From the Juvenile Instructor, November 1908 –
By Annie Malin
Tommy was the man of the house, for his father after moving on to the small farm the year before, had died, leaving his wife and three children to battle for themselves. Tommy was only fourteen but had worked with his father, and being a bright and active boy, could do many things to help his mother.
Spring had come and Tommy and his mother stood looking out over the land wondering how they were to get it plowed and planted. The old team of horses owned by Mr. Harmon had been sold at the time of his death, and after the funeral expenses were paid very little was left to keep the family through the winter. Mrs. Harmon had done Mrs. Kent’s washing and mending and had thus managed to exist, but now how could they expect to live if they could not plant any crops? this question was one that Mrs. Harmon had asked herself many times, and if it had not been that her faith in the watchful care of a Heavenly father sustained her she would have given up in despair.
On this pleasant spring morning as they stood looking on their farm Tommy thought with misgiving of any power that could be depended on to help them.
“Well, mother,” said he, “it is time someone helped us.”
“Have faith, my boy,” replied the brave little woman. ‘We haven’t starved yet, and God is still above us.”
As they turned to go to the little house, a man drove up to the door, and as he approached the mother and son, he made known his errand. His wife was sick and there was no one to take care of her or do the washing except a girl of ten years.
He asked Mrs. Harmon if she could come over and help them. Like most of the neighbors, he was very poor, and Mrs. Harmon knew she need expect no money for her work if she went; but this did not stop her, and when she consented to do what she could the man asked what plans they had for working the farm.
While Mrs. Harmon went indoors to get a sun-bonnet Tommy told him of their troubles and when Mrs. Harmon re-appeared the man, whose name was Saunders, said that he had no money on hand, but if she could keep things in order for his wife he would plow the field a little at a time and give her enough potatoes to plant a small patch for their own use. Mrs. Harmon thankfully accepted the offer as she smiled at Tommy, and Tommy felt ashamed of his doubts.
Mr. Saunders was as good as his word and in a few weeks a large piece of land was all ready for planting.
“If we only had seeds,” Tommy said to his mother one morning, “how happy we would be.”
“Let us try to be happy without complaining,” returned his mother, “we have enough potatoes planted to help us out during the winter if we have good luck.” “Now, Tommy,” she continued, “take these clothes to Mrs. Kent and ask old Peter for the parsley seed he promised me and be sure and ask him how Betty is this morning.
Old Peter was Mr. Kent’s hired man and had been a good friend to the Harmons. Mr. Kent himself was the richest man in the place, having worked himself up from a very poor boy.
When Tommy returned, his face shone with happiness and he waved a bag at his mother as he shouted gaily, ‘Here you are, mother! Here you are!”
“What in the world, Tommy, have you there?” asked his mother in astonishment.
“Well, mother,” answered Tommy, “while Peter was giving me the parsley seed Mr. Kent came in and asked me what we were intending to plant. I told him we had nothing yet and he went out and brought this bag of seeds, and he said if I am the boy he thinks I am we need not suffer this winter, for there are enough pumpkin seeds to plant the whole piece.”
Tommy fairly danced with joy as his mother looked in the bag. “Well, Tommy,” she said, “God is indeed good, but what can we do with so many pumpkins? We have no team with which to take them in any market and we can’t take them without.”
‘Mother,” said the boy, “don’t you think since God has sent us the seed, that all we can do is to plant it and trust Him?”
“You are right, my boy,” answered his mother, and Tommy gave her the money which Mrs. Kent had paid him, and which she took with a thankful heart. The two younger children were delighted at the thought of helping plant, and old Peter himself came to see that it was rightly done, and informed Tommy in his quaint style, that getting started right was the main thing in pumpkins as well as in everything else.
“You’ll have plenty of pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, youngsters,” he said to the busy children, and they worked faithfully until every seed was planted.
Tommy was a happy boy, and could scarcely wait for the broad green leaves to appear, but in time the ground was dotted with green, and every minute he could spare, he was busy keeping down the weeds and, as Peter told his mother, learning something every day.
Mr. Kent, too, often stopped as he passed that way, to encourage the little fellow with a word of praise, and to give a word of advice. “That boy is all right,” he would say to Peter, and the old manfully agreed with him.
Meantime old Biddy, the speckled hen had come off the nest with eleven fine chicks and then the old black hen who had stolen a nest, made her appearance with nine more, and the little family were delighted.
One day old Peter came to the little house to say that a turkey hen was dead leaving six small turkeys and if Mrs. Harmon liked to try to raise them she might have them. Mrs. Harmon was quite willing to try, and when the pumpkins were half-grown five fine turkeys were strutting about the yard. The two little girls began to talk about pumpkin pies and turkey, but Mrs. Harmon was making no promises as to the latter, for they would bring a good price. The potatoes turned out a great success, and as for the pumpkins they were indeed a sight, and the little farmer was wondering how he could dispose of them.
Sometimes he cheered his mother by his faith, and at others she had hard work to keep his faith alive.
At last a frost withered the leaves on the vines, and the pumpkins were displayed in all their golden glory. Old Peter stared with open eyes as he paused to look at; the immense crop, and Mr. Kent came over to inspect them. “Well done, Tommy!” he exclaimed in his hearty voice. “I knew you could do it.”
Mr. Saunders now came to offer his assistance, and as Mr. Kent knew him to be honest he advised Tommy to accept his offer. He agreed for a moderate price to haul the best of them to the best market, and help Tommy dispose of them. All that were not fit for market, excepting those needed for the use of the family, Mr. Kent agreed to buy for his cows. And so, by the time Thanksgiving Day drew near, all were disposed of and Tommy and his mother were the happy possessors of seventy-five dollars. they also sold four of the turkeys, reserving the smallest one for their own dinner to the delight of the children. In the gratitude of their hearts, they invited Mr. Saunders and his family to share the long-looked-for meal, and all gave thanks where thanks were due. Old Peter came to see them in the evening, and he told Mrs. Harmon that Mr. Kent was “that proud of your boy, Ma’am, that he is going to do more for him next year, bless him.” And Mrs. Harmon, with a grateful heart, said earnestly, “God bless you both, Peter.”