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


There is another household duty which frets me much, and yet it must be performed, else would we be put to it for quills with which to write, and for soft beds, pillows, and quilts. It is goose-picking that I abhor, not only because of its seeming extremely cruel, but on account of its being like the soap-making, dirty work.

I question if there be a family in Boston who does not own a flock of geese, and among them many who were once wild. They wander around the streets all summer, paddling in the pools of water, chasing insects, and devouring whatsoever may have been thrown out of the houses that is eatable.

I doubt whether, if it were within the power of our preachers so to do, they would not kill all the geese in the town, for more than once on a Sabbath day have these noisy creatures made such a tumult outside the church that the sermon was actually interrupted.

Besides that, you cannot go anywhere without a lot of foolish geese running at your heels, hissing as if you had done something for which you should be ashamed, and they were calling attention to it.

Twice each season, in the planting and the harvesting time, must the small feathers be stripped from the live birds, and while this is being done, the goose, which has a strong neck and beak, would inflict many a grievous wound if one did not pull an old stocking over its head.

Some people are so particular as to have made goose baskets, which in shape are not unlike small gourds, and through the narrow neck of these the head of the goose is thrust, while the body can be held firmly between the knees of whosoever is doing the plucking.


Of course, when one is pulling feathers from the bird, the fine fluff, or down, files everywhere about like snow, and the result is, that unless you take the precaution of tying your hair up in cloths, and putting on an old linen dress from which dirt can readily be shaken, you will be covered from head to foot with these fluffy particles, which are not much larger than snow-flakes, and extremely difficult to remove.

I have been so busy setting down matters concerning the household, as to forget that I should tell you how our town of Boston has grown, and who of the great men of England have come into it.

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