But his progress was now interrupted by hearing another loud call behind him, back upon the pond.
“What’s that?” said Josey.
“Somebody calling,” said Jonas.
“More travellers lost,” said the woman.—“O dear me!”
He listened again, and heard the calls more distinctly. He thought he could distinguish his own name. He answered the call, and was himself answered in return by men’s voices, which now seemed more distinct and nearer.
“I know now who it is,” said Jonas. “It is your uncle and Amos, coming out after us. Franco was with them.”
Jonas was right. In a few minutes, the farmer and Amos came up, and they were exceedingly surprised when they saw Jonas with his oxen, drawing a sleigh, with a woman in it, off the pond, instead of a sled load of rafters from the woods.
“Jonas,” said he with astonishment, “how came you here?”
“I came to help Isaiah get off the pond,” said Jonas. “But how did you find out where we were?”
“Franco guided us,” said the farmer. “He followed the road along some time, and then he wanted to turn off suddenly towards the pond. We wouldn’t follow him for some time; but he would go that way, and no other. When he came to the shore of the pond, we found your rafter laid there, and that made us think you must have gone upon the ice, but we couldn’t imagine what for. At last, we found where you had left the sled, and then we began to halloo to you.”
“But, uncle,” said Josey, “didn’t you see our heap of rafters, by the road where we turned off?”
“No,” said his uncle.
“We put a load there.”
“Then they must have got pretty well covered up,” said he, “for we didn’t observe them.”
The whole party followed Franco, who led them out to the shore the shortest way. They took Isaiah and his mother to the house, and gave them some supper, and let them stay there that night. The next morning, when Jonas got up, he found that it was clearing away; and when, after breakfast, he looked out upon the pond, to see if he could see any thing of his sled, he observed, away out half a mile from shore, two short rows of stakes, sticking up in the snow, not far from on island. The body of the sled was wholly buried up and concealed from view.
The last of February drew nigh, which was the time fixed upon for Josey to go home. He had remained with his uncle much longer than his father had at first intended; but now they wanted him to return, before the roads broke up in the spring.
The evening before Josey was to go, the farmer was sitting by the fire, when Jonas came in from the barn.
“Jonas,” said the farmer, “I have got to write a letter to my brother, to send by Josey to-morrow; why won’t you take a sheet of paper and write for me, and I’ll tell you what to say. You are rather handier with the pen than I am.”