Gateway to the Classics: For the Children's Hour by Carolyn S. Bailey
For the Children's Hour by  Carolyn S. Bailey

How the Home Was Built

O NCE there was a dear family—Father, Mother, big Brother Tom, little Sister Polly, and the baby, who had a very long name, Gustavus Adolphus—and every one of the family wanted a home more than anything else in the world.

They lived in a house, of course, but that was rented; and they wanted a home of their very own, with a sunny room for Mother and Father and Baby, with a wee room close by for the little sister; a big, airy room for Brother Tom; a cozy room for the cooking and eating; and, best of all, a room that Grandmother might call her own when she came to see them.

A box which Tom had made always stood on mother's mantel, and they called it the "Home Bank," because every penny that could be spared was dropped in there for the building of the home.

This box had been full once, but it had been emptied to buy a little piece of ground where the home could be built when the box was full again.

The box filled very slowly, though, and Gustavus Adolphus was nearly three years old when, one day, the father came in with a beaming face and called the family to him.

Mother left her baking, and Tom came in from his work; and after Polly had brought the baby, the father asked them very solemnly: "Now, what do we all want more than anything else in the world?"

"A home!" said mother and Brother Tom.

"A home!" said little Sister Polly.

"Home!" said the baby, Gustavus Adolphus, because his mother had said it.

"Well," said the father; "I think we shall have our home, if each one of us will help. I must go away to the forest, where the trees grow so tall and fine. All winter long I must chop the trees down, and then I shall be paid in lumber, which will help in the building of the home. While I am away, mother will have to fill my place and her own, too, for she will have to go to market, buy the coal, keep the pantry full, and pay the bills, as well as wash and cook, and sew, and take care of the children, and keep a brave heart until I come back again."

The mother was willing to do all this and more, too, for the dear home; and Brother Tom asked, eagerly: "What can I do?—what can I do?" for he wanted to begin work right then, without waiting a minute.

"I have found you a place in the carpenter's shop where I work," answered the father. "And you will work for him, and all the while be learning to saw and hammer and plane, so that you will be ready in the spring to help build the home."

Now, this pleased Tom so much that he threw his cap in the air, and hurrahed, which made the baby laugh; but little Polly did not laugh, because she was afraid she was too small to help. But, after a while, the father said: "I shall be away in the great forest cutting down the trees; mother will be washing and sewing and baking; Tom will be at work in the carpenter's shop; and who will take care of the baby?"

"I will, I will," cried Polly, running to kiss the baby, "and the baby can be good and sweet."

So it was all arranged that they would have their dear little home, which should belong to every one, because each one should help; and the father made haste to prepare for the winter. He stored away the firewood, and put up the stoves; and when the wood-choppers went to the forest he was ready to go with them.

Out in the forest the trees were waiting. Nobody knew how many years they had been growing there, every year becoming stronger and more beautiful for the work they had to do. Every one of them had grown from a baby tree to a giant; and when the choppers came, there stood the giant trees so bare and still in the wintry air that the sound of the axes rang from one end of the woods to the other. From sunrise to sunset the men worked; and, although it was lonely in the woods with the white snow on the ground and the chill wind blowing, the father kept his heart cheery.

Nobody's ax was sharper than his or felled so many trees, and nobody was gladder than he when spring came and the logs were hauled down the river.

The river had been waiting, too, under its shield of ice, but, now that the snows were melting, and all the little mountain streams were tumbling down to help, the river grew very wide and strong, and dashed along, snatching the logs when the men pushed them in, and carrying them on with a rush and a roar.

So they went on their way to the sawmills, where they were sawed into lumber to build houses; and then father hurried home.

When he came there, he found that the mother had baked, and washed, and sewed, and taken care of the children, as only such a precious mother could have done. Brother Tom had worked so hard in the carpenter's shop that he knew how to hammer and plane and saw. Sister Polly had taken such good care of the baby that he looked as sweet and clean and happy as a rose in the garden; and the baby had been so good that he was a joy to the whole family.

"I must get this dear family into their home," said the father; and he and Brother Tom went to work with a will. And the home was built, with a sunny room for Father and Mother and Baby; a wee little room close by for good Sister Polly; a big, airy room for Brother Tom; a cozy room for the cooking and eating; and, best of all, a room for the dear Grandmother, who came to live with them all the time.

— Maud Lindsay, "Mother Stories"

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