About the middle of the winter, the farmer went to market with his produce. The vehicle on which he carried it was a kind of box upon runners, with a pole in front, to which two horses were fastened. He was gone three days.
When he came back, he said that he had bargained for another load of his produce, at the market town, and that he was going to send Jonas with it. Jonas was very glad when he heard this. He liked to take journeys.
“What day shall I go, sir?” said Jonas.
“Day after to-morrow,” said the farmer, “as early as possible. We’ll let the horses rest one day.”
About the middle of the afternoon, on the day following the one on which this conversation had taken place, Jonas and the farmer began to load up the box sleigh, in order to have it ready for the morning. He had about forty miles to go, and he wanted to get to market, deliver his load, and return five or ten miles that same evening.
It was quite cold that afternoon, and it seemed to be growing colder and colder. Jonas got the box sleigh ready under a shed, first shoveling in some snow under the runners, in order that the horses might draw the sled out easily, when it was loaded. He put in the various articles of produce, which were contained in bags, and firkins, and boxes. Over these he spread blankets and buffalo-skins, and put in a bag of oats for his horses, and a box of bread and cheese for himself. He did not know whether Franco was to go with him, or not; but he arranged the bags in such a way, that he could easily make a warm nest for him in one corner, if the farmer should allow him to go.
The farmer helped him about all the arrangements, and, when they were completed, he told Jonas to go in and get his supper, and go to bed, so as to get up and set off early in the morning.
“It will be a fine starlight night,” said he, “and you’d better be ten miles on your way by sunrise.”
When Amos got up the next morning, and went out with his lantern, to go to the barn, as he passed by the shed on his way, he saw that the sleigh was gone. He proceeded to the barn, and, as he opened the door, he was startled at something which suddenly darted past him and rushed out.
“What’s that?” said Oliver, who was behind him. “It is Franco,” said he. “Where is he going?”
Franco ran off to the shed where Jonas had harnesses his horses, and began smelling around upon the ground. He followed the scent along the yard, up to a post by the side of the house, where Jonas had stopped a moment ago to go in and get his great-coat, when all was ready; and then, after pausing here a moment, he darted off towards the road.
“Here! Franco, Franco,” said Amos, “come back here.”
“Franco, Franco,” repeated Oliver, “here—here—here—here.”
Franco paid no attention to these calls, but ran off along the road at full speed.
In the mean time, Jonas had traveled rapidly onward, by the light of the stars, over the glittering and frosty road.