Let us look for a moment at some of the things which the factory farmer does not buy, and perhaps we shall see that a comfortable existence need not demand much more. His cows give him milk, cream, butter, and veal; his swine give roast pig, fresh pork, salt pork, ham, bacon, sausages, and lard; his hens give eggs and poultry; his fields yield hulled corn, samp, and corn meal; his orchards give apples, pears, peaches, quinces, plums, and cherries; his bushes give currants, gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries; his vines give grapes; his forests give hickory nuts, butternuts, and hazel nuts; and, best of all, his garden gives more than twenty varieties of toothsome and wholesome vegetables in profusion. The whole fruit and vegetable product of the temperate zone is at his door, and he has but to put forth his hand and take it. The skilled housewife makes wonderful provision against winter from the opulence of summer, and her storehouse is crowded with innumerable glass cells rich in the spoils of orchard and garden. There is scant use for the grocer and the butcher under such conditions. I am so well convinced that my estimate of $5 a month is liberal that I have taxed the account with all the salt used on the farm.
The click of Jane’s hammer began to be heard in November, and hardly a day passed without some music from this “Forge in the Forest.” Sir Tom made a permanent station of the workshop, where he spent hours in a comfortable chair, drawing nourishment from the head of his cane and pleasure from watching the girl at the anvil. I suspect that he planted himself in the corner of the forge to safeguard Jane; for he had an abiding fear that she would take fire, and he wished to be near at hand to put her out. He procured a small Babcock extinguisher and a half-dozen hand-grenades, and with these instruments he constituted himself a very efficient volunteer fire department. He made her promise, also, that she would have definite hours for heavy work, that he might be on watch; and so fond was she of his company, or rather of his presence, for he talked but little, that she kept close to the schedule.
Laura had a favorite corner in the forge, where she often turned a hem or a couplet. She was equally dexterous at either; and Sir Tom watched her, too, with an admiring eye. I once heard him say:—
“Milady Laura, it is the regret of me life that I came into the world a generation too soon.”
Laura sometimes went away—she called it “going home,” but we scoffed the term—and the doldrums blew until she returned. Sir Tom dined with us nearly every evening through the fall and early winter; and when he, and Kate and Tom and the grand-girls, and the Kyrles, and Laura were at Four Oaks, there was little to be desired. The grand-girls were nearly five and seven now, and they