Life in the Iron-Mills - Rebecca Harding Davis - Страница 1 из 54
LIFE IN THE IRON-MILLS
by Rebecca Harding Davis
"Is this the end?
O Life, as futile, then, as frail!
What hope of answer or redress?"
A cloudy day: do you know what that is in a town of iron-works? The sky
sank down before dawn, muddy, flat, immovable. The air is thick, clammy
with the breath of crowded human beings. It stifles me. I open the
window, and, looking out, can scarcely see through the rain the grocer's
shop opposite, where a crowd of drunken Irishmen are puffing Lynchburg
tobacco in their pipes. I can detect the scent through all the foul
smells ranging loose in the air.
The idiosyncrasy of this town is smoke. It rolls sullenly in slow folds
from the great chimneys of the iron-foundries, and settles down in
black, slimy pools on the muddy streets. Smoke on the wharves, smoke on
the dingy boats, on the yellow river,--clinging in a coating of greasy
soot to the house-front, the two faded poplars, the faces of the
passers-by. The long train of mules, dragging masses of pig-iron through
the narrow street, have a foul vapor hanging to their reeking sides.
Here, inside, is a little broken figure of an angel pointing upward from
the mantel-shelf; but even its wings are covered with smoke, clotted
and black. Smoke everywhere! A dirty canary chirps desolately in a
cage beside me. Its dream of green fields and sunshine is a very old
dream,--almost worn out, I think.
From the back-window I can see a narrow brick-yard sloping down to
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