Stories of Rainbow and Lucky, volume 5: Up the River, by Jacob Abbott (NY: Harper & Brothers, 1860)
RAINBOW AND LUCKY.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty, by
HARPER & BROTHERS,
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York.
RAINBOW AND LUCKY.
ORDER OF THE VOLUMES.
THE THREE PINES.
UP THE RIVER.
RAINBOW AND LUCKY.
UP THE RIVER.
[table of contents]
I. Conversation in the Stable-yard … 11
II. The Contract … 17
III. The First Trip … 30
IV. Mix’s Corner … 43
V. Arrival at No. 5 … 52
VI. Rainbow’s Axe … 63
VII. Tempering Tools … 74
VIII. The Raising … 82
IX. Toolie’s Questions … 96
X. Toolie’s School … 102
XI. Bad Piece of Road … 111
XII. Running Water … 120
XIII. The Overflow … 130
XIV. The Snow-storm … 138
XV. Camping Out … 145
XVI. Lucky Stolen … 159
XVII. The Mail on a Hand-sled … 177
XVIII. Conclusion … 190
[list of engravings]
The Difficulty … Frontispiece.
Harnessing the Wagon … 15
Making the Contract … 24
The First Post-office … 35
Washing-day in the Woods … 53
Setting the Axe … 71
The School-house … 107
The Children’s Pond … 121
The Camp … 154
Lucky with a White Face … 174
Conversation in the Stable Yard.
One day, two boys, named Thomas and Jerry, were engaged in harnessing a horse to a wagon in a stable-yard in the town where Rainbow lived. Thomas was about eighteen years old, and Jerry, who was considerably younger, seemed to be about fourteen. Jerry had just come to work at that place.
“I can finish harnessing this wagon,” said Jerry, “if you have any thing to do in the barn, and then I’ll take it round to the door.”
“No,” said Thomas, “I can’t trust you.”
“Can’t trust me!” repeated Jerry; “why not?”
“Because I don’t know you,” replied Thomas. “You have only been here two days yet.”
“And don’t you trust any body unless you know them?” asked Jerry.
“No,” said Thomas, “not if I can help it. I
don’t feel suspicious of them exactly, but I don’t really trust them till I’ve seen them tried; that is, not if there is any thing important at stake.”
“I’m sure there is nothing important at stake now,” said Jerry. “It is nothing but the harnessing of a wagon.”
“There is a great deal at stake,” said Thomas. “This wagon belongs to a man stopping at this tavern. Now suppose I were to leave a greenhorn to harness it, and he should leave a buckle loose, and the man pays his bill, gets into the wagon, and drives away, and then, the first hill that he comes to, the wagon, for want of the buckle, comes down against the horse’s heels, and the horse runs, and every thing comes to a smash, then where do you think I should be?”
“Where should you be?” asked Jerry.
“I should be adrift,” said Thomas, “and sent packing in a very short time. The man would come back to the tavern and claim damages, and I should be sent off for not harnessing properly.”
“It would not be your fault,” said Jerry; “it would be mine.”
“It is all the same thing,” said Thomas. “You are put under my charge, and I’m responsible at present, for all that you do, so that
you may depend upon it I shall keep a close eye upon you for some little time to come.”
“I’m not a greenhorn,” said Jerry, speaking in rather a sullen tone, as if somewhat displeased at having such a term as that applied to him.
“No,” replied Thomas, “I did not call you a greenhorn. I was only supposing a case. I said, ‘If I were to trust to a greenhorn.’ I did not say that you were one. In fact, the boys from up the river are generally pretty wide awake, and that is the reason we hired you. Trigget has engaged a black boy to carry the mail up your way.”
“A black boy!” repeated Jerry.
“He is not exactly black,” said Thomas, “though he’s very decidedly colored. His name is Rainbow.”
“What did he get a colored boy for?” asked Jerry.
“Why not?” asked Thomas. “Do you think colored boys are all fools?”
“No,” said Jerry, “but they are generally so saucy.”
“Not all of them,” said Thomas; “and as for Rainbow, he is a pretty good fellow. He’s a smart fellow too. He’ll put the mail through, let the going he what it will, if any body can.
It’s hard work in bad going, but easy work in good going. He’ll have to go on horseback, except in the winter; then it’s tolerably good sleighing.”
“Yes,” said Jerry, “it’s excellent sleighing when there gets to be two or three feet of snow on the ground to cover up all the stones and stumps in the road.”
“It’s pretty good business, carrying the mail up the river,” said Thomas. “I should like to have got the berth myself.”
“Why did you not ask Trigget to give it to you?” asked Jerry.
“I had not any horse,” said Thomas. “You see, Trigget could not spare one of his horses, and he wanted somebody to take the contract that could furnish a horse. Rainbow had a horse, and I hadn’t, and that made just the difference.”
“How did Rainbow get his horse?” asked Jerry.
“He bought him,” said Thomas.
“Where did he get the money to pay for him?” asked Jerry.
“He did not pay for him,” replied Thomas. “He bought him on credit.”
“How did he find any body to trust him?” asked Jerry.
“Oh, every body trusts him,” replied Thomas. “They won’t trust me as they do him, and I don’t know why. You see, the fact is, Rainbow is a peculiar fellow. When he is acting for any body else, he always looks out for their interest first, and for his own next, and so every body likes to employ him.”
While the boys had been holding this conversation, they had continued their work of harnessing the wagon, and now it was ready. Thomas directed Jerry to lead the horse round to the front door.
HARNESSING THE WAGON.
“And hitch him to the post?” asked Jerry.
“No,” replied Thomas, “don’t hitch him to any post, but stand there and hold him till the man comes out. When the man has gone, come back into the stable, and I will give you something to do.”
When Jerry returned to the stable, he went in and passed along the range of stalls toward the farther end, where he saw Thomas at work. Lucky, Rainbow’s horse, was in one of these stalls. When he heard somebody coming, he turned around and looked to see who it was, and when he saw that it was a white boy, he looked disappointed, and turned his head back again at once, and went on eating his hay.
Lucky usually paid very little attention to any one who came near his stall, when he found that he was not a colored person.
In about an hour after this Rainbow came. Lucky seemed to know his step, for he neighed quite loud when he heard him coming.
“Yes, Lucky,” said Rainbow, “you’ve guessed right. It is Rainbow. But I am not certain that you would laugh quite so loud if you knew what hard work you and I have got to do this winter.” So saying, Rainbow entered Lucky’s stall, and after patting him on the head
once or twice, and stroking down his face, he unfastened the halter, and led him out upon the barn floor.
There was a strong rope hanging down from a staple driven into a beam overhead, with a hook at the lower end of it. Rainbow fastened this hook into a ring of Lucky’s halter, and then passed the end of the halter around Lucky’s neck and buckled it, so as to make all snug.
“The time will come. Lucky,” said Rainbow, “when I shall not have to fasten you when you are going to be curried, but at present I think it best not to run any risks with you. I think it very probable that you would like a little run of half a mile or so down the road, and me after you. I have no objection to your taking a run down the road, but when you go, I would a little rather go on your back than run behind you. You understand, I suppose?”
Lucky turned his head toward Rainbow as he said this, and looked at him with a very queer expression, as Rainbow thought, in his eyes. In fact, he winked; but whether there; but whether there was any meaning in his wink or not, may, perhaps, be somewhat doubtful, especially considering the fact that he winked with both eyes.
After Rainbow had curried Lucky, and rubbed him down, until his neck, his sides, his legs, and,
in fact, every part of him, glistened like silk, he unhooked the rope from the halter, and then taking hold of his mane with his left hand, he mounted upon his back at a single bound.
“Where are you going with Lucky?” said Thomas, who just then came into the stable from a side door.
“I am going to water him,” said Rainbow.
“There’s plenty of water in a tub in the yard,” said Thomas.
“Yes,” replied Rainbow, “but I am going to give Lucky a little run. Besides, he never likes to drink out of a tub when there is a brook within a mile.”
So saying, Rainbow rode out of the barn, and thence, passing through the yard, he came out into the road, and turned in the direction toward the brook. Lucky was very eager to set of upon the run, but Rainbow restrained him by his voice.
“Gently, Lucky,” said Rainbow, “gently. Whoa! whoa—oa! Go slowly, Lucky. When you are coming back, after you have got your drink, you may go as fast as you please.”
Lucky, in obedience to these instructions, moderated his speed, and trotted on in a quiet manner along the pleasant road, gently deseending. There was a farm-house and a mow-
ing-field on one side of the road and an orchard on the other.
At length, after going on about a mile, Lucky came to a place where a brook ran across the road under a bridge. On the lower side of the bridge was a track leading down into the water. This track had been worn by wagons and horses going down. There was a very broad but shallow sheet of water here, extremely clear and transparent. The bottom was formed of a beautiful golden-colored sand. Rainbow drove Lucky down into the water, and then allowed him to stop and drink.
“Now, Lucky,” said Rainbow, as Lucky, after drinking a little while, lifted up his head and stood still, apparently considering whether he wanted any more, “you’re coming to the time when you will have to begin the serious business of life.”
Lucky put his head down to the water, and began to drink a little more.
“Up to this time,” continued Rainbow, “you have had little else to do but to trot about and play. Now comes the real work. All this fall and winter you have got to travel twenty-four miles up the river and back, twice a week, with me and a heavy mail-bag on your back through mud and rain, and cold and snow. We shall
have to take it as it comes, Lucky. There’ll be five dollars fine if we fail to get back in season; so we shall have to face it, blow high or blow low.”
Here Lucky raised his head again, and, standing at his ease, began to look this way and that a little, over a pretty green meadow that extended for some distance on that side of the road. At the margin of the meadow, where the land began to rise toward a hill, and near a grove of trees that was growing there, a chestnut horse was feeding. Lucky wondered what horse it was.
“You seem to make light of it now, Lucky,” continued Rainbow, “but you’ll find it serious business before you get through the winter, you may depend. But then, after a hard and uncomfortable day’s journey, you’ll enjoy your good warm stable, and your hay and oats, all the better for what you will have gone through. I always find it so myself, and so will you.”
Here Lucky gave a long and loud neigh. The chestnut horse looked up from his grass, and after gazing earnestly for a moment toward the road, he neighed in reply.
“Lucky,” said Rainbow, “you ought not to be calling to that horse, instead of paying attention to what I am saying.”
Lucky thought that ho would like exceedingly if he were only at liberty to gallop across the meadow to the place where the chestnut horse was feeding. He turned his head round to look at Rainbow’s knees, with a view of considering whether there was any possible chance of getting him off. He also looked at the fence, to see if there was any place where he could jump over, but before he arrived at any conclusion in respect to these points, Rainbow drew up the halter, turned his head, and conducted him out of the water, and up into the road.
“Now, Lucky,” said Rainbow, “you may go back to the stable just as fnst as you please.”
So saying, he leaned forward, dropped the halter upon the horse’s neck, and uttered a loud cheer, which had the effect of setting Lucky off at the top of his speed. He went on as if he were running a race, and had a whole troop pf competitors behind him, up the long ascent, until he reached the tavern yard, and there Rainbow turned him in, in order to go back to his stable. Lucky showed no desire to go in. He would have liked to have galloped on through the village. But Rainbow patted him on the neck on the left-hand side, and, by the halter, drew his head a little to the right, and so indicated to him that he was to go back to the stable.
As Rainbow was passing on through the stable door, Jerry, who was just then coming down from the barn chamber with a peck measure full of oats in his hands, told him that Trigget wanted to see him in the bar-room of the tavern.
“When?” asked Rainbow.
“Now,” said Jerry. “He said he wished to see you as soon as you came back.”
“Then I’ll go in directly,” said Rainbow, “just as soon as I have put Lucky into this stall.”
Rainbow accordingly went into the house as soon as he bad put Lucky up. He found Trigget in what was called the bar-room, though there was really no bar in it. There was a little counter in the corner by the side of the fire, with a desk behind it, at which the tavern-keeper kept his accounts. There was a big book lying open upon the counter, full of names, and an inkstand by the side of it. When Rainbow came in, Trigget was standing at the desk, counting some money.
“Ah! Rainbow,” said he, when Rainbow entered, “I am glad you have come. I am going to write out our contract, and I wish first to talk with you, and make it sure that we understand it right. Take a seat there by the fire.”
It was quite a cool autumnal day, and there
was a small fire burning in an open iron stove, which had been built into the fireplace. The fireplace was surmounted with a broad oval funnel which turned at right angles, and entered the chimney just above the mantel-piece.
MAKING THE CONTRACT.
Rainbow took his seat by the fire, and then Trigget resumed.
“In the first place, it is understood that you are to carry the mail up the river as far as No.5 twice a week—up Mondays and down Wednesdays; up Thursdays and down Saturdays, for eight dollars a week.”
“Yes, sir,” said Rainbow.
“And that is to pay for both you and your horse.”
“Yes, sir,” said Rainbow.
“It covers every thing, in fact,” continued Trigget. “You are to pay all expenses of any kind. I shall deliver you the mail here every Monday and Thursday morning; and you are to deliver it, and bring back the return mail, without any expense to the company, on any pretext or excuse whatever, other than the eight dollars a week.”
“Yes,” said Rainbow, “that is the way I understand it.”
“The mail is due at No.5 at six o’clock,” continued Trigget. “You can’t travel more than three miles an hour with Lucky, and go twenty-four miles a day. It is about twenty-four miles to Squire Holden’s, I suppose. A horse can go six miles an hour, if he has only ten or twelve miles a day to go, and keep it up without loss of flesh. But you can’t depend keeping a horse in good condition, and drive him twenty-four miles a day, if he goes more than three miles an hour. Many horses will go four; but Lucky is young, and if you don’t wish to run any risk of hurting him, you had better not drive him more than three—that
is, you had better let him walk nearly all the way.”
“I will,” said Rainbow.
“Then it will take you eight hours to go,” continued Trigget, “or nine, if you stop one hour by the way. So you must set off at nine o’clock in the morning, in order to get there in time; but you can, in fact, set off as much earlier as you please. You can have the mail-bag whenever you like, after midnight.”
“I shall wish to set off pretty early,” said Rainbow.
“If you fail at any time of getting in by six o’clock at No. 5,” added Trigget, “it is of no great consequence, except in respect to your own character for efficiency in carrying through what you undertake; for there is no fine to pay for failures at that end of the line, because there is no connection to make there. But coming back it is different. There’s a fine of five dollars every time you fail in getting here in season.”
“What time must I be here?” asked Rainbow.
“At half past five o’clock,” said Trigget. “I set off at six for Southerton, and I want the river mail to take with me. I never wait three seconds for it. In order to be sorted, and made
ready for me, it must be here at half past five, and every time you fail of getting it here in season there will be five dollars to pay, and either you or the company will have to pay it.”
“Which of us will it be?” asked Rainbow.
“That depends upon the bargain we make,” said Trigget. “I have no doubt that you will do all that any body can do to get through, but you will fail sometimes. In bad traveling, you can start as early as you please after midnight; still, sometimes it will be impossible to get through. There’s a risk about it. We take that risk into the account in making the contracts, and we are willing that you should take it or not, just as you please. If you take it, we allow you twenty dollars more as an equivalent.”
“What do you mean by an equivalent?” asked Rainbow.
“Why, an equivalent for the risk,” said Trigget. “Twenty dollars, you see, just makes four fines. If we give you twenty dollars in consideration of your taking the risk of the fines, then, in case you fail more than four times in the course of the year, you will lose. If you fail less than four times, you will gain. If you fail exactly four times, then you will just hold your own.”
Rainbow was silent. He seemed to be considering the subject.
“You can decide now, or you can take time to consider,” said Trigget.
“I think I will decide now,” said Rainbow, “and will take the risk for twenty dollars. I don’t believe I shall miss more than four times.”
“Very well,” said Trigget; “then you take the risk, and I will write the contract accordingly.”
So Trigget began to write, Rainbow remaining all the time quiet at the fire, thinking of the risk that he was about to assume. Presently Trigget said the paper was ready, and he read as follows:
“ ‘It is hereby agreed between the stage company and Rainbow, that said Rainbow undertakes to carry the mail from this place up the river to the township No.5, twice a week for one year, beginning on the 1st of November. He is to receive the mail at any time he pleases after midnight on Monday and Thursday, and is to do his best diligence to deliver it at Squire Holden’s, in No.5, at six o’clock on the same day. He is to receive the mail there at any time he pleases after midnight on Wednesday and Saturday, and is to deliver it at half past
five at this place on the same days, under a penalty of five dollars, to be paid by him for every failure.
“ ‘He is to receive for this service eight dollars per week, and an additional sum of twenty dollars in consideration of the risk of failures, and of fines to be paid in consequence.’ ”
After having drawn up this document, and having read it over to Rainbow, Trigget signed it himself in the name of the stage company, and then Rainbow affixed his signature to it.
“Who shall we have to keep it for us?” asked Trigget.
“Mr. James,” said Rainbow.
“Very well,” replied Trigget; “we’ll send it to Mr. James. Or, if you please to take that trouble, you may make another copy, and then I will keep one and you shall keep the other.”
Rainbow liked this last plan very much; so he took his place at the desk—Trigget, in the mean time, going out to the stable to see about the horses—and there made a careful copy of the document. Trigget came back about the time that he had finished it, and then both signed the second copy as they had done the first. Trigget then took one, and Rainbow the other. Rainbow carried his copy home to show to his mother, and also to deposit it in her care.
The First Trip.
Rainbow was so much interested in the work which he had undertaken, and so eager to guard against every possibility of failure, that at first he conceived the idea of setting out soon after midnight, in order to make it certain that he would arrive at No. 5 before the time when the mail was due there; but, on more mature reflection, he concluded that it would be foolish to go to any such extremes in his caution, and, besides, he thought it might possibly be injurious to Lucky to do his work at unseasonable hours. Finally, he concluded to allow two hours for accidents, in addition to the nine hours which Trigget had calculated for, and to set off at seven o’clock when it was good weather and good traveling, with a view of allowing more time when the roads were bad. In coming down, as there was then more at stake, inasmuch as at the lower end of the line there was a connection to make, and a fine to pay in ease of failure, he determined to allow two hours and a half for accidents, and so set out at six o’clock.
Accordingly, at seven o’clock on the morning of November the 1st, Rainbow came out from the stable, leading Lucky all saddled and bridled, and ready for the journey. The post-office was in a small building adjoining the tavern. The mail was made up by the postmaster late in the evening of the day before, and left in the office in a place where Rainbow could get it, for the office was not opened regularly until eight o’clock. There was a communication between the tavern and the post-office, by means of which Rainbow could go in through a door opening from one end of the ball. The key of this door was kept hung up in a certain corner where Rainbow could always find it.
It was quite early in the morning when Rainbow came out with his horse, the sun being but just risen. Rainbow led Lucky round to the front side of the tavern, and fastened him to a post. Then he went in, took down the key from its corner, unlocked the post-office door, and entered the post-office. He found the mail-bag lying upon a table near a window, where the postmaster had promised to place it. He brought out the bag, locked the door, put the key in its place, and then placed the bag across the saddle upon Lucky’s back.
“Now, Lucky,” said he, “you’ve got the most
valuable load on your back that you ever had to carry. You have got the United States mail.”
Lucky turned his head and looked at the end of the bag, which was hanging down on that side. When Rainbow put the load upon his back he thought it was a bag of corn, but he observed now that the bag was of leather, and that it was fastened by a chain which passed through a row of staples, and was secured at the end by a padlock. He did not understand this sort of mechanism at all, and after gazing at it intently for a moment, he turned his head forward again, and then put his mouth down toward the ground, to see if he could reach a little tuft of grass that was growing at the foot of the post.
Presently Rainbow unfastened him from the post, and, having put his foot in the stirrup, was just going to mount him, when Trigget appeared at the door of the tavern.
“Well, Rainbow,” said he,” I see you’re off.”
“I’m all ready,” said Rainbow, “and I shall be off very soon.”
“You’ve got a bad day to begin your work,” said Trigget.
“Ah!” said Rainbow, looking up at the sky at the same time. “Now I thought it was going to be a very pleasant day.”
“Yes,” said Trigget, “and that’s what I call a bad day. It is always best to take trouble the heavy end foremost. Then things will be all the time mending. You are beginning your contract with fair weather and good traveling, and you’ll get an altogether false idea of what you have got to do.”
“No,” said Rainbow, “I’m very glad to have a good day to begin.”
“I think it is very unlucky for you myself,” said Trigget. “You see, there is just about the same proportion of bad days and of good days in every year; and now, to-night, instead of thinking, when you go to bed, that you have got through one of your bad days, you will have to think that you have used up one of your pleasant ones.”
Rainbow laughed; but, without replying, he bade Trigget good-by, and set out on his journey.
After leaving the village, Rainbow turned off from the main road, and went on for several miles along the bank of the river. The stream was here broad and shallow, and flowed white and foaming over a rocky bed. The road followed the bank in a very pleasant manner, a green border of grass lying between it and the river on one side, and the margin of a forest on the other.
Along this pleasant way Lucky proceeded at a gentle trot, with Rainbow and the mail-bag upon his back, and the morning sun shining cheerfully upon him. Rainbow felt very proud and happy as he sat musing upon his condition and prospects. At the end of his reflection, he clapped his hand upon his thigh, and said to himself,
“Once let me get Lucky paid for, so that I can feel that he is really mine, and I would not give sixpence to be a king.”
After going on about five miles, Rainbow arrived at the first post-office, where he was to stop and deliver the mail.
The post-office was in a small building adjoining a sort of store. Rainbow drove Lucky up to a post, and, dismounting, fastened him. He then took the mail-bag off the saddle, and carried it into the office.
“This is Rainbow, I suppose?” said the post-master.
“Yes,” said Rainbow, “that is what they commonly call me.”
“I understood that some such young man as you was going to bring the mail. You’ve got along in good season. However, it is the old story of the new broom, I suppose.”
So saying, the postmaster took the mail from
THE FIRST POST-OFFICE.
Rainbow’s hands, and went into the office with it. He opened the padlock by means of a key which he kept for the purpose at his office—every postmaster along the road being provided with a key that would fit the lock and having poured out the contents of the bag upon the floor, he proceeded to look over them, in order to take out all the letters and packages which were addressed to his office. While he was doing this, Rainbow remained outside, patting
Lucky on the neck and sides, and encouraging him by telling him that he had come nearly a quarter part of the way. He also examined the girths, and the buckles of the bridle, to see that every thing was right, and looked under the saddle to see if the skin was swollen, or if there were any other signs of chafing in any part.
“Lucky,” said he, at length, after finding that every thing was in a satisfactory condition, “we are getting along very well.”
Presently the postmaster brought the mailbag to the door, and laid it down upon the step, calling out, at the same time,
“Here, boy, the mail is ready.”
So Rainbow put the bag upon Lucky’s back, and then mounted again and rode on.
The road still followed the bank of the river, though the character of the scenery now changed very much. Soon after passing the post-office Rainbow came to a mill, and above the mill there was a dam. This dam produced a large pond of smooth and still water, which extended a long distance up the stream. The banks along this pond were steep, and covered with wood; but Rainbow, as he rode along, could see the water by looking down in that direction between the trees.
The road was rough, but it was hard; and though a carriage could not have gone over it without a great deal of jolting, it was very easy for Lucky to find smooth places for his feet, by turning a little this way and that in order to avoid the stumps and stones. Rainbow allowed him to choose his own way, and for this purpose he let the bridle lie loose upon his neck. As he rode along in this manner, his mind fell into a musing state, and pretty soon he began talking to himself as follows:
“I get home every Saturday night, and I leave home on Monday morning. That comes exactly right, for that gives me Sunday to stay at home with my mother.”
Then, after whistling a short tune, he began again:
“But what shall I do at No. 5 all the time? I have two full days there. I get there Monday night and come away Wednesday morning; then I get there again Thursday night and leave on Saturday morning; so I have all of Tuesday and all of Friday there. I might do something Tuesdays and Fridays, and Lucky too, I think. Lucky, do you think you could do any work Tuesdays and Fridays, in No. 5, besides traveling with the mail other days?”
Lucky made no reply, but went on, apparent-
ly taking no notice of what was said, and intent only on finding smooth places to walk in.
“I suppose you think you ought to have those days to rest,” said Rainbow, “if you are traveling with me and the mail-bag all the other four days of the week. You would like a ramble about the pastures in No. 5 those two days, I have no doubt, and see what sort of places you can find. You’d hunt out all the brooks and springs, and find where the greenest grass grows. Then, besides, I expect you would be looking out for thickets where you could hide when you heard me coming to catch you, you rogue!”
Then, after pausing a moment longer, he added,
“It will never do, Lucky, for me to put you into any pasture at No. 5 at all, I am well convinced of that, for I don’t believe their fences are very good up in these new countries; and if you should find some low place where you could jump over, or weak place where you could break through, and so should get away into the woods where I could not find you, then what do you think would become of my mall?
“No, Lucky, you must not expect to be turned out to pasture at all in No. 5—not if I can find any thing like a safe barn to put you in,
and hay to give you to eat. Now I think it would be better for you, on every account, to work with me a few hours on our spare days, than to be shut up all the time in a dark and lonesome barn.
“But then,” continued Rainbow, “what could we find to do? I don’t see what there is that I could have to do myself, much less what there can be for you in such a place. If I had a shop and some tools, then I could do some carpenter-work—that is, provided I could find any carpenter-work to do. In the winter I could haul wood. That’s the very thing! I’ll make a sled for Lucky, and in the winter we’ll haul wood, won’t we, Lucky?”
While Rainbow had been musing in this manner he had come to the end of the mill-pond, and now the stream became rapid again, flowing over rocks and shoals along a broad and broken bed.
After going on thus for a time, Rainbow found that the road began gradually to diverge from the river, and at length, after proceeding several miles, he came to a place where a branch stream came in from the mountains which lay off to the right, and passing under a long straggling bridge made of logs, it ran on toward a ravine which lay below it in the direction to-
ward the river. The place where the road crossed the stream was low and level, and the bed of the stream, as well as the ground for some distance on each side of it, was covered with loose rounded stones of all sizes, which now, inasmuch as the stream was very low, lay naked and bare, bleaching in the sun.
The track of the road led on in a meandering way over and among these stones, till it came to the bridge, which stood up high above the general level.
“Lucky,” said Rainbow, as soon as his eye surveyed this desolate scene, “what do you think of all this?”
Lucky made no reply, but walked quietly on along the track, picking his way among the loose boulders, toward the bridge.
“Yes,” continued Rainbow, “you can go along very easily now, but what are you going to do when the water is up?
“I see, by the looks of this place, that all these rocks are under water when there is a freshet, Lucky,” continued Rainbow, “and I see by the bridge how high the water rises. They never build up these bridges any higher than to carry them just out of the reach of the high freshets; so you can always tell, when you look at one of them, how high the highest water comes.”
By this time Lucky had passed across the low and stony track which the road traversed before coming to the bridge, and was now clambering up the rocky ascent which formed the abutment. He then went on over the bridge itself; which was raised four or five feet above the general level of the banks of the river. The road which crossed it was formed of logs, which had been rolled in over the sleepers, and as the convex surfaces had not been hewn off, the footing was of course very uneven. Lucky seemed not to like walking upon it very well.
“You don’t like such a bridge as this, Lucky, very well,” said Rainbow; “but the time will come, before next June sets in, when you and I will be glad enough to get, to it, and mount up upon it out of the water. The whole of this place here will be eighteen inches or two feet under water in a high freshet, and how do you think you will like that? Eighteen inches or two feet of water, roaring, and foaming, and whirling like a boiling pot! How do you think you will like that? Those will be times when you and I will have to show what stuff we are made of.
“I expect, when those days come,” continued Rainbow, “and you find the water up here two feet deep all around, you won’t like the idea of
wading through it, Lucky, over all these rocks. You will want to wait on the other side till the water goes down, and so have me pay five dollars fine. But that won’t do, Lucky. You will have to go through it, whether or no, and you may as well make up your mind to that first as last. But possibly it may not be quite two feet deep,” he added. “I can tell almost exactly how deep it will be.”
So saying, Rainbow, when he had crossed the bridge, turned the horse down out of the road to a little level place on the bank just below the bridge, where he could stand and look under it. He estimated that the under side of the great beams, or sleepers, as they are called, which were laid across on the abutments to support the flooring of the bridge, were not more than two feet above the level of the road.
“They would certainly allow six inches play for the water,” said he to himself; “so I don’t believe that we shall ever have more than eighteen inches of water in the road, and Lucky and I can go through that easily enough, if we don’t get out of the path, and go to stumbling over the rocks.”
He immediately determined that, the next time he came that way, he would put up some marks which would enable him to find the road when it was under water.
Rainbow went on very prosperously after this, stopping every four or five miles at a post-office to have the mail opened. These post-offices were of an exceeding primitive and simple character. One of them was in a log cabin, and the only sign was the word “Post Office” chalked upon a board that was nailed upon a tree that stood near the door.
About the middle of the day he stopped at a place which was called Mix’s Corner, from the fact that it was a place where two roads crossed each other, and where a man by the name of Mix had a farm and a saw-mill. Mr. Mix did not exactly keep a tavern, for there was so little traveling on either of the roads that passed his house that it was hardly worth while to put up a sign. But it was understood that he entertained such travelers as came along, provided they could put up with his accommodations. He kept the post-office too, and, as his place was about midway in Rainbow’s route, Rainbow concluded to make it his stopping-
place for what he called his nooning. Trigget, who knew all about the road, advised him to do this.
So he rode up to Mr. Mix’s door. There was a small boy playing before the door. He was trying to build houses with the chips which were lying there near the wood-pile, but he could not make them stand up very well. Rainbow asked him if Mr. Mix was at home.
“Don’t know,” said the boy, without looking up.
“Is your father at home, then?” said Rainbow.
“No,” said the boy, “he’s down at the mill.” He did not look up in saying this, but went on building houses faster than ever.
“If you will go into the house, and ask somebody to come,” said Rainbow, “I’ll make you a whistle.”
“When will you make it?” asked the boy, looking up eagerly.
“I’ll make it now—that is, as soon as I get my horse put up,” said Rainbow.
The boy immediately rose, and went into the house. The door was open, and so were the windows, but there was nobody in sight. The boy, however, after disappearing for a few minutes in some back room, returned, conducting
a smart-looking woman, who was wiping her hands upon her apron as she came.
“Ah!” said she, “here is the mail.”
“And can I put up my horse here?” asked Rainbow.
“Yes,” said the woman. “My husband is down at the mill, but you can take him right round into the barn, and there, you’ll find hay and oats, and every thing that you require. Ephraim will go and show you where to find the oats. Jump up, Ephraim, and go and show him where the oats are.”
Ephraim, who, in the mean time, had taken his seat again among the chips, rose in obedience to this command, and led the way round the corner of the house toward the barn. There was a large number of hens and chickens feeding at the barn door. They fled precipitately in all directions when they saw Ephraim coming. The rooster, too, thought it prudent to retire; but, as it was inconsistent with his ideas of propriety to run, he walked away after his hens in a very dignified manner, looking round, as he went, at Ephraim, first out of one eye and then out of the other.
Rainbow went into the barn and put Lucky into a stall. He had previously given Mrs. Mix the mail-bag, and she had taken it into a
little room which opened out from her sitting-room, and was the post-office of Mix’s Corner. Ephraim showed Rainbow where to find the oats, and he gave Lucky as many as he thought he ought to have.
Then he came back with Ephraim to the front side of the house again. Mrs. Mix was standing at the door when he came.
“Do you wish for any dinner?” asked Mrs. Mix.
“Only a bowl of bread and milk,” said Rainbow.
“I can give you that very soon,” said Mrs. Mix.
So Mrs. Mix went in, and Rainbow sat down on the step of the door with Ephraim.
“Ephraim,” said he, “I made a mistake when I promised to make you a whistle. I forgot that it was the fall of the year. We can’t make whistles very well except in the spring.”
“Eh!” said Ephraim, making up at the same time an exceedingly ugly face. “You promised to make me a whistle, you did, and now you won’t do it.”
“I’ll make you a wind-mill instead,” said Rainbow.
“No,” said Epbraim, “I want a whistle. I can’t make any noise with a wind-mill.”
“Then suppose I make you a wind-mill to-day,” said Rainbow, “and then, next time I come up, bring you a whistle.”
“You have not got any whistle to bring me,” said Ephraim.
“I can buy one at the store,” said Rainbow.
Rainbow knew very well that they had whistles to sell for a cent apiece in the village.
“Will you do it upon honor?” said Ephraim.
“Yes,” said Rainbow, “I really will.”
“Then I’ll take the wind-mill for to-day,” said Ephraim.
So Rainbow, sitting on the step of the door, began to make a small wind-mill from a shingle which he found lying in the yard.
When Rainbow promised to make Ephraim a whistle, his intention was to make one from a willow or poplar stem, such as boys often make in the spring of the year. But such whistles can not be made at any other season than in the spring, for that is the time when the alburnum is formed between the bark and the wood, and it is in consequence of the soft and pulpy condition of this alburnum that the bark will separate from the wood so easily.
And here, perhaps, it may be well to explain, that all the trees which belong to the great division called Exogenus—a division which in-
cludes nearly all the trees which grow in temperate climates—increase by successive layers of wood, one of which is formed every year. The new layer for each year, which is called the albunum, is formed in the spring. The place where it is formed is just beneath the bark. It is at first a mere pulpy mass, very soft and full of juice. In the willow and poplar, and in some other trees, it is so soft in the small stems that, by striking upon the bark gently all around with some smooth object, such as the handle of a knife, the alburnum is crushed, and the whole mass becomes soft and slippery, and then the bark can be easily slipped off, and so the whistle can be made.
It is only from such stems as form an alburnum very soft and pulpy that the bark can be slipped off in this manner, and it is only in the spring of the year, when the alburnum is forming, that it can be done even with them. As soon as the alburnum becomes a little mature, it forms a layer of wood, and the bark adheres to it quite firmly. So much for the philosophy of whistle-making.
It is true that Rainbow did not understand all this. He only knew that for some reason or other the bark of willow or poplar stems would only come off in the spring and he knew
that it was useless for him to attempt to make a whistle at any other season.
Ephraim was so much pleased with the appearance of his wind-mill, as it gradually advanced toward completion, that he quite forgot about the whistle. Mrs. Mix came out to say that the bowl of milk was ready, before the wind-mill was done, but Ephraim begged Rainbow not to go in until he had finished it. Rainbow consented to this. The wind-mill was soon finished, and Rainbow fastened it with a pin to the end of a handle which he made for the purpose; so that when he went in to eat his bread and milk, which he did sitting at a table near the window, he could see Ephraim amusing himself with the wind-mill in an extremely satisfactory manner, making it spin by running with it about the yard.
Rainbow was astonished to find what exceedingly rich milk he had in his bowl. There was half a loaf of brown bread upon the table too, and a quarter of an apple pie. Mrs. Mix’s milk as always extremely good, but the secret of its peculiar richness on this particular day was this, namely, that when she saw that Rainbow, instead of coming in to eat his milk as soon as it was ready, remained out upon the step to the wind-mill for her boy, she took up
the bowl, carried it down cellar again, and skimmed off six or eight large spoonfuls of cream from another pan and stirred into it.
After finishing his bowl of milk, and paying Mrs. Mix’s charge for the entertainment, which was six cents for the dinner and ten for the hay and oats for Lucky, Rainbow bade Mrs. Mix and Ephraim good-by, promising Ephraim, at the same time, that he would bring him a whistle the next time he came up.
“Remember,” said he, “it is the next time I come up. I shall come here again to-morrow, but then I shall be coming down. I can’t bring you the whistle until the next time I come up.”
So saying, Rainbow rode away. Ephraim stood staring at him completely bewildered. The fact was, he was extremely puzzled to understand what Rainbow meant when he spoke. When Rainbow spoke of “coming up” and “coming down,” all the idea that he could attach to these words was that of something coming up out of the ground and coming down out of the air. He thought of the beans coming up in his garden, and of a big bird like a hawk descending from the upper regions of the air to dive at his chickens. He had no idea of the descent of brooks and rivers in their courses, and of the direction of a journey being defined
by reference to their flow. While he stood wondering whether the black boy would really come up out of the ground some days, and come down out of the air on other days, Rainbow rode away.
Arrival at No. 5.
About two o’clock in the afternoon, as Rainbow was journeying slowly along the road by the margin of a brook, he came to a place where a woman who lived in a log house near by was washing in the open air.
“Ah!” said Rainbow to himself, “I forgot that it was washing-day.”
There was a trough made of a hollowed log by the side of the road, which was supplied with water by a long spout which came from the same brook that furnished water for the washing. Rainbow drove Lucky up to this trough, ostensibly to give him a drink, but really because he wished to speak to the woman who was washing. He had determined in his own mind to become acquainted, as soon as possible, with every family which lived along his road.
The woman who was washing stopped her work to look at Rainbow when he drove up to the watering-trough. There were two children who were bringing wood for the fire. They
WASHING-DAY IN THE WOODS.
[p. 54 blank]
were hastening to lay down their bundles, in order to run themselves and see who had come.
“Good afternoon,” said Rainbow, addressing the woman.
“Good afternoon,” said the woman, at the same time dropping a courtesy. She would probably not have rendered that mark of respect to a colored boy under ordinary circumstances, but the fact that he was a mail-carrier invested him with great dignity in her eyes.
“Is that the mail?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” said Rainbow; “this is the United States mail.”
“Are there any letters in it for me?” asked the woman.
“I don’t know,” said Rainbow; “the mail has not been opened yet. They are going to open it at the post-office, about two miles farther on.”
“Yes;” said the woman; “but it is a great deal of trouble for me to send so far. I wish you would open it, and see if there are any letters in it for me. I expect a letter from my brother out West.”
“It is locked,” said Rainbow, “and I have not got any key. Only the postmasters have keys. But this I can do for you: when I get to the post-office I can see if there is any letter
for you, and, if there is, I can bring it to you when I come down to-morrow morning.”
“If you can do that for me,” said the woman, “you will oblige me very much.”
“I can do it just as well as not,” said Rainbow, “and I will. Only you must tell me your name.”
“My name is Mrs. Myers,” said the woman; “Mrs. Captain Myers.”
Rainbow said that he would remember to bring the letter, if it should prove that there was one. Having made this promise, he bade the woman good-by and went on his way.
As he rode on, he began, as usual, talking to himself and to Lucky.
“I suppose that that woman thinks, Lucky, that I am very kind, but the truth is I am only cunning.
“You see, Lucky, there is no doubt that, before the winter is out, you and I will get into many a hard fix in traveling over this road, and attempting to keep our time, and the more good turns we can do the people now, the more ready they will be to do good turns for us when we are in need. That’s the reason, Lucky, why I am so ready to do what I can for them all. At least,” he added, after a moment’s pause, “that’s one reason. I don’t think it is quite all the
reason, for I like to help them when I can. I’d rather do it than not.”
Rainbow was very much mistaken in supposing that his disposition to be obliging to the people who lived along the road was to be attributed to cunning and not to kindness. If we really entertain feelings of good-will o those around us, and desire to promote their happiness by every means in our power, and take pleasure in doing it, then we are truly and sincerely kind. The fact that we are aware that, by so doing, we make other people ready to show kindness to us in return, and that we are even influenced in what we do by a desire to secure such requitals, is nothing in any sense derogatory. “Cast thy bread upon the waters: thou shalt find it after many days,” is an injunction of the Scriptures, and it implies that it is right for us to be influenced in our efforts to do good by the hope and expectation of receiving at some day or other a beneficial return.
Rainbow arrived at the end of his route—that is, at Squire Holden’s house in No. 5, about four o’clock. He found the house a much better one than he had expected to see. There was scarcely any village at the place where Squire Holden lived. There was a mill and a blacksmith’s shop, and also a sort of store, but
the door of the store was shut when Rainbow rode by it, and there seemed to be nobody there.
The house which Squire Holden lived in was of one story, with two rooms on a floor. There was an addition to it, such as is often called an L, the roof of which was boarded, but the sides were open. The whole house looked rather new, and the L part especially so, as if Mr. Holden had begun building it, but had not had time to finish it.
“Ah!” exclaimed Rainbow, in a tone of great satisfaction, when he saw this piece of carpentry to be uncompleted, “this looks like work for me.”
Rainbow rode up to the house, fastened his horse to a post of the fence, took the mail-bag on his shoulders, and went in. He found Mrs. Holden at home, but Mr. Holden, she said, was in the woods. There was also a little child that they called Toolie. Mrs. Holden told Rainbow where he might put the mail-bag, and her husband would attend to it when he came home.
It had been previously arranged that Rainbow was to put up at Squire Holden’s during the time that he remained at No. 5. Trigget had had the precaution to provide for this before he engaged Rainbow to carry the mail. He knew that some persons objected to having
a colored boy in their family. He accordingly sent up word to Mrs. Holden that he had a plan of employing a boy to carry the mail, who, though a smart boy, and withal very good-natured, was of a very dark complexion, and, before engaging him, he wished to know whether she would have any objection to him on that account.
To this Mrs. Holden replied by sending back word that she never cared at all what color a cow was so long as she gave plenty of good milk. Trigget knew perfectly well that Mrs. Holden would have no objection to Rainbow on account of his color, but he also knew very well that she would none the less be pleased with his consulting her beforehand on the subject, and that she would be the more likely to treat Rainbow in a kind and considerate manner if he frankly stated the case to her in advance, and obtained her consent to the arrangement previous to sending him.
Mrs. Holden told Rainbow that they had supper at six o’clock, at which time her husband came home from the woods. Rainbow determined that, in the mean time, he would “look about” a little.
“If I had an axe,” said he to Mrs. Holden,
“I could go out and help Mr. Holden fell the trees.”
“There is not any other axe,” said Mrs. Holden, “besides the one that he has got, except an old dull one that we keep for splitting wood.”
Rainbow then turned to Toolie, who had gone off into a corner, and asked her to come to him.
“Come with me,” said he, “and I will show you something funny out in the yard.”
“No,” said Toolie, shaking her head, and shrinking back still closer into the corner.
So Rainbow left her to herself and went out. He found the old axe by the wood-pile, and he amused himself a few minutes splitting wood with it. Presently he heard the sound as of the strokes of an axe in the forest in a certain direction up the valley.
“Ah!” said he to himself, “I suppose that is where Mr. Holden is at work felling trees. I must have an axe, sooner or later, up here, and I may as well get it now as at any time. What is a man in the woods without an axe, or a boy either?”
So he went down to the store to see if they had any axes to sell there. The store door was shut. The blacksmith’s shop was near, and Rainbow went into it to inquire where the store-keeper was.
He had gone away into his field, the blacksmith said, to sow some winter rye, and the store would not be open again till six o’clock.
“Docs he keep axes to sell?” asked Rainbow.
“No,” replied the blacksmith, “he has not got any axes, but he has got some pretty good axe handles.”
Rainbow thought that he could not fell trees very well with an axe handle; however, he said nothing, but stood a moment looking at the blacksmith while he was at work.
The blacksmith was making horse-shoe nails. He was making them out of long iron rods. He had two of these rods in the fire. He would blow the bellows until the ends of the rods were extremely hot, and then he would take one of them out and would forge out the end of it into the form of a nail upon the anvil. After the nail was finished, he would cut it off by means of a cold chisel which was fixed in the block by the side of the anvil. He would lay the nail across this chisel, and then strike upon it gently with his hammer, and as the iron was still hot and soft, the nail was cut off very easily just above the head, and it dropped down into a box placed below to receive it. This box was already partly full of nails which had been made in the course of the afternoon.
As soon as the nail from the first rod had been cut off, the blacksmith put the end of the rod into the fire again, and, after giving two or three puffs with the bellows, he took out the second rod, which, as it had remained in the fire all the time while the blacksmith had been making the nail upon the other rod, was now quite hot. So he proceeded to make a nail upon the second rod, and, by the time that the second nail was finished and cut off, the first rod was hot again. Thus he went on, making nails alternately first from one rod and then from the other, and was thus saved the necessity of waiting for his iron to get hot.
The operation of making nails in this manner is quite a curious one, and children passing by a blacksmith’s shop in the country often stop to witness it.
There was a boy at work at a bench near the window in the blacksmith’s shop where the blacksmith himself was making nails. He was employed in filing something.
When Rainbow came into the shop he nodded to the blacksmith, and the blacksmith nodded to him, and a conversation was almost immediately opened between them in the following manner:
“You brought up the mail, I see,” said the blacksmith.
“Yes, sir,” said Rainbow.
“You’ve got a likely-looking horse,” continued the blacksmith. “Who owns that horse?”
“Why, that is rather hard to say,” replied Rainbow. “I have bought him, but I have not paid for him, and so I can hardly tell whether I own him not.”
“You have bought him?” repeated the blacksmith, in a tone of surprise.
“Yes, sir,” said Rainbow.
The blacksmith uttered a sort of inarticulate
ejaculation, which is sometimes spelled humph, but which, after all, does not sound much like that word when it is distinctly pronounced. The truth was, that the blacksmith did not believe one word of such a boy as Rainbow having bought a horse.
“And you have not paid for him?” said the blacksmith, with a lurking smile upon his face.
“No, sir,” said Rainbow.
The blacksmith had now finished making nails, and the next work which he had to do required a much larger piece of iron; so he called the boy who was at work at the bench to come and blow.
“Let me blow,” said Rainbow, and, as he spoke, he took his place at the bellows. “I suppose I shall have some shoeing to be done in the course of the fall and winter?” he said.
“Yes,” said the blacksmith, “if you are going on bringing the mail up here on horseback, you certainly will. Such a stony road as this wears out shoe iron amazing fast.”
When the iron which the blacksmith had put into the fire was hot enough, and he was ready to forge it, Rainbow walked into a corner of the room, and began to look over a heap of old iron which was lying there, without, however, touching any thing.
“I suppose you would sell any of this old iron?” said Rainbow.
“Yes,” said the blacksmith. “I give two cents a pound for it, and I will sell any of it for four cents.”
Rainbow pulled out an old axe, and began to examine it carefully.
Now an axe, as the readers of this book may generally know, is made partly of iron and partly of steel. The bulk of it is made of iron, but the part which forms the edge is made of steel. This piece of steel is welded on when the axe is made, and the union is so complete when the work is well done that the line of junction can not be perceived except upon a close examination, and then only where the metal has been made bright by grinding or in some other way, in which case there is a slight difference in the color, the steel being a little whiter, and more brilliant than the iron.
It is somewhat singular that steel should be of a lighter color than iron, when the chief difference between the two is, that the steel contains a minute quantity of carbon, which, it might be supposed, if it produced any effect whatever on the metal, would make it darker instead of lighter in color. But the fact is, that nothing is more accidental, or changes more
easily, than the color of any substance, in its different conditions and combinations.
Now an axe, of course, wears by use only upon the edge, and in the parts adjacent to the edge, and when it becomes dull, it is these parts only that are ground away in sharpening it again. After a while, when it has been ground a great many times, the taper of the edge is worn away, and it becomes stubbed in form, so that even if the edge is made sharp it will not enter the wood easily.
For, in order that an axe may enter the wood easily, the edge must not only be sharp, but the cheeks of it, so to speak, must be thin. Accordingly, when an axe, from having been repeatedly dulled and ground, becomes too blunt in its form, the only remedy is for a blacksmith to take it off its handle, heat it red hot, and then draw it out, as they call it, by hammering upon the cheeks of it, so as to bring that part of the axe to the proper degree of thinness again. This is called “setting” it.
Now Rainbow, who had had a great deal to do with tools when he bad been at work with Handie Level, knew all about this, but the blacksmith supposed that he knew nothing about it at all. The blacksmith was surprised to see him look so attentively at the axe, and
wondered what he was thinking of. The truth was, he was looking to see how much steel there as remaining, and whether there was enough to make it worth while to have the axe set. Then he poised it in his hand, to feel how much it would weigh.
“How muck do you think this old axe will weigh?” said he.
“A little over two pounds,” said the blacksmith, “I should guess.”
“Then it would come to a little more than eight cents,” said Rainbow.
“Yes,” replied the blacksmith; “but I think that axe is worth rather more than the price of old iron.”
“I understood you that you would sell any of this lot for four cents a pound,” said Rainbow.
“So I did,” replied the blacksmith; “but I did not think of your fishing out that old axe the first thing. However, I’ll stand to my bargain. You may have it for ten cents, and it is very cheap at that price. The truth is, I should have set it myself, but it is rather light. The men about here like heavy axes for chopping in the woods; but it will be just about right for you.”
“And how much will you ask to set it?” inquired Rainbow.
“Oh, about a shilling,” said the man.
“And when can you do it?” asked Rainbow.
“When can you pay for it,” asked the blacksmith, “supposing it was done?” He did not really believe that Rainbow had any money.
“I’ll pay now,” said Rainbow.
So, taking a wallet out of his pocket, he counted out ten cents for the old axe, and sixteen more—which was the amount that the word shilling denoted in No. 5—making in all twenty-six cents. This he handed to the blacksmith. The blacksmith took the money, and put it into a pocket which was concealed somewhere under his leather apron. His respect for Rainbow was evidently a good deal increased by finding that he was so well prepared to fulfill his pecuniary engagements.
The blacksmith promised to set the axe very soon—as soon, in fact, as he had finished the work in which he was engaged. Rainbow could have it that evening after supper, or he could come for it the next morning. Rainbow said that he would come for it after supper.
Rainbow then returned to Mr. Holden’s house. He occupied himself with splitting wood in the yard until Mr. Holden came home, and soon after that they all went in to supper.
While they were at the table Rainbow asked
Mr. Holden about his work in the woods, and he said that he was clearing a piece of land. Rainbow said that he would go with him the next day to help him.
“Very well,” said Mr. Holden, “I should think you might help me not a little. You’ll be here all day, and, if you feel disposed to work for me, I’ll give you two shillings a day.”
“That would be pretty good wages for a boy,” said Rainbow.
“True,” said Mr. Holden; “but you look like rather a smart boy, and I am willing to try you for a day at two shillings, and see what you can do. You might help me a good deal by clearing up the underbrush, if I only had another axe for you, or a stub-scythe. You could not do any thing in felling trees: that’s man’s work.”
“Not that it requires so much strength to fell a tree,” continued the squire, “but it requires skill. You must know how to choose the place to stand, and where to deliver your blows, and there is a great knack in giving your axe the right sort of cant to turn out the chips.”
Rainbow said that he would go into the woods in the morning with Mr. Holden, but that he believed he would not make any engagement to work during the day, as he wished to look
about the neighborhood a little, since it was his first day in that part of the country. He said, too, that he had found an old axe at the black-smith’s, which he was going to grind up after supper, and he thought that he could make something of it which would answer for cutting up the bushes.
Rainbow thought it was best policy for him not to make any engagement for work until he had opportunity to let the people in No. 5 see a little what he could do.
After supper, Rainbow went again to the blacksmith’s shop, and he found the blacksmith all ready to take his axe in hand. The boy was not there, and so Rainbow blew the bellows. He also, from time to time, gave Mr. Whackhammer—for that was the blacksmith’s name—directions in respect to the form which he wished him to give to the axe.
“You seem to know a good deal about tools,” said Mr. Whackhammer. “Did you ever work at a trade?”
“Not exactly,” said Rainbow, “but I worked with a carpenter at one time for several weeks, and I learned something in that way. I don’t pretend to know much. If you are among tools a good deal, you can’t help learning something about them.”
SETTING THE AXE.
“Some people can,” said the blacksmith. “I have had boys with me a year or more that knew no more at the end than at the beginning. They could hardly tell a rasp from a screw-driver.”
When the axe was finished, Rainbow went to the store, which now he found was open, and bought a handle for it. He then carried the axe and the handle into Mr. Holden’s house, together with a chisel and a rasp which the blacksmith gave him, and also a sheet of sand-paper which he bought at the store. He spent
the evening in fitting the handle to his axe, seated on the settle in the kitchen, and conversing all the while with Mr. Holden and his wife. When the handle was fitted to its place, he fastened it in, and then smoothed the surface of it with the sand-paper. Squire Holden was very much surprised at the dexterity which he showed in doing this work.
Mrs. Holden seemed very much entertained by the various stories which Rainbow had to tell, and about the middle of the evening, when the axe-handle was nearly finished, she took a candle, and went down cellar to get some apples. She brought the apples in a bowl, and set them down before the fire to warm them; and at length, when Rainbow was ready to put the axe away, she offered them first to Rainbow and then to her husband. The whole party sat eating apples and telling stories till nine o’clock. There was no light in the room except what was afforded by the fire, but, as the fire was very bright and blazing, it shed a very cheerful glow over the floor, and, indeed, illuminated the whole room in a very brilliant manner.
At nine o’clock Mr. Holden lighted a lantern, and he and Rainbow went out together into the barn to feed the horses and cattle. Lucky was in a verv comfortable stall, and he very
well contented with his situation. Rainbow gave him some fresh hay and some oats, and promised to come and see him again early in the morning.
That night, after Rainbow had gone to his bed, which was made in a sort of garret over the kitchen, Squire Holden said to his wife that he thought the new mail-carrier was likely to turn out a pretty smart boy.
“Yes,” said Mrs. Holden; “he is not only a smart fellow, but he is very good company. I’m more and more confirmed in my opinion, that it is of no consequence what the color of a cow is, provided she is not cross, and gives plenty of good milk.”
Rainbow rose very early the next morning and made a fire in the kitchen, and also filled the tea-kettle with water from a well that stood in the yard, so that when Mrs. Holden came out from the front room, where she slept, she found every thing all ready. Rainbow himself was, however, not there. He had gone out into the barn to see Lucky, and to give him his breakfast.
When he came back he found Mrs. Holden getting breakfast for her family, and Toolie sitting upon a block in the corner singing a song. She stopped singing as soon as Rainbow came in, and looked at him with a timid air, though she seemed much less afraid than she had done the evening before.
“Toolie,” said Rainbow, “come with me, and I’ll make you a little doll.”
Toolie shook her head, and yet she was evidently half inclined to come. She had not the least idea what a doll was; but, whatever it might be, she had a great desire to see it made.
“I am going out into the yard to get something to make the doll of,” said Rainbow. “You can come to the door if you please, and see where I go to get it.”
So Rainbow went out. Toolie followed him to the door, keeping, however, at a cautious distance. Rainbow went to a little copse of lilachs which grew near the corner of the house, and, after looking among them some time till he had made a selection, he cut off a sprig which bad two pairs of branches, each pair consisting of two branches growing out opposite to each other in such a manner that, when the sprig was turned upside down, one pair would make the legs of the doll, and the other pair the arms. He cut these limbs off at the proper length, and then cut the stem off at the right length for the neck.
He then went into the house, and asked Mrs. Holden for some rags of cotton cloth. He made a sort of ball with these, and tied it upon the neck of his image for a head. He also made a dress by basting up pieces of a sort of checked calico which Mrs. Holden gave him, so as to fashion it into the form of a gown. He then marked out eyes, nose, and mouth upon the face, and the doll was complete. With the exception of a little stiffness of the limbs, it made a very respectable representation of a baby.
At any rate, Toolie was greatly delighted with it. She came up nearer and nearer to Rainbow as he went on with the work, and when at last it was finished and put into her hands, her satisfaction was complete.
By this time breakfast was ready. It consisted of coffee, steaks of fresh pork very nicely fried, and a hot cake baked before the fire, with maple sirup to put upon it. The maple sirup was something extra, having been brought out by Mrs. Holden on account of the pleasure it gave her to see Rainbow making Toolie a doll.
This doll, by the way, afterward received a name. The name was given to it by the teacher of a little school which was kept during the summer months in a small school-house in the woods, about a mile and a half from Squire Holden’s house, and to which Toolie sometimes went for a day or two at a time. She carried her doll to school with her one day about a week after it was made. The teacher examined it quite curiously, and she asked Toolie what its name was. Toolie said it had no name. The teacher said it ought to have one. It was too pretty a doll, she said, or at least too curious a one, not to have a name. Then Toolie asked the teacher to name it. The teacher said that, as it seemed to be of sylvan origin, she thought
it would be well to call it Sylvania. Neither Toolie herself nor any of the other children who stood by understood what the teacher meant by a sylvan origin, but they all thought that Sylvania would be a very pretty name for the doll, and so it was at once adopted. They, however, did not perfectly preserve the classical pronunciation. There was a scholar in the school named Annie, and in consequence of the children being thus familiar with that sound, the name Sylvania dropped into that of Sylvannie, and by that name the doll was called as long as it existed.
But to return to Rainbow. After breakfast, Squire Holden, finding that he really had got an excellent axe, offered to help him grind it.
“Very well,” said Rainbow; “I should like that very much, if you think I can help you enough in your work this forenoon to make up for the time.”
So they went together to the grindstone, which stood in a sort of shed, and ground the axe. Rainbow had watched the tempering of it by the blacksmith, so as to be sure to have it right. This is a very delicate operation, and it requires considerable skill to perform it properly. The philosophy of it is this:
Steel, when in its natural state—that is, when,
after being heated, it has been cooled gradually—is not very hard. It can be hammered, and cut, and filed very much as iron can be, though it is somewhat harder than iron. But now, if it is heated red hot and plunged suddenly into cold water, it becomes very hard and brittle, nobody knows why. All that is known about it is the fact.
If, instead of being red hot, the steel is only moderately hot, and is then plunged into water, it becomes hardened in a proportional degree.
Now tools of different kinds require different degrees of hardness; that is to say, some will not bear as great a degree of hardness as others. It would be better for all to be as hard as possible if it were not that the hardness is accompanied with brittleness. This, in some cases, as in that of a file, for example, is not of much consequence. Files, too, being intended to cut brass and iron, must be very hard, even if they are made brittle by it. They are accordingly tempered very highly, and, in consequence, become so brittle that they are useless for any other purposes than that for which they are made. Boys sometimes attempt to use a flat file for a screw-driver, or to pry out a nail, or for some other such purpose, and it is in such cases almost sure to break. But, brittle as the
metal is throughout its whole substance, the edges of the teeth are extremely hard, so that they will gnaw away brass and iron, and even steel itself; when it is in its natural state—that is, before it has been hardened.
Files are made by forging them and cutting the teeth while the metal is soft, and are afterward hardened by being heated very hot and then plunged into cold water.
Chisels, penknives, razors, and other such cutting instruments are made in a similar manner, being fashioned first and hardened afterward; only they are not heated so hot before being plunged into water, as that would make them too hard. The principle is to make each edge just as hard as it can be made without becoming so brittle as to break off in cutting through the substance, whatever it may be, which it is intended to act upon.
The workman regulates the degree of heat required in the steel for the different degrees of temper which he wishes to produce by the color of the surface. The surface of polished steel changes in succession to a straw color, violet, and purple, and a deep blue, as it passes through the different gradations of heat; and it is by watching these colors, and plunging the metal into the water at precisely the right in-
stant, that the proper temper is given for each particular purpose required.
Any person can observe these colors, and also notice the effect produced by sudden cooling, at different degrees of temperature, by a series of experiments with common sewing needles.*
A convenient way of performing such experiments is by sticking the needle to be operated upon into the end of a cork, so as to prevent its burning the fingers, and then heating it in the flame of a lamp or candle. If it is heated very hot, and then allowed to cool slowly of itself; the temper will be taken out of it, and it can be bent almost like a pin. Then, if it is heated again, and, while hot, is plunged suddenly into cold water, it will be made very hard and brittle.
The changes of color, too, in the surface of steel may be observed in needles heated in this way. Sometimes these colors appear in beautiful rings passing round the needle, the different hues occupying their proper places according as the successive portions of the needle were
* The reader must note the difference in respect to meanmg between the words temper and temperature. Temperature means simply the degree of heat. Temper means the hardness given to steel by sudden cooling.
heated to different degrees of intensity by the flame.
Rainbow’s axe was tempered to just the right degree for preserving the fineness of the edge in the most perfect manner when entering the green wood of forest trees. If it had been tempered a little too high or a little too low, the extreme line of the edge would have given way. In the former case—that is, if it had been made too hard—the edge would have crumbled; if it had not been hard enough, it would have been bent over. The change might have been altogether too slight to have been perceived by the eye, but a microscope would have shown it, and it would have made a great difference in the work of the axe in the course of half a day’s labor.
Very few people have such nice ideas as these in respect to the edges of their tools, but no one can work to advantage in the use of any kind of cutting instinnents without possessing and acting upon them.
Rainbow went into the woods with Squire Holden as soon as his axe was ground, and began to work. Most boys, in such a case as this, would have looked with contempt upon the underbrush, and would have gone to work at once, with a great parade of efficiency and skill, upon the biggest trees that they could find; but Rainbow was too shrewd for this.
“You would like to have me cut up the underbrush?” said Rainbow.
“Yes,” replied the squire. “There is not much of it, but it ought to be all cut away, and it hinders me in my work to stop for it.”
It is true that there was not much underbrush where Squire Holden was at work. There seldom is much in heavy, full-grown forests. There were some alders along the margin of the brook, and in one place there were a number of small trees springing up. Rainbow at once went to work upon these. He worked at a moderate rate, beginning as he thought he could hold out; but he took every thing to ad-
vantage, bending the stems of the young trees over with one hand, and cutting them off, by means of the axe, with the other. He took care, also, to cut them off so far above the ground as to make it impossible that the edge of his axe should come in contact with the soil.
In the course of an hour he had cleared away the underbrush over quite a large tract—as far, in fact, as was necessary for the time being.
“Rainbow,” said Mr. Holden, “you seem to be getting along finely in clearing up the brush. You have done about enough for the present with that. Suppose you try your hand upon some of the trees?”
Rainbow said he would do so. Now, in felling trees in the forest, it is not customary to cut the trunks entirely through, so as to cause the tree to fall at the time that it is cut. The stems are cut nearly through, and in a manner to make them fall in a certain direction, and all the same way. If the land inclines at all, the trees are out so as to fall in the direction of the descent. When a large extent of ground has been gone over in this way, some of the last of the trees—those at the upper end of the slope, if the land inclines—are out entirely through, and they fall upon those next them, push them over, and those push the next, and thus the
whole grove, extending sometimes over a wide area of the forest, is swept down together in a prolonged and mighty crash, which sounds, when heard at a distance, like a rolling peal of thunder.
Rainbow followed Mr. Holden in cutting the trees. Whenever Mr. Holden began one, he took the one next to it, and it soon appeared that he could keep up with him perfectly well. They worked on in this way until noon, and then, Mr. Holden taking one large tree, and Rainbow another standing by the side of it, they cut them both off in such a manner as to make them fall at the same instant toward those which had been nearly cut off before, and then the crash commenced. The whole forest seemed to be coming down, as if a great tornado was sweeping over it.
Mr. Holden and Rainbow stood looking on until all had fallen. Mr. Holden saw that the extent of the fall was very much greater than it would have been without Rainbow’s help.
“There’s considerably more than half an acre,” said he—“I think it is all of two thirds of an acre, which is a pretty good morning’s work for a man and a boy.”
They then took their axes upon their shoulders and went home to dinner.
Rainbow said that that afternoon he was going to take a walk to see the neighborhood, and he asked, while at dinner, about the people who lived near. Mr. and Mrs. Holden told him about them, and, among other things, they said that there was a young man named Dyker, who was building a house about half a mile up the road, and they believed that he was going to raise a part of the frame that afternoon.
“I can go and help him,” said Rainbow.
“He’d like your help, I’m sure,” said Mrs. Holden.
“I’ll go,” said Rainbow.
Accordingly, after dinner, Rainbow, having first put his axe carefully away in the garret where he slept, set off to go to Mr. Dyker’s. He walked on for about half a mile, part of the way along the borders of a clearing, which had been cultivated the past year, but was full of blackened stumps. After coming to the end of the clearing, he passed along a wild road, narrow, rough, and crooked, which led through a wood down toward a brook. There was no bridge across the brook, but only a log laid from one side to the other, and a smooth sandy bottom just below the log, for horses to wade through.
Rainbow went over upon the log.
“I wish I had brought my axe with me,”
said he to himself; “then I would have made a railing to this bridge.
After going on a short distance farther he came to Mr. Dyker’s house. It was near the border of a clearing which had been made the year before. The house was very small—the part already built being more like a little shed than a house. It was, in fact, intended to be a shed when the house proper was finished, but, in the mean time, Mr. Dyker and his family lived in it. There was no fireplace in it, for Mr. Dyker thought it not worth while to build one, since none would be wanted when it came to be used as a shed. In the mean time his wife had cooked at a fire built out in the open air. This was somewhat inconvenient, but it had not been seriously so in the summer season, and the family had only lived there since the spring. Now, however, as the winter was approaching, Mr. Dyker was anxious to build at least a portion of his house, so as to have a chimney and the means of making a fire indoors during the cold and stormy season that was coming on.
The timbers which were to form the frame of the new house were lying about upon the ground, and two men were at work upon them. One of these men was Mr. Dyker. They both
looked up when they saw Rainbow coming, and wondered who it could be.
“Who is this nigger coming, Dan?” asked Mr. Dyker.
Rainbow overheard this question, and he wished that he had not come. He was on the point of turning about and going directly back again, when the other man replied,
“Don’t call him a nigger, Joe, till you find out whether he deserves it.”
This made Rainbow feel encouraged again.
“There is one fair man out of two,” said he to himself, “and that is about as good a proportion as we can expect.”
Rainbow also was led to make an effort to repress the rising feeling of indignation which was swelling in his breast at being stigmatized with an opprobrius name in this manner by a total stranger by remembering the advice which his mother had so often given him about overcoming evil with good. So he went boldly on.
Mr. Dyker nodded to him as he came up. Rainbow returned the nod. Mr. Dyker was sitting astride a beam cutting a mortise in it. He resumed his work, saying, at the same time, “We are going to have a raising here.”
“Squire Holden told me that you were going to raise this afternoon,” said Rainbow, “and
I thought perhaps I could give you some help.”
“Yes,” said Mr. Dyker, still going on with his work, “I suppose you might help some.”
He spoke this in rather a doubtful tone, as if he had no very exalted idea of Rainbow’s capacity to render assistance in any form. Besides, he supposed that Rainbow would expect pay for his work, and he thought it not good policy to appear to estimate it too highly until he had made his bargain.
After a moment’s pause he asked Rainbow what wages he should expect.
Rainbow replied that he did not expect any wages. He had nothing to do that afternoon, he said, and was looking at the neighborhood a little.
“Do you live any where hereabout?” asked Mr. Dyker.
“No, sir,” said Rainbow; “I came up to bring the mail. I came up yesterday, and am to go down to-morrow. This is my spare day.”
“Oh! you brought up the mail, then?” said Mr. Dyker, looking somewhat surprised. He at once stopped his work, and looked up at Rainbow in quite an earnest manner.
“I thought I might give you a lift when you came to raising the plate,” said Rainbow; “and
I suppose, in the mean time, I could make a mortise or a tenon, if you want any help in getting ready.”
“Why, are you a carpenter?” asked Mr. Dyker.
“No,” replied Rainbow, “I am not a carpenter, but I have done some plain work in framing.”
“Let him try his hand,” said Dan. “There’s a saw and a chisel, and there’s a tenon marked out at the end of that beam.”
So Rainbow took the saw, and, after blocking up the end of the beam so as to raise it to a convenient height above the ground, he began sawing it at the place marked. The two men watched him for a minute or two to see how he would take hold of the business, as a very good judgment may be formed of how much a young man like Rainbow knows of any work that he undertakes by observing bow he handles his tools in beginning it.
“He’ll do,” said Dan to Joe.
“I rather think he will,” said Joe to Dan.
Rainbow went quietly on with his work. He succeeded perfectly well. He soon, moreover, fell into conversation with the men, and he pleased them very much by his good-humor, and be the numerous stories that he related to
them in respect to what he bad seen, and the adventures that he had met with in the course of the past two or three years.
At length, about an hour after Rainbow arrived on the ground, the frame was completed, and then the party at once commenced raising it. The frame was not very heavy, and, though three persons were rather a small number for such a work, they succeeded in accomplishing it very successfully. Mrs. Dyker herself came out, and pushed with a long pole when they were lifting the front side of the house, which was the heaviest part of the frame to be raised.
Rainbow showed himself very dexterous in mounting upon the frame, walking about upon the timbers, entering the tenons in the mortises, catching the pins tossed up to him, and pinning the joints together. It was at some times quite fearful to see him standing high in the air upon a narrow timber, and driving in a wooden pin beneath his feet with a heavy broad-axe, leaning over so far forward to reach down to the pin as to make it appear as if he must certainly fall headlong.
During the latter part of the time, while the men were at work thus in raising the frame, Mrs. Dyker was at work getting them a good supper at her fire in the open air. The tea-
kettle was suspended from a stout pole passing across over the fire, supported at the ends by two forked stakes, in the manner represented in the engraving of Mrs. Myers washing, arranged in a former chapter. She had also a frying-pan, a skillet for boiling eggs, and other cooking utensils. The table where she prepared the cakes and other things which she was going to cook for supper was in the kitchen. After getting the things ready there, she would bring them out to the fire and cook them, keeping a good look-out upon her boiling and her baking with one eye, as it were, while she watched the progress of the frame with the other.
Mrs. Dyker was intending to set the table for the supper in the kitchen, but Mr. Dyker declared it should be in the new house.
“We’ll lay down some boards for a floor,” said he, “and we’ll begin to use the new house this very day.”
So Mr. Dyker went to work to lay the floor. Rainbow and Dan passed in the boards to him from a pile which was near, and he laid them down, beginning on the side next the kitchen. He soon had the floor almost entirely covered, so that his wife could walk about over it very easily. She then set the table, covering it with a white cloth, and put the supper things upon it.
As soon as the frame was up, Rainbow put on his jacket, which he had taken off while he had been at work, and was preparing to take his leave, but Mr. Dyker insisted that he should stay to supper. At first Rainbow declined, thinking it possible that they invited him out of politeness, when, in fact, they might really not like to eat at the same table with a colored person. He particularly thought that this might be the case with Mrs. Dyker, and so he declined; but they insisted on his staying very strenuously. Mrs. Dyker herself came up to him and said,
“Rainbow, you must stay. See,” she added, pointing to the table, “I have put a plate for you already.” So Rainbow concluded to stay.
Supper was not yet quite ready, and Rainbow rambled off a little way along the banks of a brook which was flowing near, and presently he came back with a large bouquet of rich autumnal wild flowers which he had gathered. He had arranged these flowers in a very symmetrical manner, and when he came back with them to the house, he asked Mrs. Dyker to give him a mug to put them in, and then he placed them upon the centre of the supper-table. He said they were in honor of the lady of the new house.
I don’t suppose that Rainbow would have thought of doing this if he had not seen Handie do it at a picnic in the woods. He learned also from Handie to arrange such flowers in a tasteful manner.
Mrs. Dyker, who was quite a young and pretty woman, was very much pleased with the compliment thus paid her, although it did come from a colored boy.
When supper was ready, Mrs. Dyker put the chairs around the table, and the party took their seats. After they were seated, they all assumed a reverent posture, and held their heads down while Mr. Dyker asked a blessing. He invoked the blessing of God not only on the meal, but also on the house that they were building, and upon all who should ever live in it. He also prayed that God would bless and prosper “the stranger providentially present with them” on that occasion.
Mr. Dyker was perfectly honest and sincere in these invocations, for he was really a good man, although he had been so heartless, or rather so thoughtless, as to call Rainbow at first by an opprobrious name.
After they had been seated at the table a little while, talking and laughing together in a very merry manner, Mr. Dyker said,
“We have had most excellent luck with our raising, and it is owing very much to you, Rainbow. You are a real good carpenter.”
“No, sir,” said Rainbow, “I am not a carpenter, and I never shall be one.”
“Why not?” asked Mr. Dyker.
“I have not got any head for the calculations,” said Rainbow. “I know when I’ve got an edge upon a tool, and I can hold a chisel square to cut a mortise, but I can’t plan.”
“You might learn to plan, perhaps,” said Mr. Dyker.
“No,” said Rainbow, shaking his head; “Mr. Level tried to teach me something about geometry and calculation, but it was too hard for me. I don’t think I should like to be a carpenter.”
Rainbow was perfectly right in the judgment which he formed of himself. He had a great many excellent qualities, and in his way he was a very smart and capable boy, but he had no talent at all for abstract philosophy in any form.
After some farther conversation on the subject, Mr. Dyker said that if Rainbow would work for him upon his building the days when he was off duty, he would give him seventy-five cents a day.
“That is something of an advance on Squire Holden’s offer of two shillings a day for felling
trees,” said Rainbow to himself; “still, I will not make any long engagement any where yet.”
So he told Mr. Dyker that he had not yet fully decided what he should do, but he promised to come and work for him on Friday, which was the next day that he would be at liberty, and then he would consider what it was best for him to do.
At length Rainbow bade the family good-by, and went home to Squire Holden’s. The next morning he set out on the return down the river. At the post-office nearest to Mrs. Myers’s residence he inquired for a letter for that lady. He found there was one, and he carried it down to her. She received it with great satisfaction and pleasure.
When he reached home, too, the first thing he did, after taking care of Lucky, was to go out and buy a penny whistle for little Ephraim.
“I will make sure of that,” said he to himself, “while I remember it. If I want to get my credit up high along the road up the river, I must begin by keeping my promises to the boys.”
Rainbow had not made many trips before he and Toolie became great friends. He made her a baby-house in the corner of the shed by means of little blocks and bits of board which he laid down for divisions between the different rooms; and in it was a china-closet, in which fragments of crockery that Toolie picked up about the door represented the plates and dishes. Toolie amused herself a great deal in washing and wiping these rude representatives of china-ware, and in arranging them in order upon the shelves, and she seemed to derive as great pleasure from them as a lady in fashion-able life would have received from the possession of the finest porcelain.
There was one thing in which Rainbow particularly excelled in his intercourse with Toolie, and that was in the art of answering her questions. He understood how to answer a child’s questions better than many a learned philosopher could have answered them. The reason for this was very curious, namely, that
he knew so little in regard to what the children asked him about.
It seems strange that knowing little should help a person to answer well. When a person is very thoroughly conversant with a subject upon which a child asks a question, he is very likely to make his answer too deep and profound, or else too extended and complicated. It is only one little step in advance which a child is capable of taking in respect to most subjects on which it asks questions. If the mother, or the older brother or sister to whom the question is addressed, is contented with assisting them to take this one little step, all goes well. The child is instructed, and is pleased, and his curiosity is satisfied.
Generally, however, in such cases, or at least very often, when we are asked a question by a child, we think, because we can not give a complete elucidation of the subject, that we can not answer it at all; and some persons are so unreasonable as to reprimand the poor child for asking such questions, as if it were not one of the principal and paramount duties of a child, during the early years of life, to obtain all the knowledge he can of the new and strange scene of existence which he finds presenting itself in such varied and wonderful forms around him.
Rainbow did not understand the philosophy of answering children at all as I have stated it above. He gave short and simple answers to their questions as a matter of necessity, because he did not know how to give deep and complicated ones. But the effect was the same as if he had understood the case ever so perfectly.
One day, when Rainbow was sitting on the step of the door about noon, waiting to be called in to dinner, Toolie was standing by him, leaning against his knees, and talking to him. She looked long and earnestly into his face, and then said,
“Rainbow, what makes your face so black?”
“It always was black,” said Rainbow.
“Was it?” asked Toolie.
Then, after a moment’s pause, she added,
“Could not you wash the black off your face?”
“No,” said Rainbow.
“Why not?” asked Toolie.
“Because it grows there,” said Rainbow. “The black is in me; it is not on me.”
“Oh!” said Toolie, in a tone of satisfaction, as if she now understood the case perfectly.
“And your hair is very curly,” said Toolie.
“Yes,” replied Rainbow.
“What makes it so curly?” asked Toolie.
“It grows so,” said Rainbow.
“Does it?” said Toolie.
“Yes,” replied Rainbow. “Sometimes persons curl their hair with curling-tongs.”
“My mother has got a curling-tongs,” said Toolie.
“And does she curl her hair with them?” asked Rainbow.
“Yes,” said Toolie, “she does sometimes; and once she curled mine.”
“Rainbow,” said Toolie again, after a pause, “I go to school sometimes.”
“Do you?” asked Rainbow.
“Yes,” said Toolie. “There’s a school-house, and a school in it, a little way along the road, and I go to it when my father has time to take me. I wish you would take me some time.”
“I might take you on before me upon Lucky,” said Rainbow. “Then Lucky would have a mail and a female on his back.”
“A what?” asked Toolie, puzzled.
“He’d have to carry you, and me, and the mail-bag,” said Rainbow; “but I think he could do it, for the mail is always very light when we set out from here. The female would be very light too.”
“What do you mean by the female, Rainbow?” asked Toolie.
“I mean you,” said Rainbow.
“But I am not a female,” said Toolie; “I am a girl.”
“What do you learn at school, Toolie?” asked Rainbew.
“I learn to count,” said Toolie. “I can count pretty well now. One, two, three, seven, four, nine. That’s as far as I know.”
“I can count too,” said Rainbow.
“Let me see how well you can count,” asked Toolie.
“One couple three several, many more enough, plenty, and ever so many.”
“Oh, Rainbow,” exclaimed Toolie, “that is not the way to count.”
“That is the way I count,” said Rainbow.
“I don’t think it is the right way,” said Toolie.
Presently Toolie put her hand up to her head, and said that it felt very warm.
“That is because the sun is shining upon it,” said Rainbow.
“What makes the sun so warm?” asked Toolie.
“Because he shines so bright,” said Rainbow. “When it is a little cloudy, and the sun does not shine so bright, then the sunshine is not so warm.”
“It is very bright now,” said Toolie.
“Yes,” said Rainbow, “very bright, because it is almost noon. When the sun gets highest in the sky, then it is noon, and then it is the warmest.”
Just at this time Mrs. Holden came to call Rainbow and Toolie in to dinner.
It was arranged, some days after this, that Rainbow was to take Toolie to school some morning when he set out on his journey with the mail. The plan was for him to set out a little later than usual, so as not to arrive at the school-house too early. He now usually set out about eight o’clock when the day was pleasant and the roads were good, but on the morning in question he was to postpone his departure for half an hour, so as to arrive at the school-house about nine, which was the time when the school began.
“Now, Lucky,” said Rainbow, on the morning in question, when he brought Lucky out of his stall to put on the saddle and bridle, “you are going to have the honor of carrying a young lady to school this morning, and you must be very steady.”
Lucky, who was usually in excellent spirits in the morning when Rainbow came to lead him out, began to shake his head and to evince some disposition to begin capering.
“Lucky,” said Rainbow, “no antics this morning. You are going to carry a young lady to school, I tell you, and you must behave with the utmost decorum, or she will be frightened.”
Still, Lucky appeared very frisky.
“Lucky,” said Rainbow, “I think, on the whole, that it will be best for me to let you have a little run down the road this morning, before we set out upon our journey, you are so full of fun.
“I have no objection to your fun, you understand, Lucky,” he continued, “but Toolie would not understand it. Toolie would be afraid.”
So saying, and having now finished putting on both the saddle and the bridle, and having buckled all the straps and fastened the girth, Rainbow put one hand, with the bridle in it, upon the pommel of the saddle, and the other upon the crupper, and then bounded upon the horse’s back. Lucky immediately set off; and trotted briskly out of the stable and through the yard toward the road.
As he passed by the front door, Rainbow saw Toolie standing there all ready.
“You must wait a few minutes, Toolie,” said he. “I am going down the road a little way first by myself and then I shall come for you.”
So saying, he rode on.
“Quiet, Lucky!” said Rainbow,” quiet! Wait till you get out of Toolie’s sight, and then you shall go.”
So Lucky went on, restraining himself as well as he could, until at length he passed out of sight of the house.
“Now, Lucky!” said Rainbow.
As he said these words he dropped the bridle upon Lucky’s neck, leaned forward in the saddle, pressed his knees against his sides, and, at the same time, uttered a peculiar cry, intended to let Lucky know that he was at full liberty, and also to cheer him onward. Lucky did not wait for a second signal. He sprang forward, and flew along the road like the wind.
After running on in this manner about a mile, Rainbow drew up the reins again, and called upon Lucky to come to a halt.
He then turned him, and came back to the house on a gentle trot.
“Now, Lucky,” said Rainbow, “you have had your run, and I expect that you will be steady, at least until we get to the school-house, and Toolie gets off.”
When he arrived at the door, he stopped and dismounted.
“Where have you been, Rainbow?” asked Toolie.
“Only down the road a little way,” replied Rainbow, “just to let Lucky see if his legs are all in order this morning.”
“And are they all in order?” asked Toolie, very gravely.
“Yes,” said Rainbow, “in excellent order. You’ll see how nicely he’ll carry you to school.”
The mall-bag was lying upon the threshold of the door, all ready. Rainbow took it up and threw it over the saddle. He then brought out a chair, and set it upon the broad flat stone that served for a step before the door, and finally lifted Toolie up and let her stand upon it.
“Stand still, now,” said Rainbow, “until I get on.”
So Rainbow mounted the horse, and then, bringing him up close to the step, he reached out his arms and took Toolie up before him on the saddle.
“I’m afraid!” said Toolie.
“Yes,” said Rainbow, “every body’s afraid the first time they ride upon a horse. I expected that you would be afraid. But that’s no matter. It does not hurt any body to be afraid, so don’t you mind it.”
The horse was now beginning to walk slowly away. Mrs. Holden stood at the window looking on.
“I am afraid I shall fail,” said Toolie. “See how high up I am!”
“Yes, but you are not half as high up as you would be if you were on an elephant,” said Rainbow.
“Is an elephant very big?” asked Toolie.
“Yes,” said Rainbow; “and he has got a kind of a long arm hanging down from the end of his nose, with something like a pair of fingers at the end of it that he can pick things up with.”
Talking in this way to amuse Toolie, and to divert her mind from the danger she was in from being up so high, Rainbow drove on. He advanced very slowly, and Toolie soon began to feel entirely at her ease. At length the school-house came in sight, and very soon afterward Lucky arrived safely with his two passengers opposite the door.
The teacher, who had arrived at the schoolhouse but a few moments before, came to the door to see who was coming, and all the children that were there looked on also to see the strange sight of so little a scholar riding to school on horseback.
Rainbow drove up pretty near the door, and then the teacher came out to help take Toolie down. She was quite surprised to see Toolie
coming to school in that way, and especially to see a colored boy bringing her.
“My name is Rainbow,” said Rainbow, when the teacher had taken Toolie down. “I bring the mail.”
Rainbow saw by the expression in the teacher’s face, and also in those of the scholars, that they were curious to know who he was, and yet that they did not think it proper to ask, and so he volunteered to give them the information.
“I wish you would bring me a letter in the
mail, then, the next time you come,” said the teacher, with a smile.
“And me,” said one of the older girls, timidly.
“And me,” “And me,” said the others. Very soon there was a general cry of “And me” from all the scholars. Rainbow laughed, and, turning his horse off into the road, again went on his way.
Toolie stood at the school-house door with the other scholars, and watched Rainbow until he was out of sight. The other children, in the mean time, gathered around her, and asked her a great many questions about him, some of which she could answer and others not. At length a little bell was heard to ring within the school-house, which was the signal for the children to come in, in order that the school might begin.
Toolie belonged to the youngest class. There were three or four other scholars of about her age, but, like Toolie herself, they were not very regular in coming to school. When they did come, the teacher called them together three times in the forenoon and three times in the afternoon, to say their letters. She gave them short lessons and frequent ones. For the rest of the time, she did not keep them confined to
their seats in the school-house, but let them go and play together outside. They amused themselves in gathering flowers in the woods near, though they were forbidden to go out of sight of the building.
There was a sandy place on one side of the school-house, in a warm corner where the sun shone, and here the children used often to play making gardens. They used to dig up the sand with an old iron spoon which one of them brought to school to use as a shovel. They gathered plants and flowers out of the woods, and stuck them in rows in the sand, calling them by different names, according to a fancied resemblance which they bore to plants and trees growing in their fathers’ gardens.
Their greatest pleasure was, however, in watering the garden. There was a spring a little way from the school-house, down a path which led by a gentle descent along a green bank, with a grove of trees on the upper side, and a prospect over the valley on the other. The spring was small, but the water in it was beautifully clear. It came out from under a large rock all covered with moss, and mossy banks inclosed it on every side but one, where there was a great flat stone for people to stand upon when they came to get water.
The children used to go down to this spring with a tin mug, and after taking a good drink all round, they would bring up the mug full of water to water their gardens.
Whenever they heard the little bell ring at the school-house window, the rule was for them to leave whatever they were doing and come directly in to say their letters; then, after having said them, they were allowed to go out again.
Bad Piece of Road.
Rainbow experienced the advantage of the circumspection and forecast which he exercised in endeavoring to discover beforehand the difficulties which he was likely to meet in his work, and to provide for them in season, in one particular case, in quite a remarkable manner. It was in relation to the place described in one of the preceding chapters, where there was a bridge across the brook in the midst of a low, flat tract of land apparently subject to overflow.
There is something curious in respect to the operations of overflows and inundations upon brooks and rivers. They arise usually from obstructions of some sort in the channel below the place overflowed, in consequence of which the water can not pass off below as fast as it comes in above. If the water can pass off below as fast as it comes in from above, then, in case of a great rain, or the melting of a large quantity of snow, there would be a rise of the stream and an increase in the rapidity of the
current, but there would be no considerable accumulation of water.
But when the channel below any point is obstructed, either by being naturally too narrow, or by being partly filled with rocks, or fallen trees, or any other cause, then the water can not flow off; and an accumulation ensues. In such a case, if the banks of the stream are low at the place where the accumulation takes place, the water rises above them and the land is overflowed.
When Rainbow came to the place where the bridge above referred to stood, he stopped his horse on the brink of the green and grassy land which formed the margin of the low place, and took a survey of the scene.
There was a little stream of water flowing through a broad but shallow channel which passed under the bridge. Between this channel and the green bank upon which Lucky stood was a wide expanse of low ground, perfectly dry, but covered with gravel, rounded stones, tangled masses of brushwood, and other indications of its being often overflowed. Through this scene of ruin and desolation the road was seen winding its way to the bridge. The bridge, as has already been said, was raised very high, so as to be up out of the reach of
the water, the road being made to ascend to it at each end.
The road was very rough across the whole tract, being full of stones, and also of rubbish of various kinds, that had been brought down by the water. It passed through and covered these various obstructions in a very circuitous manner. The way may have been made tolerably smooth at first, but the earth had been washed out of it by repeated freshets, leaving the rocks bare.
“I don’t like the looks of this place at all,” said Rainbow. “I can go over it now well enough, but how am I to find my way among all these stones and stumps when there is a torrent of water a foot and a half deep tearing over it like mad?
“The first thing,” continued Rainbow, still talking to himself, “is to find out whether there is any other place to get across this stream, higher up or lower down, when the road here is under water. I must ask somebody.”
So he looked about this way and that to see if there was any house near at which he could inquire. There was not even the smallest cabin to be seen. In fact, the road in both directions passed through woods as wild and solitary as could well be imagined.
Rainbow thought he heard the sound of a voice. He listened, and he distinguished the voice of a man at some little distance in the woods calling to his oxen. After a few minutes the voice ceased, and then Rainbow heard the strokes of an axe.
“There’s a man that could tell me,” said he, “but how am I to get to him? He is half a mile off, or a quarter of a mile at least. I might tie Lucky here to a tree and go and find him. And so,” he added, after a moment’s pause, “come back by-and-by, and find that somebody had come by and stolen the United States’ Mail. That would be a nice plan, now, wouldn’t it? a very nice plan! Don’t you think you see me doing it, Lucky?
“However,” he continued, after another short pause, “I can leave you for a minute or two, provided I keep you in sight. I’ll tie you here, and go down the bank a little way, and see if I can find out what stops the water.”
So saying, Rainbow dismounted, and tied Lucky securely to a small tree which stood apart at the side of the road, and then followed the bank of the brook down a little way, turning round frequently as he went to see if Lucky was safe. After proceeding for a short distance be came to the margin of a dense thicket.
He went into this thicket as far as he could go without losing sight of Lucky, and took a survey of the bed of the stream where it flowed through down into a dark solitary glen.
The bed of the stream where it passed through this glen was completely choked up with a tangled mass of logs, brushwood, and other similar obstructions.
“That’s the trouble,” said Rainbow to himself. “All that it wants is to have the bed of the brook cleared out; but that’s something I can’t do. It would take two men and a yoke of oxen two days to do it, and I suppose the men that live about here can’t spare the time; and perhaps they have not got any oxen.”
Rainbow then came back to the road.
Lucky turned his head to look at him when he heard him coming.
“It is I, Lucky,” said he. “I’ve got back. The bed of the brook is all choked up down there, but you and I could not clear it out.
“At least we could do it, perhaps, if you would pull steady and hard on the old logs, but it would take too long; so we must make the best of our way through the water when the freshet comes. I am going to clear the road and then mark it out.”
Rainbow accordingly went along the road,
and began to roll out the big stones that were in the way, so as to make a tolerably smooth path for the horse to walk in. He straightened the path, too, as much as he could, so as to avoid the necessity of making short turns, which he thought it would be very inconvenient to do when wading through a torrent of water. He worked in this way diligently for a quarter of an hour.
“Now, Lucky,” said he, at the end of that time, “we must not stay here any longer today. We will do something more to-morrow when we come along, provided we get here in good season.”
So he mounted the horse again and rode on. As he rode he began to reflect upon the best mode of marking out the way.
“I might put stakes down,” said he, “if I had an axe to cut the stakes and to drive them with into the ground, and an iron bar to make the holes; but I could not bring an axe very well on Lucky’s back, to say nothing of the iron bar.
“I might stand up stakes upon the ground,” he continued, after a little reflection, “and then pile stones about them at the foot, so as to keep them upright for a while; but then, when the freshet came, the water would float them up and carry them off.
“That would be a nice plan, Lucky, wouldn’t it?” added Rainbow, “to put up the stakes in such a way that they would stand as long as I did not want them, and then, just as the time came when they were needed, quit their posts and go away?”
Rainbow laughed aloud at the idea, and he asked Lucky whether he thought that it was such soldiers as that that he wanted to guard a dangerous pass.
After some farther reflection, Rainbow determined that he would mark out the road by making piles of stones along the margin of it.
“I can pile up big stones,” said he, “as big as I can lift; two or three piles every day that I come, until I get the road all marked out.”
While Rainbow was in the midst of these reflections, he heard a voice in the wood a little way before him as of a man driving oxen. When he came up opposite to the place he saw a sort of cart-road coming out of the woods there, and, looking in, he saw a man coming with a yoke of oxen hauling a log. The man was just turning the oxen into the main road when Rainbow arrived at the spot. When he saw Rainbow he stopped the oxen and looked up with all expression of curiosity in his countenance.
“Good-day, sir,” said Rainbow.
“Good-day, my lad,” responded the man.
“How is it about the bridge across the stream back here a couple of miles?” asked Rainbow. “Is it easy to get along there when the water is up?”
“No,” replied the man, “you can’t get along at all when the water is up.”
“Is the water very deep there in a freshet?” asked Rainbow.
“Yes,” replied the man, “it is a foot or eighteen inches deep all over the low ground.”
“I should think people might get through eighteen inches of water easily enough,” said Rainbow.
“We could if there was good bottom,” replied the man, “but the road winds in and out among the stones so that you can’t find the way.”
“What do you do, then, when the water is up, about getting along?” asked Rainbow.
“We don’t get along at all,” said the man. “We have to wait till the water goes down.”
“Is there any other bridge where you can cross up or down the stream?” asked Rainbow.
“There’s one farther up,” replied the man, “but it takes you about five miles round.”
After a little further conversation of this
kind, Rainbow bade the man good-by and rode on.
Rainbow was quite confirmed in his idea of the necessity of marking out the way, so that he could get across the stream when the water was up, by what he was told by this stranger.
“It will do well enough for the people that live along the road here,” said he to himself, “to wait for the water to go down, for they can go to work somewhere else for that day; but it will never do for me. I’ll begin to pile up the stones the next time I come by, and I’ll make two or three piles every day until I get the road all marked out.”
One very pleasant morning in what is called the Indian summer, as Rainbow was riding in a very agreeable manner along the road, he came to a place where there was a trough set by the side of the road to water horses from, and as he came up to the place he saw two children, who belonged in a farmer’s house near by, sailing chips in it, playing that they were boats.
As Rainbow came down the hill toward this watering-place he observed the children, and they looked up toward him. They looked surprised. Rainbow thought they looked a little alarmed.
He stopped his horse, therefore, where he was, and said,
“Children, will it frighten you if I come up to the trough to let my horse have a drink?”
The children looked earnestly at him, but did not answer. At length the oldest asked,
“Will he bite us?”
THE CHILDREN’S POND.
“Oh no,” replied Rainbow. “He never bites any body.”
“Then we shall not be afraid,” said the girl.
Rainbow then came slowly on toward the trough, and while Lucky was drinking he fell into conversation with the children.
“Are those the best boats you can get to sail in your pond?” asked he.
Yes,” said the girl, “we have not got any better boats than these.”
“I can make you a boat,” said Rainbow.
“I wish you would make us one,” replied the girl.
“I can’t make it now,” replied Rainbow, “but I can make it when I get home, and bring it here the next time I come.”
“When shall you come again?” asked the girl.
“To-morrow,” said Rainbow. “I shall come by here to-morrow about three o’clock, and if you will be here at that time I will give it to you.”
“When is three o’clock?” asked the girl.
“A little while after dinner,” said Rainbow; “but, if you are not here when I come, I will hide the boat under the trough.”
Rainbow dismounted from Lucky’s back, and showed the children a place under the trough where he would hide the boat; then, when they came there, they could look at the place which he had indicated and find it.
“And if you find it,” said Rainbow, “you must put a white stone in its place when you take it away; and then, when I come by the next time, if I find a white stone there, I shall know that it was you that found the boat, and nobody else.”
The children agreed to this proposal, only
they said that they should certainly be there in the road at three o’clock the next day.
“But something may happen to prevent your coming,” said Rainbow. “It may rain. In fact, it looks like rain now.”
After some farther conversation of this kind, Rainbow bade the children good-by and rode on.
That night, when he got home, he made three very pretty little boats, sitting by his mother’s kitchen fire. When his mother saw what he was doing, she asked him what he was making those little boats for. He said he was making them for three of his children.
“Three of your children?” repeated his mother.
“Yes, mother,” replied Rainbow. “I call all the children that live on my road my children. I take care of them all.”
Rainbow put the boats in his pocket; but, when the morning came, he gave up all idea of seeing the children in the road when he went by, for it was beginning to rain.
By the time that he had received his mail and was ready to set out upon his journey it was raining very fast. Rainbow cared nothing for this, for he had clothes made which protected him well from the water, and the mall-bag was water-proof too. So he rode along in a
very contented and happy manner, with the rain driving against his back and running down in streams from his stirrups. Lucky did not mind it either. His skin was water-proof as well as Rainbow’s clothes.
“This rain may bring a freshet,” said Rainbow, “and I have not got my road marked out across that low place. I have only put up the piles of stones as far as the bridge on one side.”
This was true. He had thought it not prudent to stop long enough on any one day to do the whole work which he bad planned, for fear of making himself late; so he proceeded by degrees, doing a little each day when he could get there in season. It was hard work piling up the stones, for it was necessary to take such as were quite large and heavy, since small ones would have been in danger of being undermined and washed away, or perhaps knocked over by heavy logs or other floating substances brought down by the current.
He chose square and flat stones for the purpose so far as he could obtain them, because they could be laid more firmly. Some he was obliged to bring from a considerable distance, turning them over and over upon the ground when they were too big to be lifted. He made his piles only where there were turns in the
roadway, and, in order to make the number of turns as small as possible, he straightened the track as much as he could by rolling loose stones out of the way.
Proceeding in this manner, he had finished his work on one side of the bridge, and was intending to go on and do the same on the other side. But now he was afraid that a freshet was coming, and that he should be caught by it with his work unfinished.
“It rains very fast,” said he to himself, as he rode along. “I wonder whether I shall find the water up when I get to the brook?”
When at length Rainbow arrived at the trough where he was to leave the boats, he looked for the children, though, as it was still raining fast, he had no expectation of seeing them. In fact, he did not see them; so he dismounted, while Lucky stood at the trough drinking, and taking the three little boats out of his pocket, he deposited them in a place agreed upon under the trough.
Lucky stopped for a moment to see what Rainbow was doing, but, having never seen any little boats before, he did not know what to make of them, and so he resumed his drinking.
After Lucky had taken as muck water as he wished, Rainbow mounted him again. As he
did so, he observed that the water which ran from the spout was no larger—at least it was not perceptibly larger than it was on the day before, when it had not begun to rain. Rainbow was a little surprised at this.
“I should think the water would run faster,” said he to himself, “when it rains.”
The truth was, however, that this little stream of water which ran from the spout into the trough came from a spring. The spring issued forth from under a rock, near the root of a great tree, a little way up the bank. Now springs are produced by streams of water coming out of the ground. The water that flows from them comes originally from rain; but that which comes forth at any particular time does not come from the rain that is falling at that time; but from that which fell weeks or months before.
The explanation of the case is this: when rain falls over any extended country, a great portion of the water flows off over the surface of the ground, at first forming little rills, and then brooks, and then large streams. This water which thus runs off along the top or surface of the ground is called surface-water, and the little rills which are produced by it are always greatly increased during a rain.
But, besides this water which flows over the surface of the ground, a great deal sinks into the soil, and thence passes slowly down into the strata of sand and gravel which he below it. By-and-by, in some cases, it comes to beds of rocks, or of clay, or of some other substance impervious to water. If the upper surface of these beds is inclined, the water flows along slowly over them in the direction of the descent, percolating through the sand or gravel which lies above. In some cases it wears for itself little channels in the sand or gravel, and after flowing along in this manner for a considerable distance, it at last finds its way out of the ground upon the side of a hill or mountain, often through a crevice under some rock or tree, and this forms what is called a spring.
Of course, the supply of water for a spring comes from far below the surface of the ground, and is derived from rain which fell months, perhaps, or weeks before; and during the time when any actual shower is falling, the flow of water is only increased by the quantity of rain which falls upon the spring itself, which is, of course, very little.
Rainbow did not understand all this very well. He knew that the water from springs came out from under the ground in some way,
but where it came from originally he had no idea.
After looking a moment at the little stream of water which flowed from the spot, he gathered up the bridle-reins, turned Lucky into the road, and went on.
The road was very wet and muddy, and in many places streams of surface-water were flowing rapidly along in the ruts in the middle of the pathway, or in the channels which had been worn by the water of previous showers at the sides of it. But when at length Rainbow came to the low place in the road where he had been so much in fear of an inundation, he found, to his great relief and satisfaction, that the water in the stream had risen very little. The road itself was perfectly free from water. Rainbow passed on as usual until he came to the bridge. He ascended to the top of the bridge, and there he stopped and looked down into the bed of the stream below.
The water was turbid, and it was flowing over the stones in a very rapid and tumultuous manner, but it did not appear to be much higher than it was the day before. The truth was, the water which had fallen upon the ground in rain all over the back country, and among the mountains where the brook came from, had not
yet had time to collect from all the little rivulets and rills, and come down in the main stream as far as to the bridge.
“I don’t believe there will be a freshet here after all,” said Rainbow.
So he went down from the bridge on the farther side, and, following the road where he had smoothed and straightened it, he passed on by one of his piles of stone after another, till he crossed the whole extent of the low ground, and then continued his journey. He was half inclined to think that he had lost his labor in building his landmarks.
He had abundant reason, however, to change this opinion the next day.
The rain continued to fall incessantly all that day and all the night. The next morning, when Rainbow awoke, the clouds were breaking away, and soon afterward the moon came out into full view. The moon was just going down in the west when Rainbow rose.
When he set out on his journey down the river the sun was shining very bright, but the road was wet and muddy, and the blades of grass and all the hanging branches of the trees were glistening with drops of rain.
Rainbow went on as usual along the road, stopping now and then to speak to the people that he met on the way, or that he found at work in the woods or fields along the road-side.
At last, while he was proceeding in a quiet and contented manner along the wild place in the woods, just before he came to the high bridge, as he called it, he heard a roaring sound.
“Lucky,” said he, “hark! what is that?”
Lucky pricked up his ears a little, but went jogging on as before.
“Lucky,” said he, “it seems to me that I hear a roaring, and it sounds much more like the roaring of a freshet than of a bear.”
Just then he emerged from the wood and came out upon the green bank which skirted the low place in the road, and then, to his dismay, he saw that the whole hollow was filled with a roaring torrent, which swept over the rocks, and bent down the bushes, and foamed, and whirled, and tumbled in every direction. In the midst of this tumult, the bridge stood resting upon its two little rocky abutments, far above the reach of the water, like a high island in the middle of a wide and foaming torrent.
“There! Lucky,” said Rainbow, after pausing a moment, and gazing upon the scene in silent astonishment, “what do you think of that?”
Lucky looked earnestly at the whirling waters, but, in fact, he did not know what to think.
Rainbow could see the tops of his piles of stones rising above the water at certain distances from each other, and marking out the road. The water whirled around them, and heaped itself up on the side against which it was impelled, as if doing its best to overthrow
them; but the stones were too large and too firmly placed to be removed.
“We can very easily get to the bridge, Lucky,” said Rainbow, “for we can follow our own road along the side of our landmarks; but what are we going to do on the other side?”
After pausing a moment with the appearance of being in a state of considerable perplexity, Rainbow drew up the bridle-reins again, saying, “At any rate, Lucky, we will go on as far as we can. I don’t suppose that you will like going through this water much, but go you must.”
So he urged Lucky down to the brink. Lucky looked at the whirling and foaming torrent with great apprehension; but Rainbow pressed him forward, and he went in. The water was so turbid that he could not see the bottom, but Rainbow could judge pretty correctly of the depth by observing how high it came up around his piles of stones. He had taken the precaution to make them all of the same height, and he had estimated this height at two feet He did this carefully when he made the piles, in order that he might use them as measures of the depth as well as guides. He now judged that the water did come up to within about a foot of the tops of the piles, and so he inferred that it must be about a foot deep.
“It is only a foot deep, Lucky,” said he; “don’t be afraid.”
So Lucky went on. He staggered now and then in going over some of the uneven places, and felt his head swim once or twice when passing through those portions of the water where the sweep and whirl was most rapid and bewildering; but at length he got safely through, and climbed up the rough ascent which led to the bridge, the water dripping copiously from his legs and from the end of his long black tail.
As soon as Lucky reached the highest part of the bridge, Rainbow stopped him, and both horse and rider began to survey the scene around them. The group looked like an equestrian statue of a black boy mounted on a crazy pedestal of logs, in the midst of a roaring and turbid river.*
“Lucky,” said Rainbow, “we’re in difficulty. Trigget told me that we should get into difficulties before the winter was out, and this is one of them.
“I hope this bridge won’t get undermined while we are here standing on it,” he added, “and so let us down into the water, logs and all, with a crash. We should then be in a worse difficulty than we are in now.
* See Frontispiece.
“Lucky,” said Rainbow again, after a moment’s pause, “should you dare to wade through the rest of the water with nothing to point out the road?”
Lucky gazed very intently at the water before him, but he did not give any token of an answer to the question.
“Lucky,” said Rainbow again, suddenly, as if a new thought had entered his mind, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll get off and wade, leading you by the bridle while I go on before you to find the way. I can grope about with my feet upon the bottom, and find the places for you to step.”
After some farther reflection, Rainbow concluded that that was the best thing that he could do; so he dismounted, and stood upon the bridge a moment by Lucky’s side. He began to adjust the mail-bag on the saddle.
“I am not certain about trusting the mail-bag on your back alone, Lucky,” said he; “it might slip off while you were staggering about over the stones. Then how should I feel to see it sailing away down this torrent, and then go pitching and tumbling over the cascades into that ravine? That would never do in the world, Lucky. That bag is the United States mail.”
“I’ll leave it here on the bridge till I get you safe to the dry land, and then I’ll come back for it.”
So he proceeded to take the bag off Lucky’s back. He paused a moment, however, in the midst of this operation, as if struck with a new idea.
“But then, Lucky,” he continued, “suppose that the bridge should get undermined while we were gone, and so be carried away, logs, mail-bag, and all, down the stream? I’ll take the mail-bag over first, and then come back after you. If the bridge goes down with you upon it, you could take care of yourself and scramble out of the water, but the mail-bag could not.”
So Rainbow, instead of putting the mail-bag upon the ground, let it remain upon the saddle until he had taken off his shoes and stockings and rolled up his trowsers. He then took the bag on his shoulder, and, leaving Lucky standing on the bridge, he walked down over the abutment on the farther side of it to the brink of the water. He then looked back to see if Lucky was safe.
“Lucky,” said he, “keep up a good heart till I come back. If the bridge gives way, go down with it quietly into the water. Don’t go
to struggling and kicking among the logs. Go down as easily as you can till you get bottom, and then stand quietly till the logs have floated off and you have time to see where you are. Then look and see where I am, and come along toward me slowly and carefully, as if you were walking about in a pasture.”
So saying, Rainbow turned his face toward the water again, and began to go into it. It was icy cold, for it was now quite late in the season. He went on, however, boldly, the stream sweeping wildly by and between his legs, and foaming and whirling all around him. If the water had been very deep he could not have maintained himself against the pressure of it; but it was generally not up to his knees, though once or twice he went in a little over them.
At length he reached the bank in safety, and walked up out of the water. He laid down the mail-bag upon the grass with an air of great satisfaction. He then went back after Lucky. The bridge still stood firm, but yet Lucky had been sufficiently uneasy to be very glad to see Rainbow coming back.
“Now, Lucky,” said he, “your turn has come. You have nothing to do but to follow me, and walk along as steadily as you can.”
So he took the bridle in his hand and walked on down into the water. Lucky followed him with a hesitating and cautious air.
“Steady, Lucky! steady!” said he; “steady is the word in going through such a frolic as this.”
So Lucky went in very steadily, and in due time came out safely upon the hard ground. Rainbow then fastened Lucky to a tree, and went back to get his stockings and shoes, which had been left upon the bridge. In due time he returned with them, and very glad was he to put them on again, for his feet were aching with the cold.
When at length he was ready, he put the mail-bag on Lucky’s back again, and then, mounting himself, he resumed his journey.
Rainbow did not fail of getting the mail into Trigget’s hands in season, at the lower end of the route, once during the winter. He, however, failed once in getting to No. 5. The failure was in consequence of a snow-storm. It was not a very violent snow-storm, however, and the snow was not deep. It was the means of getting Rainbow into difficulty by making him lose his way.
This is, in fact, one of the greatest dangers which travelers incur from the snow in wild countries. It covers up and conceals the road, and makes them lose their way.
On the day after Christmas, when Rainbow awoke in the morning in his little garret room at No. 5, he heard a clicking sound against the window. On looking out, he found that the ground was whitened with fresh snow, and more snow was falling. The wind was driving the little needle-like flakes against the panes of glass, and it was this which produced the clicking sound.
“We’ve got a snow-storm to-day,” said Rainbow to himself. “I wonder how Lucky will like that.”
Rainbow went out into the barn, and gave Lucky some fresh hay and also some oats, advising him, at the same time, to eat his breakfast as soon as he could, in order to be ready to start in good season.
“We have got a snow-storm,” said he, “and we do not know what may happen before night; so we will set out early.”
Rainbow then went into the house, built the fire in the kitchen, and put on the tea-kettle. Before this time Mrs. Holden had got up, and she immediately began to prepare breakfast. While she was baking the cakes and making the coffee, Rainbow sat in the corner, reading to her and to her husband from a newspaper which he had brought up the previous day from below. Mr. Holden was employed in the mean time in sharpening the cutter of the apple parer, for they were going to have what they called a paring-bee at the house in a few days.
When a convenient time came for Mrs. Holden to leave her work for a short period, she placed a little table or stand before her husband, and laid the Bible upon it; and then Rain-
bow laid aside his paper, and Mrs. Holden took her seat upon the settle, and the family attended prayers. This was their usual custom.
After this, breakfast was soon ready, and they all sat down to the table. Mr. Holden said that he thought there would not be a great storm. It was the wrong season, he said. The great snow storms came usually in February and March. He did not think there would be more than enough to cover the ground well.
“Then we shall have no difficulty,” said Rainbow. “If the snow does not come more than a foot deep, Lucky and I can get through it very well.”
“Except in the drifts,” said Mr. Holden.
“When I come to drifts,” said Rainbow, “I can get off and wallow through them, and break a way for Lucky, and then he can get through.”
“Then you’ll go very well,” said Mr. Holden,” for I don’t believe there will be a foot of snow fall to-day. By to-morrow it may be deeper. But you will be coming up then, and there will be no fine to pay, so it will be of no consequence if you do fail.”
“Ah!” said Rainbow, “I don’t mean to fail if I can help it, either way, fine or no fine.”
Rainbow set out on his journey soon after this, and every thing went on well and pros-
perously for several hours. It is true that the storm continued. Indeed, it rather increased, and the ground became covered every where with snow. In most places it was yet only a few inches deep, but before noon it accumulated in drifts to such an extent that in some places it came up above Lucky’s knees.
Lucky, however, went through all these places without any difficulty, and he arrived at the end of his route safely, more than an hour before the appointed time.
Trigget was standing at the stable door when he rode in, and said,
“Well, Rainbow, the worse the weather is, and the traveling, the earlier you always get in.”
“Why, you see,” said Rainbow, “I take more pains at such times, because I don’t know what may happen.”
“That’s it,” said Trigget. “The company made a good bargain when they got you to carry the mail up the river. One half the fellows that wanted the place would have hung back and lagged behind in bad times, and then would have come to me with faces as long as Lucky’s, to beg off from the fine, and lay the blame on the weather.”
“I may fail yet some day,” said Rainbow.
“Yes,” said Trigget, “you may, but I doubt very much whether you do.”
When Rainbow rose the next morning he found that the storm still continued. Still, it did not snow very fast, and there was not a great deal of snow yet upon the ground.
Rainbow set off very early and pushed vigorously forward. The wind was now in his face, so that both he and Lucky found it much more uncomfortable traveling than it had been the day before. The snow was getting somewhat deeper, but still it was not very deep. Rainbow was surprised that a greater quantity had not fallen. The truth was, that, though it had been snowing incessantly for many hours, the flakes were all exceedingly small.
“We don’t care for this, Lucky, at all,” said he. “It would take three days of such snowing as this to make the snow so deep as to trouble us much in getting along.”
Lucky went steadily on, wading through the snow, and saying, as plainly as he could say by his air and manner, that he did not care for the snow at all.
He was very glad, however, when he arrived at Mix’s Corner, which was the place where Rainbow usually stopped for dinner. Rainbow, after seeing Lucky comfortably provided for in the stable, went into the house, and there he found that Mrs. Mix had got a comfortable
dinner all ready for him upon a small table, which was placed before the end of the settle which was next the fire.
After eating his dinner, and waiting the customary time to allow Lucky to finish his, and also to get well rested from the fatigue of the morning, Rainbow prepared to set out on his journey again. Just as he was ready to leave the door, Mrs. Mix came out with a small bag, like a meal-bag, hanging over her arm. There was something in each end of the bag.
“Rainbow,” said she, “you may get through to-day, and you may not. We never can tell what is going to happen when we are traveling in such a snow-storm as this. So I have brought you a bag, with some corn for Lucky tied into one end of it, and some bread and cheese for you in the other end. You may have occasion to use the provision before you come to No. 5, and you may not. If you should have occasion for it you will be glad you took it, and if you do not have occasion for it, it will be so much the better.”
Rainbow thought it was not at all necessary to take any thing of the kind, but still, as Mrs. Mix had been kind enough to bring it out to him, he thought it would be ungracious to decline the offer. So he took the bag, and put it
upon the back of the horse behind the saddle, and fastened it there by means of two slender leather strings which were attached to the saddle in that part, for the very purpose of securing a great-coat, a valise, a bag, or any thing else of the kind which the rider might have to carry.
“Won’t the things get wet, Mrs. Mix?” asked Rainbow.
“No,” replied Mrs. Mix, “the snow is dry, and whenever you stop it will all brush off the bag and do no harm.”
So Rainbow bade Mrs. Mix good-by and drove away; and Mrs. Mix, pushing back Ephraim, who had come to the door behind her, and was trying to get a chance to look out, shut the door against the wind and snow, and disappeared.
Rainbow went on safely for an hour after he left Mrs. Mix’s, and then he lost his way.
There is no particular danger of losing one’s way in a snow-storm so long as the road is bordered on each side by fences, or walls, or rows of trees, or by any other marks to denote the line of it; but in those countries where there are no marks of this kind, the danger is often very great.
This is the case in many of the passes in Switzerland. In these passes the roads often traverse for miles tracts of wild, uncultivated, and rocky land. There is no difficulty in finding one’s way in such places without a guide, so long as the track can be seen; but as soon as the ground is covered with snow, all traces of it disappear at once, and none but those who have been over the road so often as to know every bush and stone by the side of it could have any possible chance of finding their way.
It is so in many parts of Scotland, in which
country the road passes sometimes over moors and other great tracts of waste land, where for many miles there are no fences, walls, rows of trees, habitations, or any other marks of the presence of man, except the bare road itself; which conforms so closely to the surface of the ground that when it is covered with a few inches of snow all traces of it entirely disappear.
In some cases of this kind posts are set up at regular intervals by the road-side, to assist the traveler in finding his way. These posts are painted red, to form a contrast with the snow.
When the road is not marked out in this way, it is never safe for a stranger to attempt to travel without a guide.
Upon the passes in Switzerland snow falls at all seasons of the year. It often happens accordingly that travelers, in going over them without guides, imagining that there can be no danger—since, as they suppose, they have only to follow the path, which is every where perfectly plain—are suddenly overtaken by a snow-squall. In half an hour the whole country is covered several inches deep in the snow, and they see around them only one wide waste of desolation, over which they look in every direction for the path without finding any traces of it whatever. If, in such cases, night comes
on before the snow melts away again, or before they find their way to some hut or cabin, they often perish among the mountains from cold or exposure.
Now the road in which Rainbow was traveling was generally well marked out by the objects on the sides of it, such as banks where the earth had been cut away, deep channels worn by the water, fences, walls, and sometimes by the margin of the forest on either hand. In such cases there was no difficulty at all in keeping the path. In fact, Lucky could keep it himself, without any guidance from Rainbow whatever.
At length they came to a place where the way lay across a great clearing. The clearing was full of stumps, and the road, or rather the bridle-path—for it was not much more than that—passed through it in a somewhat devious course, winding this way and that to avoid the rocks and the stumps which encumbered the ground.
Rainbow rode on into this opening without any concern. The air was so thick before and on each side of him that be could not see the boundaries of it. In fact, the snow was blown into his face so much by the wind, which here had full sweep over a wide tract of open land, that he could scarcely see at all.
“This is rather tough, Lucky,” said he. “But never mind; we shall get across this clearing soon, and then we shall come into the woods again, where it will be sheltered.”
So Lucky went on; but before long he came to a sudden stop. Rainbow looked forward, and he could see through the driving snow which filled the air before him a deep gully with steep sides. At the bottom was a dark line produced by a little channel of water which was lying there, and which melted the flakes of snow as fast as they fell into it.
“Lucky,” said Rainbow, “what does this mean? We have lost our way.”
Now there was just one thing that Rainbow ought to have done in this emergency. He ought to have dismounted from his horse, and retraced his steps again, by looking for his foot-prints in the snow, until he got back to the place where he first emerged from the wood to enter the clearing. Then he would, at least, have known where he was, and he could have either attempted again to find his way through the clearing, or have given it up and gone back to the first house, according as should then seem to him most wise.
But Rainbow did not think of this. He thought only of turning off to the right hand
or to the left, and so finding his way back into the right road again.
So he turned to the right and went along by the side of the gully. It was now about four o’clock or a little later, and as it was at a season of the year when the days were shortest, and as, moreover, the sky was greatly obscured by clouds and snow, it was beginning to grow dark. Rainbow looked about every way, but be could see nothing but a few dark stumps immediately around him, and a thick murky atmosphere shutting in the view on every side beyond.
“Lucky,” said he, “we’re lost!”
Then, after a moment’s pause, he added, “What do you think we had better do?”
Lucky turned his head a little way from the wind, but seemed to have no idea at all what it was best to do.
“It is my opinion, Lucky,” said Rainbow, “that we had better go straight forward, any way, until we come to the side of the clearing. We must come to it sooner or later, whichever way we go; then we will follow the margin of the wood all the way round until we come to our road.”
Lucky seemed to have no objection to this plan of operations, and, at a signal given by Rainbow that he was to advance, he went on
directly forward. Rainbow guided him in as straight a line as possible. and, before long, he began to see a dark mass rising before him, and coming more and more distinctly into view as he advanced toward it. It was the margin of the forest.
Ah!” said Rainbow, as soon as he began to make out the forms of the trees somewhat distinctly, “here are the woods. Now, Lucky, have a little patience, and we shall soon be all right.”
So he drove on a little way in among the trees so as to get under the shelter of them, and then turned and passed along in a direction parallel to the margin of the clearing, and at a little distance from it, watching closely every where for indications of a road.
He did not expect to find any tracks or marks of footsteps of any kind, but only an opening through the wood leading in a direction away from the clearing. At length he came to such a place.
“Here is a road, Lucky,” said he. “This is a road, most certainly; but it may not be our road.”
Rainbow concluded, however, after a very little reflection, that the best thing that he could do—the only thing, in fact—was to follow the
road until he came to some house. He accordingly turned into it and rode on. He proceeded for some time very successfully; but it gradually grew dark, and the prospect became continually more and more discouraging. He went on thus for several miles, looking out on every side for some object or locality that be could recognize; but every thing seemed strange to him.
At length the road seemed to be coming out of the dense forest, and to enter more uneven and more open ground. Rainbow was sorry for this, for now it was much more difficult to follow the track. Openings appeared here and there among the little groups of trees and bushes, and Rainbow had no means of knowing which way the road went among them. At last he came to the conclusion that he was wholly lost, and that it was useless to attempt to go any farther.
“Lucky,” said he, “we have come to the end of our journey for to-night. We shall have to camp out. But don’t be concerned about it, Lucky; we shall get along very comfortably. If I only had my little axe here, you would not want any thing better than the little camp I could make for you.”
But Rainbow had no axe, and he was obliged
to do the best he could in building a camp without one.
He had a large and strong jack-knife in his pocket, and it was very sharp. With this he cut down some slender little trees, bending them over and cutting them off near the ground. These little trees were long and gently tapering, and he selected from them two which had branches near the top, by means of which he could make a crotch to each of them. He planted these crotched poles in the ground about five or six feet apart, and brought the crotched ends together at the top. Into these crotches he placed one end of another long pole, letting the other end extend back and he upon the ground. The third pole thus formed a sort of sloping ridge-pole to his hut.
Next he took the other poles and placed them along the sides in such a position as to extend from the ground to the ridge-pole in the manner of the rafters of a roof; and then covered the whole with boughs of hemlock and spruce.
This first hut was for Lucky’s stable. He then built another similar to it for himself. Finally, he collected some dry wood, by pulling up logs and dead branches of trees from under the snow, and made a great blazing fire before it. Rainbow always carried a sharp knife, a
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box of matches, and a small ball of strong string in his pocket.
Lucky’s stable was built against a tree in such a manner that, when the horse was led in, he could be fastened to a low branch of the tree which projected a little way through the covering.
When the two huts were built and the fire was made, and the floors were well covered with hemlock branches, Rainbow gave Lucky half the corn which Mrs. Mix had put in the bag. He poured it out upon a large flat stone which he found near by. Lucky could hardly wait to have the corn poured out, but began to seize and devour it very greedily.
“It is short allowance for you, Lucky, I know,” said Rainbow; “you shall have the rest to-morrow morning. It is not enough for you, but we must be thankful for what we can get to-night.”
Having given Lucky his corn, and having also taken care that the hemlock boughs were spread smoothly and evenly over the floor of the hut, so that Lucky, if he should he down, should have as comfortable a bed as the circumstances of the ease would admit, Rainbow went to his own hut, and, seating himself there before the fire, began to eat his supper of bread
and cheese with an appearance of great comfort and content.
After he had finished his supper, he remained sitting up before the fire for an hour or more, singing and talking to himself. He amused himself a long time in making a hoe-handle out of a long and slender stem which he bad cut for his hut, but had not used. At length he began to feel sleepy; so he leveled and smoothed the hemlock branches beneath him for a bed, and laid others over him for a coverlet. He also pulled the mail-bag over upon the top of them, in order to keep the branches in their place, and also to furnish additional warmth. There was, however, no special danger of his suffering from cold. It was not a very cold night. It is never very cold during a snowstorm. Then, besides, he had a blazing fire almost exactly before the opening of the hut, which illuminated and warmed the whole interior.
Rainbow rose two or three times in the night to replenish the fire, and to say a few words to Lucky. He awoke, also, early in the morning, some time before light. He built up the fire anew, gave Lucky the remainder of his corn, and ate the remainder of his own bread and cheese. He found that it had ceased snowing.
Presently, when the sun came up, he saw that the clouds were breaking away, and the sun came out in full splendor, only he appeared in the quarter of the heavens exactly opposite to where Rainbow had expected to see him.
“Lucky,” said Rainbow, “either the sun has got turned round or we have.”
By the time that Rainbow was ready to set out on his journey again, the sun seemed to him to be in the right quarter, and, from knowing which wits east, he found out in which general direction he ought to go. The air was now clear too, and he could see the country around, so far as the openings in the woods allowed. He went on in a certain direction for some time, guiding himself by the sun until he came to a road. He followed this road for a mile or more, when he came to a house. Here he inquired where he was, and he found that he had come several miles out of his way. There was now, however, no difficulty in getting back into the right road. He arrived at No. 5 a little before noon, bringing the hoe-handle which he had made in the woods in his hand.
As he came up toward the house, Mrs. Holden, who had been looking out for him all the morning, came to the door in a hurried and excited manner.
“Why, Rainbow,” said she, “what’s the matter?”
“Nothing is the matter now,” said Rainbow, “only that Lucky and I are as hungry as two bears.”
It is needless to say that the hunger both of Rainbow and Lucky was soon satisfied, and, in the end, neither of them were at all the worse for their adventure in camping out.
The most serious misfortune which Rainbow met with during the winter, or, rather, the greatest danger which he incurred, was that of losing Lucky. He was stolen from Trigget’s stable by two thieves, who had learned that he belonged to Rainbow, and they took him on that account.
“He never will know himself what to do to follow us up,” said one of the thieves to the other, “and there will be nobody to care enough for him to help him.”
So they came into the stable one dark night; took out the horse, and went away with him. They left the stable door open when they went away, in order to lead Rainbow to suppose that the horse had got out and gone away himself.
When Rainbow came into the stable to bring Lucky out, in order to set off on his journey, great was his astonishment to find that he was gone. He looked first all about the stable, then about the yards, and finally up and down the road, but Lucky was nowhere to be seen. In
great dismay, he went to report the case to Trigget.
Trigget seemed to take the affair very coolly. “Some of the boys left the stable door open, and he has walked off,” said he.
“But I fastened him to his crib,” said Rain-bow.
“He unfastened himself, then, in some way,” said Trigget.
“He could not unfasten himself,” said Rainbow, positively.
“It is plain that he could do it, for he has done it,” said Trigget. “He certainly has gone, and he could not get away without first unfastening himself—not unless he were to take the stable with him.”
Rainbow did not know how to reply to this reasoning; so, after a moment’s pause, he asked, in a very disconsolate tone,
“What am I to do?”
“You must take another horse,” said Trigget. “There is not time to look Lucky up, so you must take another horse. Lucky will come back in the course of the day. He can’t get any thing to eat this time of the year, and he’ll be glad enough soon to come to his crib again. You can take one of my horses for this trip. You may have Kate.”
Rainbow was extremely unwilling to make this substitution; but he saw that there was no help for it, and so he submitted. He took out Kate, saddled and bridled her, put on the mail-bag, and then mounted and set off very much disturbed in mind.
He inquired of every body he met along the road if they had seen any thing of a stray horse. They asked him what kind of a horse. He said a handsome young black horse. Then they said they had not seen any horse at all.
In the mean time the thieves had taken Lucky away about ten miles off; on a solitary road leading in the same general direction with the road up the river where Rainbow’s mail-route lay, but running at some distance from it. They came at length to a lonely house, where one of the thieves lived. Their plan was to keep Lucky concealed there until Rainbow and the people at the stable should give up looking for him, and then to take him by night journeys to Boston and sell him. In the mean while, in order to prevent him from being recognized in case he should be seen, they took a brush from a pot of white paint which stood on a beam in the half shed, half barn where they were going to shut him up, and painted a broad white stripe down in the middle of his face.
This stripe, to one looking at the horse from a little distance, altered his appearance entirely.
The house that they took Lucky to was a miserable place. There was no regular barn, but only a kind of shed or out-house, with a place in the corner of it for a horse to stand and feed. There were some wood-piles in different places in the shed, and a pig-pen on one side of it, with an opening from the pen leading to a yard outside for the pig. On the farther side of the pig-pen were several barrels, and in the corner, beyond the barrels, a place covered with straw, which the barrels almost entirely concealed.
The thieves fastened Lucky to his crib, gave him some hay, and then went away and left him to his reflections.
His reflections were not at all agreeable. He did not like the place he was in at all, nor the hands into which he bad fallen. He determined, if possible, to make his escape, and go back to the stable where he belonged.
He was fastened by a rope halter, the men having taken off his proper halter and put it away. Lucky began to pull upon the rope and to gnaw it with his teeth.
The rope was a stout one, and it was well fastened, and Lucky made slow progress in his
work; but he had a good deal of perseverance, and so he kept on alternately eating his hay and gnawing upon the rope, until at last he got it worn away so far that by giving a good pull he broke it off. He then at once felt himself free. He began to walk about the shed to see what he could find. It was night, but the moon shone in through a large open window in a loft above, and Lucky could see pretty well. He first pushed at the door with his head to see if he could get it open, but it was fastened very securely on the outside. There was a place on one side where there were some loose boards. He pushed upon these; but presently he got his nose caught in a crack and pinched so severely that he immediately abandoned the attempt to escape there.
There was a place where a step led up to a door opening into a kind of back kitchen of the house. Lucky thought that he might possibly find his way out in this direction, so he advanced to the step and put his foot upon it; but the step was formed of a block of wood, sawed off from the end of a stick of timber, and it was very unstable. It came very near rolling over and striking Lucky on his knees; so he gave up the attempt of getting into the back kitchen.
After some farther attempts of this kind, he walked along to the dark corner behind the barrels, and there lay down upon the straw. Whether in doing this he had any design of hiding away from the men, or whether he was tired of his attempts to get out, and thought the straw would make the place a comfortable one for him to he down in, I can not say.
The next morning, when the men came in to attend to Lucky and give him some more hay, they looked into the stall where they had left him, and behold! he was gone. They were very much surprised. They examined the end of the rope which still remained fastened to one of the poles of the crib, and saw where it had been gnawed off.
“He has gnawed off the rope,” said one of the men, “and got away.”
“But how could he get out?” asked the other. “He might have gone up that step into the back kitchen, and so got out that way,” said the first. “The door is not fastened.”
“But it is shut,” said the other.
“Perhaps the wind shut it after he went out,” said the first.
“I don’t believe he got out in that way,” replied the other. “Let us look all about.”
So saying, he began to look about the shed,
and behind the wood-piles, and finally he found Lucky lying quietly in his corner on the straw.
The men pulled him out in a very rough manner, with many cuffs and much vituperation. Lucky bore these indignities patiently, secretly resolving, all the time, that the worse his captors treated him, the more watchful he would be for a chance to make his escape.
It was not long before the opportunity came. The two men led him out in front of the shed, and looked at the end of the rope where it had been gnawed off.
“It is of no use to fasten him with a rope,” said one of them. “I even believe he would gnaw off a leather strap. We must chain him. We will make a halter out of a pair of trace-chains.” Then, addressing Lucky, he said,
“You won’t find the iron so agreeable about your ears, old fellow; but it is your own fault.”
Accordingly, one of the men brought the trace-chains, and the other hooked and linked them together in such a manner as to produce a kind of halter. They then took off the rope halter from Lucky’s head, intending to put the other immediately on in its place, one of the men holding him, in the mean time, by the top-most tuft of his mane, one which grew directly between his ears.
“Now’s my chance!” said Lucky to himself. And instantly he pulled his head away by a sudden jerk, sprang back, wheeled round, and went galloping off into the road at the very top of his speed.
The men both ran shouting after him, but Lucky was altogether too swift for them. He went on as fast as he could run for two miles, looking back continually, first over the right shoulder and then over the left, to see if the men were following him. At length, beginning to get a little out of breath, he determined upon a dodge. Suddenly, after passing a curve in the road which cut off all possible view from his pursuers, if pursuers there were, he turned into the woods, and, running a short distance in, he stopped in a thicket of pines, at a place where he could peep through and see any person coming along the road without the possibility of being seen himself.
This escape occurred just about the time that Rainbow was setting out upon his journey with Lucky’s substitute, Kate.
Lucky remained in the wood a little while, occasionally stopping to browse upon the tender ends of the branches of the birches and maples which grew near. There were no leaves upon the trees, and there was snow upon the
ground, for it was now near mid-winter. The snow was, however, old, none having fallen for some time, and there was at this time, moreover, a thaw, in consequence of which the snow in the roads was so softened and mixed with mud and water that no distinct tracks had been left by Lucky’s feet. At the place, too, where he turned out of the road, there was a wood-road leading into the forest, so that he had made no tracks there.
After remaining for some little time in the thicket, Lucky heard a sound of somebody coming. He stood still and watched. Presently he saw a horse and sleigh pass, with the two men who had stolen him in the sleigh. The men were driving very fast. Lucky remained perfectly still until they had gone by. Then he went on browsing again.
In about half an hour after this Lucky saw the men go back. He now felt more easy in mind, and, as he did not get much nutriment from the birch and maple buds, he determined to go back into the road, and pursue his way in the direction leading off from the place where he had been shut up, to see if he could not find any thing to eat.
He went on for several hours. Whenever be saw any body coming, he looked attentively
at them to see if they were colored. When he found that they were white, he dodged off into the woods and hid there until they had gone by.
At one time a man came along the road with a load of hay upon a sled. Lucky waited until he had gone by, and then coming out of the thicket, he crept up slyly behind the load of hay and began eating it. He went on in this way for fifteen or twenty minutes before the man found him out. Finally the teamster stopped to let his cattle breathe, and Lucky, unfortunately, being quite hungry, went on eating. The man heard something making a rustling in the hay, and came back to see what it was. The instant that Lucky saw him coming he turned and ran down the road as fast as he could go. He bad been pretty well splashed with mud before, but this last run covered him almost from head to foot. The mud which covered his legs and his sides, and the stripe of white paint down his face, made him a sight to behold.
Lucky rambled on in this way nearly all the day. At last, just before night, to his great joy he saw a colored man walking along the road in a solitary place. He thought at first it was Rainbow, but he soon satisfied himself that it was not. He, however, followed him, until at
last the man came to a log cabin which stood upon a pretty swell of land by the road-side. The colored man turned up to the cabin and went in. Lucky stopped to consider what it was best for him to do.
Presently be observed something that looked a little like a barn. It was partly concealed by bushes and trees, and so be went toward it to see it more distinctly. He found that, instead of a barn, it was only a roof built over a stack of hay. Much of the hay had been taken away, but there was a considerable portion left, and Lucky immediately began eating it.
Lucky bad no ideas whatever in respect to rights of property. He was a very intelligent horse in some respects, but he was often very much mistaken in regard to particular things. The only idea that he had about hay was that it was made for horses, and he considered that all hay belonged to any horse that could get at it, and so be began at once to feed upon the supply which he found before him, without at all troubling his head with the question whose it was.
After he had satisfied his hunger, he lay down upon the hay under one corner of the roof, and went to sleep.
The next morning, Augustus—for that was
the name of the colored man who lived in that house—came out to get some hay for his cow, and there he found Lucky standing very quietly by the stack, eating his breakfast. Lucky’s first impulse was to fly; but when he saw that the man who was coming was black, he went on with his breakfast.
Augustus came up to him, patted him on the neck, and took hold of his mane. he turned him around, and led him up to the door of the house, and then called aloud to Rosalinda.
Rosalinda, who was Augustus’s daughter, was a fine-looking girl of about sixteen years of age. She came to the door at once in answer to her father’s call. Augustus asked her if she knew whose horse that was. Rosalinda said she did not. She had never seen him before, and she was confident that he could not belong to any body that lived in their neighborhood.
Augustus thought it would be cruel to turn the horse off upon the road at that season of the year, when he could not find any thing to eat; so he tied him up in the back shed, and gave him some hay, and then began to consider what it was best to do. At length he concluded that he must advertise him.
So he called Rosalinda, who was quite an
intelligent girl, and had taken pains to teach herself to read and write, and asked her to get her writing materials ready. Rosalinda did so, and then, at her father’s dictation, she wrote an advertisement, stating that a horse had been found, and describing his appearance. When the advertisement was finished, Augustus asked her to make four copies of it.
“To-morrow morning,” said he, “I am going to take them down to Mix’s Corner, to give them to the mail-carrier, when he comes by, to post up in the tavern.”
So Rosalinda made the copies, and the next morning, at the appointed time, she brought them out to her father, who was at the back door harnessing his own horse into an old sleigh. Augustus took the papers, and put them into the crown of his cap, and set off.
The road upon which Augustus lived branched off from Rainbow’s mail-route about half a mile above Mix’s Corner. Augustus’s plan was to carry the papers to the Corner and leave them there, with a request that one of them might be posted there and the other three given to the mail-carrier, when he came by, to be posted in other places along the road.
It happened that Augustus reached the place where the cross-road came out upon the mail-
route just as Rainbow was coming along on his return from No. 5, mounted upon Kate.
Rainbow stopped at once when he saw a colored man coming, especially when he observed that the stranger seemed to wish to speak to him.
“I want to get you to post some notices for me,” said Augustus.
“Very well,” said Rainbow, “that I’ll do.”
“They are about a horse that is found,” said Augustus, taking off his cap carefully to get the papers.
“A horse!” exclaimed Rainbow. “I have lost a horse myself. His name is Lucky.”
“He’s a black horse,” said Augustus.
“Yes,” said Rainbow.
“Young,” said Augustus.
“Yes,” said Rainbow.
“And handsome,” said Augustus.
“Yes,” said Rainbow. “That’s Lucky. It’s Lucky without a doubt.”
“And a white stripe down his face,” added Augustus.
“A white stripe down his face!” repeated Rainbow.
“Yes,” said Augustus, “and a very sly look about the eyes.”
“That’s Lucky,” said Rainbow, “exactly.
[p. 173 blank]
LUCKY WITH A WHITE FACE.
It’s all Lucky except the white stripe. Where is he? how far from here?”
“About two miles, on this cross-road,” said Augustus.
Rainbow looked up at the sun.
“I’ll go and see,” said he. “I shall have plenty of time. I started two hours earlier this morning in order to have time at home to hunt up Lucky. You may turn round and lead the way, and I will follow you.”
So Augustus turned and led the way, and in this order, in about half an hour, they both arrived at Augustus’s house.
Rainbow stopped at the door to talk with Rosalinda, who came out to see who was coming, while Augustus drove his sleigh round the corner, and very soon returned leading Lucky. Rainbow recognized him in an instant, notwithstanding his white face, but he was exceedingly amazed at the change which had taken place, and he could not possibly account for it. But, on closer examination, the mystery was explained; Lucky had had his face painted.
Rainbow knew at once that this was the result of roguery of some kind, though he did not know what. He, however, expressed the greatest obligation to Augustus for having taken care of his horse, and offered to pay him what-
ever he asked for his trouble; but Augustus said that it had been no trouble to him at all.
So Rainbow, after shifting the saddle and the mail-bag to Lucky’s back, mounted him, and took Kate in hand to lead. He then bade Augustus and Rosalinda good-by, and went his way.
As soon as he got home he washed Lucky’s sides and legs well with water, and his face with spirits of turpentine, and then Lucky was himself again.
The Mail on a Hand-sled.
The day on which Rainbow came the nearest to failing in getting his mail in at the lower point of his route in time occurred early in the month of April. The difficulties of the way were so great that he could not get Lucky through at all, but was obliged to leave him behind about midway of the journey, and take the mail the rest of the way himself on a hand-sled.
The difficulty was that the snow, which had become very deep during the winter, when it began to melt in the spring became soft, and Lucky sank into it so that he could not go on. There was no serious difficulty of this kind while the winter continued, and the snow was accumulating, for it came by degrees, a moderate quantity at a time, in the different storms. Sometimes immediately after these storms there was some difficulty in breaking through the drifts for the first time; and in several instances, when the road was blocked up in this way, Rainbow was obliged to go off upon one side
of it into a field, or clearing, to avoid the drifts. But very soon the people of each neighborhood would come out with their teams and break out the road, and then Lucky had no difficulty in getting along.
The people were so much disposed to help Rainbow in every way in their power, that they would bring out their teams, after a storm, earlier on mail-days, when they expected Rainbow, than at other times, so as to have the road ready for him.
After the roads had been broken out in this way they would soon became trodden hard by the travel, and the depression which was made by first treading down the snow in the track would be filled up by fresh snow blown in one side or the other by the wind. This would also soon become trodden hard too, and thus the level of the hard track was in the end brought up to the level of the soft snow on each side.
This process went on during the winter, until, at last, at the beginning of March, the snow was four or five feet deep, and the fences were generally every where covered. It was as deep in the road as any where else, only a great deal more compact and hard, so that Lucky had no difficulty in walking along on the surface of it.
It was now, however, no longer possible to go out into the fields or clearings by the side of the road to avoid the drifts of fresh storms, for the snow was deep every where; and off the road, though it was not so soft as fresh-fallen snow, it was still too soft for Lucky to walk upon it without sinking nearly to the bottom. A horse can make his way through one or two feet of soft snow, but when it is four or five feet deep he can do nothing.
“Lucky,” said Rainbow, one day, when the sun came out warm and bright, about the middle of March, “we get along very well over this snow while it is hard, and we shall do pretty well while it melts gradually; but if there comes a great thaw, and it softens down through to the ground, then we shall be in difficulty. You will sink into it three feet, and it will not be possible for you to get along. We can’t turn out into the fields, for the snow is deep now every where.”
Things went on very well until the first of April, and then one evening it began to rain. The next morning Rainbow found, when he awoke, that the rain was continuing. When he set out upon his journey he perceived that the snow was softening, but still Lucky could get along pretty well. He would walk on qui-
etly upon the top of the snow in the middle of the road as usual, but when he came to a weak place, suddenly one of his fore legs or one of his hind legs would go down, without any warning, greatly to Lucky’s annoyance.
It discomposed Rainbow, too, very much when Lucky thus broke through. If it was a fore foot that went down, he was in danger of pitching forward over Lucky’s head; if it was a hind foot, then he would come near falling off backward.
Still, Lucky went on until toward the middle of the day, though the road was becoming worse all the time, and Rainbow began to feel a good deal of concern. When he arrived at Mix’s Corner, where he stopped for his nooning, the people told him that he could not possibly get through, and he might as well give up the attempt. The snow was softening every hour, they said, and before long Lucky would go in at every step. Rainbow said he would, at any rate, go on as far as he could.
After dinner he brought out Lucky again, but now he determined not to mount him, but to walk forward and lead him by the bridle.
“I will only give you the mail to carry, Lucky,” said he, “and that will make you not so heavy, and you won’t sink in so much.”
So he took the bridle under his arm, bade the people of the house good-by, and pursued his journey.
Lucky went on much better for a time in consequence of being relieved of so important a part of his load; but the snow continued to grow softer as the rain which fell upon it penetrated farther down, and presently it became as bad for him as before. At last Lucky sank in at almost every step, and Rainbow stopped opposite a small house to let him rest a moment and get breath. Immediately afterward the door of the house opened, and a man appeared. His name was Wakeman. he was a very good friend of Rainbow’s.
“Well, Rainbow, this is pretty hard going,” said Mr. Wakeman.
“Yes, sir,” said Rainbow, “it is indeed.”
“I think that when you get on about half a mile from here,” continued Mr. Wakeman, “you will do better to turn off to the right, into a wood-road that you will see there. You can come out into the main road again eight miles farther on. It is farther that way, but the road goes through the woods all the way, and the snow has not thawed so much there, and is not so soft.”
Rainbow determined to follow this advice;
so, after going on to the commencement of the wood-road, he turned into it, and he found, as Mr. Wakeman had told him, that Lucky could get along much better there than in the main road.
He continued his journey by this side-road for about two hours. The rain continued and the snow was all the time growing softer, so that at length the traveling became nearly as bad as ever. Finally, just before he came to the place where he was to come out into the main road again, he saw before him a crazy-looking bridge leading across a stream which was frozen over and covered with snow. Besides the way over this bridge, there was a track across the stream just above it, where people had gone over on the ice.
Rainbow thought that the ice might have been thawed so much as to render it unsafe for him to attempt to cross upon it, and so he was proceeding toward the bridge, and was just entering upon it, when a man who was chopping wood in the yard of a house near by called out,
Rainbow looked round to see what was wanted.
“You must not go over on that bridge,” said the man.
“Why not?” asked Rainbow.
“It is not safe,” said the man. “It has been condemned.”
“Then I must go over on the ice, I suppose?” said Rainbow.
“Yes,” said the man, “if you have a mind to risk your horse on the ice. But I should not want to risk him—not if he is worth as much as he looks to be.”
“He is worth as much as he looks to be,” said Rainbow to himself. He looked first at the bridge and then at the ice, and was greatly at a loss what to do. The man went on chopping his wood.
Just below the bridge was a dam, and a small saw-mill, and near the saw-mill a pile of boards.
“I can get myself and the mail-bag over the ice by means of these boards,” said Rainbow to himself, “and I will leave Lucky here.”
Rainbow turned round and rode up to the place where the man was chopping wood. he told him his story. He was carrying the mail, he said, and he had come off the regular route in order to get a better road. He had concluded now to leave his horse, and get on with the mail as well as he could on foot. He asked the man whether he had accommodations in his barn to put up the horse. The man replied
that he had; and, after going on with his work until he had chopped off the log which he had begun, he laid his axe aside, and he and Rainbow went together into the barn, and put Lucky into a stall. Very glad indeed was Lucky to find that his day’s work was so unexpectedly brought to an end.
Rainbow then proceeded, with the help of the stranger, to procure some boards from the saw-mill to enable him to cross the ice. It is a fact, which the readers of this book may perhaps be already aware of, that one can walk safely over weak and thin ice on a board, which, without being thus re-enforced, would not bear him at all. The reason is, that when one stands directly upon the ice, the whole weight of the body comes upon one single point, namely, that upon which the feet are resting for the time being; but when a board is previously laid down, and the person stands upon it, his weight is distributed, so to speak, over a considerable surface—a surface ten times as great, probably, as that which it bears upon in the other case. Of course, any one portion of the ice is only pressed upon by one tenth part the force which it would have to sustain if the person stood directly upon it.
In all cases, therefore, where a person has to
do with thin ice, the first thing to be done is to lay a board upon it and walk upon the board. This is the thing to be done, if the board can be obtained, whenever any person has broken through the ice and fallen in, and the edges are too weak of themselves to allow any one to approach near enough to help him.
Rainbow accordingly resolved to attempt to cross the river by means of boards.
“And then,” said he, turning to the man, “I must go on with the mail myself. I must either get a hand-sled, or carry it on my shoulders. Have you got a hand-sled?”
The man said he had not got any.
“I could make one that would answer very well in a few minutes,” said Rainbow, “if I had some tools. Have you got any tools?”
“What tools should you want?” asked the man.
“A saw and an axe,” said Rainbow, “and a hammer and some nails.”
“Yes,” replied the man, “I have got all these; only the saw is a wood-saw.”
“That’ll do,” said Rainbow. “Let me have it as soon as possible, for I have not a moment to lose.”
So the man brought out the saw and also the saw-horse; while Rainbow, hurrying down to
the mill, selected a long strip of board of the right breadth to form the runners of his sled. He sawed off from this board two pieces of the proper length, and with the axe hewed each of them into the shape of a runner. He then put the two runners down upon the ground, at the proper distance apart, and nailed three cross-pieces over from one runner to the other, thus forming his sled. The man brought him a long cord, part of an old clothes-line. Rainbow cut off a part of this line, and attached it to the front bar of his sled as a rope to draw it by, and with the rest he lashed the mail-bag securely upon the other two bars.
“Now,” said he, “I am all ready. I’ll pay you for all these things when I come back tomorrow. I can’t stop now. You’ll have Lucky, you know, for security.”
Rainbow then, after giving the man many charges to take good care of Lucky, hastened down to the stream, or rather mill-pond, where was to cross.
With the help of the man he brought two long boards, and laid them down upon the margin of the ice. Rainbow had a pick-pole in his hands, which he had obtained at the mill. He went out pretty near to the end of one of the boards, and then drew the other out alongside
of it with the pick-pole, and pushed it forward still farther over the ice. He then stepped over upon the second board, which he had purposely placed so as to he partly alongside the first, in order to enable him to pass from one to the other without stepping upon the end of either board. he advanced in this manner, by pushing the boards forward alternately, and drawing the sled after him by means of the hook of the pick-pole, which he hooked into the rope.
He kept the mail-bag thus at a considerable distance behind him, so that in case he should himself break through and fall in, the mail-bag might not be drawn in too.
The man stood on the bank watching the operation. Rainbow went on slowly and carefully. The ice was evidently very thin. In one place it settled considerably under his weight when he stepped upon one of the boards, but the ends of the board came to a bearing upon more solid portions beyond, and thus supported it. There was one narrow place which was quite open, but the board bridged it over, and Rainbow passed it safely.
In about ten minutes Rainbow reached the farther bank of the stream, and he walked up upon the solid ground, pulling the hand-sled after him, with a feeling of great relief. He
drew the boards off from the ice, and laid them up where they would be safe, in order to have them ready for him to cross the stream with the next day, if there should be occasion, and if not, that he might return them to the mill.
Rainbow now called out across the stream to thank the man for his assistance, and to bid him good-by, promising to come back the next day before noon. He then resumed his journey, drawing the mail-bag on the hand-sled after him.
He went on now without much difficulty, for the snow would bear him alone, pretty well, although it was not firm enough for the weight of Lucky. After going on a short distance he came out into the main road, and then, a few miles farther, he found the track pretty good. It improved, in fact, so much that he thought he could get along quite well with a horse, if he had one, and he was half inclined to stop and try to hire one at one of the farmer’s houses on the road. But he finally concluded that the uncertainty of obtaining one, and the delay which would, at any rate, be occasioned, would hinder him more than to make up for any advantage that he should gain in case he should succeed, and so he concluded to press on by himself as fast as he could. The result was that he arrived safely at the end of the route
so as to deliver his mail fifteen minutes before the time had expired.
Trigget, who was standing at the corner of the piazza when Rainbow came in sight, first looked surprised, and then turned his head in the direction toward the stable-yard, and called out, “Jerry! Jerry! I’ve lost. Here he is.”
“What have you lost?” asked Rainbow.
“Half a dollar,” said Trigget. “I bet Jerry half a dollar that you would not get through to-day. I did not see how you possibly could get through.” Then, turning again toward the yard, and putting his hand in his pocket at the same time, he called out again, “Jerry! come here and get your money.”
Rainbow walked on, presenting a sober face, out of respect to Trigget, until he had passed by him and entered the house. He laughed to himself most heartily as he walked along the hall, taking care, however, not to laugh out loud.
“I hope you always will lose, Mr. Trigget,” he said to himself, “when you bet against me.”
That night the rain ceased and cold weather returned, so that the roads became hard again. Rainbow went back to the place where he had left Lucky, taking the mail on the hand-sled, and after this the snow melted so gradually that be had thenceforth no serious difficulty.
Rainbow went on very prosperously after this in all his affairs. He encountered a great many difficulties and dangers in the course of the winter and spring; but he took so many precautions beforehand, and he displayed so much energy and tact in meeting the difficulties when they came, that he did not fail of getting through except in the single instance when he lost his way and camped out. As soon as the summer came on every thing went very smoothly.
He was assisted very much at different times when he came near getting into trouble by the people along the road, who were always ready to render him any service in their power, in return for the many little favors he was always ready to do for them and for their children.
He paid for the horse fully before the year was out. Handie Level sent the money to Boston for him, from time to time, as he received it from the stage company. He succeeded so well
in this transaction that some people recommended him to buy a farm of wild land, and pay for it from the proceeds of the crops when he should get it cleared; but Handie advised him not to do it.
“You could do it very easily,” said Handie; “but, after all, I think you had better not do it, unless you can find some neighborhood which is settled principally by colored people. The white people will always be kind to you, I know, because you are good-natured and obliging in all your dealings with them; still, you will be happier to live finally with people of your own race—that is nature; so I advise you to earn all the money you can, and lay it up safely where it will be drawing interest, and then, by-and-by, when you get to be a man, you can choose where you will live and what you will do better than you can now.”
“I’ll tell you just what I should like,” said Rainbow.
“What?” asked Handie.
“I should like to go to Boston, and take care of Colonel Hammond’s horses and drive his carriage.”
“Yes,” said Handie, “that would be an excellent plan.”
“And have a nice little house of my own,”
added Rainbow, “in some snug street in Boston, and go home to it every night.”
“Yes,” said Handie.
He was going to say, have Rosalinda for his wife; but he did not. He stopped suddenly, and did not say another word.