“We needn’t,” Thomas said, quickly. “I want to live here, and I will work real hard.”

“Not too hard, my son, lest there be two graves instead of one in the corner of the wheat-field,” answered Mrs. Garfield, with much emotion. “We must finish the fence around the wheat, and that will be very hard work; but I think that I can split the rails, and together we can set the fence.”

“And I can finish the barn, I know,” added Thomas. His father had partially fenced the wheat-field, and had been putting up a small barn, which was nearly completed.

And so the whole subject was canvassed, and plans laid, in the full expectation of remaining on the pioneer farm. Nor did the widow have to wait long to sell a portion of her land. Settlers were coming into that part of Ohio occasionally, and one of them heard, through the neighbour spoken of, that Mrs. Garfield would dispose of part of her land. He lost no time in finding her humble abode, and at once bargained with her for twenty acres, paying cash for the same. With this money she paid all the debts, although it took the last dollar to remove this incumbrance.

Spring was fairly upon them when the sale was effected, so that she and Thomas proceeded at once to put the little farm in order. He procured a horse of the nearest neighbour, who was generous enough to offer him the use of the animal, and prepared the ground for wheat, corn, and potatoes, and a small garden for vegetables. It was truly wonderful to witness the tact and endurance of this boy-farmer of ten years, toiling from early morning till night set in, his young heart bounding with delight over his ability to assist his widowed mother. Without any assistance, except such as his mother and sister of twelve years rendered, he did the planting and sowing in a style that assured a good harvest in the autumn.

At the same time his mother prepared the fence for the wheat-field. She found trees in the forest already felled, and she split the rails, every one of them, severe as the labour was, sometimes almost exhausting her strength, and always making a large draft upon her nerves. But the necessity was laid upon her, and she stopped not to inquire, as she did in the case of Thomas, whether there might not be another grave in the wheat-field at no distant period. Before July the house-lot, which was the small plot of cleared land sowed and planted, was fenced in, and the little farm was doing well. There was no school for Thomas and his sisters to attend, so that he had all the time there was from morning until night to labour, and wait—wait for the seed to grow. He did his work, apparently, with as much ease and efficiency as a young man of twenty would have done it.

But another trial awaited the afflicted family. Food was becoming scarce, and no money to purchase more. An examination satisfied the widow that the corn would be exhausted long before harvest unless the family were put upon a daily allowance. So, without speaking of this new trial to her children, she counted the number of weeks and days to harvest-time, and estimated the amount of corn that would be required each day. To her surprise and grief, a fair daily allowance would exhaust the bin of corn before harvest. She took in the situation at once, and, bravely and quickly as a general on the field of battle, decided she would forego supper herself that the children might have enough. For a while the devoted mother lived upon two meals a day, though working harder than she had ever worked any previous summer; for she assisted Thomas on the farm to the extent of her strength, and even beyond her strength.

A few weeks elapsed, and the doting mother discovered some mistake in her calculation, and she was startled to find that the present daily allowance of corn would consume the last ear before the new crop could be gathered. Without a murmur, and with a martyr spirit, she resolved to forego dinner; and from that time until harvest she indulged in but one meal a day. All this self-denial was practised in a manner to conceal it as much as possible from the children. They were growing and hearty, and Thomas especially needed substantial food, since he was doing almost a man’s labour. Seldom was a pioneer family found in more straitened circumstances in mid-summer than was Widow Garfield’s in the year 1834. Had not the spirit of a Revolutionary matron presided over the cabin, and the grace of Him who does not suffer a sparrow to fall without His notice sustained the presiding genius, the history of that family would have closed that year in the forests of Ohio.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.