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My cries are not of pain I'll have you see, walking in the dark I hear a chime. The day begins before the sun does mount into the smoky skies above the town. The fog alights upon the steamy streets. Of this, life is the same as in days past. Not long ago I worked in solitude but London grew so fast my life did change, I'll tell you why and you will understand. The houses grew on every piece of soil then inch by inch the bricks began to close and then there came the day my life did change. You see I'm not a man too large in size, but even so I could no longer fit into the dark and glassy shafts of black nine by fourteen inches only, wide. At home my wife and babes still need to dwell and so a way to feed them must be found. A master I became to three young sweeps, climbing boys we call them, paid to work by bed and bread and maybe some hot soup. The oldest of the three has just turned eight, an orphan from the home just down the way. The middle one, he cost me just three pounds, for five years work his family did concede. The youngest boy of four can hardly speak and often cries and shivers in the cold. His feet are bare, he patters down the street until a summons for a job to do. Stripped of shirts, on go the stocking caps with holes for eyes but none for nose and mouth. Up the chimney first the youngest goes followed by another armed with pins to poke him in the heels if he should slow. The cry "all up" will tell me they are done and down they come to gather up the dirt into the bags it goes, to take along. Off come the caps and back on with the shirts. A tear stained face trails run among the soot, off to the street and on to the next house. Eight or nine would be the normal day. As dusk arrives we make our way back home. The boys they carry burlap bags of soot to serve as pillows for their sleepy heads until the farmer buys if for his soil. Two crusts of bread and one cup of hot broth they eat in peace then sink on down the stairs. Linger not they fall straight into bed, Their achy limbs and scrapped up bodies still, deep breaths come quick for it will soon be morn. We sweep before the fires can be lit, the brick to touch is cool from the night. An hour from now is too late to begin. This hat you see me wear upon my head has changed from one I wore so many years. I often wonder if we have a choice Of what we need to do just to survive. My cry out loud is not just one for work but sadness of the men we have become.
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