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"Stop!" said Parson Hathaway, who had dropped in to make a call, "that's a rather severe charge. The Bible tells us that man must live by the sweat of his brow, and now you claim that he must also pour out his very life-blood. Tom True, you are familiar with these things. Is Howell Calamity's charge a fair one?"
"If Polly will lend me a strictly feminine word, sir, and if Howell will take no offense, I'll answer in one word, and that word is-Piffles!"
"Pifles What do you mean by Piffles?" demanded Howell, hotly. "Do you dispute my word?"
"No," replied Tom. "But I happen to know something about accidents. Now you say 95,000 men and women were
killed and maimed last year in Massachusetts industries. You're partly right! But answer me, Howell, how badly were those people hurt?"
"How badly were they hurt?" he flashed back. "Isn't it bad enough that they were bruised and crushed and mangled, and that they fill our hospitals and graveyards?"
"Let's see," said Tom. "The State Report you mention says that, of the entire 95,000 who were hurt, only 370 were injured so badly that they died; 938 were crippled, but only a very few of these would be termed cripples, for 644 lost no more than a finger or a toe, only one lost both eyes, only two lost both feet, and none lost both hands. Then, about 45,000 of the injuries reported were little cuts, scratches or bruises, that caused the injured persons to stop work just about long enough to have their wounds bandaged. So you see that that story of 95,000 people being mangled and crushed and killed is about six-sevenths pure
"I'm mighty glad to hear that, Tom," said the Parson,
while the eyes of pretty Polly Prudence shot an approving glance at Tom. "But if so many industrial accidents are so trifling, why count them at all?"
"Well, it's this way, Mr. Hathaway. Accidents in industry are not counted like accidents that happen anywhere else. If you jab a splinter into your hand when chopping wood for Mother Hathaway, or if Mrs. Friend's cook cuts her finger while paring potatoes, it's 'only a splinter' or it's 'only a cut.' Some iodine is put on it, the wound heals up and no one says beans about it. But if Ben Hollows runs a splinter into his finger while carrying a board across the factory yard, or if our friend Abe Jennings scratches his thumb when filing a piece of steel, the workmen's compensation law makes you write a complete history of it and send it to the state officials."
"But just think of the great horror of these accidents," said Miss Gertrude Grump, the socialistic school teacher, "370 lives of our fellow-beings blotted out in one state in those hateful factories."
"It's bad enough," said Tom, "and everybody regrets it. But we should remember that only 95 of those 370 fatal accidents occurred in factories; the other 275 occurred in street and building construction, on street and steam railways, in public service work and other work outside of factories. But
Miss Grump; "But what relation have measles and whooping cough to the mangling of our brothers and sisters in your industries?"
let me ask you a question, Miss Grump. Do you think that measles and whooping cough are dreadful?"
"Not so very. They're mighty unpleasant and I don't want them, that's all. But what relation have measles and whooping cough to the mangling of hundreds of our brothers and sisters in your industries?"
"Just this," said Tom quietly. "374 persons, mostly little children who couldn't help it, died last year in Massachusetts from whooping cough and measles; while 370 persons, mostly adults who might have
helped it if they had been careful, were killed in all the industrial accidents in the entire State. Work accidents don't blot out SO many lives, after all; that is, when compared with other causes which you consider trivial."
No one had noticed that Dr. Frank had entered the room. "Good evening, Mrs. Friend, and all of you. I was on my way out from a call on my patient up-stairs, when I overheard the remark about the ambulance, and stopped to listen. Will you pardon me?"
"With all my heart, Doctor," replied Mrs. Friend, "if you'll join us." The Doctor took the chair of the truant Johnnie, as he said, "But you mustn't change the subject."
"At any rate, Mr. True, you'll agree that, of all industries, manufacturing is most dangerous," said Howell Calamity.
"Yes," cut in Miss Grump. "Mr. Calamity is absolutely correct. The mill, the factory, the shop, are the most dangerous places for men and women who must earn their daily bread. I read that in the newspaper yesterday afternoon."
"Why, Gertie Grump, it's just the opposite!" Polly exclaimed. "Manufacturing is the safest industry there is!"
"So Mr. True told you!" retorted Miss Grump, icily.
"No, so the report of the United States Government told me."
"Except farming," suggested Mr. Hathaway.
"Not excepting farming or anything else!"
"She's right," put in Tom.
"Yes, Mr. Hathaway, I know I'm right! In all factories, mines, railroads, steel mills and all kinds of industry all over the United States, one out of every 1,500 workers is killed annually. Outside of industry one out of every 1,000 is killed annually. But in manufacturing only one out of 4,000 is killed annually. So you see that those employed in manufacturing are about two and a half times as safe as those
in other industries and four times as safe as those who are outside of industry.
"But, Polly," insisted the Parson, "you said manufacturing is safer than farming."
"It is safer. In farming one out of every 2,900 is killed. That's not nearly so safe as one out of 4,000, is it, Mr. Hathaway?"
"I can hardly believe it! Is manufacturing safer than being a minister?"
“A minister is less apt to get burned-hereafter,” chuckled Polly.
“As for me," said Dr. Frank, thoughtfully, "I cannot picture a farm or a public highway as being more dangerous than a mill." "And I don't believe it is," put in Howell Calamity.
Tom and Polly smiled.
"Look here, Doctor," said Tom. "Let me ask you a question. You fix up lots of wounded people in hospitals and you see the results of all sorts of accidents. Were most of your patients working in factories when they were hurt? And you, Mr. Hathaway, of all the persons you have buried in the past ten years who died by accidents, did factories cause most of the deaths?"
The Parson and Doctor looked at each other thoughtfully. The Parson became very serious, for the question revived sad memories. But he spoke first.
"You're right, Tom, most of them were hurt when they were not in factories at all."
"I never thought of it that way before, but it's very true," said the Doctor. "But there must be a great difference in the risk in various kinds of manufacturing. For example, the steel industry must be exceptionally dangerous."
"Some branches of it," replied Tom. "But as usual the dangers are much exaggerated. I know that the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics found, in a study of a bunch of 10,000 accidents in the iron and steel industry, that more than half of the injured were back at work within two weeks after they were hurt, and all but about 700 were back in thirteen weeks. "You mentioned highway accidents, Dr. Frank," continued Tom. "You will be interested in the record of auto accidents in our
State. But first, let me repeat: Of the 370 persons killed in industry in the State, 95 were employed in manufacturingonly 95 of a total of 600,000 factory workers. In the same period autos
- just autos- killed 294 persons, more than three times as many as were killed in manufacturing."
"Motorists are selfish, reckless and heedless," said the Parson.
"I'll tell my chauffeur that," laughed the Doctor. "He'll say things about selfish, reckless, heedless pedestrians."
"I think motorists are mean as they can be," said Polly.
"That's because Tom True hasn't an auto," said little Betty Friend, mischievously.
"The automobile peril is increasing very seriously," said Tom, reddening a bit. "In 1907 only 7 persons out of each million of our people were killed by autos. In 1911 the number increased to 24 out of each million. In 1915 it jumped to 59 per million, which means that there are 18 deaths every day from auto accidents in the United States."
"It's simply a case of carelessness," repeated the Parson. "You cannot blame it on the machines."
"I read the other day in the United States Report," said Polly, "that women lead safer lives than men. In workshops a woman is ten times as safe as a man. I mean that out of say a thousand men and a thousand women employed in factories, ten times as many men as women are injured. But when a woman leaves the factory to go home her accident risk increases and she is only three times as safe as a man. Another thing I noticed is that women, like men, are oftenest hurt either by falling or when something falls on them."
"The statement is literally true," exclaimed Tom. "Of all causes of accidents the law of gravitation is responsible for the most and the worst."