Before School-Days

Advice of a Neighbour—What can be done—Advice from Above—Decided to Remain—Thomas to Run the Farm—Progress of Farming —Wolf of Hunger at the Door—Two Meals a Day—One Meal a Day—The First Harvest—Mrs. Garfield’s History—Many Ministers and Talented Men in the Family—James’s First Pair of Shoes—Shoemakers of that day Itinerant—A Christian Couple— Creed of the Disciples—A Christian Home

In her strait, Widow Garfield sought the advice of neighbour Boynton, whose real kindness had been a solace to her heart. He said:

“No woman with four children can carry on a farm like this alone, and support her family. I see no possible way out of your trouble except to sell your place and return to your friends.”

“And leave my husband in the wheat-field?” responded Mrs. Garfield. “Never; I can’t do that.”

“But what else can you do?” continued the neighbour.

Looking at the circumstances squarely, with her accustomed good sense and courageous spirit, she answered:

“When I have sold, paid the debts and the expense of removal to my friends, I shall have little or nothing left; and that, too, without a rod of land on which to raise corn to make a loaf.”

“Your friends could help you,” suggested the neighbour.

“I can never cast myself upon the charity of friends,” Mrs. Garfield replied, with an emphasis that showed she meant what she said. “So long as I have my health, I believe that my Heavenly Father will bless these two hands so as to support my children. My dear husband made this home at the sacrifice of his life, and every log in this cabin is sacred to me now. It seems to me like a holy trust, that I must preserve as faithfully as I would guard his grave.”

The heroism that came out through these words was worthy of a Revolutionary matron; and the woman’s fortitude fairly drew tears from the eyes of the neighbour.

“Then you would not sell the farm any way?” added the neighbour, inquiringly.

“Not all of it,” she replied. ‘Part of it might go; enough to pay the debt.”

“I never thought of that,” answered the neighbour. “Perhaps that is the way out of your trouble. Better think that over, and I will. I’II look about, too, and see what can be done by way of selling a part of it.”

The neighbour left, and Mrs. Garfield went immediately to a greater than he, where she had often been in her want and woe for counsel. On her knees in one corner of the cabin she laid her case before God, and promised to follow His guidance if He would only make duty plain. God did make it plain as day to her. She arose from her knees without a doubt in her heart. She was happier than she had been any time since death darkened her home. She felt like singing the twenty-seventh Psalm: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Calling Thomas, who was not quite eleven years old, but now the only male dependence on the farm, she laid the case before him as if he had been a man of thirty years, and the resolute and trusty boy replied:

“I can plough and plant, mother. I can sow the wheat, too, and cut the wood, milk the cows, and do heaps of things for you.”

“You are a small boy to do so much,” responded his mother; “but with my help perhaps it can be done. God has promised to be with the widow and fatherless. I don’t feel that I can move away from this place.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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