Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
In a large room on the ground floor of Dreissiger’s house the weavers were bringing in their finished webs. Pfeifer, manager for Dreissiger, inspected each piece and assessed its value. He had a sharp eye for flaws and the amounts he named were low. From the complaints aired, the weavers were near starvation. In general, however, the weavers were a docile, tractable lot.
Old Baumert came in carrying a bundle wrapped in cloth. It was the body of his pet dog. Baumert had not had the heart to kill the animal himself, but he had had it butchered to provide meat for his family. The dog was only a skinny, half-grown pup, not large enough to feed his destitute family.
Most of the weavers were squat and sickly, but Becker was a young, impudent giant. When he heard the price Pfeifer would allow for his web, he refused on the ground that such an amount was alms, not wages. In fury Pfeifer called for Dreissiger, who upheld his manager. A diversion was created when a child fainted. Dreissiger was angry because the child’s parents had sent him so far with the heavy web; he ignored the crowd’s explanation that the child was starving.
Because of the tension in the room, Dreissiger harangued the weavers. In his view he provided work; if the weavers did not want to do his work, they could go elsewhere. Then he made a portentous announcement: he was engaging two hundred more weavers, and the new rates of pay would be lower.
(The entire section is 1209 words.)
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