THE STORY OF A CHORE BOY WHO MADE THE OLD FARM PAY
JOHN THOMAS SIMPSON
COLORED FRONTISPIECE BY E.H. SUYDAM AND 16 ILLUSTRATIONS
PHILADELPHIA & LONDON
A few years ago the author visited the farm in Western Pennsylvania on which he had lived for a number of years when a boy. Much to his surprise there was not a boy of his acquaintance still on the neighboring farms, many of which had passed into other hands, and in some cases even the names of the original owners had been forgotten.
He bumped over the two short miles of road, still deep with mud, between the town and the farm, and could scarcely recognize in the weedy fields before him, with their broken-down fences partly concealed by undergrowth, the fertile acres of his boyhood.
The orchard, once kept so neatly pruned, was now with trees that were gnarled and broken—while rich bottom land, so productive in years past, was foul with all manner of rank growth. The lane leading up to the house from the main road was in such bad repair that he had to leave his automobile on the main road and complete his journey on foot.
Investigation showed that many of the farms in the neighborhood were in a similar rundown condition; that farm work was generally considered unprofitable or uncongenial; and that the boys and girls born in the country usually took the first opportunity to leave the farms, often for harder and less profitable work in the cities.
In the hope that many boys and girls now living on farms, as well as others, who, if they knew of the advantages of labor-saving machinery and modern farm buildings (to say nothing of the interest of outdoor work), would take up this, the most profitable and independent of all occupations—FARMING—this story of Hidden Treasure is written.
THE AUTHOR FEBRUARY, 1919
The author begs to acknowledge his indebtedness for valuable information to:
A.A. Drew, Superintendent of Agencies, of the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company, Newark, New Jersey, for Constructive Banking and Life Insurance.
Bucyrus Company, South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for Trenching with Steam Shovels.
Waterloo Cement Machinery Company, Waterloo, Iowa, for Concrete Mixing Machines.
Hercules Powder Company, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, for Progressive Cultivation and Trench Digging by Dynamite.
International Harvester Company of America, Chicago, Illinois, for Tractors and Farm Machinery.
George M. Wright, owner of Indian Hill Farm, Worcester, Massachusetts, for Holstein Cattle, Dairy Methods and Poultry Raising.
John W. Odlin, Publicity Department, Wright Wire Company, Worcester, Massachusetts, Wire Fencing.
C.P. Dadant, Editor American Bee Journal, Hamilton, Illinois, Bee Culture.
The Sharpies Separator Company, West Chester, Pennsylvania, for Milking Machines and Cream Separators.
D. & A. Post Mold Company, Three Rivers, Michigan, for Concrete Fence Posts.
A.A. Simpson, Indiana, Pennsylvania, for much data regarding crop production and market values in that vicinity.
The Domestic Engineering Company, Dayton, Ohio, for Electric Light and Power for Farms.
The Portland Cement Association, Chicago, Illinois, for Concrete Buildings and Road Construction.
United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., for Farmers' Bulletins covering the great range of subjects referred to throughout the story.
The Country Gentleman, Philadelphia, Pa., for much helpful data on general farming and stock raising.
K.C. Davis, Knapp School of Country Life, Nashville, Tenn., for a final reading of the proof sheets.
I. THE OLD HOMESTEAD
II. A DAY'S WORK
III. A RAINY DAY
IV. DRAINING THE POND
V. SELLING TURTLES
VI. SELLING SAND
VII. THE NEW AUNT
VIII. THE SALE
IX. POWER AND BANKING
X. RUNNING WATER
XII. THE DAIRY HOUSE
XIV. RUTH AND THE STRAW STACK
XV. NEW METHODS
XVI. RUTH AND JERRY
XVII. FILLING THE INCUBATOR
XVIII. THE NEW IMPLEMENTS
XIX. THE STORM
XX. GOOD ROADS
XXI. FILLING THE SILO
XXII. THE FAIR
XXIII. CHRISTMAS AT BROOKSIDE FARM
XXIV. COST ACCOUNTING
The Afternoon was Spent Examining the Buildings and Looking Over the Plans for the New Barn
The Old Homestead
"Well, Son, Let's Get Down to Business. I See You're Wise All Right to the Value of that Pit"
Bees are a Profitable Side Line
The Tractor Will do the Work of Five Men and Five Teams
Ditch Digging by Dynamite
One-Half the Herd
The Electric Milker
Comfortable Sanitary Stalls
Small, Self-Loading, Kerosene Driven, Concrete Mixers
Every Boy that Ran Away from the Farm and Many that are Still There can Tell of the Days Wasted on Repairs to Wooden Fences and Cleaning Out Fence Rows
Extra Profits are not the Only Things a Farmer Gets from a Herd of Well Bred Dairy Cows
Good Seed Well Planted Lays the Foundation for a Profitable Crop
A Well-Managed Flock of Poultry Will Return Good Profits
The Side Delivery Rake Fluffs up the Hay and Lets the Sun do Its Work Quickly
The Self-Loader Makes Possible the Quick Storage of Properly Cured Hay and Saves Tons of Man-Lifting Power
The Electric-Driven Laundry
Well-Built Concrete Roads Bring the Markets and Your Neighbors Nearer
Transferring the Green Corn Crop from Field to Silo
THE OLD HOMESTEAD
The late afternoon sun shone full upon a boy who was perched on the top of an old rail fence forming the dividing line between the farm that spread out before him and the one over which he had just passed.
It was early March. The keen wind as it whirled past him, whipping the branches of the tree together and carrying away clouds of dried leaves from behind the fence rows, penetrated the thin clothes he wore—but instead of making him shiver, it seemed only to add to his pleasure, for he removed his cap and ran his fingers through his damp hair.
The boy was slender and scarcely looked the eighteen years to which he laid claim. He had curly sandy hair, a freckled face and penetrating blue eyes. His clothes were new, but of rather poor material and ill- fitting, scarcely protecting him from the cutting wind. Because of his short legs and arms, his coat sleeves and trousers, cut for the average boy, were too long for him and were much wrinkled.
He had climbed the last and steepest hill lying between the town and his grandfather's farm—the ancestral home of the Williams family, which was now, for a time at least, to be his home. Since early morning he had bumped over the rough frozen roads between his home in a distant village and the county seat, which was situated some two miles to the west, and from which he had just walked.
He had expected to find his grandfather or his Uncle Joe waiting for him; in this he was disappointed, and as the sun was getting along toward mid-afternoon, he had picked up his worn suitcase and set off through the town by a route that he knew would bring him to a short- cut over the hills.
Despite the wind, he sat for some minutes, cap in hand, while he looked out over the familiar scenes. There was not one foot of ground in the one hundred and sixty acre farm that spread out fan-shape before him which was not familiar. Here he had spent many happy vacations in summers past. The last two years he had attended the State College, taking the course in agriculture, and had worked in a grocery store in the village during the summer vacations, but this work had been distasteful to him—he missed the freedom of outdoor life, especially the birds and animals so plentiful on the farm. So this year, as his father could not afford to have him complete the course, he had asked permission to go on a farm. His two years in the State College had opened his eyes to modern methods of farming and the use of Portland cement for farm buildings, and he wanted a chance to try them out.
His father had hesitated at first in giving his consent, not because he did not wish him to be in the open country, but because he felt, now that he had reached the age of eighteen, he should be able to earn money and direct his attention toward permanent employment, and he could not think of farming as a business with so many other opportunities at hand. A letter from his Uncle Joe, saying that he had purchased the old farm, and would like to have Bob help him with the work on his newly acquired property, had settled the matter, and, as his uncle was anxious to make an early start, he had left home at once.
He could not help noticing, as he gazed at the panorama before him, the dilapidated appearance of the buildings and tumbled-down fences half hidden by rank growths that confronted him on every side, but this, for the moment, was of passing interest.
Across the valley to the east, in the twenty-five acres of woods, he had once found the nest of a great white owl, and there on "Old Round Top," as the steep hill directly opposite him was called, they had overturned a wagon-load of hay one summer with him on top. He even remembered the thrill he had received as he went flying through the air, and how they had all laughed when he landed unhurt on a hay cock some distance down the hill, just clear of the overturned wagon. Then in the valley, at the foot of the hill, stood the old cider mill where neighbors for miles around would bring their apples in the late summer for cider-making. Here, straw in mouth, he and the neighbors' boys lay prone on their stomachs on the great beams and sucked their fill of the freshly squeezed cider as it flowed down the smooth grooves in the planks to the waiting barrels below.
Beyond the cider mill was the old orchard, with its Rainbow and Sheep- nose apple trees; then the garden in one corner of which grew black currants and yellow raspberry bushes; and near by the low red brick smoke-house, from which many a piece of dried beef had been slyly removed to stay his hunger between meals.
Just beyond was the white farmhouse, nestling among the apple trees, the front to the west and facing on the lane that led up to a farm above. The house had a one-story ell on the end toward him, containing the kitchen and pantry—this ell projected back almost to the smokehouse. On the opposite side, but hidden from his view, there was a wide porch running the full length of house and ell, and in the angle formed by the porch, stood the well with its home-made pump.
The water from this well, he recalled, had a peculiar mineral taste, with a strong flavor of sulphur—a taste he did not like. He had never been so tired that he would not go to the spring up on the side of "Old Round Top" for a pail of water, rather than drink from this well. Back of the house, but within the enclosure formed by the picket fence, was the wood and tool shed—while just beyond stood the old- fashioned bank barn and other farm buildings. There was a short steep hill just beyond the barn, down which the lane wound to a mill pond below. An old sawmill with an undershot water-wheel stood at the extreme south-east corner of the farm, diagonally opposite.
Of all the places on which his gaze rested, this mill and pond held the most treasured recollections. It was in this pond ten years ago his father had taught him to swim. Here, too, the neighboring farmers brought their sheep each spring to be washed—always a holiday and frolic for the boys.
Like many other farms in this section of Western Pennsylvania, the buildings were set so that the barn stood between the house and the main road, making the approach to the house past the barn and through the barnyard. For the first time, this awkward arrangement was apparent to him; he wondered why the buildings had been thus located, and facing northwest.
He replaced his cap, swung his suitcase over the fence, jumped down to the frozen ground and set off down the hill. As he trudged along, picking his way over the rough ground, the parting words of his father came to him: "Make yourself useful, Bob, and your Uncle Joe, I'm sure, will pay you all you're worth, and while I'd rather have you become a merchant, still if you find you like the farm, you may stay with your Uncle Joe." It was not so much the prospect of making money as the chance of being in the open air among the things that he loved that caused him to whistle a lively tune as he crossed the fields toward the house.
The one over which he was now passing, he observed, had been planted in winter wheat, and that just beyond, at the edge of the meadow, was the young orchard well grown and badly in need of pruning. The route he had taken soon brought him out into the lane at the foot of the hill, near the cider mill, where he stopped to drink of the cool sap that flowed into a large tin pail, from one of the sugar-maple trees under whose branches the mill stood. How good it tasted to the thirsty boy, as he drank slowly from a long-handled dipper that someone had conveniently left hanging on the tree. When he had quenched his thirst, he picked up his suitcase again, resting it on one shoulder, and continued up the lane to the house.
"Hello, grandma!" he shouted, as he dropped his luggage on the porch and hurried forward to meet her as she emerged from the kitchen door, a steaming kettle of vegetables in her hand.
"Why, Bob, where'd you come from?" she exclaimed, setting the kettle down and kissing him.
"I looked for grandfather and Uncle Joe when I got off the bus in town, but I couldn't see them anywhere, so I walked out," he replied.
"Why, I'm sure they expected to meet you, Bob," she replied, "but the roads are so rough, I suppose they were late. They took some grain to the mill and would have to wait for it to be ground, and they may have been delayed there—but you haven't told me yet how all the folks are."
"Oh, they're all pretty well," he replied; "but tell me, when is Uncle Joe to be married?"
"Some time in April, I believe," she replied. "Do you know you're to be his chore boy this summer?"
"Yes, father told me—it will be lots of fun. Just think—no more working all cooped up in a store like the last two summers," he replied enthusiastically.
"But it won't be all fun, you know, Bob. Your Uncle Joe has bought the farm, although it's not all paid for yet, and I imagine he'll keep you pretty busy—if I know Joe," she added.
"Let me get you some water, grandma," he said a moment later, seeing her pick up the tin water-pail; "I'll start right in now and get my hand in," he laughed.
"You always were a hustler, Bob, even if you don't grow very fast," she said, looking at his over-large clothes, as he left the kitchen.
"I hope your Uncle Joe will remember that you're not grown and can't do a man's work, even if you're willing to try," she said on his return, as she watched him set the pail of water on the kitchen table.
"Why, I'm eighteen now, grandma, and weigh one hundred and ten pounds," he answered stoutly.
"Well, this is a big farm, Bob, and it's gotten pretty well run down in the last few years with your Uncle Joe out West and your grandfather feeling too poorly to do much more than look after the crops," she said.
"Are there big fortunes to be found in the West, grandma?" he asked a moment later.
"No bigger than right here, Bob," she replied. "It's only a matter of work, and I'm beginning to believe that after all it is as much a matter of managing properly as working hard. Do you know that your grandfather and I are going to move to town as soon as your Uncle Joe gets married?"
"Why, no, I didn't—who'll look after things here when you go away?" asked Bob.
"Oh, your new aunt will see to that," she replied. "I hope you'll like her, Bob."
"Who is she and what does she look like?" he inquired with boyish eagerness.
"She used to be a school teacher and lived with us while she taught our school," she replied; "that's how your Uncle Joe met her. She has plenty of good looks—too many, I sometimes think, for a farmer's wife—and she is a real New England Yankee woman, who doesn't know how to milk cows."
"How could any one be too good-looking to be a farmer's wife, grandma?" laughed Bob. "Why should good looks keep her from being successful?"
"Well, you see, Bob, nice white hands are generally spoiled by rough work," said the old lady.
"But why will she have to do the rough work when she comes here?" persisted Bob.
"Oh, I guess she won't have any to do—at least, that's what your Uncle Joe says," replied his grandmother with a haughty toss of her head. "That's what he's got you down on the farm for."
"Oh," said Bob, dryly, "and so that's why he was so extremely anxious for me to come."
"Yes, that's why, Bob—you might as well know sooner as later, that you're going to be a pretty busy boy this summer. Your Uncle Joe is so big and strong that he never gets tired and doesn't know when to quit, and he expects every one else to work just as hard and as long as he does. Besides," she added, "I don't think he'll want HIS wife to spoil her nice white hands."
"What's her name?" inquired Bob, not in the least worried by his grandmother's gloomy predictions.
"Betsy Atwood—but your uncle calls her Bettie," replied his grandmother.
"Aunt Bettie," repeated Bob. "A pretty name!"
"H'm!" sniffed his grandmother. "I'm certainly glad you like it, and I hope you'll like her as well—it will help to make the work seem easier to you."
"Why, there's grandfather and Uncle Joe now," said Bob a moment later, as he glanced through the kitchen window toward the barn, and catching up his cap he rushed out to greet them.
Joe Williams was a typical farmer, tall, deep-chested and straight as an arrow. He stood six feet in his stockings and weighed two hundred and ten pounds, and could toss a barrel of salt on the tailboard of a wagon without losing his happy smile. He was twenty-seven years old, and there was not a farmer in the county who could beat him at feats of strength or endurance, and few indeed who could keep pace with him. He had black hair and blue eyes. Books had little attraction for him— he loved to be in the open, for which his great size and strength seemed to fit him. He had received little education beyond the country school, unless could be counted the two years he had spent working on farms in the great West, where he probably would have stayed had it not been for the brown eyes of Bettie Atwood and an offer from his father, now old and failing in health, to sell him the old place at his own terms.
"Hello, Bob!" he called as his nephew came forward, "sorry we missed you. The bus driver said you'd left on foot for the farm when you didn't see us around. How've you been lately?"
"Oh, I'm all right," replied Bob.
"Hello, grandfather!" he called, as he went round to the side of the wagon to greet his grandfather.
"You don't seem to grow much, Bob," he laughed, as he shook hands. "Cooped up too much in that grocery store—you need the open air of the country to stretch you out. Just look at your Uncle Joe there—see what the country has done for him."
"Oh, I'll grow all right, grandfather. I like the country and the open-air life, too, and father says I may take up farming work if I want to."
The team was soon put away, and shortly after supper Bob, too sleepy to keep his eyes open, went to bed.
A DAY'S WORK
"Bob! Bob! Time to get up and do your chores."
The sleepy boy rolled over, rubbed his eyes and sat up, trying to remember where he was and who was calling him; then he recognized the voice of his uncle, and jumped quickly out of bed.
"All right, Uncle Joe, I'm coming," he answered, as he felt around in the dark for his clothes, for he had neglected to provide himself with matches to light the oil lamp that stood near by on the dresser.
His clothes were simple, and getting up before dawn was no new experience for him. A few moments later he hurried down to the kitchen, where his uncle, who had just finished stirring the kitchen fire, was filling the tea-kettle.
"Well!—are you up for all day, Bob?" he inquired cheerily.
"I will be as soon as I get awake," he answered, as he started for the rain barrel for water to wash.
As the water in the well was hard, rain water was used for washing, except in winter, when the barrels were frozen solidly. The early spring rains had filled the barrels again, but as the night had been cold, ice had frozen over the top. His uncle had been to the barrel ahead of him and broken the ice, so he dipped up the basin full of water, and placing it on a bench on the porch, washed his face and hands.
Above the wash bench, summer and winter, hung the roller towel, and near by the mirror and family horn comb. In the dark the mirror was of doubtful use, but with a few well-directed strokes of the comb he managed to get a semblance, at least, of neatness to his hair. He shivered a little as he finished—just as his uncle appeared, milk pails and lantern in hand.
"I want you to do the milking from now on, Bob, for it's not the kind of work a woman should do," said his uncle, and handing him the pails, they started for the barn.
"You're right, Uncle Joe," replied Bob. "I always milked our cow at home so mother wouldn't have to do it; besides, it doesn't take so very long."
Bob had been taught to take good care of the family cow—a well-bred Guernsey, whose stable had a good cement floor and was neatly whitewashed. Once or twice a week he would curry-comb and brush her from nose to tail. Nothing gave him greater pride than to have his father bring some one unexpectedly into the stable to look at his charge and comment on the clean manner in which both stable and cow were kept. His mother sold the milk they did not need for their own use, and had no trouble in getting two cents a quart more than the regular price—partly on account of the cow being so well bred and giving rich milk, but principally on account of the reputation the clean stable had made in the village.
The cow barn that Bob now entered was built under a portion of the main barn, adjacent to the thrashing floor, and was dark, even in the daylight. The earthen floor was foul with neglect. The cows, instead of being secured in separate stalls with stanchions, were chained up in a row to a long, old-fashioned manger.
Upon entering, Bob's uncle hung up the lantern; then, seeing Bob look around and hesitate, asked:
"What are you looking for, Bob?"
"I was looking for a fork to clean the stable. I always clean the stable and brush off the cow at home before milking," he replied.
"Well, I guess you're a little late to start that here," laughed his uncle. "Never mind the floor; we'll back the wagon in here after breakfast and give it a good cleaning."
"All right, Uncle Joe; but where's the brush?" asked Bob.
"Brush! What brush?" asked his uncle.
"Why, don't you brush off the cows each morning before you milk them?" asked Bob. "Father always insisted that I brush Gurney each morning."
"Well, your father's not a farmer and you've only one cow, while we have eight, and, besides, I've lots of other work to do without curry- combing cows," replied his uncle in a sarcastic tone, angered at Bob's reference to his father's greater knowledge of farm work.
"Better hurry up with your milking, Bob, while I feed the horses," he added, as he left him staring at the cows.
He could not remember ever having seen such dirty cows or so dirty a stable before. Then he suddenly thought that he had always visited the farm in the summer time, when the cattle were kept in the fields and milked in the open barn yard.
He finished the milking as best he could, and was not surprised to find that instead of getting forty quarts from the eight cows, he received only fifteen quarts—about three times as much as he got from Gurney alone. He now remembered the answer he once heard his father give a visitor at Gurney's stable.
"But, Mr. Williams," the visitor had said, "a purebred cow must be considerably more expensive in upkeep than an ordinary one."
"That's where you're mistaken," his father had replied, "for a well- bred cow eats no more than a common one—in fact, Gurney eats less, and the difference in the amount and quality of the milk soon pays for the difference in the first cost. Then, there's the pleasure that Bob gets out of the care he gives to an animal that is worth while, and assuredly that's something not to be lightly lost sight of."
Dawn was breaking when Bob finished. On the way to the house he met his uncle coming out of the yard, a huge pail of swill for the pigs in each hand.
"Thought I'd feed the pigs for you this morning," he said, as Bob set down his milk pails and held the gate open for his uncle to pass through. "It will take you a day or two to get your hand in," he added.
Bob made no reply, but he noticed the swill was full of broken ice, like the rain barrel from which he had taken the water to wash that morning, and he was wondering how much good a cold breakfast like that would do even for a pig.
He carried the milk pails into the kitchen, where he found his grandmother busy preparing breakfast. "Shall I take the milk to the cellar?" he asked, as he set the pails on the floor to rest his arms.
"No, thank you, Bob; I usually strain it here in the kitchen before taking it down," she replied; "but you may feed the calves—that's their warm milk there by the stove. You'll find four of them in the orchard, back of the smokehouse. Divide the milk among them, and hurry back to breakfast."
Bob disappeared with the milk, but was back in a few minutes. The tin wash basin was put into service again—this time hot water from the boiling tea kettle took the chill off, and in a few minutes, he joined his uncle who, having already washed, had that moment seated himself at the breakfast table.
"Will you feed the chickens for me, Bob?" asked his grandmother, as he rose from the table after breakfast. "You'll find some shell corn in a feed box on the thrashing floor. Give them two measures."
"Come around to the wagon shed when you get through with feeding the chickens, Bob," called his uncle, as he started for the barn. "I'll get the team and we'll clean out the cow stable to-day."
Bob filled the small wooden box he found in the feed bin, then stepping out into the barnyard, he called the chickens around him. He could not help observing what a nondescript lot of chickens they were —not a purebred among them; besides, he noticed many were old, and some had frozen feet and combs. No wonder, he thought, as he glanced at the poorly built hen house that faced the east instead of south—a lean-to built against the side of the barn, with only one small window, and that one on the north end, while the cracks between the upright boards, of which the coop was constructed, were not even covered by strips.
With these fowls he contrasted his own prize-winning white leghorns, with their well-built and ventilated pen, with its two large windows to the south. He wondered how long they would have averaged four eggs a day for the eight hens through the entire winter, if he had fed them with only cold grain instead of carefully prepared feed, and had kept them in such a cheerless home. No wonder his grandmother, who got the money from the sale of the eggs, said chickens didn't pay, and that the few eggs the hens did lay in the winter were usually frozen before they could be collected.
He now joined his uncle and they began the annual cleaning of the cow stable and barnyard. The stable was not hard work, although the long corn stalks that were tramped deep into the floor were troublesome and required much labor to pry loose. They finished the cleaning of the cow stable by noon, but when they started on the barnyard in the afternoon they found it was frozen almost solid, so they made slow headway and Bob's arms and back ached from the unaccustomed heavy work.
"When shall I quit to do the milking?" he inquired, as he noticed the sun getting low.
"Oh, we'll be knocking off pretty soon," was his uncle's indefinite answer.
It was nearly six o'clock and getting dark when his uncle finally decided they had done enough work for one day.
"Guess you'd better hustle, Bob," he said. "I didn't notice it was so late. Your grandmother will wait supper for you."
Bob jumped down stiffly from the seat of the wagon and, after cleaning his shoes, went to the house, as his uncle had directed, and washed up.
"Are you tired?" asked his grandmother, as he came into the kitchen where she was busy cooking by lamp light. "Your Uncle Joe's starting right in to have you do all the work on the farm in a day; he should have let you stop an hour ago to do the milking."
Bob made no reply. He took his pails and lantern and started for the barn. His hands were stiff and blistered from using the fork all day, and it was with difficulty that he finished his task in the ill- smelling and badly ventilated barn. His back ached, too, as he carried the pails to the house.
"Why were you so long?" asked his uncle impatiently, as Bob entered. "Your grandmother wouldn't let us eat till you came in, so I fed the calves and pigs for you while we were waiting."
"At home, Uncle Joe," replied Bob, as they seated themselves at the table, "we always milk at five o'clock and don't let anything else interfere with it. Father says a cow should be milked early and regularly."
"Well, Bob, your father's not a farmer, and if he wants you to quit in the middle of the afternoon to milk your cow, you can do so, but we'll milk ours after the day's work's done," was the stern answer.
"Probably that's the reason Gurney gives nearly as much milk as any three of yours," replied Bob quietly, to which remark his uncle made no reply.
A RAINY DAY
"Bob," said his uncle one rainy Saturday morning, a week later, "it's such a bad day we can't do anything outdoors, so we'd better sharpen up the tools; there's a lot of them that need grinding."
"All right," said Bob, and he got a can of water for the grindstone— an ancient model, turned by hand.
His uncle gathered up the tools and piled them beside the stone. There were two double-bitted axes and one pole axe, two brush hooks, three mowing scythes, a hatchet, a meat cleaver, half a dozen knives, both long and short—to say nothing of a drawing knife, some chisels and planes, which were added to the pile as an afterthought.
Bob looked dubiously at the tools as his uncle deposited them near at hand.
"Are we going to sharpen them all, Uncle Joe?" he inquired, as he took hold of the handle and set the stone turning.
"Oh, this is only a short job," laughed his uncle, as he picked up a dull axe and pressed the bit so heavily against the stone that it stopped.
"Why, what's the matter, Bob—not tired before you get started, are you?" he laughed.
Bob made no reply. He needed all his strength to turn the stone. After a few minutes' work against his uncle's weight, he was compelled to quit.
"Can't we oil or grease it up or do something to make it turn easier, Uncle Joe?" he asked as he straightened up.
"Bah, who ever heard of oiling a grindstone?" answered his uncle, throwing some water on the bearings, which caused a lot of rust to work out at the ends.
"I guess you'd like to go fishing to-day, instead of working?" he observed.
"No, Uncle Joe, I'm willing to work," replied Bob, "but you don't know how hard this old stone turns."
"Oh, I don't, don't I?" said his uncle. "Well, I turned this stone, Bob, before you were born, and your father turned it before me."
"And you never put any oil or grease on it all that time?" inquired Bob.
"Of course not," said his uncle, "only elbow grease. We boys always had enough of that to keep the stone running in those days," he continued with a sarcastic smile.
"Well, there might have been an excuse in those days, Uncle Joe, for using a hand-power grindstone, but there certainly is none in these days, with water power, electricity and gasoline," he added, between breaths, as he began tugging away again at the handle.
"If you wouldn't waste your energy talking nonsense and turn faster, we would get done sooner," said his uncle bearing down harder than ever.
Bob stopped turning and stood up as straight as his aching back would allow him, and looking his uncle square in the eyes, said:
"Suppose you turn a while, Uncle Joe, and I'll hold the axe."
"No, you just keep on turning—you don't know how to grind an axe," replied his uncle; "besides, that's the boy's job."
"Perhaps you could teach me how it's done, while you're turning," said Bob, not offering to continue.
"That's only fair, Joe," said his grandfather, coming up suddenly behind them and overhearing what was said. "The old stone does seem to turn harder than ever these days."
"Well, I'll show you how easy it turns," said his uncle, starting the stone spinning, but looked up quickly a moment later as it suddenly slowed down to a dead stop, for his father, instead of Bob, was holding the axe against it.
"Go on, Joe; don't stop; it's only a boy's job," he laughed, as he bore down so hard on the axe that the stone could not be started.
"Where are you going, Bob?" asked his uncle, as Bob started in the direction of the barn.
"I'm going to the wagon shed, Uncle Joe, to get some axle grease and see if we can't make the stone turn easier."
The metal plates covering the bearings were removed, and the caked rust pried out from between the rollers, for the stone had been mounted on small cast-iron wheels or rollers, but the wheels had been allowed to become rusted and finally had ceased to revolve.
When the rust had all been cleaned out and the wheels removed and cleaned, they were well greased and replaced.
"Now try it, Bob," said his grandfather, smiling; "it's a poor rain that doesn't bring some good."
The stone now spun around easily in the hands of the willing boy, and by noon all the tools had been ground, including some additional ones that his grandfather, seeing the work going so fast, had added to the pile. When all were finished, Bob wiped them off with a greasy rag, while his grandfather stood watching him keenly.
"You'll make a good farmer some day, Bob," he said a little later, "for I see you use your head as well as your muscle. All my life I've been grinding farm tools, but I never once greased them to keep them from getting rusty, and they were mostly rusty, too, when I wanted to use them," he added with a dry smile.
"How'd you like to have the afternoon off, Bob, to fish?" asked his uncle after dinner, looking at the rain.
"Fine, Uncle Joe! Perhaps I could catch a mess for supper," the boy replied, and without waiting for any further suggestions started for the woodshed to get his rod and line.
He was soon sitting on the end of the log carriage under the shelter of the saw-mill roof, his line dangling into the water of the forebay, waiting for a bite. He had been seated only a few moments when his attention was attracted by a small automobile bouncing over the deep- rutted road, a few yards to the south of the mill. When it got nearly opposite, one of the rear tires, with a loud report, blew out, and it came to a sudden stop. Two men got out of the car, but after looking up at the sky decided to wait until the shower was over before making the repairs. So, turning up their coat collars, they ran over to the shelter of the mill.
They did not seem to notice Bob as they came up a plank at the opposite end, but sat down on a log with their back to him. As they seated themselves, one of the men took out his cigar case and passed it to the other.
"We'd better be careful about smoking in a saw mill, John, don't you think?" remarked the other, as he hesitated to take the proffered cigar.
"Oh, that's all right, Al," said his friend. "Just be careful where you throw the match."
"This must be a pretty old mill, John," said the one called "Al," a few moments later, as, his cigar lighted, he gazed around at the structure.
"Well, it's been here for some time, that's sure," his friend replied.
"Don't they ever use it any more? Don't look as though they have cut any lumber here in years," remarked Al.
"No, the timber's pretty well cut down around here, Al, and one doesn't haul it very far in these days of portable steam mills. In the old days, you know, they hauled the tree to the mill; nowadays, they take the mill to the tree. It's the modern idea."
"But I should think they would use the power for other things," his friend persisted. "For one thing, the water would be able to run a small generator and supply the farm with electric lights."
"Electric light! Ha! Ha! Joe Williams using electric lights on his farm—that's a good one, Al."
"Well, why not?" demanded his friend. "Electricity is not a new thing, even in the country, and there certainly are enough uses for power on a farm that would pay for a plant in a very short time."
"Yes, but you don't know Joe Williams, Al," persisted his friend.
"Well, who is he, then, that he never heard of electricity?" demanded Al.
"Oh, he's heard of electricity all right; but you see he's not progressive—he has no 'git up and git,' as they say around here. Of course, he expects to find electric lights and concrete sidewalks in town, but electric lights on his farm and good roads from here to town would never enter his head," was the reply.
"Has he always lived here? Doesn't he ever get far enough away from home to know what the rest of the world is doing, or is he just plain lazy?" asked his friend.
"Neither, Al. In fact, he spent two years on the big farms in the West, and I had hoped he would wake up our farmers with new ideas when he came back and bought the old homestead. But I've been disappointed. He's one of those powerful men, who thinks that farming is a matter of physical strength rather than thoughtful planning. He doesn't seem to see the advantage of headwork. True, it's going to take a lot of hard work to redeem this old place with its dilapidated buildings and broken-down fences, but headwork will help a lot. Why, do you know, Al, the acreage wasted by rail fences on this farm alone would raise enough corn each year to send a boy to college."
"Yes, and what's more," he continued, "here's an old pond full of the richest soil in the whole county—soil that's been washed down from the fertile fields for years—to say nothing of the drainage from three big barns; and what does it produce?—nothing. Do you know, if I owned this farm, I'd open the gates and let the water out, put in some drain tile and plant this bottom land in corn. Why, when that corn got ripe, you couldn't find a ladder long enough in the county to reach up to the ears, the stalks would grow so high."
"Well, that would be some tall corn, John," laughed his friend, "but I've no doubt it's just as you say—this bottom would raise fine corn. Speaking of that, you ought to see some of the corn I've seen in the bottom lands out in Illinois and Iowa, But what about electricity if you do away with the dam?"
"Do you see those two beech trees down there, near the fence where the brook cuts in between the two steep banks?" asked John pointing.
"Yes, I do," said his friend.
"Well, do you notice how the banks approach each other at that point? A thirty-or forty-foot dam built across there would back up the water over an acre or two of ground in there—that land is unfit for anything else—and it would give them all the water they'd need for cutting ice in the winter and swimming in the summer; and as for electricity, a little direct-connection unit run by gasoline and setting in one corner of the garage, where it would be near at hand, would do the trick nicely. You know, Al," he continued, "the trouble with our farmers is they don't manage right. Now take Joe Williams here for an example. Here's wasted water power; he's still turning the old grind-stone by hand, and probably will all his life, unless someone wakes him up. Then here's this good bottom land wasted. Why, it was only last week he came in to see me at the bank to borrow a thousand dollars—said he was going to get married and needed some money to set himself up in housekeeping, as he's put all his money into buying the farm. Said he's going to marry a woman who's used to a little better than farm life, and, now that he's got his brother's boy helping him, he would like to put on another team."
"Did you loan him the money, John?" asked his friend, keenly interested.
"No, I didn't, Al. I told him I'd think it over. In fact, it was to look things over that I came out here to-day," he replied.
"I don't know whether I mentioned to you, John," remarked his friend, "but the Farmers' Mutual Life Insurance Company, which I represent, is seeking all the farm loans they can find. We consider them the best loans to-day."
"How's that, Al?" asked the banker.
"Well, it's like this. You loan a farmer a thousand dollars and in nearly every case the money goes to improve the land, hence makes the value that much greater. Then a wide-awake farmer generally wakes up his neighbors and the value of all the farms goes up, which naturally makes our risk less. We don't care how bad a farm may be run down, John, if the farmer is a live one—one who has the 'git up and git,' as you say—we'll advance him any reasonable amount of money to help him. And that, by the way, brings me around to tell you why I dropped off to see you this morning. We want to place some of our surplus funds in farm loans in your section and would like to have your bank handle them for us."
"Why, Al, that's fine. I've a small policy myself in your company, and it's certainly good of you to pick out the First National to place these loans. I'll be a real booster for your company now.
"But referring to wasted opportunities, Al, do you see that sand and gravel pit over there on the other side of the pond? There's enough sand and gravel there, I've no doubt, to supply this entire county with concrete fence posts, silos, barns and all manner of buildings, to say nothing of building fine concrete roads throughout the whole county. And I'll tell you something more: Joe Williams hasn't waked up to the fact that there's a railroad coming through about three miles below his farm that will require thousands of yards of sand and gravel for concrete bridges, and that this is the only sand and gravel pit within a reasonable haul that's worth while. Why, do you know, Al, for years and years they've been letting people drive in here and haul away sand and gravel free of charge.
"You don't say!" exclaimed his friend.
"Yes, but speaking of concrete, Al, just think what a saving in horseflesh a twenty-foot smooth concrete road all the way from here to town would mean to these farmers—recent tests with a three-ton auto truck show that while it could make only 3.6 miles per hour over dirt roads, it could make twelve miles per hour over unsurfaced concrete roads, which would represent in the United States a saving of nearly two and one-half million dollars on auto-truck hauling alone, to say nothing of horse-drawn vehicles—just think of it, Al. But there's that old dirt road, same as it's been for years, hub deep with mud in spring and winter, and so dusty in summer that there is no pleasure in driving over it, and a dead loss in both time and money every time a farmer drives over it."
"It's surely the roughest road I've ever traveled on, John," laughed his friend, "and I've no doubt what you say is right. If farmers would only take to using lead pencils and figure a little they would soon discover where their losses are."
"You know the old way of repairing roads, Al. They dig the dirt out of the gutters in the springtime and fill up the rut holes, and then the next spring do the same thing over again, from 'generation to generation,' as the good Book says. I'm satisfied myself," he continued, "that our county will never go ahead until we begin putting down good roads. I was telling our Commissioners only yesterday that the First National Bank would guarantee the bond issue for any road- building work they would undertake in any part of the county."
The two men sat in silence for a time, looking out at the rain. Then they got up and started to walk to the other end of the mill.
"Why, hello, boy! Fishing?" remarked Al, as he noticed Bob for the first time.
"Yes," replied Bob.
"Catching anything, are you?" asked the banker.
"Well, you never can tell what you can catch on a rainy day," the boy replied slowly. "Uncle Joe greased the grindstone to-day for the first time in its history."
"You don't say!" laughed the banker; "who put him up to that, I'd like to know?"
Bob only grinned and remained silent.
"Well, it looks as though the rain were going to pass over," said the banker a few minutes later, as he looked out at his stranded automobile.
"What's your name, young man?" inquired the insurance man.
"Bob Williams," he replied.
"Oh, then you are Billy Williams' son, who's working here this summer," said the banker. "Well, how does it happen that you're fishing instead of working to-day, I'd like to know? Couldn't your Uncle Joe find anything for you to do?"
"Yes, he did; but we greased the grindstone and got through at noon," Bob replied smiling.
"Well, he was square in letting you have the afternoon off after you showed him how to save it," the banker replied. "Some time, Bob, when you're in town, drop in and see me at the bank, and, by the way, if you ever catch any turtles, bring them to me. I'll be glad to pay you fifty cents each for all you can catch. I'm rather fond of a good snapper."
"What are you going to do now?" inquired the insurance man, seeing Bob winding up his fishing line.
"Guess I'll go up to the barn and look for some lumber to build a long ladder," the boy replied grinning.
"Well, so long, Bob," said the insurance man with a smile. "Good luck to you! I see you've good ears."
DRAINING THE POND
It was quite evident to Bob the next morning that his uncle was worrying about something; he was not only absent-minded, but he was short and crusty and found fault with everything that Bob did.
It was Sunday, and after the chores were finished, Bob walked down back of the barn and stood looking at the pond for quite a while, pondering over what the banker and insurance man had said. Then he walked over to the west slope which ran along the side of the small hill where the house and barn stood and examined the contour of the ground carefully.
"What are you trying to discover in the hog lot, Bob?" asked his uncle, suddenly coming up behind him.
Bob's face was very serious, and he looked up at his uncle a moment before replying.
"I was just wondering how much it would cost to hire a man to grade a road up the side of this slope and get rid of the steep hill in front of the barn."
"What an idea!" exclaimed his uncle. "Hire a man, indeed! You must be crazy. We don't hire any men to work on this farm."
"Oh, yes, you do—you hired me, Uncle Joe."
"Well, but that's different, Bob," said his uncle, half smiling. "You don't get paid."
"Oh, yes, I do, Uncle Joe. Father said you told him you'd pay me whatever I was worth to you, and I'm willing to wait till you find out, but I certainly expect to be paid money for my work."
"Your father shouldn't have told you I'd give you money. Of course," he added quickly, seeing Bob's face cloud, "I expect to get you some new clothes in the fall."
"But father said I'm old enough now to buy my own clothes and that this year he'd let me do it. You just keep account of how much work and other things I do for you and pay me what I'm worth," Bob answered.
"What do you mean about other things?" asked his uncle quickly.
"Well, for instance," said Bob, looking him squarely in the eyes, "you want to borrow a thousand dollars at the First National Bank and they haven't told you whether they'd give it to you or not."
"Who told you that?" demanded his uncle coloring.
"I don't care to say," replied Bob, "but it wasn't grandmother or grandfather," he added quickly, to clear them of any suspicion of having violated a confidence.
"Of course, they didn't," said his uncle. "They don't know anything about it."
"I can tell you how you can get all the money you want—enough even to build a new house and a new barn, with silos, new fences, and other buildings. Also a concrete road from the house to the main road and put a bathroom and electric lights in the house, too," Bob added.
"Have you gone crazy?" demanded his uncle, scarcely able to believe his ears. "What nonsense are you talking this morning?"
"Well, you want to find out how it can be done, don't you?" he asked.
"Well, it won't do any harm to tell me," replied his uncle, suddenly remembering his approaching marriage and how far his slender purse would go toward fixing up the place and making it presentable to his bride.
"Drain the pond and plant it in corn," said Bob triumphantly.
"What's that?" asked his uncle again, not sure he heard correctly.
"Drain the pond and plant it in corn," repeated Bob. "You won't have to wait till you sell the corn, either, to get the money."
"How's that?" asked his uncle, interested in spite of himself.
"Well, all I can tell you is to do it and the First National Bank will make the loan."
"Whoever heard of such a thing as planting corn in an old mill pond," scoffed his uncle.
"I did," replied Bob smiling.
"Who told you?" demanded his uncle, looking him over from head to foot, for Bob with his ideas was getting to be more and more of a puzzle to him every day as he upset the long-established farm traditions.
"The president of the bank himself," declared Bob. "At least I overheard him tell another man that he would."
"You overheard John White, president of the First National Bank, discussing with someone else that I wanted to borrow a thousand dollars? I don't believe it. John White wouldn't discuss my affairs with anyone, especially when boys are standing around listening," vehemently declared his uncle.
"I wasn't standing around listening," said Bob blushing. "I was fishing in the pond yesterday and I sat in the mill to get out of the rain. I was fishing in the forebay, and they came in the mill to wait until the rain was over and sat down and talked."
"What! They talked about me?" demanded his uncle.
"They talked about you and grandfather and all the other farmers around here. Said you farmers never used your heads and let your farms run down, when all you had to do was to show him you had some 'git up and git' and you could have all the money you wanted."
"Well, if that's so, then why didn't he give it to me when I asked him?" demanded his uncle.
"That was because he was disappointed in you. You've not yet shown any 'git up and git,'" replied Bob.
"What do you mean by 'git up and git'?" asked his uncle.
"Why, things like draining the pond and making it raise corn instead of letting it lie there a waste; building a new road up to the barn that won't be so steep you can't haul a load up or down; building new wire fences with concrete posts and a new barn with silos, and—"
"Stop!" shouted his enraged uncle. "You're only talking to hear yourself, Bob, and I'm not sure but you're talking to make fun of me. I've a good notion to get a buggy whip and whale you for such impertinence," he declared, his anger suddenly getting the better of him. "No 'git up and git'! You know yourself I work from before daylight until long after dark as it is. What does he expect me to do?"
"Just work from six o'clock in the morning until six at night, then you can spend the rest of the time planning how to improve the farm."
"Did he say that, Bob?" demanded his uncle, looking down at the ground.
"Well, not just that way," replied Bob, "but that's what he meant. He did say, though, he would make the loan if you could show him you knew how to improve the farm, and he did say that if HE owned the farm the first thing he'd do would be to drain the pond and plant it in corn. It was his friend that suggested the electric lights—and he wasn't joking, either, Uncle Joe," stoutly declared Bob with much earnestness.
"Come over to the barn, Bob," said his uncle after considering the matter a moment, "and tell me just what they said."
They went over and sat on the fence on the south side of the barn from which point of vantage they could see the pond.
Bob now described in detail all that he had overheard, his uncle interrupting from time to time to ask questions. When he had finished they sat in silence for quite a while, then his uncle jumped down from the fence and turning to Bob said:
"Come on, Bob, let's go' down and see how we can drain the old pond. I'll make a bargain with you now. Your father told you I'd be willing to pay you what you could earn. Well, that goes, and if you leave it to me, I'll settle square with you in the fall, but there's one thing I want you to do and that's to promise me you won't tell a soul about this matter, and you and I'll make some of them around here sit up and take notice before we get through."
"I'll promise," said Bob, "if you'll let me make one exception."
"Why, who's that?" asked his uncle, surprised at his answer.
"Aunt Bettie," said Bob.
His uncle was touched by the thought that Bob was not willing to exclude his new aunt-to-be from participating in what would probably be her greatest joy—the success of her husband.
"You don't know her yet, Bob," he said.
"No," replied Bob, "but grandmother described her to me and I know I'm going to like her."
"I'm glad now I didn't go to church this morning, Bob—you've given me an idea," remarked his uncle, as they walked along the breast of the dam to the mill. "Well, here's the gate. I guess this is just as good a time as any to start and they'll hardly consider it working on Sunday if I open it now—so here goes," and up came the gate, and the water began rushing out, sending the idle wheel spinning.
They sat in the mill until noon, listening to the dull rumble of the wheel and watching the water getting lower and lower, while they debated the best way of planting the bottom.
"I suppose we'd better go up and get our dinner, Bob," said his uncle, suddenly coming out of a day dream into which he had fallen almost an hour before.
"After dinner, Uncle Joe, may I come down and look for some turtles for Mr. White? He said he'd pay me fifty cents apiece for all I could catch."
"Did he?" replied his uncle. "I'll help you, Bob. We'll bring down a barrel or two and a couple of rakes and have a regular turtle hunt," he laughed. "They can't get out of the sluiceway gate, there's a wooden grating there."
As soon as they had finished their dinner, they put on some old clothes, including rubber boots. Then Bob got the water barrels and two rakes and put them on a stone drag, while his uncle harnessed up old Frank. They rode down the hill to the pond and near the spillway they unhitched the horse and tied him to a tree. The water had fallen so much already that there were little shallow pools scattered all over the bottom of the pond, and in some of these they could already see the heads of surprised turtles sticking out. They took their rakes and waded out to one of these pools. The bottom of the pond was so soft they sank nearly up to their boot tops. Bob, who was the first to arrive at the pool, drew his rake across the shallow water and a big struggling snapping turtle was overturned and dragged out.
"There's a big one, Uncle Joe," he exclaimed, as he drew the turtle from the water.
"All right, Bob, I've got him," said his uncle, grasping the turtle by the tail. "Now look for another while I put this one in the barrel."
"Hurry, Uncle Joe; I've a big one here," he called, and his uncle came splashing back through the mud as fast as he could to secure the prize.
Two more were gotten from this pool and then they moved on to another. The second pool contained four, and as soon as they had them out of the water they dropped their rakes and grasping a tail in each hand they waded through the mud to the shore.
"Say, Uncle Joe, there must be a lot of 'em in there. I guess Mr. White will be surprised when he sees them all."
"Why, Bob, you surely won't take them all in at once," said his uncle, starting to pry something out of the mud that proved to be a turtle still larger than any they had yet found.
"Why not?" said Bob. "He didn't say bring in one or two—he just said he'd pay fifty cents each for all I could catch; so I'm going to take them all at once, before he changes his mind about them. Maybe after he's eaten three or four he won't be willing to buy any more."
"Three or four, Bob," said his uncle, "why, I really believe we'll get a barrel full."
"All the better," said Bob, as he scraped out another big one from behind an old log. "They're in here thick as thieves."
It was nearly sundown when they finished the hunt and by that time most of the boys in the neighborhood had learned that the water was being drained from the pond and that a turtle hunt was on and had come down to see the fun.
They were astonished at the number of turtles they found, for after giving every boy one, they had two barrels full and eight big turtles beside.
"How many have you got, Bob?" asked his uncle, as they hitched up the horse and started for the house.
"Sixty-three, Uncle Joe, counting the big one."
"Why, that'll be over thirty dollars," said his uncle thoughtfully, "but I told you they were yours, Bob; you suggested the idea and I'll stick to it."
"Well, it only goes to show," replied Bob, "that Mr. White was right. We've lots of resources we're neglecting to develop."
When they reached the barnyard they put the turtles in the corn crib until morning, for they didn't have enough empty water barrels for them to swim in. They then went into the house and got rid of their muddy clothes.
"Well, I'm glad I lived long enough to see the old pond drained," remarked Bob's grandmother at supper that night. "I always said it was a great nuisance, as well as a waste of good bottom land—now that there's no more logs to be sawed. But you shouldn't have done it on Sunday, Joe; you should have waited until to-morrow."
A little after nine o'clock the following morning, John White, president of the First National Bank, and his friend, Alfred Dow, superintendent of agencies of the Farmers' Mutual Life Insurance Company, of New York City, walked up Sixth Avenue from the banker's home and turned into Philadelphia Street. They were engaged in earnest conversation and had reached the bank before they noticed a farm wagon with a boy perched on the driver's seat, standing near the curb.
"Where do you want me to deliver your turtles, Mr. White?" called the boy, and the men turned to look at the speaker.
"Why, hello, Bob!" exclaimed the banker. "Did you get me a turtle already?" Then turning to his friend, he remarked, "I can now give you that promised turtle dinner, Al. How many did you catch, Bob?" he asked, coming over to the wagon.
"Sixty-three," replied Bob, "but I kept one for myself."
"What's that you're saying?" asked the astonished banker. "Sixty-three turtles for me?"
"No, only sixty-two for you, Mr. White; I kept one for myself," replied Bob smiling.
"But, Bob, what would I do with sixty-two turtles? I couldn't eat that many in ten years." "Well, you didn't say you'd eat them," said Bob continuing to smile. "You only said you'd pay fifty cents each for all I could catch and bring to you."
"That's right, Bob; he did say that," interrupted Mr. Dow, enjoying the situation. "I'll back you, Bob. He made a verbal contract with you for all you could catch. I heard him say so myself."
"But, great guns, Al, what will I do with so many turtles?" asked the banker, looking hopelessly from one to the other.
"I'll tell you what," said his friend still laughing; "our company's going to give a dinner in Pittsburgh day after tomorrow to our Western Pennsylvania agents. I've been looking for a novelty for the dinner and this will do fine. We'll go into the bank and call up the Fort Henry Hotel and talk with the manager. We'll sell him the turtles and you come down and have dinner with us and meet our men."
They were gone about twenty minutes, and both were laughing when they returned.
"You win, Bob," said the banker.
"All right," laughed the happy boy. "Where do you want them delivered and who'll count them?"
"Take them over to the express office, and I'll take your word for the count, Bob. Tell them I'll send over the shipping directions later."
"How about the grain sacks?" asked Bob. "The turtles are mine, but the grain sacks belong to Uncle Joe, and I'll have to charge you extra for them unless you guarantee that they'll be returned."
"I'll guarantee to have them returned," said the banker, "but tell me, Bob, how in the world did you catch sixty-three turtles since Saturday afternoon?"
"Uncle Joe drained the pond yesterday," replied Bob, smiling back at them as he started for the express office.
A half hour later he walked into the bank and stepping up to the cashier's window asked for the president.
"He's in a conference in the directors' room," replied the cashier. "Are you Bob Williams?"
"Yes," he replied.
"Come this way," he said. "The president left word to have you shown in as soon as you returned. Turtles seem to be biting pretty good this weather," he laughed, as he conducted him to a small room in the rear of the bank.
Bob had never had much to do with banks; indeed, he could count on the fingers of one hand all the times he had ever been inside of one, and as to a directors' private room, he did not even know there was such a place, let alone ever having been in one. It was not to be wondered at then that he was embarrassed when he entered the room a moment later and saw the president and his friend seated in comfortable leather chairs before a large mahogany table.
"Back already, Bob?" asked the banker. "I don't suppose you thought to inquire how much the express charges will be on those turtles to Pittsburgh?"
"Yes, I did. They weighed 378 pounds, and the rate is 75 cents per hundred pounds—that makes $2.63," he replied, drawing a small notebook from his pocket and consulting a memorandum he had made.
"Do you always figure out things?" asked the banker, apparently much interested that Bob had taken the trouble to find out the rate and figure the cost of the expressage to Pittsburgh.
"I do most always," he answered. "I learned to do that selling chickens and keeping account of the milk Gurney gives."
"Don't you keep a record of the milk all your cows give?" asked Mr. Dow.
"Oh, Gurney is our cow at home—not one of Uncle Joe's cows. Gurney's a purebred with a pedigree," he declared proudly.
"When are you going to start keeping a record of the cows on the farm, Bob?" asked the banker.
"I don't know," replied Bob. "Uncle Joe don't believe in it yet. He thinks it's a waste of time, and he always laughs when I tell him that it is the only way to find out if a cow's worth her keep, but," he added smiling, "he drained the pond and he didn't believe in that two days ago."
"I suppose you want the money for the turtles, Bob," said the banker, getting back to the main subject.
"Well, yes," he said, "but who's buying them, Mr. White—you or Mr. Dow?"
"Ha, ha," laughed the banker. "This is where you get stuck, Al."
"Why, how's that?" asked his friend.
"Well," said the banker, "I asked the manager of the Fort Henry how much he'd pay a pound for nice fat turtles. You see, Bob, I reduce everything to figures, too. Look at this and you'll see why it pays."
Bob took the paper and read "378 pounds turtles, at 30 cents per pound—$75.60, less $2.63 expressage—$72.97."
"But you haven't deducted anything for your own trouble, Mr. White," said Bob, scarcely able to believe his eyes. "Don't you intend to charge anything for selling them to the hotel? Father says every business man must make profit on the things he sells, if he wants to keep in business."
"Well, Bob, I'm not going to charge you a commission on this deal. I've had too much fun already sticking my friend Al here a stiff price for the turtles," he added laughing.
"Don't think you've turned such a clever trick, John," replied his friend. "The hotel's only paying about $40 more than you were willing to pay yourself, and probably won't use half of them for our dinner. Besides, I've gotten a fine idea for my talk at our meeting on Wednesday night."
"What's that?" asked the banker.
"Hidden Treasure," replied his friend. "Why, just look what's happened to Bob here in two days. On Saturday there was a pond occupying fifteen acres of the best ground on the farm and producing nothing. To-day he has $72.97 and has prepared the way for the finest field of corn that will be raised this year in the county, if not the state, and there's no telling what he may do yet when he gets his Uncle Joe thoroughly waked up," he laughed.
"By the way, Bob, do you want your money in cash?" asked the banker looking at him keenly.
"If it's all the same to you, Mr. White, I'd like to leave it here on deposit," replied Bob.
"Put it in the savings department, Bob," suggested Mr. Dow, "then you'll get interest. Say, Bob," he continued, "tell your Uncle Joe I'm going to have our agent see him and show him how he can protect his family while he's paying for the farm."
"All right, I'll tell him," Bob replied.
When Bob drove into the barnyard just before noon his uncle hurried over and looked into the wagon.
"Why, did he take all the turtles, Bob?" he inquired, surprised to find the wagon empty.
"Yes, he took them," said Bob, "and sold them right away to the Fort Henry Hotel in Pittsburgh. He called them up on the long distance telephone."
"How much did he pay you for them?" was the next inquiry.
"$72.97," replied Bob proudly.
"What! for those turtles!" exclaimed his uncle. "I don't believe it."
"Well, you don't have to believe me," Bob laughed as he jumped from the wagon. "I've the proof here." And he proudly exhibited his new bank book.
The look of surprise on his uncle's face gave way to one of disappointment.
"Of course, Uncle Joe, I put the money in the bank—I didn't want to carry it around," he added.
His uncle said nothing more, but turned on his heel and walked away. It was very evident to Bob that he had changed his mind and expected him to turn over the proceeds from the sale of the turtles, but he was determined that his uncle should stick to his agreement.
"Uncle Joe," he called, as his uncle reached the gate. "Mr. White told me to tell you that the matter you were discussing with him was all right and that he would be glad to see you any time."
"Oh, he did," said his uncle, turning and coming back to the wagon, where Bob was unhitching the team.
"Yes, he did," said Bob, "said he'd accommodate you any time you were in town."
"Well, I'm glad you drove a good bargain for the sale of the turtles, Bob," remarked his uncle, the look of disappointment gone. "I said they were yours and I want you to know that I still feel the same way about it."
"Thank you, Uncle Joe," replied Bob, as he started for the barn with the team.
"Bob," said his uncle after dinner, as they were bringing the horses from the barn, "the old pond looks as though it might take all summer to dry out. Then, too, the brook winds through the center of it in such a way as to really spoil the field for farming."
"Why couldn't we straighten the brook, Uncle Joe," asked Bob, after a moment's thought, "or move it over to the south side against the bank there. That would make it almost a straight line between the lane bridge and the old forebay."
"But that would make a lot of work, Bob," replied his uncle, "and we have more now than we have time for. It would be a good idea though to have the brook on the outside of the field; but what bothers me most is how we're going to keep the field from being flooded every time it rains."
To this Bob made no reply.
All afternoon, as they were hauling manure to the field, he kept turning over in his mind the question of straightening the brook, for it was now evident that in order to make the field a success the brook would not only have to be straightened but moved over to the south side, so as to have the field all in one piece. He realized now that the easiest part of redeeming the pond had been the letting out of the water, and also that his uncle was right in saying that it might take all summer for the bottom to dry out sufficiently for planting.
Bob had persuaded his uncle to let him stop work in the afternoon at four-thirty in order to have time to do the milking and chores, and he found that by hurrying he could get through before six o'clock. So that night in the early twilight, he paced off the length of the south side of the pond and found it was approximately seven hundred feet from the bridge to the forebay. He remembered that, except on rare occasions, the opening between the abutments of the bridge that carried the lane over the brook had always been sufficient to take care of any water. He now measured this space and found that the abutments were eighteen feet apart and from the under side of the timbers to the bed of the brook it was four feet six inches. He returned to the house and got out his notebook and began making some calculations. He found the area of the space under the bridge to be eighty-one square feet. If they could dig a ditch back a few feet from the south bank of the pond, where the ground rose sharply, and throw the excavated earth on the north side of the cut, they would have a channel with two good banks at the expense of making only one.
By pacing off eighteen feet of the bank, he had found that the slope of the ground would average about two feet for that distance. The depth of the water along the bank on the south side had been about two feet. By digging three feet below the level of the bottom of the pond it would mean an average cut of six feet. Taking out a block of earth approximately eighteen feet by six feet, of one hundred and eight square feet, would raise the banks high enough to allow for heavy freshets, and the bottom of the ditch, being three feet below the bottom of the pond, would allow for drainage.
He now calculated the amount of earth to be removed and found there would be twenty-eight hundred cubic yards to be dug and piled up to form the new north bank of the cut. He had no idea how much time it would require to do this work, or what it might cost if they hired a man to do it for them. After sitting for a few minutes debating the matter, he became so sleepy that he put his notebook in his pocket and went to bed.
"How long will it take you to dig a cubic yard of earth and pile it out on one side of a ditch, Uncle Joe?" asked Bob the next morning at the breakfast table.
"I don't know, Bob. Why do you ask?"
"I wanted to find out how much it would cost to straighten the brook in our new bottom field," he replied.
"Well, I know one thing," said his uncle, "and that is that it will cost more than I can afford to spend; and you know, Bob, we have no time for digging ditches ourselves—in fact, it seems to me it was a great mistake to drain the pond at all—the water at least covered the bad-smelling bottom, and we could shoot an occasional wild duck there."
"I'm not so sure about it being too expensive," replied Bob. "Mr. White said yesterday that it didn't matter so much what an improvement cost, if it could be made to pay the interest on the investment and earn a profit beside. All I need to know now to complete my figures is how much earth a man can dig and then I can tell how much it would cost."
"If you want to know so badly, Bob, why don't you take a pick and shovel and dig out a yard, and find out for yourself," suggested his grandmother.
"Yes," said his uncle, "then you'd know what a real backache feels like."
"All right," said Bob, "when may I do it?" turning to his uncle.
"Well, I suppose you might as well do it this morning as any time," said his uncle. "I know you won't be able to sleep to-night until you find out; besides, I'm going to town and you can have the forenoon off."
"That'll be fine, Uncle Joe," said Bob, "and there's another thing too, I wanted to ask you. I see wagons hauling sand and gravel from our pit. Who collects the money and how much do you charge them?"
"Charge a neighbor for a few loads of sand, Bob? What are you talking about? Of course not."
"But if you went to their farms, Uncle Joe, and asked for the rich soil out of their fields, they'd make you pay for it."
"Why, of course, Bob, but rich soil and sand and gravel are different. There's plenty of sand and gravel."
"Where, Uncle Joe?"
"Then if that's so," said Bob, "why did Dan McCormick send his three wagons four miles to our pit last week? He said it was the nearest sand to his farm and what's more he said it's the only clean sand and gravel that don't need washing for fifteen miles around. I think we ought to charge them so much a yard."
"All right, Bob," said his uncle, whose mind was evidently occupied with things more important than selling sand. "You go ahead and make them pay, but remember, if you don't have any friends among your neighbors, don't blame me."
When his uncle returned from town a little after twelve o'clock, he drove down to see what Bob was doing, and found him at work on the ditch. As soon as Bob saw his uncle's face, he knew he had received his loan from Mr. White, for he was smiling and seemed to be very happy.
"Well, Bob, how are you making out?" he called cheerily, as he approached, looking at the excavated dirt thrown out. Then his eye caught a double line of stakes set at intervals and running the full length of the pond, marking out the two sides of the cut.
"I dug out one cubic yard in forty minutes, Uncle Joe, but we could do much better with a team of horses and a plow and scoop. Allowing thirty cents per hour, the ditch would cost eight hundred and forty dollars."
"Whee," said his uncle, "more than we could ever afford to pay, Bob, I'm afraid, even though Mr. White is in favor of it and agreed to-day to loan me whatever it would cost."
"Oh, then you told him about it?" said Bob. "How did he like the scheme?"
"He said it was a first-rate idea, Bob. He also said we should lay tile field drain through the bottom of the pond to the ditch every fifty feet over the entire field. These would soon drain the bottom and keep the new field dry."
"I've been wondering," said Bob, "what we could do about draining the bottom, but I didn't think of tile, although it sounds like a good idea."
And Bob took out his notebook and figured for a few minutes.
"If we put them fifty feet apart, that would mean twelve rows; each row would be six hundred feet long—that would mean 7200 lineal feet. Did Mr. White say what the tile would be worth a foot, laid, Uncle Joe?"
"No, he didn't, Bob, and I was too busy to ask him."
"What would you say, Uncle Joe," remarked Bob a few minutes later, "if I were to tell you we can get the ditch dug, a new dam built across between the two banks down by the beech trees, and a road cut up the west slope by the barn, so as to get rid of that steep hill, and we won't have to spend one cent."
"What nonsense are you talking?" demanded his uncle. "You just said it would cost eight hundred and forty dollars to dig the ditch alone."
"So it would, Uncle Joe, if we dug it by hand. We could probably do it quicker if we used a team of horses and scoop, but, of course, we'd have to allow for the value of the team while it was doing the work, and, besides, it would take too long."
"Well, then, how'd it be done?" asked his uncle, interested in spite of himself, for after his interview with the president of the First National that morning he began to look upon Bob as something more than a chore boy.
"Come over to the sand pit with me, Uncle Joe," he replied, "and I'll show you."
Together they walked over to the pit and the first thing that caught his uncle's eye was a large sign: Sand and Gravel for Sale Price 5oc per cu. yd. Cash or Labor Inquire Robert Williams
"Well, what does it mean?" asked his uncle, reading the sign for the second time.
"It means, Uncle Joe, that while I was still nailing up that sign two men came along in a big gray touring car and stopped, and one of them wanted to know what we'd take for the pit. I told him we sold our eggs by the dozen and not by what a hen might lay in a year. He laughed and said his name was Brady and that he had a contract for building some bridges for the new railroad that's coming in three miles down the creek and needed sand and gravel. The gentleman with him, who I judged from what they said was the engineer for the railroad, seemed to be very much pleased with the kind of sand and gravel we had, and I heard him tell Mr. Brady he'd approve it for the work. After looking the pit over, Mr. Brady asked what was meant by 'Cash or Labor,' so I told him we had some work we wanted done and would be willing to have him give us an estimate on the cost. He asked me what it was and I told him it was a ditch, a dam and a road. So he went up and looked the ditch over, then we went down to the beech trees and I explained to him about the new dam we were going to put in there to generate electric light for the farm. Then we rode up to the west slope in his big touring car and he examined the bank there. I showed him my figures for the ditch, and he made a memorandum of them; then he said if we would let him have the exclusive use of the sand pit for one year, taking out as much sand as he needed, and also let him have the heavy timbers from the old mill, as he needed them for some shoring he had to do, he would be willing to tear down the old mill, dig our ditch, build us a new dam and a new road, using his caterpillar steam shovel for the work."
"What did you say, Bob?" eagerly asked his uncle.
"I told him we couldn't think of it," replied Bob with a grin.
"What! You didn't take him up? What could you have been thinking of, Bob?"
"Well, you see, Uncle Joe, we'll need a lot of sand and gravel ourselves for making concrete fence posts and things like that, and then we may want to build a concrete road from the main road up to the barn, and, of course, we need a new dairy house and big silo."
"Yes, I know, Bob; the old place is pretty well run down," said his uncle. "Mr. White said something to-day about looking ahead and making permanent improvements, but we can't think of doing that now."
"I'm not so sure about that, Uncle Joe," replied Bob. "It seems we've got the only sand and gravel pit within fifteen miles with sand and gravel that the railroad engineer will accept for his work. I overheard him say that to Mr. Brady."
"Well, what did you finally do about the sand, Bob?" inquired his uncle eagerly.
"I told him the price was fifty cents per cubic yard in the pit, but we would let him pay for it in work, if his prices for the work were not too high, so he's going to make up a figure and come back and see us. I told him I thought you'd be willing to let him have the timber from the mill if he would take off the boards and two by fours and haul them over to the sand pit for us. You know, Uncle Joe, these will come in handy for us to build a shed when we start to make fence posts and other things there."
"But will he need enough sand to pay for all this work, Bob?" asked his uncle, now greatly excited.
"Yes, I'm sure he'll need more, for he seemed to be anxious to buy the pit outright."
"Yes, he did, but I told him we were not willing to sell it, Uncle Joe; that we expected to put up a lot of concrete buildings on the farm besides building some concrete roads and making a lot of concrete fence posts."
"Well, Bob, I guess you did a good half day's work all right," said his uncle, "and to show you that I appreciate the way you've handled this matter, I'll let you make the deal with Brady when he comes back."
They didn't have long to wait, for about three o'clock that afternoon a big gray touring car came snorting up the steep hill back of the barn and stopped near where they were loading manure. The driver of the car got out and came over to them.
"This is the Uncle Joe, I was telling you about, Mr. Brady," said Bob, by way of introduction, as the contractor came up to them.
"Glad to know you, Mr. Williams. I came up to see you about buying your sand pit. What will you take for it in cash? I haven't a great deal of time to lose, so I brought the money with me," and he drew from his pocket the largest roll of bills that Bob had ever seen in his life.
"You'll have to—to—talk it over with Bob," hesitated Bob's uncle, for at the sight of so much ready money he began to waver in his resolutions to let Bob handle the matter.
"We don't want to sell it, Mr. Brady," spoke up Bob quickly. "We want to control the pit ourselves and have sand and gravel for our own use."
"Oh, that's all right. I'll let you have all you want for your own use, free of cost, too," said Mr. Brady quickly.
"No," said Bob. "This is the only sand and gravel pit around here, and, when they start building concrete roads in this county, which they may do any time now, this pit will be valuable."
"Say, son," said the contractor, "you're wasting your time on a farm. You ought to be with me in the contracting business. Who's been telling you about this new county road work?"
"No one's been telling me," said Bob, "but everyone can see it doesn't pay to haul heavy loads over rough roads to market your crops, and as for farming," he added," it's a good business, too, Mr. Brady, especially if you have a good sand pit on the place," he added laughing.
"Well, son, let's get down to business. I see you're wise all right to the value of that pit. How much work do you want me to do and how much money will you want me to give you, and who's going to keep account of the sand we get and when do we settle for it?"
"You said you had a steam shovel, Mr. Brady," said Bob. "Is it busy now? We want to get this bottom land ready for corn this year."
"Not doing anything at the present time; can start your work next week for the shovel's on the railroad siding at Indiana now," he replied quickly.
"What do you charge a day for use of shovel with a man to operate it?" asked Bob.
"Hold on there, son; you'll get to be as smart as I am if you keep on at that rate. I don't rent the shovel by the day, but I'll tell you what: I'll do your work on contract."
"All right," said Bob. "How much do you want for digging the ditch?"
"$700," said Mr. Brady, consulting a memorandum.
"And how much for building the dam?"
"$200 without a concrete spillway and sluice gate and $350 more with them."
"And how much for the road up the west slope?"
"Well, that won't cost you much, son; that's an easier job than it looks. I'll charge you only $100 for doing that. That would make $1350 total."
"Yes," replied Bob, setting down the amount in his own memorandum book. "How much sand will you need, Mr. Brady?"
The contractor took a memorandum book from his pocket and consulted it for a moment.
"About ten to fifteen thousand yards of sand and gravel together on my first contract, but I expect to have a contract for building roads pretty soon that will require more than double that."
At the mention of these figures, Bob exchanged glances with his uncle, who had with difficulty kept to his agreement to let Bob make the bargain, and he fairly gasped when he began to realize the earning capacity of the old sand pit.
"I think you're charging me too much money, son, for the sand and gravel. You ought to knock off five or ten cents per yard and give me exclusive right to the pit."
"No," said Bob, "we're not willing to do that, but we will make this bargain with you, Mr. Brady: if you will do our work for us right away, we'll agree not to charge you more than fifty cents a cubic yard for as much sand and gravel as you want."
Seeing there was no other way out of the matter, the contractor finally consented to this arrangement.
"I'm not much on verbal contracts," he said, "for I find that people who do not set down in black and white what they agree to do, often forget and then there's trouble, so if you don't mind, Mr. Williams, we'll step into the house and put our agreement in writing."
"How shall we arrange to keep account of the amount of materials I get?" asked Mr. Brady, as they started for the house.
"How do you usually do?" asked Bob.
"I've got some tickets with my name on them," replied the contractor, "and every time a man takes away a load he gives one of those tickets to the man in charge of the pit. By the way, I suppose there'll be some one in charge who can take care of these tickets?"
"Yes," said Bob quickly, before his uncle had a chance to speak. "We're going to start a man making fence posts at the pit next week and you can give the tickets to him."
A few minutes after they had sat down at the table in the sitting room Mr. Brady handed the agreement to' Bob's uncle to read. He read it over and then handed it to Bob, who read it over twice, very careful, and then laid it down on the table.
"It reads all right, Mr. Brady, and seems to be just what we agreed to do," said Bob, "but before we sign it I'd like to show it to Mr. White, president of the First National Bank."
"All right, son, just as you like," said the contractor, a look of disappointment on his face as he put his fountain pen in his pocket. "I'll be here on Monday with my men and outfit, for I'm sure Mr. White will find the agreement is all right."
"I think it is myself," said Bob, "but I'd like to have him read it over anyway before it's signed."
As they walked out to the barnyard, where his car was standing, the contractor turned to Joe Williams and asked:
"How do you manage to get up and down that steep hill with your automobile, Mr. Williams?" "Oh, I don't have an automobile," Williams replied.
"What! no car?" exclaimed Mr. Brady. "I don't see how your women folks get along without one. Cars are so low and horses so high nowadays, it don't pay to take a horse out of a busy team to drive to town. I should think you couldn't do without one. Well, good day," he added, as he climbed into his car and threw on the self-starter. "See you next week."
THE NEW AUNT
The following week was a very busy and eventful one for Bob. Plowing time was rapidly approaching, and his uncle was anxious to have all the manure placed on the fields ready to start work early; besides, they had taken a day off at Bob's urging to prune the young orchard. On Thursday he received a large package of Farm Bulletins from the Department of Agriculture at Washington, in reply to a postcard he had sent. He had only time for a hasty glance through them, before having to lay them away for careful reading later.
On Friday his uncle turned over the team to him, saying he was going to town for the day. Bob noticed that he had dressed up in his best clothes, so was not surprised when he came in from work late that afternoon to find they had company at the house.
"Come here, Bob," called his uncle cheerily, as he entered. "I want you to meet your new Aunt Bettie. She isn't exactly your aunt yet, but she will be soon."
Bob hastened forward to take the out stretched hand of the woman who rose to greet him.
Bob had a quick eye for beauty; he noted the fair, soft complexion which the rich dark hair set off so beautifully, but not this alone made the strong and conscious appeal to him—it was the frank manner with which she took his hand and the friendly light in her lovely brown eyes that won Bob completely.
"So this is 'Bob,' of whom you have been telling me," said Miss Atwood. "I'm certainly glad to make your acquaintance, Bob. Your Uncle Joe has been telling me many things about you, and I know we're going to be fast friends and have lots of fun together on the farm this summer."
"I hope so," said Bob, "for I like farming better than anything I know; there are so many interesting things to see and do."
"I'm glad to hear you say that, Bob," she replied. "In these days, when most boys of your age want to be in the town and cities, it's refreshing to find one who has vision enough to appreciate the golden opportunities of the country. Your Uncle Joe doesn't know it, but I've been doing considerable reading myself about farm life and farm work since we became engaged, and the more I read the more enthusiastic I become, and I'm sure we're going to have lots of pleasant days and evenings, too, together."
"Have you been reading farm bulletins, also, Aunt Bettie?" Bob asked hesitating, as he used her new title for the first time.
"That's right, I want you to call me 'Aunt Bettie'," she replied quickly, seeing his embarrassment. "Yes, I've gotten a great many bulletins from the Department of Agriculture at Washington and have read them over and over very carefully. The opportunities on a farm, if one just keeps his eyes open, are certainly wonderful."
"I'd like to read your bulletins, too," said Bob, his eyes sparkling.
"I thought you were going to give up teaching school, Bettie," interrupted her intended husband, "and here you and Bob are getting ready to start one. First thing you know, you'll be getting another scholar, one six feet tall," and he laughed down at her.
"Well, frankly, Joe," she replied, "you might spend your evenings less profitably than reading bulletins and other interesting papers on making farms pay."
"Guess I'll have to get in line," he replied laughing. "Bob's been preaching to me ever since he came here about modernizing the old farm and digging up our 'Hidden Treasure,' as he calls it."
"You'll have to excuse me now, Aunt Bettie," said Bob, "for it's milking time and I always plan to milk our cows regularly."
His heart was light and he whistled a merry tune as he started for the barn, the milk pails on his arm. He now felt sure that this summer was going to be the happiest one he had ever spent.
After the supper dishes had been cleared away, they sat together and talked of the things to be done to improve the farm and which would be the best crops to plant. As the discussion continued, Joe Williams began to realize that both Bettie and Bob knew many things about farming of which he was ignorant—things which, he reluctantly admitted to himself, were of the utmost importance.
On Saturday they quit work at noon to go to town. Bob asked his uncle if he were going to take Mr. Brady's contract and show it to Mr. White, the banker.
"The bank closes at noon on Saturdays, Bob," replied his uncle, "and we're to be pretty busy, Bettie and I, buying our things, for we're getting new furniture for the house, and I want to bring it back with me."