The Nine-Tenths eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 198 pages of information about The Nine-Tenths.

So thinking, so feeling, she grew drowsier, sank deeper—­her body tired in every muscle, in every bone—­her mind unable to keep awake; and so she faded into the pure rest of sleep.

XI

THE WORKHOUSE

That next day was as a dream to Rhona.  Not until evening did it become real.  Breakfast was brought to her cell, but she did not taste it.  Next she was led out by a policeman to the street and packed in the patrol wagon with eight other women.  The morning was gray, with a hard sifting snow, and as the wagon bumped over cobblestones, Rhona breathed deep of the keen air.

The ride seemed without end; but next she was in a ferry; and then, last, was hurried into a long gray building on Blackwells Island.

Her cell was fairly large, and contained two cots, one against each wall.  She was left disconsolately alone, numb, in despair, and moving about in a dream.

But after supper she found herself locked in with another woman.  She sat down on the edge of her cot, in the dim light of the room, and with a sharp glance, half fear, half curiosity, regarded her room-mate.  This other was a woman of possibly thirty years, with sallow cheeks, bright burning eyes, and straggly hair.  She stood before the little wall mirror, apparently examining herself.  Suddenly she turned: 

“What you looking at, kid?”

Rhona averted her eyes.

“I didn’t mean—­”

“Say,” said the other, “ain’t I the awful thing?  Not a rat or a puff or a dab of rouge allowed in these here premises.  I do look a sight—­a fright.  Gee!” She turned.  “You’re not so worse.  A little pale, kid.”

She came over and sat next to Rhona.

“What’ll I call you?”

Rhona shrank.  She was a sensitive, ignorant girl, and did not understand this type of woman.  Something coarse, familiar, vulgar seemed to grate against her.

“Rhona’s my name,” she breathed.

“Well, that’s cute!  Call you Ronie?” She stretched out her arms.  “Oh, slats!  I’d give my teeth for a cigarette and a Manhattan cocktail.  Wouldn’t I, though!”

Rhona shuddered.

The woman turned toward her.

“My name’s Millie.  Now we’re pals, eh?” Then she rattled on:  “First time in the workhouse?  Comes hard at first, doesn’t it?  Cut off from friends and fun—­and ain’t the work beastly?  Say, Ronie, what’s your job in little old New York?”

Rhona swallowed a dull sob.

“I haven’t any—­we’re on strike.”

Millie jumped up.

“What, you one of them shirtwaist strikers?”

“Yes.”

“Why did they run you in?”

“An officer struck me, and then said I struck him.”

“Just like a man!  Oh, I know men!  Depend upon it, I know the men!  So, you were a shirt-waist-maker.  How much d’yer earn?”

“Oh, about five or six a week.”

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
The Nine-Tenths from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook