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A Day’s Pleasure
by [?]

I

"Mainly it is long and weariful, and has a home o’ toil at one end and a dull little town at the other. "

WHEN Markham came in from shoveling his last wagon-load of corn into the crib, he found that his wife had put the children to bed, and was kneading a batch of dough with the dogged action of a tired and sullen woman.

He slipped his soggy boots off his feet and, having laid a piece of wood on top of the stove, put his heels on it comfortably. His chair squeaked as he leaned back on its hind legs, but he paid no attention; he was used to it, exactly as he was used to his wife’s lameness and ceaseless toil.

"That closes up my corn," he said after a silence. "I guess I’ll go to town tomorrow to git my horses shod. "

"I guess I’ll git ready and go along," said his wife in a sorry attempt to be firm and confident of tone.

"What do you want to go to town fer?" he grumbled. "What does anybody want to go to town fer?" she burst out, facing him. "I ain’t been out o’ this house fer six months, while you go an’ go!"

"Oh, it ain’t six months. You went down that day I got the mower. "

"When was that? The tenth of July, and you know it. "

"Well, mebbe ’twas. I didn’t think it was so long ago. I ain’t no objection to your goin’, only I’m goin’ to take a load of wheat. "

"Well, jest leave off a sack, an’ that’ll balance me an’ the baby," she said spiritedly.

"All right," he replied good-naturedly, seeing she was roused. " Only that wheat ought to be put up tonight if you’re goin’. You won’t have any time to hold sacks for me in the morning with them young ones to get off to school. "

"Well, let’s go do it then," she said, sullenly resolute.

"I hate to go out agin; but I s’pose we’d better. "

He yawned dismally and began pulling his boots on again, stamping his swollen feet into them with grunts of pain. She put on his coat and one of the boy’s caps, and they went out to the granary. The night was cold and clear.

"Don’t look so much like snow as it did last night," said Sam. "It may turn warm. "

Laying out the sacks in the light of the lantern, they sorted out those which were whole, and Sam climbed into the bin with a tin pail in his hand, and the work began.

He was a sturdy fellow, and he worked desperately fast; the shining tin pail dived deep into the cold wheat and dragged heavily on the woman’s tired hands as it came to the mouth of the sack, and she trembled with fatigue, but held on and dragged the sacks away when filled, and brought others, till at last Sam climbed out, puffing and wheezing, to tie them up.

"I guess I’ll load ’em in the morning," he said. "You needn’t wait fer me. I’ll tie ’em up alone. "

"Oh, I don’t mind," she replied, feeling a little touched by his unexpectedly easy acquiescence to her request. When they went back to the house the moon had risen.

It had scarcely set when they were wakened by the crowing roosters. The man rolled stiffly out of bed and began rattling at the stove in the dark, cold kitchen.

His wife arose lamer and stiffer than usual and began twisting her thin hair into a knot.

Sam did not stop to wash, but went out to the barn. The woman, however, hastily soused her face into the hard limestone water at the sink and put the kettle on. Then she called the children. She knew it was early, and they would need several callings. She pushed breakfast forward, running over in her mind the things she must have: two spools of thread, six yards of cotton flannel, a can of coffee, and mittens for Kitty. These she must have–there were oceans of things she needed.