FPC11: A Pauper's Struggles

A boy's perspective during the industrial revolution.

It was another day in England, when I had turned seven-years-old. I was separated from my family in the red-orange-coloured Workhouse of Saint James. Even though it provided us with food every morning, midday and afternoon, the circumstances were not satisfactory. If by chance the owners of the workhouse found me talking to another child or with my own family they restricted my food rights. Especially when I swore, they would not let me eat for forty eight hours. And if it continued with violence, they restricted another twenty four. That was why I only talked to my cat called Yellow. Of course, when I turned fourteen and I accidently talked back to the owner he did not only restrict my food rights but he also hit me with his rod.

This course of discipline had come to pass when the machines arrived to our country, causing everything to go wrong. The most important fact was that around three quarters of our population had lost their jobs. My parents were one of the unfortunate people and that was why I was in the Workhouse.

In addition, a critical rule set down by the owners was that they had us wear uniforms to know who was in their social class. I used to wear a striped shirt, ill-fitting trousers, a thick vest, woollen drawers and socks, a neckerchief and in winter a coarse jacket.

Concerning  education, I did not have any. Even the teachers who taught us were illiterate. The only thing I learnt to do well was my job as a factory worker once the owner in the Workhouse had sold me. Although I was very good, there was always the problem that I would never arrive on time. That led my boss to tie weights on my neck and forced me to walk with them making everyone in the factory watch. After so many days of doing the same thing it gave me a serious neck and back ache.

Putting aside the pain, I definitely learnt a lot in my life as I worked for the factory. Alas, I couldn’t bear any more discipline and bad treatment so I found a job selling flowers. It did have its merits, but only in spring. The other seasons, on the other hand, had me to starve to death so I decided to steal pocket money from the wealthy. I managed to do this “job” for a very long while. 

As the years went by, disappointment was all I had. That was why I decided to go abroad and start a new page. But even though I was so determined, I did not have enough money to make it reality. In the end, I planned a way to sneak inside the steam engine with Yellow, not caring where it went. We were inside for many days, probably months. I managed to yank food from a few people that were inside; whatever I could eat and a can of tuna for Yellow. One day, tough, two people found me stealing and kicked me out on the next stop.

Once I stood on ground, I looked at my surroundings and I could tell that a new, great adventure will come my way. This time a better one, that will bring twist and turns in to my life. One's that I had never come across. Because this is my life. My life as a pauper...

The End

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