Hugh’s Story

Hugh McNair illustration


All through morning lessons, you can’t stop thinking about Father. It’s not fair, how much he works.

Desperate to get it off your mind, you look back at your book. Shakespeare, eh? You smile and raise your hand. “Ma’am, who is Shakespeare’s greatest chicken-killer?” Without waiting for an answer, you blurt out, “Macbeth, for he committed murder most fowl.”

You end up washing the blackboard during break. It was worth it.

But it’s not long before you’re having a very different conversation with your parents. Your family is struggling to stay afloat; they can’t have you sitting in school when you could be working. And you are getting tired of cabbage soup — the extra money will be a big help.

But where to work?

You could write to your Uncle Robert and see if he can get you a job at his printing office. Your uncle married “up”, as you parents say, and he is doing well with his printing office. He’s such a bore, though, and he treats you like a child.

Maybe it’s better to find a job of your own. The mill is always looking for labourers. It’s hard work, but at least you won’t have Uncle Robert breathing down your neck.

Which to choose?