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Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch

Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch

Alice Hegan Rice
With a new foreword by Wade Hall
Copyright Date: 1928
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch
    Book Description:

    A national bestseller when first published in 1901,Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patchendures today as one of the most memorable literary creations by a Kentucky author. This immensely popular novel spawned several movies (with such stars as W.C. Fields and Shirley Temple), countless stage productions, radio shows, and even dolls.

    Alice Hegan Rice spins the memorable tale of a family struggling against all odds in the Cabbage Patch, an old Louisville slum "where ramshackle cottages played hop-scotch over the railroad tracks." This hopeful story follows the Wiggs as they face eviction from their dilapidated house and take in two orphanage fugitives. Out of print for many years, this charming, funny chronicle of hope triumphing over despair is finally available to a new generation of readers.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5821-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-2)
    Wade Hall

    Imagine the predicament of Mrs. Hiram Wiggs: a fortynine-year-old widow with five children, no means of support, and no commercial skills. In addition, she is a country woman in a big city in 1901, when there were no government safety nets for poor people. For a while the family manages to survive with her laundry work and fifteen-year-old son Jimmy's job in a local factory. Then he dies of overwork and what is apparently tuberculosis. His death is the one misfortune that she never overcomes, “the one shadow that always lay across her heart.”

    Mr. Wiggs’s death, however, had been...

    (pp. 3-15)

    My, but it’s nice an’ cold this mornin’! The thermometer’s done fell up to zero!” Mrs. Wiggs made the statement as cheerfully as if her elbows were not sticking out through the boy’s coat that she wore, or her teeth chattering in her head like a pair of castanets. But, then, Mrs. Wiggs was a philosopher, and the sum and substance of her philosophy lay in keeping the dust off her rose-colored spectacles. When Mr. Wiggs traveled to eternity by the alcohol route, she buried his faults with him, and for want of better virtues to extol she always laid...

    (pp. 16-30)

    The cold wave that was ushered in that December morning was the beginning of a long series of days that vied with each other as to which could induce the mercury to drop the lowest. The descent of the temperature seemed to have a like effect on the barrel of potatoes and the load of coal in the Wiggses’ parlor.

    Mrs. Wiggs’s untiring efforts to find employment had met with no success, and Jim’s exertions were redoubled; day by day his scanty earnings became less sufficient to meet the demands of the family.

    On Christmas eve they sat over the...

    (pp. 31-44)

    Late the next afternoon a man and a girl were standing in the Olcott reception hall. The lamps had not been lighted, but the blaze from the back-log threw a cozy glow of comfort over the crimson curtains and on the mass of bright-hued pillows in the window-seat.

    Robert Redding, standing with his hat in his hand, would have been gone long ago if the “Christmas Lady” had not worn her violet gown. He said it always took him half an hour to say good-by when she wore a rose in her hair, and a full hour when she had...

    (pp. 45-53)

    Almost a year rolled over the Cabbage Patch, and it was nearing Christmas again. The void left in Mrs. Wiggs’s heart by Jim’s death could never be filled, but time was beginning to soften her grief, and the necessity for steady employment kept her from brooding over her trouble.

    It was still needful to maintain the strictest economy, for half the money which had been given them was in Miss Olcott’s keeping as a safeguard against another rainy day. Mrs. Wiggs had got as much washing as she could do; Asia helped about the house, and Billy did odd jobs...

    (pp. 54-66)

    When Miss Hazy was awakened early that morning by a resonant neigh at the head of her bed, she mistook it for the trump of doom. Miss Hazy’s cottage, as has been said, was built on the bias in the Wiggses’ side yard, and the little leanto, immediately behind Miss Hazy’s bedroom, had been pressed into service as Qiba’s temporary abiding-place.

    After her first agonized fright, the old woman ventured to push the door open a crack and peep out.

    “Chris,” she said, in a tense whisper, to her sleeping nephew—“Chris, what on airth is this here hitched to...

    (pp. 67-83)

    Billy’s foreign policy proved most satisfactory, and after the annexation of Cuba many additional dimes found their way into the tin box on top of the wardrobe. But it took them all, besides Mrs. Wiggs’s earnings, to keep the family from the awful calamity of “pulling agin a debt.”

    One cold December day Billy came in and found his mother leaning wearily on the table. Her face brightened as he entered, but he caught the tired look in her eyes.

    “What’s the matter?” he asked.

    “Ain’t nothin’ the matter, Billy,” she said, trying to speak cheerfully; “I’m jes’ wore out,...

    (pp. 84-97)

    A large audience assembled that night to witness “The Greatest Extravaganza of the Century.” The Opera House was a blaze of light and color.

    From the recesses of one of the boxes, Redding made a careful survey of the faces beneath him. First nights usually found him there, with the same restless, eager look in his eyes. Tonight he evidently failed to find what he sought, and was turning listlessly away when he stopped suddenly, bent forward, then smiled broadly. He had caught sight of Billy’s red comforter.

    The boy’s hair was plastered close to his head, and his face...

    (pp. 98-112)

    On Christmas day Lucy Olcott stood by the library window, and idly scratched initials on the frosty pane. A table full of beautiful gifts stood near, and a great bunch of long-stemmed roses on the piano filled the room with fragrance. But Lucy evidently found something more congenial in the dreary view outside. She was deep in thought when the door opened and Aunt Chloe came in with a basket and a note.

    The old darky grinned as she put the basket on the floor. “You might ’a’ knowed it wuz fum dem Wiggses,” she said.

    Lucy opened the note...

    (pp. 113-128)

    When the last snow of the winter had melted, and the water was no longer frozen about the corner pump, the commons lost their hard, brown look, and a soft green tinge appeared instead. There were not many ways of telling when spring came to the Cabbage Patch; no trees shook forth their glad little leaves of welcome, no anemones and snow drops brought the gentle message, even the birds that winged their way from the South-land hurried by, without so much as a chirp of greeting.

    But the Cabbage Patch knew it was spring, nevertheless; something whispered it in...

    (pp. 129-139)

    Through the long, sunny afternoon Mrs. Wiggs sang over her ironing, and Asia worked diligently in her flower-bed. Around the corner of the shed which served as Cuba’s dwelling-place, Australia and Europena made mud-pies. Peace and harmony reigned in this shabby Garden of Eden until temptation entered, and the weakest fell.

    “’T ain’t no fun jes’ keepin on makin’ mud-pies,” announced Australia, after enough pastry had been manufactured to start a miniature bakery.

    “Wish we could make some white cakes, like they have at Mr. Bagby’s,” said Europena.

    “Could if we had some whitewash. I’ll tell you what’s let do!...

    (pp. 140-156)

    Notwithstanding the fact that calamities seldom come singly, it was not until the Fourth of July that the Cabbage Patch was again the scene of an accident.

    Mrs. Wiggs had been hanging out clothes, and was turning to pick up the empty basket, when Billy precipitated himself into the yard, yelling wildly:

    “Chris Hazy’s broke his leg!”

    Mrs. Wiggs threw up her hands in horror. “Good lands, Billy! Where’s he at?”

    “They’re bringin’ him up the railroad track.”

    Mrs. Wiggs rushed into the house. “Don’t let on to Miss Hazy till we git him in,” she cautioned, snatching up a...