A Hard Day’s Work By: Derek Petti “Are you feeling alright?” “Yes, it’s feeling much better.” “That’s good,” Johnny said. “We’re the glassmaker’s assistants, we are going to get burned all the time,” I said. I got burned the other day tending the flames where the glass is made. “So Chris…” Johnny began to say, when a loud hiss from the fire being put scared us half to death. After it stopped, Johnny said, “I heard we might be chosen for the accountant’s assistants. ”But we’re only eight!” I exclaimed. “I’ve only been in school for a few years back in England, and we probably won’t go to school ever again!” Then it was finally time to leave. I headed home down the forest trail just as I always did; but then, a vision crept into my head. A vision of the most horrible memory of my life;I never wanted to think about it ever again, yet it came. I was six back in London, England, 1643 I was sitting on my house steps, playing with my favorite toy, a little wooden boat, when a mysterious looking man walked up to me. I froze; I didn’t know who he was or what he wanted. He just ran up to me, grabbed my hand, and started running away with me. I tried to scream but he gagged me with his hand. He dragged me towards a boat. People were staring at us, wondering what was going on. But they just assumed that a father was trying to get his son on the boat, even though he didn’t want to move. He carried me on board, and took me to the inside of the ship. After what felt like hours, he finally let me go. I ran up to the deck, but all I saw was ocean. I thought my life was over. But my family moved to the Jamestown settlement to escape the hard life back in England, and built a house near where I worked. However, my family was having money problems, so I still had to work at the glassworks. My life is getting worse each day, sometimes I wished my parents would just take me back to England. I walked inside and I saw my father, he was a shipbuilder and was very strong. “Hello there Christopher, how was work today?” he asked. “Same as always,” I replied. “Hard and dangerous; where’s mother?” “She’s in the kitchen,” my father said. I went outside to our kitchen, I opened the door, and I saw my mother and older sister, Annabelle. “Hello Christopher, how was your day?” my mother asked. “Okay,” I replied. “Go tell your father that dinner will be ready in a few minutes,” mother said. And she wasn’t kidding, about two minutes after I told father, they brought the food. Vegetables, soup, veal, ham, and chicken, delicious! And then came the dessert, all kinds of custard, whipped syllabub, and many other desserts. Some of the richer families had twenty-one dishes per course, they were so lucky. Why couldn’t my family be rich?
I didn’t sleep very well that night. I had a horrible nightmare. I was in a dark room, so dark I couldn’t seea single thing. Then a light came on, and a shadowy figure appeared. I tried to talk to him, but no sound came out, and all of a sudden it got really hot. Without so much as a warning, the shadowy figure burst into flames! The figure let out a shriek of pain, and I woke up, covered in sweat. When I got to work the next day, I told Johnny all about the dream. “That sounds like a pretty scary dream,” Johnny said. “I know, I was almost late for work!” I said a little louder than I intended. Just then, James,the guy who makes sure all of the workers are doing their jobs, came out of nowhere and yelled,“Quiet! One more sound and I’ll paddle you so hard, you won’t be able to sit for a month!” I loathed that man. He hated laughing, giggling, workers slacking off, and he hated children most of all. He walked around like a vulture, waiting for someone to messup, and then he’d yell at them. My life is terrible! Sometimes I wished it would just end! The next day, it almost did. It seemed like any ordinary day, Johnny and I were bringing in bags of sand, but one had a small hole in it. Some of the sand spilled out onto the floor, and then the person who brings the finished glassto the harbor, slipped and fell on the sand. The glassand the unfortunate worker hit the ground so hard, that it shook the entire building. It also knocked some wood where the glass was made onto the floor. And then the building began to catch on fire. we all ran for our lives! The glassworks collapsed.I made it out safely; Johnny didn’t. As I saw his coffin being lowered into the ground, I began to realize how lucky I was. Twelve workers died including Johnny. I only came out with a minor burn on my lower left leg. My father found a broken horseshoe on the road the next day, he melted it down, and made a brand new horseshoe. He made it perfectly, and he added great details.A friend of my father’s bought it for ten dollars! So my father is going to be a blacksmith instead of a shipbuilder, and we are going to make more money. My parents promised me that as soon as we had enough money, we would go back to England. I no longer had to work at the glassworks! But until that day came, I always visited Johnny’s grave, and on occasion left wild flowers. I would never forget my life in the Americas.
Author’s Note A Hard Day’s Work takes place during the colonization of America in the 1600’s, in Jamestown, Virginia. There was a lot going on in America, but there was a lot going on in England too.
The English Civil War, which started in 1642, was caused by fighting between King Charles I and Parliament, and ended when Charles I was executed. Back in America, colonists were struggling to survive in a new land. in December 1606, 104 settlers led by John Smith, traveled to America to set up the first English colony, Jamestown Virginia. However, most of the settlers were not suited for the hard work of building houses, farming, and many other hard chores. Those people were businessmen, but they were called gentlemen. Life was hard at first; barely any crops grew, there were tons of mosquitoes, and many settlers died of diseasescaused by the mosquitoes. But John Smith pulled it all together, and after the colonists started growing tobacco, life got easier. Then women and children were brought to the colony, and then life was finally normal. Some of the most common jobs in the colonies were blacksmith, tailor, farmer, weaver, gunsmith, jeweler, soldier, wig maker, and many others. Women and girls did all of the cooking, washing, and household chores. Each family had about six or more children, but almost half of them die before they’re six years old. And kids who misbehaved were whipped, paddled, or humiliated. One example of humiliation based punishment is a teacher would take a branch, split the ends, and stick it on the child’s nose. Many settlers were scared to come to this new world, but they pulled through, even though they were strangers in a strange land.
Bibliography Borio, Gene. “A Breif History of Jamestown Virginia.” Tobacco.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Feb. 2012. <http://www.Tobacco.org/History/Jamestown.html>. This web page is about the history of Jamestown Virginia. I learned that the first two successful English settlements in America were commercial ventures, licensed by the king. Cahn, Rhonda, and William Cahn. No Time for School, No Time for Play. New York: Julian Messner, 1972. Print. This book was about the lives of working children in the United States before the child labor laws were passed. I learned that there was child labor even before Columbus discovered America. Freedman, Russel. Kids at Work. Broadway, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994. Print. This book is about the working conditions for children in the factories and workshops. I learned that some kids had to wake up at 3:00 in the morning or earlier. “Kings and queens of England.” www. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Feb. 2012. Markham, Lois. “Colonial america.” Colonial America Nov. 1993: 2+. Print. This magazine is about the daily lives of kids and adults during the colonial times,I learned that boys would wear loose-fitting dresses until they reached age five or six.