“Why, Rollo!” exclaimed Jonas, in his turn. “How came you to be here?”
It was Rollo, indeed. Jonas was astonished. He could scarcely believe his senses. “Is it possible that this is you?” said he.
“Yes,” said Rollo, laughing with great delight, “I believe it is.”
“And how came you here? I left Oliver here an hour ago, little thinking that he would turn into Rollo while I was gone.”
“Oliver?” said Rollo, “who is Oliver?”
“Why, don’t you know Oliver?” said Jonas. “He is the farmer’s son. He came with me, and I left him here to the care of the sleigh. Haven’t you seen any thing of him?”
“No,” replied Rollo, “nothing; there was nobody here when I came.”
“What can have become of him, then?” said Jonas. “I hope he is not lost in the woods.”
So saying, Jonas began to call aloud, “Oliver! Oliver!” But no Oliver answered.
“Let us see if we can find any tracks,” said he; and he and Rollo began to look about for tracks.
“What’s this?” said Rollo, looking down intently upon the snow, pretty near where the horse had been tied.
“Any tracks?” said Jonas.
“No,” said Rollo, “but some writing in the snow.”
So Rollo began to read the writing in a slow manner, as he walked along from one word to another; for, the letters being large, the sentence extended quite a distance from where it first attracted his attention. He read as follows:—
“’Jonas,—I—am—tired of writing,’—no, ’waiting. I am going—back—to—the—mill.’”
“Let me see,” said Jonas.
So Jonas came to the place, and saw the writing. Rollo had read it correctly.
“Yes,” said Jonas, “he has gone back to the mill, no doubt. We will go, and we shall find him there;—but when did you come from home? and how did you find where I was?”
Rollo, in answer to Jonas’s question, explained to him that his father had given him permission to take the horse and sleigh and Nathan, and come and pay Jonas a visit. He had arrived at the farmer’s that day, just after Jonas and Oliver had set out. The farmer told them where Jonas had gone, and he was very desirous of going after him. He said that he had no doubt that he could find him.
The farmer had hesitated a little; but finally he gave his consent, and Rollo set off, leaving Nathan at the farmer’s, as he was rather tired. He had followed Jonas to the mill, and then he inquired of the people whether Jonas had been there. A man in the road told him that he had seen Jonas ride away on a certain road; and so Rollo had followed on in the road pointed out to him, as he knew that it was not far that he was to go.
When Rollo had got so far in his story, Jonas interrupted him to ask,—
“Were you on foot, Rollo?”
“No,” replied Rollo, “in my sleigh.”
“And where is your sleigh?” asked Jonas.