Josey looked in the direction in which they were going, which was towards the south-west, and he saw a long, white bank of cloud, extending over that quarter of the heavens.
“Is that a snow-bank?” asked Josey.
“It is a bank of snow-clouds, I suppose,” said Jonas. “They call it a snow-bank.”
By the time that the boys reached the mill, a hazy appearance had overspread the whole sky. They took out the grist, and left it to be ground, and then immediately got into the sleigh again, and commenced their return. Before they had gone far, the sky became entirely overcast, and the distant hills to the south-east were enveloped in what appeared to be a kind of mist, but which was really falling snow.
“How windy it is!” said Josey.
“No,” said Jonas, “it is not much more windy than it was when we came; but then we were riding with it, and now we are going against it. You feel cold, don’t you?”
“Why, yes, a little,” said Josey, “now the sun has gone, and the wind has come.”
“Well, then,” said Jonas, “get down in the bottom of the sleigh, and I’ll cover you up with buffaloes.”
So Josey crept down into the bottom of the sleigh, and Jonas covered him up; and he found his place very warm and comfortable.
“How do you like your place?” said Jonas.
“Very well,” said Josey, “only I can’t see where we are going.”
“Trust yourself to me,” said Jonas. “I’ll drive you safely.”
“I know it,” said Josey, “and I wish you’d tell me, now and then, what you see.”
“Well,” replied Jonas, “I see a load of hay coming along on the pond before us.”
“A large load?” said Josey.
“Yes,” replied Jonas; “and now we’re going pretty near the round island. There, the load of hay is turning off by another road. O, there is a sleigh behind it; it was hid before. The sleigh is coming this way.”
“I don’t hear any bells,” said Josey.
“We are too far off yet; you’ll hear them presently.”
Very soon Josey did hear the bells. They came nearer and nearer, and at last jingled by close to his ears. As soon as the sound had gone by, he threw up the buffalo with his arms, and looked out, saying to Jonas,—
“I guess they wondered what you had got here, covered up with the buffalo, Jonas.”
Jonas smiled, and Josey covered himself up again. Not long after this, it began to snow, and Jonas said that he could hardly see the shore in some places.
“Suppose it should snow so fast,” said Josey, “that you could not see the land at all; then, if you should come to two roads, how could you tell which one to take?”
“Why, one way,” replied Jonas, “would be to let Franco trot on before us; and he’d know the way.”
“Is Franco coming along with us?” said Josey.
“Yes,” said Jonas, “he is close behind.”
“Why don’t you call him Ney?” asked Josey; “that is his real name.”