Ruth’s Story

Ruth Barrow illustration


You take a job as a domestic servant, and right away, you know you’re in trouble. The family is so distant and cold. You’re expected to show up, cook, clean, mend, and not ask questions.

The first day, Mrs. Shufflebottom points to the pantry. “Do you see that spice box?” she asks.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I keep the key. I won’t have servants stealing from us, do you understand?”

Only the thought of the Grands keeps you from saying something you’ll regret. Swallowing hard, you nod once.

One day, you pass the newspaper office while running errands. They’re handing out flyers for the John Anderson case. “A former slave,” they tell you. “Living in Canada for years, and now they want to send him back to Missouri. Will you sign the petition?”

You do. But more — it reawakens your old dream. You desperately want to be working in the newspaper office, too. Maybe now is your chance!

But you also know a neighbouring family, the Sommervilles, need a servant — and they are very kind.

Should you work for them and have a steady job, or take a big risk with the newspaper?