But his family had grown larger and more expensive. Besides Frank, who was the oldest, there were now three younger children--Alice, twelve years of age; Maggie, ten; and Charlie, seven.
The farmhouse was small but comfortable, and the family had never been tempted to sigh for a more costly or luxurious home. They were happy and contented, and this made their home attractive.
On the evening succeeding that of the war meeting, Frank was seated in the common sitting-room with his father and mother. There was a well-worn carpet on the floor, a few plain chairs were scattered about the room, and in the corner ticked one of the old-fashioned clocks such as used to be the pride of our New England households. In the center of the room stood a round table, on which had been set a large kerosene-lamp, which diffused a cheerful light about the apartment.
On a little table, over which hung a small mirror, were several papers and magazines. Economical in most things, Mr. Frost was considered by many of his neighbors extravagant in this. He subscribed regularly for Harper's Magazine and Weekly, a weekly agricultural paper, a daily paper, and a child's magazine.
"I don't see how you can afford to buy so much reading-matter," said a neighbor, one day. "It must cost you a sight of money. As for me, I only take a weekly paper, and I think I shall have to give that up soon."
"All my papers and magazines cost me in a year, including postage, is less than twenty dollars," said Mr. Frost quietly. "A very slight additional economy in dress--say three dollars a year to each of us will pay that. I think my wife would rather make her bonnet wear doubly as long than give up a single one of our papers. When you think of the comparative amount of pleasure given by a paper that comes to you fifty-two times in a year, and a little extra extravagance in dress, I think you will decide in favor of the paper."
"But when you've read it, you haven't anything to show for your money."
"And when clothes are worn out you may say the same of them. But we value both for the good they have done, and the pleasure they have afforded. I have always observed that a family where papers and magazines are taken is much more intelligent and well informed than where their bodies are clothed at the expense of their minds. Our daily paper is the heaviest item; but I like to know what is passing in the world, and, besides, I think I more than defray the expense by the knowledge I obtain of the markets. At what price did you sell your apples last year?"