lack of opportunity for physical development. All of us have a longing, pronounced or latent, to help them, to alleviate their distress, to better their condition in some, in every way.

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ort, fellow-citizens in a new land of freedom.

At the central office of the Young Women's Christian Association I receive what attention a busy secretary can spare me. She questions and I answer as best I can.

"What is it you want?"

"Board and work in a factory."

"Have you ever worked in a factory?"

"No, ma'am."

"Have you ever done any housework?"

She talks in the low, confidential tone of those accustomed to reforming prisoners and reasoning with the poor.

"Yes, ma'am, I have done housework."

"What did you make?"

"Twelve dollars a month."

"I can get you a place where you will have a room to yourself and fourteen dollars a month. Do you want it?"

"No, ma'am."

"Are you making anything now?"

"No, ma'am."

"Can you afford to pay board?"

"Yes, as I hope to get work at once."

She directs me to a boarding place which is at the same time a refuge for the friendless and a shelter for waifs. The newly

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