Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
When the mines closed in March, there was very little food left in the house. It was still a long time before the garden crops would be ready, and Alpha wanted Brack to tell his two cousins, Harl and Tibb Logan, to leave the house and find food for themselves; but Brack said that as long as he had food in his house, he would never turn his blood kin away. Then Uncle Samp came to live with them, and the mother saw her four children getting hungrier and leaner. Knowing that the kin would leave if there were no place for them to sleep, she calmly set fire to the house, first moving the children and the skimpy furniture to the smokehouse.
All spring, while the family lived in the smokehouse, they ate less and less and waited for the first vegetables. When the beans were almost ready and the whole family dreamed of having their stomachs full, three men came from the mining town to beg food for their families. Unable to turn down starving people, Brack sent the men into his garden. When they came out, the boy saw that they had taken every bean from the patch. He turned away, wanting to cry.
In May, Brack took the boy with him when he went to help a neighbor deliver a colt. The boy expected to get the colt for his own, as his father’s fee, but the neighbor’s son told him that no Baldridge was going to get the colt, that the Baldridges were cowards, and that after their Grandpa Middleton had been killed by Aus Coggins, no Baldridge had done...
(The entire section is 1182 words.)
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