This was a writing exercise. Therefore, this is unedited, so it will inevitably contain historical errors and awkward sentences.

Here, this small patch of turf, in front of his house, desecrated by the mounds of earthworms, was his. No more plantations. No more native servants scattering about with bags of rice, stockpots, and flinging the garden doors open. The family’s grandeur was stripped away in the exodus from the Raj, in returning to the homeland – though no one still living had ever seen it.

He was on his last sixpence, no job, and Marie expecting, William couldn’t keep still even in the night. And how could you when: your pockets felt light; the hooter called the town into the works, but he remained in bed; on the horizon there were no trees only plumes from the stacks, and his first breath of the day was the smell of burning coal.

“William!” Marie would tell him, “stop fidgeting”

Hours passed, kept awake by his urge to move, to run. Where? Anywhere. He would – yes, tomorrow, he planned- run to South Marston to Vickers-Armstrong, then to Rodbourne for GWR; and then all the way up Victoria Hill, through the Old Town, pushing through his adversaries, and into Wroughton for KLM. 

Exhausted from his figmental running, Marie took in a deep breath. “William! for god’s sake, will you stop breathing.”

So, here he was, up before the hooter reeled in the clean-faced flat caps, the whistles and clunking of engines through Swindon Junction; before the blood sludged through arteries of the Empire – now only a faint ember unable to keep off the enveloping shade.

He didn’t run, for he was certain that today would yield. He bought a ticket on the Corporation bus for Wroughton. He parted with his last sixpence, which was now marooned in the driver’s register. The driver did not dare take a glance at him. Who would look at The Penniless Man? 

Could Marie?

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