Water dripping, tools clanging, the little coal train stops.
Holt puts his hand out and I give him my lantern, and
Get out, only realizing a second later that he meant
For me to take his hand for help. No matter. I step straight
Into a muddy puddle, but just on the way down,
I know I've been covered in coal dust. It's up my nose,
Down my throat, and all over my hands. Too bad.
Here I am a hundred feet down, and now I can get
Real answers, not just from reading books. Holt says
In this mine he has fourteen people, men, women and boys,
Some of whom are girls. They work two twelve-hour shifts,
For maximum productivity. He explains the difference
Between this horizontal pit, and mine, which would be
Vertical, hence the need for a winding engine and greater
Cost up front. "But you'll be laughing when the profits
Come in, and for years to come." I like this man
Washington has found me. He takes me seriously, speaks
Plainly, and doesn't expect me to be "reasonable," soft
Or feminine. I can simply be a person of business to him.