One Girl of Many

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##.Half-fed. Half-clothed. Untaught of woman's worth.In joyless girlhood working for her bread.At each small sorrow wishing she were dead,Yet gay at little pleasures. Sunlight seemsMost bright & warm where it most seldom gleams.

##.And not enough beneath to bar the cold.The little that she had misspent becauseShe had no knowledge of our nature's laws.Thinking in ignorance that it was bestTo wear a stylish look, and -.- bear the rest.

##.A woman's too; with nerves that feel the smartOf each new pain as keenly as your own.The old ones, through long use, have softer grown.And yet in spite of use she holds the thoughtOf might-be joys more than, perhaps, she ought.

##.Though she to all the others was so near;One difference there was, which made a change.No wrong thing, surely. Consequence most strange!Alike in birth. Alike in life's rough way.She, through no evil, was more fair than they.

##.Where you may drudge and starve till you are old.Come! I will give you rest. And food. And fire.And fair apparel to your heart's desire;Shelter. Protection. Kindness. Peace & Love.Has your life anything you hold above?."

##.There shone no vestige of the color White.She had seen nothing in her narrow lifeTo make her venerate the title ."Wife.."She knew no reason why the thing was wrong;And instinct grows debased in ages long.

##.All dreams that her starved girlhood's heart had firedAll that life held of yet unknown delightShone, to her ignorance, in colors bright.Shone near at hand and sure. If she had known!But she was ignorant. She was alone.

##.And found that every step she took thereinMade sinning easier and conscience weak.And there was never one who cared to speakA word to guide and warn her. If there wereI fear such help were thrown away on her.

##.In lowest depths. The story grows unmeetFor wellbred ears. Sorrow and sin and shameOver and over till the blackened nameSank out of sight without a hand to save.Sin, shame, and sorrow. Sickness, & the grave.

##.Of man's existence to repeat the deed.Social necessity. Men cannot liveWithout what these disgraceful creatures give.Black shame. Dishonor. Misery & Sin.And men find needed health & life therein.

© Gilman Charlotte Anna Perkins