Jonas then went to Mr. Woodman, and transacted his business successfully, according to the farmer’s directions. Then he turned around, and began to walk back, as fast as he could go.
“I am afraid,” said he to himself, “that Oliver is almost out of patience waiting for me.”
Jonas walked on until he came out of the woods, at the house where he had seen the boy cut wood. As he approached the place, he saw that the boy was there still; but there was a man with him. The man had a goad-stick in his hand.
“He is driving a team somewhere,” said Jonas to himself. “I wonder where his oxen are.”
A moment afterwards, Jonas came in sight of the oxen, which were in the road, having been hid from his view before, by the wood pile.
The man and the boy looked at Jonas, as he walked towards them. The man smiled a little, as if he knew Jonas; but Jonas thought that he had never seen him before.
“Well, Jonas,” said the man, “did you find Mr. Woodman?”
“Yes, sir,” replied Jonas. He wondered how the man happened to know his name.
“I’m glad of it,” said he; “and you’d better make haste back. Rollo is almost tired of waiting for you.”
“Oliver, you mean,” said Jonas.
“No,” said the man,—“Rollo; he said his name was Rollo.”
“Rollo?” said Jonas; “his name is Oliver. I don’t see what made him tell you that his name was Rollo.”
So saying, Jonas walked thoughtfully away, wondering what this could mean. He had never known Oliver to do any such thing before. Oliver, he thought, would not tell a falsehood on any account. He was not inclined to say any thing of that kind by way of jest. He was a very sober and sedate, as well as honest boy. Besides, he could not think what should have put Rollo into Oliver’s head. He did not recollect that he had said any thing of Rollo for a long time. In fact, he had seldom told Oliver any thing about him; and what could have induced him to call himself Rollo, he could not conceive.
However, he had nothing to do but to go on, for the more he attempted to imagine some explanation of the mystery, the more he was puzzled. So he walked on as diligently as he could.
He came, at length, in sight of the spot where he had left the horse and Oliver. The horse was there, but Oliver was not to be seen.
“He has got tired of waiting, and has gone away,” said Jonas; “or perhaps he is playing about near.”
This last supposition was pretty soon, for a moment, confirmed; for Jonas saw, very soon after, a boy’s head on the bank of the brook, at a little distance below.
“There he is now,” said Jonas to himself. “No, it isn’t he. That boy isn’t dressed like Oliver. I wonder who it is.”
The boy had a long pole in his hand, and was pushing cakes of ice with it. He was so intent upon this amusement, that at first he did not see Jonas; but, presently, looking up, his eye suddenly caught a view of Jonas, coming, and he instantly dropped his pole, and ran towards him, shouting,—