“No, it was not light,” said Phonny. “It was very heavy. What makes you think it was light?”
“By your walking,” replied Beechnut. “I have known some boys that when they took their lesson in keeping out of the way of horses’ forefeet, could not stand for a week after it. You have had most excellent luck, you may depend.”
By the time that Beechnut and Phonny reached the house, Malleville had put on her bonnet and was ready to go. Mary Erskine said that she would go with them a little way. Bella and Albert then wanted to go too. Their mother said that she had no objection, and so they all went along together.
“Did you know that we were going to have a new road?” said Mary Erskine to Beechnut.
“Are you?” asked Phonny eagerly.
“Yes,” said Mary Erskine. “They have laid out a new road to the corner, and are going to make it very soon. It will be a very good wagon road, and when it is made you can ride all the way. But then it will not be done in time for my raspberry party.”
“Your raspberry party?” repeated Phonny, “what is that?’
“Did not I tell you about it? I am going to invite you and all the children in the village that I know, to come here some day when the raspberries are ripe, and have a raspberry party,—like the strawberry party that we had to-day. There are a great many raspberries on my place.”
“I’m very glad,” said Malleville. “When are you going to invite us?”
“Oh, in a week or two,” said Mary Erskine. “But then the new road will not be done until the fall. They have just begun it. We can hear them working upon it in one place, pretty soon.”
The party soon came to the place which Mary Erskine had referred to. It was a point where the new road came near the line of the old one, and a party of men and oxen were at work, making a causeway, across a low wet place. As the children passed along, they could hear the sound of axes and the voices of men shouting to oxen. Phonny wished very much to go and see. So Mary Erskine led the way through the woods a short distance, till they came in sight of the men at work. They were engaged in felling trees, pulling out rocks and old logs which were sunken in the mire, by means of oxen and chains, and in other similar works, making all the time loud and continual vociferations, which resounded and echoed through the forest in a very impressive manner.
What interested Phonny most in these operations, was to see how patiently the oxen bore being driven about in the deep mire, and the prodigious strength which they exerted in pulling out the logs. One of the workmen would take a strong iron chain, and while two others would pry up the end of a log with crow-bars or levers, he would pass the chain under the end so raised, and then hook it together above. Another man would then back up a pair of oxen to the place, and sometimes two pairs, in order that they might be hooked to the chain which passed around the log. When all was ready, the oxen were started forward, and though they went very slowly, step by step, yet they exerted such prodigious strength as to tear the log out of its bed, and drag it off, roots, branches, and all, entirely out of the way.