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

Shooting for a Prize

I have heard that Sir Harry Vane declared our soldiers presented a very fine front, whatever that may be, and he is not backward about saying that even the King himself has no more warlike appearing men in his army. All of which is surely true, for Sir Harry, being the son of a Privy Councilor, must have seen His Majesty's troops many a time.

After all the people had feasted, each in his own fashion, and the soldiers had been refreshed at the expense of the town, the marching was begun again, to be continued in a manner like to make one's head swim, until the Governor gave the signal that the shooting at a target might commence, when it was that the guns were loaded with real bullets.

On this day it was Sir Harry who gave the prize to be shot for, which was a doublet of velvet trimmed with lace, the value of which, so father declares, is not less than five times as great as any prize that has ever been offered on Training Day in Boston.

Susan and I were eager to know who won it; but before the matter was settled, my mother insisted it was time for us to go home, because of the behavior of some of the soldiers being none of the best after they have done with the training.

However, we saw the doublet, and marked well the pattern of the lace, therefore if the winner wears it on the street, there will be no question as to our knowing it again.


The training was a most enjoyable spectacle, even though Susan and I were so frightened at times that it seemed as if our hearts were really in our mouths, and when we followed mother home on that afternoon, it was with the belief that our town of Boston, although not as old as Jamestown, Plymouth or Salem, had grown, both in numbers and fashion, far beyond any other settlement in this New World.

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