The file-cutters were more troublesome; they clung to death and disease, like limpets to established rocks; they would not try any other bed than bare lead, and they would not wash at the taps Little had provided, and they would smuggle in dinners and eat with poisoned hands.
Little reasoned, and remonstrated, but with such very trifling success, that, at last, he had to put down the iron heel; he gave the file-cutters a printed card, with warning to leave on one side, and his reasons on the other.
In twenty-four hours he received a polite remonstrance from the secretary of the File-Cutters' Union.
He replied that the men could remain, if they would sign an agreement to forego certain suicidal practices, and to pay fines in case of disobedience; said fines to be deducted from their earnings.
Then the secretary suggested a conference at the "Cutlers' Arms." Little assented: and there was a hot argument. The father of all file-cutters objected to tyranny and innovation: Little maintained that Innovation was nearly always Improvement--the world being silly--and was manifestly improvement in the case under consideration. He said also he was merely doing what the Union itself ought to do: protecting the life of Union men who were too childish and wrong-headed to protect it themselves.
"We prefer a short life and a merry one, Mr. Little," said the father of all file-cutters.
"A life of disease is not a merry one: slow poisoning is not a pleasant way of living, but a miserable way of dying. None but the healthy are happy. Many a Croesus would give half his fortune for a poor man's stomach; yet you want your cutlers to be sick men all their days, and not gain a shilling by it. Man alive, I am not trying to lower their wages."
"Ay, but you are going the way to do it."
(an odd red-breasted little bird, which inhabits the thick
but could not well refuse. He had laid out a few of his
After breakfast, we discussed the situation. I had taken
woman. Yes, but a fallen one? Was he not fallen himself?
to have a good idea of time, was employed to strike the
the whole after a good deal of remonstrance. To him she