My Life After The Revolution

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Three years before the revolution my father was injured in an explosion at our largest coal mine, and I had to begin work to keep my two little sisters, my father, and my mother fed and sheltered. My name was James Carpenter, but I was later called Twenty-One. Twenty-One because that was my mine-cart number. But before that, when I first started laboring in a textile mill, I was fourteen years of age. I was lucky, as my mother often told me, “the Mason’s boy is only nine and he spends hours each day collecting clay for his father to make bricks,” but I wasn’t so sure. Anyways, my first day in the mill I was sent to the “Pit Room” as the others called it, and what I saw was amazing, terrible still, but amazing. Rows of tables with wood benches had been set up is a permanently makeshift fashion, each at which sat at least two dozen children who were all my age. I shouldn’t have said anything to the man who led me to the pit room, but I couldn’t help myself. “So when do we eat?” I asked, to which he responded with a mute chuckle and pointed me to an empty seat next to a sandy-haired boy of about fifteen. I sat down and he told me that his name was Jimmy. Jimmy had been working in this mill for about five years, since he was ten. After a very brief introduction he passed me a basket of cotton that had been sitting on the floor by my seat, I guess waiting for my arrival. “You’re ‘bout three hours late,” he told me… it was eight in the morning and my stomach sank to my shoes,
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