Jonas was often sent away to transact business for the farmer. He was a very excellent hand to do business. It requires several qualities to make a boy good at business. He must be gentlemanly in his manners, so as to speak to the persons that he is sent to, in a respectful and proper manner; he must be faithful, so as not to neglect what is intrusted to him; and he must be patient and persevering. Then he must also have considerable judgment and discretion; for when he is sent away from home on business, he must often be placed in circumstances that are unforeseen, and where he must act without instructions. In such cases, he will have to exercise his own judgment and discretion. Jonas was placed in such circumstances at one time, when he was sent to the carding-mill to get some rolls for Isabella.
The rolls which Isabella wanted were rolls of wool, as they are prepared at the mill ready for spinning. The wool is carded very fine, and then, by curious machinery, it is rolled out into rolls about three feet long, and as large round as a whip-handle at the middle. These rolls Isabella used to spin into yarn, at her spinning-wheel.
Isabella had spun nearly all her rolls, and she wanted Jonas to carry some wool to the carding-mill, and get some more. The carding-mill was not in the village upon the outlet stream; but it was upon another stream, which emptied into the pond, instead of flowing from it. It was the same stream that flowed by the land which Jonas and Oliver had cleared when he first came to live with the farmer; only the mill was at some distance from the mouth of the stream, back towards the high land. It was more than two miles, by the road, from the farmer’s house.
The farmer told Jonas where to get the wool, and then gave him some more business, at a place in the woods, about two miles beyond the mill. Oliver wanted to go too, and his father gave him leave. Oliver always liked to go to the mill, as the machine for carding the wool was a great curiosity.
Jonas put up the wool in a very large bundle, which almost filled up the bottom of the sleigh. Jonas himself sat upon the seat, with his feet under the bundle; but Oliver sat upon the bundle. He said it made a very soft seat.
They rode along pleasantly towards the mill. The snow-drifts were very high in some places on each side of the road; and the fences and walls were almost buried up.
“I wish that Josey was here,” said Oliver. “I think that he would like to see the carding-mill very much indeed.”
“Yes,” said Jonas.
“Only,” replied Oliver, “perhaps it would be dangerous to take him.”
“Why?” said Jonas.
“Why, because,” said Oliver, “I suppose he would touch the machinery, and perhaps get his hands torn off.”