It was now in the latter part of December—two days more and comes the season of “Merry Christmas.” Ellen thought of the dreary prospect before her. As she was thinking over her condition, and how she should manage affairs so as to make home comfortable, the door opened, and in came Edward earlier than usual, a sober man. With a grateful heart Ellen sat about preparing the supper, and made all the evening as pleasant as she could for him.
The next morning earlier than usual Edward was preparing to go out. The weather was bitter cold, and the wood pile was very low. She did not like to ask Edward to split some wood the evening before, as she did not wish to vex him. Of late he had harshly refused her simple requests. She, however, ventured this morning to ask him to split a few logs, and he replied:
“Why did you not ask me when you saw me doing nothing all last evening? You must get along the best way you can until night. I have engaged to work for Squire Davis, and I shall be late unless I go at once.”
“To work! Have you?” said Ellen, in a pleased and grateful tone.
“Yes; so don’t detain me. I am to have a dollar and a half a day as long as I choose to work.”
“How very fortunate!” said Ellen.
After he was gone, Ellen busied herself in making things comfortable for the children. It was market day, and she must carry her heavy basket to the village for the different families who depended upon her for their supply of fresh butter and eggs. A year ago she had a neat little-wagon and a good horse to drive. There was something in the mind of Ellen, what it was she could not tell, a kind of sad presentiment of something, as she was preparing to go to market. I shall tell you in the next story what it was. You will see that Ellen was very kind to her husband, and tried every way to make him happy.
Mrs. Ford had three little children, Lily, Hetty, and a dear little babe. As she was now going to market, she told Lily, her oldest daughter, to take good care of the baby. Lily promised to do so. It was a very cold day. For a time the children got along very well; but soon the wood was all burned, not a stick or chip remained; as their father had gone away in the morning without splitting any, so they were obliged to do the best they could. The baby began to look as if it was cold, and Lily said: