Many incidents might be cited illustrating their poverty. The young people were determined to be independent financially, so James engaged in daily labor. He secured work hauling stone as a railroad cut was thrust through close to Brunswick. He wore the skin on his hands to the bleeding point in many places, and then had difficulty in collecting his wages. Freely the Howlands divided what they had with the young couple in the economically depressed times. James then cut cordwood in a nearby forest, working from early till late, to earn 50 cents a day. Severe pain in his side made for sleepless nights. But the young couple resolved to live within their meansóand to suffer want rather than to run into debt. On their very limited budget Ellen could afford only one pint of milk a day for her child and herself. Then came a day when she had to cut out the nine-cent allowance for the milk supply for three days to have enough money to buy some cloth for a simple garment for the baby."I gave up the milk," she wrote, "and purchased the cloth for an apron to cover the bare arms of my child" (ibid., p. 243). She wrote of their experience:
We endeavored to keep up good courage and trust in the Lord. I did not murmur. . . . One day when our provisions were gone, husband wentto his employer to get money or provisions. It was a stormy day, and he walked three miles and back in the rain, passing through the village of Brunswick, where he had often lectured, carrying a bag of provisions on his back, tied in different apartments.
As he entered the house very weary my heart sank within me. My first feelings were that God had forsaken us. I said to my husband, "Have we come to this? Has the Lord left us?" I could not restrain my tears, and wept aloud for hours until I fainted (ibid., p. 242).
The young mother had reached an all-time low. Why, oh, why were their lives so hard when they had been dedicated to the cause of God? Regaining consciousness, she felt the cheering influence of the Spirit of God.
For six months they maintained their home in the Howland residence, but it was indeed a trying time. According to James, he suffered more in mind and body than he could show with pen and paper (JW to Leonard and Elvira Hastings, Apr. 27, 1848).