Friday Fictioneers – Mill Girl

Photo Prompt © Sandra Crook

Effie, crawling beneath the gnashing machine, tried to remember soft rain pattering on their turf roof. But the great shaft frames of the weaving hall had a different song: implacable, voracious.  The noise and the odour of oil and cotton dust choked Effie. A frame scythed just above her squirming back, rattling the heddles. The sharp shuttle flashed athwart.

“Mama,” she called through the clatter. “I have it.”

She lifted the trapped bale.

In the din, nobody heard the scream as the shaft took her hand clean off.

“How will we survive,” she thought, “without my daily tuppence?”


Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

94 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Mill Girl

  1. A snap shot of times past when children worked in the Mills. New Lanark was where Robert Owen formed his utopian socialism, and children received compulsory education. Classes started after a twelve hour shift in the mills, and as your story shows many did get their fingers or hands trapped and injured. DEath by the age of twelve was not uncommon.

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  2. As if the incident wasn’t brutal enough, you give us the girl’s first thought as ‘How will we manage without my tuppence?’ That really hammers home your point. BTW I love all the technical and sensory detail you give us in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice story, Neil. The good thing about knowing history about these sorts of conditions is knowing how much we’ve progressed. You would think that having mangled body parts mixed up with their textiles would have made them put guards over the machines, but I guess I’d never make a good Dickensian tycoon.

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  4. Wonderfully described and a sad lot for still too many children. For her to have her first thought of no longer being able to help provide is doubly heartbreaking.
    So well done, Neil.

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  5. Felt I was in the weaving shed- powerfully told Neil. You bring to life the inhuman conditions that people worked in and the strong sense that individuals were disposable in the face of profit. Effie’s hand cut clean off made me shudder. Good writing.

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  6. Abhorrent and yet full of pathos. This scene seems so foreign, as in strange, to us Westerners, almost as foreign as the words used to describe the ruthless machinery. Can’t wait for the Luddite episode. Interesting, the comments that socialism was born out of such misery, and that children went to school after a 12 hour day at the mill!

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  7. Brutal, true, and excellent writing. Parts of the world achieved much in the meantime. But what do we do instead of helping the rest getting where we are? We (certain people) whine for the olden days and give up our freedoms and achievements.

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  8. I just loved the contrast you built between the cottage workplace and the mill. Wonderful. What a terrible life for those who had to work there, adults and children. A really powerful story.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Unimaginable, how society thought using people – and young children – as part of the industrial machine was acceptable. Chilling details and clearly imagined, Neil


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