Tremendous Change

This is just my history project. I know it sucks so don't bother reading it.

Tremendous Change

            Oh if there was only some way to get out of the summer heat. I was sprawled on top of my bed, very unlikely for a nobleman like me. Though it was in the middle of the afternoon and there were many appointments scheduled for me to follow, I pretended not to know and stayed in the shade of my hotel room.

            I was currently staying in an English hotel. I came to England hoping for a vacation away from all my worries, but the plan was a failure. My work followed me everywhere, chasing me to my end. There was a knock on the door and my assistant, Winston, came in.

            “Sir, there is a man named Gerald here to greet you. He states himself to be your guide for the afternoon.”

            Oh I nearly forgot about that. “Tell the man I will be there right away.” I was supposed to be on a sight-seeing tour of England. This area, along with the other parts of the British Isles, is experiencing a period of change. Wanting to learn more about this evolution, I quickly put on my clothes and walked out.

            “Greetings, Richard. I am Gerald Halter and I look forward to spending the afternoon with you, sir.” A polite gentleman bowed when I walked up to him.

            “I look forward to this time with you as well. Shall we begin?” We shook hands, and proceeded out of the door.

I was still not used to the England environment. There was a cloud of smog that shrouds the whole city. Every building that I passed was covered in soot and dirt. Sanitation in the streets reeked of a smell I can’t even describe.

I coughed and sneezed on the way, and tried to pick my way through the roads, careful not to step on anything.

“Richard, would you like me to call a carriage for you instead?” asked Winston.

“That would be unnecessary. I want to understand thoroughly, what life would be like for a regular citizen of this city.”

As I looked around, I saw many homeless people loitering around in the streets. Some were huddled together with pieces of rags to act as clothing. Others tried to ask around and beg for the little money or food they could get. The middle class ignored the poor and kept on walking. While some were nice and donated a few pence, others kicked them away. The high class were walking with a servant or two, or were relaxing in the many horse-pulled carriages that went by.

“As you can see, sir, this is the glamorous Big Ben. It is a part of the Palace of Westminister and is the main source of time for this town. In addition…” explained my guide as if he was oblivious to the other surroundings.

I glanced up at the big figure towering over me. It was a huge clock with detailed designs. Then I looked back down at the scene of the streets. If the people of England can work up such a marvelous creation, why did they ruin it with the surrounding climate? This beautiful piece of work is surrounded by the trash and fumes emitted from the factories in the area. They should’ve used some of the money and materials to build better homes for the people.

“Excuse me, Gerald, but would you mind explaining to me why the factories cause such pollution?”

“Well sir, this tour wasn’t meant…”

I stopped him midway. “Actually, would you mind taking me first-handed into one of these factories and lead me around?” I approached one of the buildings nearby. It covered several acres and was two stories high. The walls of the building were like all the others; the red colors of the brick were masked but the soot and dust. There was a sign dangling about the doorway. A picture of an interesting machine was inscribed in the wooden board.

“I would think best for a nobleman like you. I do not recommend going into these factories. Instead, there are many more tourist attractions you have yet to see.” My guide had a worried look and began fidgeting.

I ignored Gerald, but my assistant also seemed hesitant about walking through those doors.

I gave the double doors a shove, and came upon a shocking sight. The room was filled with a variety of machines new to my eyes. The space was nearly cramped with the amount of items and people in it. Then I looked around and found myself among groups of women and children running back and forth from machine to machine. “What are these fast moving inventions that you have here?”

“These are called power looms, sir. Looms help weave threads into clothing and other textiles,” said Gerald.

I went closer up to the machine and was stopped by the young lady that operated it. “I don’t think you should be too close to a machine, mister. We had an injured person a few days ago.”

“Oh okay. I’ll be more careful.” I looked at the machine and examined the amount of thread that the machine can weave at once. Then I spotted a little block flying back and forth within the threads. I pointed at the object and inquired what it was.

“This is called a flying shuttle.” The lady took out the little block and revealed an empty spool of thread within. Then she replaced it with a new spool of thread. “The flying shuttle increases the speed of weaving.”

“What powers up this machine? I don’t see anyone generating the energy for the looms to work.”

“This factory is by a river. We have a water wheel out back and we use the river water to turn and generate all the power.” The lady suddenly rushed over to another loom to fix another flying shuttle.

I went after her. “But how do you ensure the same amount of power is being produced?”

“For that much, I’m not sure. You might want to ask the manager.”

I studied her more closely. The lady was in her young thirties, still a beauty. Her hands were worn from working with the looms and probably housework of some sort. Her attire wasn’t exactly in top shape either.

Then a little girl came up to the lady and tugged at her worn dress. “Mama, I’m hungry.”

“Sweetie, there’s still an hour left before lunch break. You can have this cookie mommy saved. But don’t eat it all at once okay?” The girl took the cookie, nodded her head and then went back to her post. She was carrying the spools of thread that the women in the factory needed to refill the looms.

“Ma’am, why is your daughter working in a big factory at such a young age?”

“We don’t have a lot money. My husband passed away some time ago, so I’m supporting her by myself. The wages in the factory are pretty low too, so I need to work full time. We live together in the room that the factory provides us with. School is far away and I didn’t want to leave her alone, so I brought her with me.”

“I feel sorry for your loss. I shouldn’t have asked such a thing.”

She gave me a little smile. “It’s alright. I’m not the worst off. Some other children have to work in the mines to provide us with raw materials for the railroads. I heard that from a passerby so I am unsure whether it is true or not.”

“However, I still believe that your life could be much better. Thank you for your time, miss, and I wish you luck.”

“Thank you, sir.” She nodded her head in acknowledgement and went on with her work.

I went back to my company waiting for me at the entrance.

“How was your visit?” asked Gerald he sighed in relief. “Did anything interesting come to mind?”

“It filled me with interest. On our walk back to the hotel, would you mind telling me a few things about the industry that you have here? I have so many things to ask you!”

Gerald became a little hesitant again as if he was trying to hide something from me. But I walked on and passed the doorway. That was when I heard a very loud scream from the back of me. The three of us turned around to see the little girl’s arm trapped in the moving loom.

I rushed forward and went to her side. The machine was still working so it is impossible to tug her arm out.

“Someone stop this thing!” I screamed so that everyone could hear, but no one moved a muscle. “Come on! She’s in danger!”

“The thing is… we don’t know how to,” replied a woman standing next to me.

“Sarah!” The lady that I was talking to shoved through the crowd and came next to me. She was brimming with tears. “Help her, please!”

I had no idea how these machines worked at all. I made out a pattern of up and down movements of the loom. “Someone give me something to hold the threads apart!” I took my hands and tried to hold the mechanism away from each other.

My assistant came over with two boards and helped me yank the parts open. Then a woman took the child and dragged her away from the machine.

I looked over the girl and her arm was bleeding. Thin yet long cuts were made where the thread dug into her skin. Before I was able to care for her wounds, someone came up from the back of me.

It was a tall man with a massive build. He was dressed in elegant clothing so I assumed him to be of high class. He looked very angry and then his voice boomed across the whole factory.

“Who dares try to stop the looms?” he yelled. Then he looked down at me. “And who are you?”

“I wanted to stop the looms so I could save the little girl. Her arm was stuck inside and the machine needed to be stopped to help her,” I replied.

“So? Lots of people get injured working in a factory. If I were to stop the machines every time a worker gets hurt, my business will be down the drain already.”

“There is an injured child here and all you care about are the looms and your money? Have you no respect for the people working in your factory?”

“As long as I achieve greatness in this line of work and gain fame, who cares? These people should be happy that I’m lending them a place to live and food to eat.” He gave a big grunt and then laughed.

I leaped up in anger and nearly punched him in the face if it wasn’t for Gerald to stop me.

“Please excuse him, sir. This is the man’s first time in England. He doesn’t know about the rules of the factory.”

“First time? Then you’re a foreigner! GET OUT! No one is to spy upon our creations.”

“Spy? I’m just a normal French nobleman here on vacation.” I was soon to regret that lame attack.

“Nobleman? I don’t care if you’re god. No one is to tell me what to do in my own factory. Slaves and workers are the ones who do the listening.”

“What an attitude you have! If you injure those slave and workers, you will have no one to work for you. And why can’t we learn about your inventions?” Both of us were head to head in our argument.

“Slaves are pawns. If they are useless, they can be replaced. We, British, are in the Industrial Revolution. We shall not let people from other countries learn of our secrets. If you did, we would all be processing at the same rate and can never beat each other. You guys should be quiet and obey us.”

            The manager chased us out of the building and across the streets threatening us such that we will not come to his factory again.

            “Is this why you where so hesitant about letting me into that building?” I asked Gerald as we came around to the hotel.

            “Yes. However, not all factory owners act like him. Some just want to monopolize the whole district. They are money obsessed freaks.”

           “I feel sad for the workers that had to be under his command. If it were me, I would not stand still and listen. I would revolt and go on strike or something.”

            “Master Richard, you weren’t standing still before either.”

            I looked at my assistant and gave a laugh. “I shouldn’t be saying anything, right? Well, after I gather more information about these inventions, I will be heading back to change other people’s lives. I will not let our people end up like the ones in this factory.”

            “That is a good goal, sir. I wish you luck with your research and I hope I can be your guide again if you were to visit England again.” Gerald gave a bow as we reached the door of my hotel. When he turned to leave, I grabbed him by the shoulder.

           “Not so fast, my friend. It would be nice if you can help me in my information gathering.” I gave him a smile.

            “What a clever person we have here. I would be glad to be of help.”

            We both went into my room and the questions and answers began.

***

            Soon afterwards, a few days after I came back from vacation, my work began. My friends and I began working on a project to build a factory of our own. We bought quite a big acre of land by the river and began the layout of our building.

            Taking into consideration all the problems that I had seen in England, we changed it. The workspace was bigger and roomier, instead of a crowd of machines. We build a better housing area for the workers to live in. Since the school wasn’t really far from the factory, we designed some transportation for the children to use.

            Wages were raised higher than usual, yet the hours were to remain just as long to keep up with the profit.

            As I walked around to direct the people, Winston ran up to me with a newspaper in his hand. “Master Richard! The workers listened to your advice!”

            “What’s this? I don’t remember giving any advice.” I took the paper into my own hands and read it:

            A few days ago, a revolt occurred. This happened in the loom factory down the street near Big Ben. A group of women stood in front of the doors and refused to work. They proposed for better wages and lifestyles. A few fought saying that the factory took the lives of their families and children. Not understanding the situation at all, the manager fired them all. Yet, the women were leaving with grins on their faces. Each was already searching for a new job…

            I gave a laugh. “And to think I was only speaking to myself back then.”

            Everyone went on with their separate routes, and I was proud of them to stand up and make a change. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder… What happened to the little girl that I saved? Did she heal and turn out to be a beautiful woman, I would not know. Yet I do know that this country… no, this world, is going through a tremendous change.

***

In the end, Sarah, the little girl, ended up working for Richard without knowing it. In addition, the manager wasn’t even notified that the world already knew about the change. He was just being arrogant.

The End

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