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In the village of W——, in western Missouri, lived Mrs. Loring and her son Guy, a little boy about ten years old. They were very poor, for though Mr. Loring, during his life time was considered rich, and his wife and child had always lived comfortably, after his death, which occurred when Guy was about eight years old, they found that there were so many people to whom Mr. Loring owed money, that when the debts were paid there was but little left for the widow and her only child. That would not have been so bad had they had friends able or willing to assist them, but Mrs. Loring found that most of her friends had gone with her wealth, which, I am sorry to say, is apt to be the case the world over.
As I have said, when Mrs. Loring became a widow she was both poor and friendless, she was also very delicate. She had never worked in her life, and although she attempted to do so, in order to support herself and little Guy, she found it almost impossible to earn enough to supply them with food. She opened a little school, but could get only a few scholars, and they paid her so little that she was obliged also to take in sewing. This displeased the parents of her pupils and they took away their children, saying "she could not do two things at once."
This happened early in winter when they needed money far more than at any other season. But though Mrs. Loring sewed a great deal during that long, dreary winter, she was paid so little that both young Guy and herself often felt the pangs of cold and hunger. Perhaps they need not have done so, if Mrs. Loring had told the village people plainly that she was suffering, for I am sure they would have given her food. But she was far too proud to beg or to allow her son to do so. She had no objection that he should work, for toil is honorable—but in the winter there was little a boy of ten could do, and although Guy was very industrious it was not often he could obtain employment. So they every day grew poorer, for although they had no money their clothing and scanty furniture did not know it, and wore out much quicker than that of rich people seems to do.
Yet through all the trials of the long winter Mrs. Loring did not despair; she had faith to believe that God was bringing her sorrows upon her for the best, and would remove them in his own good time. This, she would often say to Guy when she saw him look sad, and he would glance up brightly with the reply, "I am sure it is for the best, mother. You have always been so good I am sure God will not let you suffer long. I think we shall do very well when the Spring comes. We shall not need a fire then, or suffer for the want of warm clothing and I shall be able to go out in the fields to work, and shall earn so much money that you will not have to sew so much, and get that horrid pain in your chest."
But when the Spring came Guy did not find it so easy to get work as he had fancied it would be, for there were a great many strong, rough boys that would do twice as much work in the day as one who had never been used to work, and the farmers would employ them, of course. So poor Guy grew almost disheartened, and his mother with privation and anxiety, fell very sick.