Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. external link Learn more
Image provided by: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL
Newspaper Page Text
when you have learned the business,
your chance will come. You won't
That was four years ago, and since
then nothing had happened. On De
voe's rare visits to the department
Tom had turned his eyes in dumb in
quiry upon him. But Devoe had
never noticed him, had never spoken.
Tom watched the girl day"after day.
The young men in the department
had left her alone. They realized
that she was not a "sport," as they
termed it Not for them a girl who
wouldn't talk and joke and give them
r- a good time when they took her out,
and flirt with them and kiss them at
Tom and Lucy had exchanged
greetings each morning. Once he had
helped her with her sorting. But he
never ventured to speak to her other
wise until that night when she stayed
behind to finish up her bundle.
She was white from the strain of
the long standing. Her hands shook
over her work. She could hardly
manage to tie up the string.
When she put on her hat Tom re
alized that she was crying. And a
mighty rage filled his heart at the
thought of the pattern factory that
was grinding away their lives and
taking toll of their youth.
He went up to the girl. "Miss Whit
man," he said unsteadily, "you you
aren't fit for this job. It's taking
your life away."
She looked at him with wild alarm.
"I've got to," she said in" panicky
tones. "You won't tell the foreman?
For my sake you won't tell him? I
know I'm slow, but I'm doing my best
I'll make good. I "
He caught her by the hands. "You
don't think " he began. "You don't
think " the idea was preposterous.
"Did you think I wanted to make jt
harder for you?" he asked.
His arms were about her, and she
was weeping upon his shoulder. Her
helplessness stirred him deeply. He
kept his arm tenderly around her as
they walked to the eelvator.
"I am going to see you to your,
home, Lucy," he said.
That was the beginning of their
real acquaintance. But in the factory
they continued to appear as strang
ers. This love that had come to them
was too sweet, too Intimate for pub
It had been the simplest thing in
the world. There never was any for
mal declaration. That night, as they
parted, she raised her lips to his, more
like a sister than a sweetheart On
Sundays he took her on a trolley into
the country. And they began to
dream of, the future.
The irony of that bit into Tom's
soul. Suppose he managed to get fif
teen dollars a week ultimately! There
was no promotion out of the pattern
department It was a blind alley; the
only man who got more than fifteen
was the foreman, and his wage was-
twenty-three. Boys cam.e into the
factory and drifted out to other jobs.
Girls entered, to marry, or . . . well,
they disappeared after a time, as the
young men did. Tom had been there
longer than any other.
At last he told Lucy frankly of his
"There's nothing to it at all," he
said. "And I don't know what to do.
I guess I'm not fit for anything else,
except a laborer's job maybe. I came
from a country town, and my folks
never amounted to much there. I had
a letter to Devoe. He put me where"
I am. I'm just one of the wastage,
"No!" she cried. "You are worth
all of them put together, dear. And
you are going to succeed. I know you
"I will!" he said, with clenched
But how? At twenty-two he was
as helpless in the heart of this grind
ing civilization of commerce as a sav
age might be. He saw rich men every
where, men who rode in automobiles,
who stood, in evening dress, at 'the
theater entrances. Haw did they get
their chances? And why couldn't