ROLLO'S mother advised him, when he went to bed the evening before the day fixed upon for the blueberrying, to rise early the next morning, and take a good reading lesson before breakfast. She said he would enjoy himself much more, during the day, if he performed all his usual duties before he went. Rollo accordingly arose quite early, and, when he came in to breakfast, had the satisfaction of telling his father that he had read his morning lesson, and prepared his basket, and was all ready to go.
He wanted Jonas to go too, and as, the last time when he asked his father's permission that he should go, he lost his request by asking it in an improper manner, he determined to be careful this time.
So he was silent at breakfast time while his father and mother were talking, and then, watching an opportunity when they seemed disengaged, he asked his father if Jonas might not go with them.
"I do not think he can very well, for there is no room for him. Both the chaises will be full."
"But could not he ride on Old Trumpeter?" said Rollo.
Old Trumpeter was a white horse, that had served the family some time, but was now rather old, and not a very good traveller.
Rollo's father hesitated a moment, and then said, perhaps he might. "You may go and tell him that we are going, and that if he thinks Old Trumpeter will do to carry him, he may go. He will be of great help to us, if we should get into any difficulty."
Rollo thought of the bears that he expected to see on the mountain, and ran to tell Jonas. Jonas was glad to go. So he went and gave Old Trumpeter some oats, and got the saddle and bridle ready. He also got out a pair of saddle-bags that he always used on such occasions, and put into them a hatchet, a dipper, a box of matches, and some rope. On second thoughts, he concluded it would be best to put these things into the chaise-box, and to put the saddle-bags on his horse empty, as he might want them to bring something home in.
After breakfast, Lucy and her father, Rollo's uncle George, drove up to the door, for they were going too; and in a short time you might have seen all the party driving away from the door—Rollo's father and mother in the first chaise, uncle George, and Rollo, and Lucy, in the second, and Jonas on Old Trumpeter behind.
They rode on for a mile or two, and then turned off of the main road into the woods, and went on by a winding and beautiful road until they came in sight of a range of mountains, one of which seemed very high and near.
"Is that Benalgon?" said Rollo.
"I do not know," said his uncle; "I have never been to it before; but I suppose Jonas can tell."
"I will call him," said Rollo. So he turned round, and kneeled up upon the seat, so that he could look out behind the chaise, for the back curtain was up. Lucy did the same, but Jonas was not to be seen. They looked a little longer, and presently saw him coming along round a curve in the road. They beckoned to him, and as he rode up, they saw he had a bush in his hand. He came up to the side of the chaise, and handed it to Rollo. It was a large blueberry-bush, covered with beautiful ripe blueberries. Rollo took them, and admired them very much; and at first he was going to divide them between Lucy and himself; but they concluded, on the whole, to send them forward to his mother. Jonas told them the mountain before them was Benalgon, and rode on to carry the blueberry-bush to the other chaise. Presently he came back, bringing it with him, except a small sprig which Rollo's mother had taken off. The rest she had sent back to the children.
"Well, Jonas," said uncle George, when he got back, "I do not see but that Old Trumpeter is strong enough to carry you yet."
"O yes, sir," said Jonas, "he is strong enough to carry half a dozen like me."
"O, uncle George," said Rollo, "let him carry me too with Jonas. I can ride behind."
"Very well; if you want to ride with him a little while, you may, if Jonas is willing."
Jonas was, and Rollo got out, and climbed up upon a stump, by the side of the road. Jonas drove up to the stump, and Rollo clambered up behind him, with a switch in his hand.
"Now, Jonas," said he, "whenever you want him to go any faster, you just speak to me, and I will touch him up with my switch."
Jonas said he would, and they jogged along behind the chaise. Lucy kneeled upon the cushion, and looked out behind, talking with Rollo.
THEY went on so very quietly for some time, until Jonas said there was a turn in the road on before them, where there was a foot-path that led across a ravine, by a nearer way than the chaise-road, and proposed that Rollo should ask leave for Jonas and himself to go across on horseback, and wait for the chaises, when they should come out on the main road.
So they rode up to the chaise, and Rollo put the question to his uncle George.
His reply was that he could not say any thing about it; Rollo must go and ask his father.
"Would you go?" said Jonas.
"Yes," said Rollo.
"Well, touch up Old Trumpeter then."
So Rollo applied his switch, and the horse trotted on fast. Rollo had hard work to hold on, but he clasped his arm tight around Jonas's waist, and succeeded in keeping his seat.
Rollo's father and mother were riding some distance before them, but they saw Jonas coming up, and rode slowly, that he might overtake them.
"Well, Rollo," said his father, "how do you like riding double?"
"Very much," said Rollo; "and we want you to let Jonas and I cut across by the horse-path through the valley, and wait for you at the mill."
"Is there a horse-path across here, Jonas?"
"Yes, sir," said Jonas.
"Is it a good path?"
"It is rather rough, sir, through the woods and bushes; but it is a pretty good road."
Rollo's father sat hesitating a moment, and then said—
"You may go, if you choose, but I advise you not to."
"Why do you advise us not to?" said Rollo.
"Why, you may get into some difficulty, and so we get separated."
"Yes, but," said Rollo, "it is not near so far across, and we shall have time to get through to the mill long before you come along."
"Very well, you may do as you please."
"Jonas, what would you do? Would you go, or not?"
"I think I would not go, if your father thinks we had better not."
"I want to go very much," said Rollo.
"Very well," said his father; "you are willing to go with him, I suppose, Jonas, are you not?"
"O yes, sir," said Jonas.
"Well," said Rollo, "let us go. We will he very careful, father, not to get into any difficulty."
So the two chaises rode on, and Jonas and Rollo, in a few minutes, turned off by a narrow path that struck into the woods. Just as they were bending down their heads to pass under a great branch of a tree, Rollo looked along, and saw Lucy waving her handkerchief to him, as the chaise which she was in disappeared by a turn of the road.
Rollo at first felt a little uneasy to think that he had deserted his cousin, as it were. He thought that he should not have liked it exactly, if she had gone off, and left him alone so in the chaise. However, it was now too late to repent, and his attention was attracted by the wild and romantic scene around him. The path descended obliquely, by a rough, wet, and stony way, through a dark forest. He heard the sighing of the wind, in the tops of the tall trees, and the mellow notes of forest birds, far off, and high, which came rich and sweet to his ear with a peculiar expression of solitude and loneliness.
The boys rode on, and the path became more and more slippery, stony, and steep. Rollo clung tight to Jonas, and begun to be somewhat afraid. He would have proposed to go back, but he was ashamed to do it. After a little time, he asked Jonas whether the path was as bad as that all the way.
"As bad as this!" said Jonas; "we call this very good. I will show you the bad road pretty soon."
Rollo looked frightened, but said nothing.
"The road seems more wet than common
"The brook up!" said Rollo.
"Yes—why did not I think of that before? However, we must go on now."
"Why?" said Rollo. "Why cannot we go back?"
"O, because we should be too late; besides, there is no danger, only we may have to wade a little."
As they went on, the mud in the road grew deeper and deeper, and presently Old Trumpeter's legs sunk far down among roots and mire. Rollo began to feel more and more alarmed, and heartily wished that he had taken his father's advice.
Soon alter they came to a place where the path, for some distance before them, was full of water, deep and miry. Jonas said he thought that they had better go out upon one side; so he made the horse step over a log and go in among the trees and bushes. The branches brushed and scratched Rollo unmercifully, though he bent down, and leaned over to this side and that, continually, to escape them. He asked Jonas why this path had not dried, as well as the main road, where the chaises had gone; and Jonas told him that the sun and the wind were the great means of drying the open road, but that this narrow and secluded path was shaded from the sun, and sheltered from the wind, and that the water consequently remained a long time among the moss, and roots, and mire.
After a time, they got back into the path again, and, going on a little farther, they came down to the margin of the brook. They found that it was "up," as Jonas had feared. At the place where the path went down and crossed the brook, a deep cut had been worn in the two opposite banks, and this was filled with water, and above and below the stream rushed on in a torrent. Jonas hesitated a moment, and then asked Rollo if he thought he could hold on, while they were riding through. Rollo said he was afraid it was so deep as to drown them. Jonas then said that he might get off and stand upon a rock by the side of the path, while he rode through, first, to see how it was, and that then he would come back for him.
So Rollo got off, in fear and trembling, and stood on the rock, while Jonas urged his horse into the water. Old Trumpeter did not much like this kind of travelling, but Jonas half persuaded and half compelled him to go through. When he was in the middle, the water came up so high, that Jonas was obliged to lift up his feet to keep them from being wet. Presently, however, it became more shoal, as the horse walked slowly along; and at last he fairly reached the dry ground, and stood dripping on the bank.
Rollo was glad to see that the water was no deeper, but was still afraid to go over. He told Jonas he could not go over there, and that he must go back with him.
"No," said Jonas, "that would not be right."
"Why," said Rollo, "we can ride fast, and overtake them."
"Not very soon," said Jonas. "If we go back now, they will get to the mill before us, and then will be very anxious and unhappy, thinking that something has happened to us; and perhaps your father will come through here after us. Now it was your own plan, coming across here, and you ought not to make other people suffer by it. Your father advised you not to come."
"I know it," said Rollo; "what a foolish boy I was! I shall certainly be drowned."
"O no," said Jonas, "there is no real danger, or I should not make you go;" and so saying, he came back slowly through the water. "See," said he, "it is not very deep."
AFTER some further persuasion Rollo got on behind him, and they began to in make their way slowly through the water again. Old Trumpeter staggered along, but not very unsteadily on the whole, until he got a little past the middle, when he blundered upon a stone on the bottom, which he could not see, and fell down on his knees. Jonas caught up his feet, in an instant, and Rollo had his already drawn up behind him, and they both grasped the saddle convulsively. The horse happened to regain his feet again in a moment, so that they contrived to hold on; and in a few minutes they were drawn out safely upon the shore, without even getting their feet wet.
"Well, Old Trumpeter," said Jonas, "you have done pretty well for you, and you have got the mire washed off your legs, at any rate. But, Rollo, what is that?"
He pointed back, as he said this, to a little tuft floating round and round in a small eddy, made by a turn of the brook, just above where they had crossed. He turned his horse towards it. "It is a bird's nest," said he.
"So it is," said Rollo; "and I verily believe there is a little bird in it."
Jonas jumped off of the horse, handed the bridle to Rollo, and took up a long stick lying on the ground, and very gently and cautiously drew the nest in to the shore. He took it up with great care, and brought it to Rollo.
There was a little bird in it, scarcely fledged. Jonas said he believed it was a robin, and that it must have been washed off from its place on some bush, by the freshet in the brook. The bottom of the nest was soaked through by the water, as if it had been floating some time; and the little bird kept opening its mouth wide. The poor little thing was hungry, and heard Jonas and Rollo, and thought they were its mother, come to give it something to eat.
"What shall we do with him?" said Rollo.
"He will die if we leave him here," said Jonas, "for he has lost his mother now. I think we had better carry him home, if we can, and feed him, till he is old enough to fly."
"He is hungry," said Rollo; "let us feed him now."
"We have not any thing to feed him with. Perhaps I can catch a fly, or a grasshopper."
"O, that will not do," said Rollo; "you might as well kill him as kill a grasshopper."
Jonas could not reply to this, and they concluded to carry nest and all carefully to the mill, and show it to Rollo's father there. But how to carry it was the difficulty. If either of them undertook to hold it in one hand, he was afraid the bird might be jolted out; and neither of them had but one hand to spare, for Rollo must have one hand to hold on with, and Jonas one to drive. At last Jonas took off his cap, and placed it bottom upwards on the saddle before him, and put the nest, with the bird in it, in that, and then drove carefully along. The road grew much smoother and better after they passed the brook; and, after going on a short distance farther, they came in sight of the mill.
They had been detained so long that the chaises had reached the mill before them; and the party in the chaises were looking out down the path where they expected the boys were to come out, watching for them with considerable interest:
"There they come at last," said Lucy, as she perceived a movement among the bushes, and saw Old Trumpeter's white head coming forward.
"Yes," said Rollo's mother, "but they have met with some accident. Jonas has lost his cap."
By this time the boys had emerged from the bushes, and were coming along the path slowly, Jonas bareheaded, and Rollo holding on carefully. Lucy saw that Jonas was holding something before him, on the saddle, and wondered what it was. Rollo's mother said she was afraid they had got hurt.
As soon as they came within hearing Rollo heard his father's voice calling out to him,
"Rollo, what is the matter? Have you got into any difficulty?"
"Yes, sir," said Rollo; "we had some difficulty; and I should be sorry I did not take your advice, only then we should not have found this little bird."
"What bird?" said they all.
By this time, they had come up near the chaises, and Jonas carefully lifted the birdsnest out of his cap, and held it so that they could all see it, while Rollo told them the story. They all looked much pleased but Lucy seemed in delight. She wanted to have it go in their chaise, and asked Rollo to let her hold the nest in her lap.
Rollo did not answer very directly, for he was busy looking at the bird,—seeing him open his mouth, and wishing he had something to give him to eat.
"Father," said he, "what shall we feed him with? Jonas was going to catch a grasshopper, but I thought that would not be right."
"Why not?" said uncle George.
"Because," said Rollo, "he has as good a right to his life as the bird. Has not he, father?"
"Not exactly," said his father: "a bird is an animal of much higher grade than a grasshopper, and is probably much more sensible of pain and pleasure, and his life is of more value; just as a man is a much higher animal than a bird. It would be right to kill a bird to save a man's life, even if he were only an animal; and so it would be right to destroy a grasshopper, or a worm, to save a robin."
"But I read in a book once," said Lucy, "that, when we tread on a worm, he feels as much pain in being killed as a giant would."
"I do not think it is true," said he. "I think that there is a vast diversity among the different animals, in respect to their sensibility to pain, according to their structure, and the delicacy of their organization. I think a crew of a fishing-vessel might catch a whole cargo of mackerel, and not cause as much pain as one of their men would suffer in having his leg bitten off by a shark."
"Well, father," said Rollo, "do you think we had better give him a grasshopper?"
"O no," said Lucy; "a grasshopper would not be good to eat, he has got so many elbows sticking out. Let us give him some blueberries."
"O yes," said Rollo, "that would be beautiful."
So he slid down off of Old Trumpeter's back, and ran to the side of the road to see if he could not find some blueberries.
He brought a few in his hand, and his father took them, saying that he would feed the bird for him. He squeezed out pulp of the berries, and then made a chirping sound, when the bird opened his mouth, and he fed him with the soft pulp, and threw away the skins. After giving the bird two or three berries in this way, they put him back into the nest, and gave the nest to Lucy to hold in her lap, and all the party prepared to go on.
They rode along about a mile farther, and then came to the place where they must leave the horses, and prepare to ascend the mountain on foot. They unharnessed them, so that they might stand more quietly, and then fastened them to trees by the side of the road.
While they were thus taking care of their horses, Rollo and Lucy were standing by, with Rollo's mother looking at the bird.
"What are you going to do with him, Rollo?" said his mother.
"Why, I should like to carry him home, and keep him, if you are willing."
"I am, on one condition."
"What is that?"
"You must keep him in a cage with the door always open, so that, as soon as he is old enough to fly away, he may go if he chooses."
"Then he will certainly fly away, and we shall lose him forever," said Lucy.
"That is the only condition," replied Rollo's mother.
"But why, mother," said he, "why may we not keep him shut up safe?"
"If I were to tell you the reasons now, they would not satisfy you, you are so eager to keep him. I think you had better determine to comply with the condition, good-humoredly, and say no more about it, but try to think of a name for him."
"Well, mother, what do you think would be a good name?"
"I do not know: you and Lucy must think of one."
Just then uncle George finished tying his horse, and came along to where the children were standing, and, hearing their conversation, and finding that Lucy and Rollo were perplexed about a name, he told them he thought they might, not improperly, call him Noah, as, like Noah, by floating in a sort of ark, he was saved from a flood.
"I think he was more like Moses than Noah," said Lucy.
"Why?" said her father.
"Because Moses was a little thing when they found him, and then the ark of bulrushes was something like a birdsnest. I think you had better name him Moses, Rollo," said she.
Rollo seemed a little at a loss: he said he thought he was a good deal like Moses, but then he did not think that Moses was a very pretty name for a bird.
"Do you think it is, mother?" said he.
"I do not know but that it would do very well. You might alter it a little; call him Mosette, if you think that would be any better for a bird's name."
Rollo and Lucy repeated the name Mosette to themselves several times, and concluded that they should like it very much. By this time, the horses were all ready, and Jonas recommended that they should hide Mosette away somewhere, until they returned from the mountain, for it would be troublesome to them, and somewhat dangerous to the bird, to carry him up and down.
The children approved of this plan, though they were rather unwilling to part with the bird, at all. They went just into the bushes, and found a very secret place, by the corner of a large rock, where the shrubs and wild flowers grew thick, so that it would be entirely out of sight.
THEY then set forward, the children in advance of the rest. Jonas walked with Rollo and Lucy, and he had round his waist a broad leather belt, which he always wore on such occasions, and which had, on one side, his hatchet and knife, and on the other a sort of bag or pocket, containing several things, such as matches, a little dipper, etc.
Rollo's father and mother, and his uncle George, walked along behind them. The way was, for some distance, a sort of cart-path, too steep and rough for a chaise, but hard and dry, and pretty comfortable walking. Rollo and Lucy asked Jonas if he would not tell them a story, as they went along, to beguile the way.
Jonas began a story, about a boy that lived a long time on a mountain alone; but he had not proceeded far, before they heard a voice behind, calling them. They looked buck, and saw that Rollo's father was beckoning them to stop.
They waited till he came up, and he told them he wanted to give them their orders for the day; and they were rules, he said, which ought to be observed on all berrying expeditions, by children.
"First," said he, "always keep in sight of me. For this purpose, watch me all the time, when we are stepping, and keep before, rather than behind, when we are walking.
"Second. Take no unnecessary steps, but keep in the right path, and walk slowly and steadily there, so as to save your strength. Otherwise you will get tired out very soon.
"Third. Do not touch any flower or berry that you see, except blueberries, without first showing them to one of us."
The children listened to these rules, and promised to obey them, and then walked on. They tried to walk slowly and steadily, listening to Jonas's story. They turned off, after a time, into a narrower and steeper path, and ascended, stepping from stone to stone. The trees and bushes hung over their heads, making the walk shady and cool.
After slowly ascending in this way, for some time, they came out of the woods into an opening of rocky ground, and patches of blueberry-bushes. They saw, also, at some distance before them, three or four boys, sitting upon a rock, with pails and baskets in their hands, talking and laughing loud. They did not take much notice of them, but walked on quietly. They were going on directly towards them, but Rollo's father called them, and pointed for them to turn off to the right, round a rocky precipice which was in that direction.
The children were turning accordingly, when they heard a shout from the boys before them,—"Hallo,—come this way, and we will show you where the blueberries are."
"Father," said Rollo, as he stopped and turned round to his father, "the boys say they will show us the blueberries, out that way: shall we go and see?"
"No," said his father in a low voice, so that the boys did not hear. "No: go the way I told you."
They went along, and presently got round the precipice out of sight of the boys again. They walked slowly until their parents overtook them.
"Father," said Rollo, "why could you not let us go out with those boys? They said they were thickest out there."
"Because," said he, "I presume they are not good boys, and I do not want you to have any thing to do with them."
"But, father, they must be good boys, or they would not want to show us the blueberries. If they were bad, selfish boys, they would want to keep all the good places to themselves."
If Rollo had only asked his father, in a modest manner, how it could be that the boys were bad, when they wanted to show him the best place for blueberries, it would have been very proper; but his manner of speaking showed a silly confidence in his own opinion, which was very wrong. His father, however, did not attempt to reason with him, but only said,
"I think they are bad boys, for I overheard them using bad language; and I wish you to have nothing to do with them."
He then found a good place for them to begin to gather their berries. It was a beautiful spot of open ground, between the thick woods on one side, and a broken, rocky precipice on the other.
Uncle George took Jonas forward alone, until they were out of sight, and presently returned without him. Rollo asked where Jonas was gone, and his uncle told him that that was a secret at present. They heard, soon after, the strokes of his hatchet in the woods, on before them, but could not imagine what he could be doing.
Thus things went on very pleasantly, and they gathered a large quantity of berries. There was, indeed, in the course of the day, a serious difficulty between Rollo and the bad boys; and there is an account of it given in the next story of "Trouble on the Mountain." With this exception, every thing went on well until about noon, when Rollo observed that Jonas had been missing a long time.
"WHERE is Jonas, all this time?" said Rollo to Lucy.
Lucy said that he had been busy, a long time, doing something over beyond some rocks, but she did not know what, for her father told her she must not go to see. Rollo wondered what the secret was, and he was just going to ask his father to let him go and see what Jonas was doing, when they saw him coming out from the bushes. He came up to Rollo's father, and told him that it was all ready. Then Rollo's father called to all the company, and told them it was time to stop gathering berries, and they might take up their baskets and follow him.
The baskets and pails were heavy and full, and the whole party walked along, carrying them carefully towards the place where Jonas had come from. Rollo's father led the way. They entered into a little thicket, and passed through it by a narrow path. They came out presently into a sort of opening, on a brow of the mountain. On one side they could look down upon a vast extent of country, exhibiting a beautiful variety of forests, rivers, villages, and farms. On the other side was a rocky precipice, rising abruptly to a considerable height, and then sloping off towards the summit of the mountain. They walked along a few steps on a smooth surface of the rock, between patches of grass and blueberry-bushes, until Lucy and Rollo ran forward to a brook which came foaming down the precipice, and then, after tumbling along over rocks a little way, took another foaming leap down the mountain, and was lost among the trees below.
The party all stepped carefully over this brook, and then walked along up the bank on the opposite side until they came to the precipice. Here they were surprised and pleased to see a large bower built, in front of a little sort of cavern or recess in the rock. Jonas had built it of large limbs of trees and bushes, which he had leaned up against the rock, in such a manner as to enclose a large space within. There was an opening left round on the farther side, next the rock, and they all went round and went in—Rollo first, then Lucy, then the others. They found that smooth and clean logs and stones were arranged around the sides of the bower; and in the middle, on a carpet of leaves, was very abundant provision for a rustic dinner.
The Bower on the Mountain.
There was bread, and butter, and ham, and gingerbread, and pie, and glasses for water from the brook. Rollo and Lucy wondered how all those things could have got up the mountain. Presently, however, they recollected that, when they were coming up, Jonas had two covered baskets to bring, and they thought, at the time, that they seemed to be heavy.
Thus the day passed away, and towards evening they came down the mountain. Some remarkable things happened when they were coming down, which will be related in the story called "Trouble on the Mountain."