Children’s Corner – Three in a Row, Part 1

She looks awful white today, and thin,” said Hiram, dejectedly, at the same time cleverly tying a knot in a broken suspender. “I don’t know what we’re going to do with her. She’ll die, maybe,” and the boy stopped with a sudden gulp.

Nettie’s blue eyes grew large and pathetic under her pink sunbonnet. “She’s hungry, I guess,” she remarked sagely. “Sick folks can’t eat such coarse food as we have. She told me one day”—here her voice dropped to a whisper and she glanced half guiltily toward the door of the little cabin—“that she wanted a piece of rich cream toast dreadfully; said she dreamed about it. But she wouldn’t ask Pa to get her cream. ’Twould only make him feel bad because he couldn’t, she said. He can hardly get us enough to eat, anyway, and cream costs a lot. But seems as if Mother ought to have it.”

Little Tony said nothing, only dug his toes into the gray dust. He was only six, and small for his age.

The three children were sitting near a small hut, or cabin, which clung to the side of one of the great mountains looking down upon the mining town of Silver Plume, Colorado. Half a mile from them on one side was a mine, where their father toiled from morning till night. In the other direction lay the town and the church and Sabbath School. Above and around them were the rocky, towering mountains. Beyond these boundaries their knowledge of life was very small.

“Hiram!” called a tremulous voice from somewhere within the cabin. “Children!”

The three rose and looked at one another.

“She wants us,” said Tony, “Come on.”

“Once more—sing that once more,” she called faintly, and they sang again, “There’ll be no dark valley when Jesus comes,” while the tears rolled down over the white face.

“Well, good-bye, Mother,” said Hiram later, cheerfully putting his head in at the bedroom door again. “It’s almost train time. We’ll try to get some pennies, and we won’t stay long. Don’t you be lonesome till we get back. Perhaps,” he added hesitatingly, “you can go to sleep.”

Outside, the trio halted, holding their wooden boxes filled with minerals—“speciments” they called them—doubtfully in their hands.

“ ’Tain’t a bit of use,” said Hiram mournfully; “there’s too many selling, and folks have got enough of them anyway. But just to satisfy Mother . . .”

“Say, Hi,” broke in Nettie, speaking slowly, as if in surprise at her own thought, “you don’t suppose we could sing for the train folks? Mother likes to hear us; perhaps they would too.”

The boy turned sharply about and stared at his sister with a kind of startled admiration. “You’re the greatest!” he exclaimed. “How’d you think of it? They have to sit in that car and wait two hours, some of them. Can’t get out and walk, it makes them puff so. We’ll try it this very morning just as we do for Mother, you know. We’d better stand in a row,” he mused, “Net in the middle, and we’ll sing about three songs. Tony, will you sing up good and loud to the car folks? Maybe they will give you a penny.”

To be continued . . .