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The Great Depression

Hardscrabble Christmas I

Hardscrabble Christmas I
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   high interest, readability grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   2.33

     challenging words:    bovine, bulk, chomp, cocked, forbidden, Fun-loving, hobo, instantly, lamplight, Moooooooooooooaw, nothings, propel, reckless, thrust, wham, sprayed
     content words:    Christmas Eve, Beatrice Ann, Finally Blackie, But Meagan, So Harvey, Civilian Conservation Corps, President Roosevelt, And Papa, New Deal, But Martin

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Hardscrabble Christmas I
By Toni Lee Robinson

1     "Meagan! Time to get up." Meagan's eyes opened to the white glow of a gas lantern. Her mother stood by the bed. She spoke softly so as not to wake the younger children. Five sisters shared the bed. The younger girls slept on. Meagan groaned and sat up.
2     Then she remembered. It was the day before Christmas Eve. Just one more day of school! "Get up, Bertie!" Meagan prodded her younger sister.
3     Bertie didn't like early mornings. She frowned. Her eyes remained firmly closed. "Go away," she said.
4     "Beatrice Ann!" Meagan marveled at their mother's voice. It was so quiet it didn't wake the sleeping children. Powerful enough, though, to propel her sister out of bed instantly.
5     All in one motion, Bertie jumped up and stood on the floor, her eyes wide. "What, what?" she said. But their mother had already gone back to the kitchen. Meagan snickered. Bertie glared at her.
6     The two girls shivered in the lamplight. They hurried into their clothes. On the porch, they struggled into heavy coats. Meagan picked up the milk pail. As they went outside, she plucked the egg basket from its shelf. She thrust it at her sister. Bertie scowled and grabbed the basket. Then they were both hit by the bitter cold of the prairie winter.
7     Meagan bent her head against the freezing wind. The blowing snow stung every patch of bare skin. She pushed Bertie off in the direction of the hen house. Then she fought the wind to the cow shed. What a relief to close the shed door behind her!
8     She hefted hay into the troughs for the cows. Then she placed the milk stool at Blackie's side. The cow rolled her eyes and snorted. She cocked a huge hoof up under her belly. Wham! She kicked the stool and sent it flying. Meagan jumped back.
9     After a moment she stepped up to the cow again. She patted the big black shoulders. "Come on, girl," she crooned. "You're the best cow in the whole state of Montana. You're so special. Come on now. You can do it." Finally Blackie put her head down and began to chomp hay.

Paragraphs 10 to 19:
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