Her father and Uncle Henry were out in the field, harvesting the grain. They were cutting down the oat plants. Her father and Uncle Henry carried big knives with long, curved handles, and swung the knife blades into the oat plants. When they had cut enough grain plants to make a pile, they made neat heaps on the ground.
It was hard work, walking around and around the field in the hot sun. Both hands swinging the heavy knives into the grain plants, cutting them and then putting them into the piles.
After all the grain was cut, they must go over the field again. This time they would pick up the grain plants and tie them together and carry the bundles inside. All of the cut grain must be safely under a roof before dark, because lying on the wet dewy ground all night would spoil it. (Dew is water on the grass in the morning.)
Her father and Uncle Henry were working very hard, because the air was so humid and hot and that they expected rain. (Humid air is wet.) The oats were ripe. If they were not cut and inside before rain came, the crop would be lost. Then Uncle Henry's horses would be hungry all winter.
At noon her father and Uncle Henry came to the house in a great hurry. They swallowed their lunch as quickly as they could. Uncle Henry said that Charley must help them that afternoon. A boy’s work is to help his father with the farm work.
Laura looked at her father, when Uncle Henry said that. At home, her father had said to her mother that Uncle Henry and Aunt Polly spoiled Charley. When her father was eleven years old, he had done a good day's farm work every day in the fields, driving a group of horses. But Charley did hardly any work at all.
Now Uncle Henry said that Charley must come to the field. He could save them a lot of time. He could go to the spring for water and he could bring them the water-bottle when they needed a drink. He could fetch the whetstone when the blades needed sharpening. (A whetstone is a flat stone used to sharpen knives.)
All the children looked at Charley. Charley did not want to go to the field. He wanted to stay in the yard and play. But, of course, he did not say so.
Her father and Uncle Henry did not rest at all. They ate in a hurry and went right back to work. Charley went to the field with them.
Now Mary was the oldest and she wanted to play a quiet, ladylike game. So in the afternoon the cousins made a playhouse in the yard. The tree stumps were chairs, tables and stoves. Leaves were play-dishes and sticks were their children.