Thursday, 14 May 2009


Is a fine thing on a boring Thursday afternoon. Don't get me wrong I like my job but some days it's all just a bit mundane and I sit there (usually whilst sipping my second post lunch cup of tea) and my mind wanders a bit. Like today I was thinking about workhouses. One particular workhouse, held up as an example of a well-ordered institution by the establishment of the town. The inmates were kept fully occupied by a rigorous programme of work, prayer and lessons where suitable; any resistance or infractions of the rule were dealt with harshly and promptly.

I was a model inmate, industrious, quiet and friendly to the other girls. Little did they know I had quietly been biding my time, waiting for the right time to run for it and escape. As a well behaved and trusted girl I'd quickly been given responsibility for some of the other girls, whom had quietly been included in my plot to escape the very system I was supposed to support.

The day came and everything went to plan, the boy from the laundry who had come to collect our freshly starched sheets easily diverted by a rumour that cook was handing out cake in the kitchens. More the fool him, we never had cake. One by one the other girls fled through the open door as I kept watch for trouble. Ellie had gone missing, I ventured back into the laundry to look for her, I didn't want to leave without her. The door bangs shut, the overseer stands angrily in front of it grasping a white-faced Ellie.

I deny everything but it's no use, Ellie has already told him everything. In the workhouse there is no need for a second opinion, no chance to defend yourself. I am bundled down into the cellar by the two of the overseer's men, my arms twisted painfully behind my back. A heavy oak door swings open and I am shoved into the dark room. One of the men holds my arms whilst the other strips me of my worn dress. They force me over a whipping block, buckling me down with cool, sturdy leather straps. Then they leave me, naked and exposed in the cellar to await the overseer's wrath.


Graham said...

I'm sure the overseer just gave her a stern talking-to... right???

Lovely image : )

Rebecca said...

Yep, and then maybe a bit of extra time cleaning the brass or something ;-)