“I want to go very much,” said Rollo.
“Very well,” said his father; “you are willing to go with him, I suppose, Jonas, are you not?”
“O yes, sir,” said Jonas.
“Well,” said Rollo, “let us go. We will he very careful, father, not to get into any difficulty.”
So the two chaises rode on, and Jonas and Rollo, in a few minutes, turned off by a narrow path that struck into the woods. Just as they were bending down their heads to pass under a great branch of a tree, Rollo looked along, and saw Lucy waving her handkerchief to him, as the chaise which she was in disappeared by a turn of the road.
Rollo at first felt a little uneasy to think that he had deserted his cousin, as it were. He thought that he should not have liked it exactly, if she had gone off, and left him alone so in the chaise. However, it was now too late to repent, and his attention was attracted by the wild and romantic scene around him. The path descended obliquely, by a rough, wet, and stony way, through a dark forest. He heard the sighing of the wind, in the tops of the tall trees, and the mellow notes of forest birds, far off, and high, which came rich and sweet to his ear with a peculiar expression of solitude and loneliness.
The boys rode on, and the path became more and more slippery, stony, and steep Rollo clung tight to Jonas, and begun to be somewhat afraid. He would have proposed to go back, but he was ashamed to do it. After a little time, he asked Jonas whether the path was as bad as that all the way.
“As bad as this!” said Jonas; “we call this very good. I will show you the bad road pretty soon.”
Rollo looked frightened, but said nothing.
“The road seems more wet than common to-day,” said Jonas, “I suppose on account of the rain yesterday; and I declare,” said he, “I am afraid we shall find the brook up.”
“The brook up!” said Rollo.
“Yes—why did not I think of that before? However, we must go on now.”
“Why?” said Rollo. “Why cannot we go back?”
“O, because we should be too late; besides, there is no danger, only we may have to wade a little.”
As they went on, the mud in the road grew deeper and deeper, and presently Old Trumpeter’s legs sunk far down among roots and mire. Rollo began to feel more and more alarmed, and heartily wished that he had taken his father’s advice.
Soon alter they came to a place where the path, for some distance before them, was full of water, deep and miry. Jonas said he thought that they had better go out upon one side; so he made the horse step over a log and go in among the trees and bushes. The branches brushed and scratched Rollo unmercifully, though he bent down, and leaned over to this side and that, continually, to escape them. He asked Jonas why this path had not dried, as well as the main road, where the chaises had gone; and Jonas told him that the sun and the wind were the great means of drying the open road, but that this narrow and secluded path was shaded from the sun, and sheltered from the wind, and that the water consequently remained a long time among the moss, and roots, and mire.