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

Anna Foster's Party

There were good friends of ours in England who believed that we had come into a wilderness where was to be found naught save savages and furious beasts, and it would have surprised them greatly, I believe, if they could have known how much of entertainment could already be found.

It was while we were waiting in Charlestown for the homes in Trimountain to be built, that Anna Foster, whose father is one of the tithing-men, invited all of us young girls who had come under Governor Winthrop's charge, to spend an evening with her, and we had much pleasure in playing hunt the whistle and thread the needle.


Anna was dressed in a yellow coat with black bib and apron, and she had black feathers on her head. She wore both garnet and jet beads, with a locket, and no less than four rings. There was a black collar around her neck, black mitts on her hands, and a striped tucker and ruffles. Her shoes were of silk, and one would have said that she was dressed for some evening entertainment in London.

Neither Susan nor I wore our best, because of the candles here being made from a kind of tallow stewed out of bayberry plums, which give forth much smoke, and mother was afraid this would soil our clothing. We were also told that because of there not being candles enough, some parts of the house would be lighted with candle-wood, which last is taken from the pitch pine tree, and fastened to the walls with nails. This wood gives forth a fairly good light; but there drops from it so much of a black, greasy substance, that whosoever by accident should stand beneath these flames would be in danger of receiving a most disagreeable shower.

This entertainment was not the only one which was made for our pleasure while we remained in Charlestown; but because of the sickness everywhere around, very little in the way of merrymaking was indulged in, and it seemed almost a sin for us to be thus light-hearted while so many were in sore distress.

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