They are arguing over whether or not to sign a petition calling for improvements in pay and conditions. The Concord Corporation has been speeding up the looms again. Lyddie is not too worried, as it gives her an opportunity to make more money, but some of the other girls at the factory cannot handle the pace. On the whole, the acceleration of production is taking its toll on the physical health of the workforce. Amelia is so tired and crabby that she gets into a silly argument with Lyddie when she will not put her book down and take a short walk by the river.
Betsy has half a mind to sign the petition, but Amelia is none too enthusiastic about it. Lyddie does not say anything, but she is concerned that if the petition succeeds, then the girls will end up working fewer hours. If they work fewer hours, they will earn less pay. Lyddie has been working hard to pay off her family's debts, and she is concerned that working fewer hours at the factory will make it harder for her to do this.