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Flood: TEN

...Robert had been told by Arnold Pallister that the mills were once more being run in the old fashioned way, under-age children were employed, hours were long and wages had been cut. Only lip service had been paid to the diluted legislation that had been passed.

Perhaps he could make a difference?...

Emma Cookson continues a vivid story of romance and revenge set in the 19th Century.

Most of the journey back was made in silence. Robert had played the part expected of him. The visit had also revived more memories, which was no surprise, for they were everywhere he looked in these valleys.

His conversation with Arnold Pallister had been for more than show. He had wanted to know about working conditions in the mills and whether legislation had brought improvements. He had not been reassured.

Life at the hall had insulated Robert's childhood but hed heard the stories told by Zac, who had spent his early years in the mills, and his curiosity had grown about industry in general and the textile trade in particular and that strange tribe of people known as the working class. He had discussed it with the Colonel who had told him about his friend Richard Oastler who was fighting for legislation to protect mill workers, and in particular, women and children.

While the campaign continued, the Colonel, and several other philanthropic mill owners, had introduced their own improvements and a 10 hour rule. The Colonel provided meals in a factory canteen, visits from a doctor and employed a schoolteacher. Surprisingly, he did not suffer ruination. His motives, he explained, were not founded in Chartism or new-fangled democracy, but in benevolent autocracy.

Robert had been told by Arnold Pallister that the mills were once more being run in the old fashioned way, under-age children were employed, hours were long and wages had been cut. Only lip service had been paid to the diluted legislation that had been passed.

Perhaps he could make a difference?

Robert flicked the reins and the carriage picked up speed along the valley towards Layton. Ahead of them, the railway viaduct loomed. Poor Backache. His days were surely numbered.

**

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