The Sandman: More Farm Stories  by Willliam J. Hopkins

The Sled Story

dropcap image NCE upon a time there was a farm-house, and it was painted white and had green blinds and it stood not far from the road. In the fence was a wide gate to let the wagons through to the barn. And the wagons, going through, had made a little track that led up past the kitchen door and past the shed and past the barn and past the orchard to the wheat-field.

One morning, when the winter was just beginning, it had been snowing for two nights and nearly two days. Little John woke up that morning and he looked over to the side of the room, and on the floor he saw a great pile of snow. It was near the window, and it had blown into the room under the window, through the crack, and had made a drift on the floor. So little John woke little Charles and told him to look at the snow-drift on the floor. And little Charles looked, and seeing the snow made the little boys very cold. So they jumped out of bed and grabbed up their clothes and ran down-stairs to the kitchen, where it was warm.

The little boys dressed themselves in the kitchen and watched Aunt Deborah and Aunt Phyllis getting breakfast. Then they looked out the window and they saw the snow all white and smooth, covering the little track and the ground all around, and the fields as far as they could see, and in some places it covered the stone walls. And they thought it would be fun to get their sled and make tracks all about in the smooth snow. Then, while they were looking at the snow, they saw Uncle John out there. He was all wrapped up, and he had a big wooden shovel, and he was shovelling the snow, making a path to the barn. And he saw them at the window, and he threw some snow at them, with the shovel.


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When they had finished their breakfast, little Charles and little John got their coats and their comforters and their caps and their mittens, and put them on, and Aunt Deborah got some very thick stockings that were large enough, and she pulled the stockings on the little boys' legs, right over their boots and all. These stockings were so thick that they would keep their legs warm in the snow, and the snow wouldn't melt on them. They couldn't put on rubber boots, because they didn't have rubber boots then. Then the little boys ran out of the kitchen door to the shed.

In the shed was the sled. It was a very strong sled that Uncle Solomon had made, and it was almost too heavy for one boy to drag alone. It was made of oak boards that Uncle Solomon had cut the right shape and had fastened together with oak pins instead of nails, the same way they built wooden ships. And the blacksmith had made some iron runners that were fastened on the bottom of the wooden runners. The sled was big enough for three little boys to get on at once.

Little Charles and little John took hold of the rope and walked off into the snow, dragging the sled behind them. The snow was so deep that it came almost up to little John's waist, and it was hard work wading through it, but the snow splashed about beautifully, and the sled made a pretty track behind, and the little boys thought it was fun. They pretended they were the oxen and the sled was the wood-sled, and that they were going to the wood-lot for a load of wood. So they walked along, the way the oxen walked, but they didn't go straight along. They walked about in fancy figures, like the figures Uncle John made, skating, and sometimes they made figures like an 8 and sometimes they made other curly tracks, and sometimes they walked straight. They walked all about in the smooth snow as far as the wheat-field and covered it all over with tracks. Then they were tired of doing that and they wondered what else they could do that would be fun.


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Little Charles and little John took hold of the rope.

So little Charles thought of something and he said it would be fun to make a coast. Little John thought that would be fun, so they got a hoe from the barn, and a shovel, and they went to the track that led down into the orchard, where it was sloping. Then they hoed away some of the snow, and they beat the rest down with the shovel as well as they could, and then they stamped on it to make it hard. Little Charles wanted to get some water to pour on it, to make it more slippery, but little John thought that would be too hard work, carrying water from the well through all the deep snow, and they didn't do it.

When the little boys had the snow all beaten down as hard as they could make it, they put the sled at the highest part and they sat on the sled. Little Charles sat behind, and he hitched along with his feet to start them. Then the sled came to the sloping part and it began to slide, and it slid down over the snow they had beaten down, way into the orchard, and it ran into the soft snow at the end, so that little John was all covered with snow. But he didn't care, and the boys got up and dragged the sled up to the top and slid down again. And so they kept on sliding down and dragging the sled up to the top for a long time. Then little Sam saw them sliding, and he came out and got on the sled and coasted, too.

So the little boys kept on coasting all the morning, and the coast kept getting harder and smoother, and the sled went faster every time, and every time it ran into the soft snow at the end, so that the boys were all covered with snow until they looked like snow boys. And once it ran off at the side and tipped them all off, and they thought that was great fun.

At last, Aunt Deborah opened the kitchen door and called to them that dinner was ready. And they were very much surprised, because they were having such a good time they didn't know how long they had been there. But they got up out of the snow, and little Charles and little John walked along to the shed, dragging the sled behind them, with little Sam on it. And they put the sled in the shed, and they all went into the house to dinner.

And that's all.