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

What We Girls Do at Home

In this town of Boston, if we do not know how to make what is needed, then must we perforce go without, because one cannot well afford to spend the time, nor the money, required to send from Boston to London for whatever may be desired, and wait until it shall be brought across the sea.

I wonder if it would interest any of you to know what Susan and I are obliged to do in our homes during each working clay of the week?

I can remember a time when we were put to it to perform certain tasks within six days, and have set down that which we did.

It was on a Monday that Susan and I hackled fifty pounds of flax, and tired we were when the day was come to an end. On Tuesday we carded tow, and on Wednesday each spun a skein of linen thread. On Thursday we did the same stint, and on Friday made brooms of guinney wheat straw. On Saturday we spun twine out of the coarser part of flax, which is called tow, and of which I will tell you later.


All this we did in a single week, in addition to helping our mothers about the house, and had no idea that we were working overly hard.

And now about tow: when flax has been prepared to that stage where it is to be hackled, the fibers pulled out by the comb are yet further divided into cobweb-like threads, and laid carefully one above the other as straight as may be. To these a certain yellow substance sticks, which we call tow, and this can be spun into coarse stuff for aprons and mats, or into twine, which, by the way, is not very strong.

It would surprise you, when working flax, to see to how small a bulb it may be reduced. What seems like an enormous stack, before being made ready for spinning, is lessened to such extent that you may readily take it in both hands, and then comes the next surprise, when you see how much cloth can be woven out of so small an amount of threads.

As for myself, I am not any too fond of working amid the flax, save when it comes to spinning; but such labor is greatest pleasure as compared with soap making, which is to my mind the most disagreeable and slovenly of all the housewife's duties.

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