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The work of the winter.
“ What could we have to do this fall and winter ?” asked Mary Erskine. She wished to ascertain whether she could do any good by coming at once, or whether it would be better, for Albert's plans, to wait until the spring.
“Oh there will be plenty to do,” said Albert. “ I shall have to work a great deal, while the ground continues open, in clearing up the land, and getting it ready for sowing in the spring; and it will be a great deal better for me to live here, in order to save my traveling back and forth, so far, every night and morning. Then this winter I shall have my tools to make,—and to finish the inside of the house, and make the furniture ; and if you have any leisure time you can spin. But after all it will not be very comfortable for you, and perhaps you would rather wait until spring.”
"No," said Mary Erskine. “I would rather come this fall.”
Well,” rejoined Albert, speaking in a tone of great satisfaction. “Then I will get the house up next week, and we will be married very soon after." There were very
prospects in commencing life were so fair and favorable as those of Albert.
In the first place,
Albert's finances,-Mary Erskine's.
he was not obliged to incur any debt on account of his land, as most young farmers necessarily do. His land was one dollar an acre. He had one hundred dollars of his own, and enough besides to buy a winter stock of provisions for his house. He had expected to have gone in debt for the sixty dollars, the whole price of the land being one hundred and sixty; but to his great surprise and pleasure Mary Erskine told him, as they were coming home from seeing the land after the burn, that she had seventy-five dollars of her own, besides interest; and that she should like to have sixty dollars of that sum go toward paying for the land. The fifteen dollars that would be left, she said, would be enough to buy the furniture.
I don't think that will be quite enough,” said Albert.
Yes,” said Mary Erskine. We shall not want a great deal. We shall want a table and two chairs, and some things to cook with.”
And a bed,” said Albert. “Yes,” said Mary Erskine, “ but I can make that myself. The cloth will not cost much, and you can get some straw for me.
Next summer we can keep some geese, and so have a feather bed some day."
Albert and his companions build the house.
We shall want some knives and forks, and plates,” said Albert.
“ Yes,” said Mary Erskine, “but they will not cost much. I think fifteen dollars will get us all we need. Besides there is more than fifteen dollars, for there is the interest."
The money had been put out at interest in the village.
“ Well,” said Albert, “and I can make the rest of the furniture that we shall need, this winter. I shall have a shop near the house. I have got the tools already."
Thus all was arranged. Albert built his house on the spot which Mary Erskine thought would be the most pleasant for it, the week after her visit to the land. Three young men from the neighborhood assisted him, as is usual in such cases, on the understanding that Albert was to help each of them as many days about their work as they worked for him. This plan is often adopted by farmers in doing work which absolutely requires several men at a time, as for example, the raising of heavy logs one upon another to form the walls of a house. In order to obtain logs for the building Albert and his helpers cut down fresh trees from the forest, as the blackened and half-burned trunks, which lay
Mary Bell's bright anticipations.
about his clearing, were of course unsuitable for such a work. They selected the tallest and straightest trees, and after felling them and cutting them to the proper length, they hauled them to the spot by means of oxen.
The ground served for a floor, and the fire-place was made of stones. The roof was formed of sheets of hemlock bark, laid, like slates upon rafters made of the stems of slender trees. Albert promised Mary Erskine that, as soon as the snow came, in the winter, to make a road, so that he could get through the woods with a load of boards upon a sled, he would make her a floor.
From this time forward, although Mary Erskine was more diligent and faithful than ever in performing all her duties at Mrs. Bell's, her imagination was incessantly occupied with pictures and images of the new scenes into which she was about to be ushered as the mistress of her own independent household and home. She made out lists, mentally, for she could not write, of the articles which it would be best to purchase. She formed and matured in her own mind all her housekeeping plans. She pictured to herself the scene which the interior of her dwelling would present in cold and stormy
Anticipations of happiness.
The house finished.
winter evenings, while she was knitting at one side of the fire, and Albert was busy at some ingenious workmanship, on the other; or thought of the beautiful prospect which she should enjoy in the spring and summer following; when fields of waving grain, rich with promises of plenty and of wealth, would extend in every direction around her dwelling. She cherished, in a word, the brightest anticipations of happiness.