“All along the shore,” said a large boy, with a long stick in his hand. “Let’s go and get some more, boys,” he added, “and brighten up our fire.”
So saying, he wheeled round and skated away, the whole crowd of skaters, small and great, following him at full speed. As they swept round by the fire, the light glared brightly upon their faces and forms, but they soon disappeared from view in the darkness beyond; only Jonas could hear the sound of their skates, ringing over the ice, as they receded.
“What a great, hot fire!” said Oliver.
“Yes,” said Isabella, “I never saw such a large fire on the ice. I don’t see how they got all the wood.”
“I suppose,” said Jonas, “that they got out the wood from the forest, along the shore, and threw it out upon the ice, before they put on their skates, and then they could easily bring it to the fire. But hark! they are coming back again.”
The fire was so bright where they were, and it flashed so strongly upon the ice around, that they could not see the skaters until they came pretty near. The dark figures, however, soon began to appear. The foremost was a tall young man, who came forward with great speed, pushing before him a long and slender log, half decayed and dry. One end he held before him in his hands, and the other glided along upon the smooth ice towards the fire.
There followed close behind him another skater, with the fragment of an old stump upon his shoulder; then several others, with branches, sticks, dry bushes, and fragments of every shape and size. These they piled upon the fire as they swept up alongside of it, and then wheeled away back from the heat which radiated from it. Two large boys came on, bringing a long log between them, one at each end. It looked large, but it was really not very heavy, as it was hollow and decayed. They hove it up, with great effort, upon the fire, and its fall upon the heap threw up a large, bright column of sparks and flame. Another boy had the top of a young spruce, which he had cut off with his knife, by dint of great labor; it made a great roaring and crackling when it was put upon the fire. And, finally, behind all the rest, there came a little boy not so big as Oliver, tugging away at a long branch, which he dragged behind him, and put it upon the fire too.
“Well,” said the farmer’s wife, after a little time, “we mustn’t stay here much longer.”
“We’ll drive around the fire, in one great sweep,” said Jonas.
So he started the horse on, and took a great circuit about the fire. The skaters went with him on each side of the sleigh. Then they turned their course towards home again. The light of the fire shone upon the distant point of land, and illuminated it faintly, but in a very beautiful manner, and showed Jonas which way to drive.
Isabella turned back her head repeatedly, to look at the fire, as they rode on and left it far behind them. It seemed to grow smaller and smaller, as they receded; and at length, when Jonas turned around the point of land, it disappeared entirely. In a few minutes afterward, the moon arose, and lighted them the rest of the way home.