“Now,” said Jonas, “I am afraid we’re in difficulty.”
“Why?” said Oliver; “is that a very bad place?”
“Yes,” said Jonas, “it looks like a very bad place.”
Oliver saw that the snow was very deep on the upper side of the road, and that it sloped away in such a manner that it would be very difficult for them to get along, even if the road-way was hard.
“Perhaps it is hard,” said Oliver.
“No,” said Jonas, “I think it cannot be, for the bank slopes to the south, and the sun has been shining upon it all day. However, we must try it.”
The horse hesitated a moment when he came to this place, for he knew by instinct that it would be very hard for him to get through it.
“Come, General,” said Jonas. “Though, stop a moment, Oliver; perhaps we had better get out and walk, or the sleigh may upset.”
So they got out. Oliver walked by the horse, keeping on the upper side of the road. Jonas went behind, taking hold of the back part of the sleigh, so as to hold it in case it should tip down too far. They went on thus for some distance tolerably well. The horse sometimes got in pretty far, and for a moment would plunge and stagger, as if he could hardly get along; but then he would work his way out, and go on a little farther.
At length, however, the old General came to a full stop. He sank down, shoulders under, in the snow. The more he struggled to get free, the deeper he got in. Jonas stepped on before him, and patted him on the head, and tried to quiet him.
“Jonas,” said Oliver, “let us stop; I don’t believe we can go any farther.”
“Nor I,” said Jonas. “At least I don’t think we can get the old General any farther.”
“Nor back again either,” said Oliver, “as I see.”
The boys stood still, looking upon the horse a moment, utterly at a loss what to do.
“Oliver,” said Jonas, “should you be willing to stay here and take care of the horse, while I go on and see about the logs?”
“Why—I—don’t know,” said Oliver. “I’m afraid he won’t stand quiet.”
“O, I shall get him out of the snow, first,” said Jonas, “and take him to some level place, where he’ll stand well.”
“How shall you get him out?” asked Oliver.
“Why, we will unharness him first,” said Jonas, “and then draw the sleigh back out of the way.”
So Jonas began to unbuckle the straps of the harness, in order to liberate the horse. Oliver tried to help him, but he could not do much, the horse was so deep in the snow. And, besides, he was standing, or rather lying, in such a position, that many parts of the harness were drawn so tense, that Oliver had not strength enough to unbuckle them.
However, Jonas at length got the sleigh separated from the horse, and drew it back out of the way. He trampled the snow down around the horse, as much as he could, and then the horse, with a leap and a plunge, recovered his footing. He stood deep in the snow yet, however.