Gateway to the Classics: Ruth of Boston by James Otis
Ruth of Boston by  James Otis

The Problem of Servants

Since coming here we have seen so many Indians as to become acquainted with them, which is to say, that we no longer look upon them as savages, and have no fear to stand in the road when they pass. But those whom Susan and I had seen, up to the day when Chickatabut, the chief man of the Massachusetts tribe, came, were only common people, and such servants as are employed here in the town, for you must know that more than one family has a Narragansett Indian, or, mayhap, a Nipmuck, to work in the house.


Mother says that she would rather do all the work of the house alone, than have one of the brown women to help her, for they are not cleanly to look upon, but as for myself, I think I could stand the sight of one of them, especially when it comes to soap making, of which I will tell you later.

Of course there are times when housewives must have some one to aid them, and those girls or women among us who would go out to work in the house are not many in numbers, therefore one must put up with the Indians, which is unpleasant, or take those who are known as indentured servants, meaning the people who have agreed with the Massachusetts Bay Company to work for so many years, in order to pay for their passage over from England.

As for these last people, mother will not have them in the house, because of being afraid that we may not get one of good morals. Therefore in our home mother and I do all that is needed, rather than have around us people of whom we know nothing.

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