Lo, Michael (Chapter 9, page 2 of 11)

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Chapter 9

Meantime the wound on his head was healed, the golden halo had covered the scar, and the cut in his shoulder, which had been only a flesh, wound, was doing nicely. Michael, was allowed to sit up, and then to be about the room for a day or two.

It was in those days of his sitting up when the sun which crept in for an hour a day reached and touched to flame his wonderful hair, that the other men of the ward began to notice him. He seemed to them all as somehow set apart from the rest; one who was lifted above what held them down to sin and earth. His countenance spoke of strength and self-control, the two things that many of those men lacked, either through constant sinning or through constant fighting with poverty and trouble, and so, as he began to get about they sent for him to come to their bedsides, and as they talked one and another of them poured out his separate tale of sorrow and woe, till Michael felt he could bear no more. He longed for power, great power to help; power to put these wretched men on their feet again to lead a new life, power to crush some of the demons in human form who were grinding them down to earth. Oh! for money and knowledge and authority!

Here was a man who had lost both legs in a defective machine he was running in a factory. He was a skilled workman and had a wife and three little ones. But he was useless now at his trade. No one wanted a man with no legs. He might better be dead. Damages? No, there was no hope of that. He had accepted three hundred dollars to sign a release. He had to. His wife and children were starving and they must have the money then or perish. There was no other way. Besides, what hope had he in fighting a great corporation? He was a poor man, a stranger in this country, with no friends. The company had plenty who were willing to swear it was the man's own fault.

Yonder was another who had tried to asphyxiate himself by turning on the gas in his wretched little boarding-house room because he had lost his position on account of ill health, and the firm wished to put a younger man in his place. He had almost succeeded in taking himself out of this life.

Next him was one, horribly burned by molten metal which he had been compelled to carry without adequate precautions, because it was a cheaper method of handling the stuff and men cost less than machinery. You could always get more men.

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