Two Boy Gold Miners or, Lost in the Mountainsby Frank V. Webster
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Enos Crosby, with his wife, his daughter Nettie and his two sons, Jed and Will, had a small farm near the town of Lockport, in one of the middle Western States. Jed was the elder son, a good-humored lad, always inclined to look on the bright sides of things. Will, the younger brother, was somewhat prone to be melancholy. His mother said it was because he grew so fast; that he was always looking ahead and seeing how things came out before they really happened. Though he was two years younger than Jed, he was half a head taller, though not so strong.
Mr. Crosby had tried for many years to make a living off the farm for himself and his family. He had barely succeeded. Some years he saved a little money, but, as soon as he did so, it went to help pay off the mortgage, with which nearly every farm in that locality was saddled. Some years he fell behind, and had to borrow money to carry him through the winter.
As Mr. Crosby stood in the little garden, at the side of the house, and continued to gaze up at the sky, he murmured:
"Well, if we don't get rain by to-morrow night I don't know what we'll do. Have to borrow some more money to get along with, I guess, for the crops are practically ruined now. Still, a good soaking shower would do a world of good. I wonder how the boys are making out with their cultivating? Guess I'll take a walk over and see."
In dry spells it is a practice of farmers to cultivate, or frequently dig up, the soil around their corn, potatoes or such other crops as admit of it. This pulverizing of the earth, in a measure, makes up for the lack of rain.
That morning Jed and Will had been sent to the big corn patch, which was in a distant field, to work over the ground, and let a little air get to the roots, so that the lack of rain might be offset. As Mr. Crosby strolled over to the corn patch his mind was filled with many thoughts.
"I wish I could find something else to do besides farming," he murmured to himself. "It's a very uncertain way of making a living. Still, I suppose it's all I'm fitted for. I don't know much about business, and my folks have been farmers all their lives. But I never saw such hard times as we're having now. I wouldn't mind so much if it was me alone, but there's Nettie. She does want a piano terribly bad, so she can learn to play. She's real quick to learn. And Debby"--as he called his wife, Deborah--"she needs some new clothes, though she never complains about the old ones."
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