In chapter 15 of Lyddie, what about the boarding house rules make it hard for Lyddie to have Rachel with her?

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Lyddie worries about keeping Rachel at the boarding house because children are not allowed.

Lyddie works at the Lowell factory because she needed a job to pay off her family’s debts.  Her main goal is to get her family back together, because her mother lent out the family farm, the cow and the horse, and her children.  Lyddie did not last long at the tavern, and left to get a factory job.  Her mother kept her too younger sisters, Agnes and Rachel, and her brother went to work for a mill.

One day Lyddie got a letter from her mother telling her that her littlest sister Agnes had died.  She also said that Rachel was not doing well.  Lyddie was worried, and sent her mother money with a promise for more.  Then her uncle showed up unexpectedly with her little sister.

Lyddie was happy to see her sister, but worried just the same.  Her uncle told her that her mother was being institutionalized and the farm sold.  Lyddie was also concerned that Rachel was too small and sickly. Most importantly, Lyddie had no place to put her.

She could read the warning in Mrs. Bedlow's eyes. No men, no children (except for the keeper's own) in a corporation house. But surely the woman would not have the heart . . . (Ch. 15)

Lyddie gets Mrs. Bedlow to allow her to keep Rachel there because she will not eat much or take up much space.  She considers getting Rachel a job, because she can’t really afford to take care of them both.  Mrs. Bedlow tells her that it won’t work.

"I'll get her a job. She can doff."

"You know she's not old enough or strong enough to be a doffer."

"Just till I can straighten things out," Lyddie pleaded. "Please lether stay. I'll get it all set in just a few days, ey?" (Ch. 15)

Lyddie does not really have to solve the problem, because after she writes to her brother Charlie, he comes to take Rachel home with him.  The family that Charlie works for adopted him, and wants to adopt Rachel.

Even though she is glad that she does not have to worry about a place to put Rachel, Lyddie is sad that her family will likely never be together again.  She has lost Charlie and Rachel, and her mother died.  Lyddie is pretty much on her own.

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Lyddie is a factory girl who works for a corporation. She also stays in a corporation-owned boardinghouse. What all this means is that Lyddie has to adhere to certain rules and social protocols. Earlier in the book, readers learn that Lyddie has to buy new clothes when she first arrives because it just won't do to look like a dirty farm girl. Additionally, Lyddie must attend church.

In chapter 15, Lyddie is reminded of another of the boardinghouse's rules. The women are not allowed to have any men or children at the house with them. This is a problem for Lyddie because her Uncle Judah has just brought Lyddie her sister, Rachel. Lyddie's mother is incapable of caring for Rachel, and Uncle Judah can't do it either. Uncle Judah expects Lyddie to care for Rachel, and that puts Lyddie in a bind. Rachel isn't allowed to stay at the boardinghouse because Lyddie isn't allowed to have children there, and Rachel isn't old enough or strong enough to be a factory employee.

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When Lyddie's uncle Judah brings Rachel to Lyddie for her to take care of, Lyddie introduces her to Mrs. Bedlow, the keeper of the boarding house. Immediately she sees the warning in Mrs. Bedlows's eyes that Rachel will not be able to stay there. The boarding house is owned by the Concord Corporation specifically for the purpose of housing the female factory workers. No men or children, other than the keeper's own children, are allowed to stay in the boardinghouse. Lyddie suggests that Rachel could work for the factory as a doffer, and in that case, she would be allowed to stay. Mrs. Bedlow replies that Rachel is not old enough nor physically strong enough to do even the easiest jobs at the factory. Mrs. Bedlow agrees to bend the rules to let Rachel stay for no more than two weeks. She says that Rachel can't go outside--no one must see her, or Mrs. Bedlow could get in trouble for breaking the rules of the corporation's boarding house. Lyddie has to pay Mrs. Bedlow full room and board for her to keep Rachel, but even so, Mrs. Bedlow is terse with Rachel because she is "just scared to break a rule," as Lyddie explains to Rachel. Lyddie knows she is taking a risk as well. If she breaks the rules of the corporation, she can be fired from her job, and then, as she says to Rachel, "then what would we do, ey?" 

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