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

A "Sugaring Dinner"

We enjoyed ourselves hugely until well after noon, when we were so weary and sticky that it was a positive relief to hear Mistress Winthrop propose that we go back to her dwelling, and there what do you think we found?

No less than twenty people from Boston, among whom were Susan's mother and mine, had all come out for what is called the "sugaring dinner."

Master Cotton, the preacher, was with the company, and he made a most beautiful prayer while we were waiting for the meal to be served, after which the spirit moved him to ask at great length, and in a most touching manner, that the food might be blessed to each and every one of us.

One could never have believed that we who were gathered around the table ever had known what it was to be painfully hungry during one entire winter, for there was sufficient of food to have served us, in the old days, a full week.


There were two enormous wild turkeys roasted to a most delicious crispness, one placed at either end of the table, while the handsomest standing salt I ever saw was exactly in the center, so that no one could say whether he was seated above or below the salt.

There were also two huge venison pies, with the pastry made wholly of wheat flour; and placed around the pies in a most tasteful manner, were potted pigeons, in small dishes. There were apple and pear tarts; marmalade and preserved plums, grapes, barberries and cherries, together with poppy and cherry water, cordial and mint water.

It was a most delicate feast, and my greatest regret was that I had tasted so often of the maple sap I could not do full justice to it. Tears actually stood in Susan's eyes as she whispered to me after the dinner was come to an end, and we were allowed to talk with each other, "I shall never live long enough to cease being sorry because I could not eat more."

It was the same as if she had confessed to the sin of gluttony, and it was my duty to reprove her; but I could not find it in my heart so to do, because of much the same thoughts being in my own mind.

We all sang psalms until near to seven o'clock in the evening, when good Master Winthrop gave us a famous ride on his new sled drawn by two oxen, and thus did we go home like really fashionable folk, who must needs turn night into day, as my mother declared.


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