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A Useful Wife.

We had been out to the grave-yard to bury Mrs Pidgeon, and we were riding home in the carriage with the bereaved widower. While he sopped his eyes with his handkerchief he told us about her :—“ In one respect I never saw her equal. She was a manager. I’ve knowed that woman that’s lying out there in the tomb to take an old pair of my trousers and cut them up for the boys. She’d make a splendid suit of clothes for both of them out of them old pants, and a cap for Johnny, and have some left over for a rag carpet, besides making handkerchiefs out of the pockets, and a bustle for herself out of the other linings. Give her any old garment and it was as good as a gold mine. Why, she’d take a worn-out sock and make a good overcoat out of it, I believe. She had a turn for that kind of economy. There’s one of my shirts that I bought in 1847 still going about making itself useful as window curtains and plenty of other things. Onsy last July our gridiron gave out, and she took it apart, and in two hours it was rigged on the side of the house as a splendid lightening rod, all except what she had made into a poker and an ice-pick. Ingenious ? Why, she kept our family in buttons and whistles out of the ham-bones she saved, and she made fifteen princely chicken coops out of her old hoop-skirts, and a pig pen out of used-up corset-bones. She never wasted a solitary thing. Let a cat die aroundthe house, and the first thing you knew Mary Jane’d have a muff and a set of furs, and I’d begin to find mince pies on the dinner table. She’d stuff a feather bed with the feathers she’d got off of one little bit of a rooster, and she’d even utilize the roaches in the kitchen so’s they’d run the churn —had a machine she invented for the pur pose. I’ve seen her cook potato paring bo’s you’d think they were canvas-back duck, and she had, a way of doctoring up shavings that the pig’d cat ’em and grow fat on ’em. I believe that woman could build a four-storey hotel if you’d give her a single pine board; or a steamboat out of a wash Idler ; and the last thing she said to me was to bury her in the garden, so’s she’d be useful down below there, helping to shove up the cabbages. I’ll ! never see her like again.”

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A Useful Wife. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 10, 18 October 1879

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