Jacob Abbott. Jonas on a Farm in Winter

E-text prepared by Internet Archive Children's Library; University of Florida; and Thaadd, Stan Goodman, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team



Author of the Rollo Books


[Illustration: Jonas stopping at the house of Mr. Edwards.]


This little work, with its companion, Jonas On A Farm In Summer, is intended as the continuation of a series, the first two volumes of which, Jonas's Stories and Jonas A Judge, have already been published. They are all designed, not merely to interest and amuse the juvenile reader, but to give him instruction, by exemplifying the principles of honest integrity, and plain practical good sense, in their application to the ordinary circumstances of childhood.


Early one winter morning, while Jonas was living upon the farm, in the employment of Oliver's father, he came groping down, just before daylight, into the great room.

The great room was, as its name indicated, quite large, occupying a considerable portion of the lower floor of the farmer's house. There was a very spacious fireplace in one side, with a settle, which was a long seat, with a very high back, near it. The room was used both for kitchen and parlor, and there was a great variety of furniture in different parts of it. There were chairs and tables, a bookcase with a desk below, a loom in one corner by a window, and a spinning-wheel near it. Then, there were a great many doors. One led out into the back yard, one up stairs, one into a back room,-which was used for coarse work, and which was generally called the kitchen,-and one into a large store closet adjoining the great room.

Jonas groped his way down stairs; but as soon as he opened the great room door, he found the room filled with a flickering light, which came from the fireplace. There was a log there, which had been buried in the ashes the night before. It had burned slowly, through the night, and the fire had broken out at one end, which now glowed like a furnace, and illuminated the whole room with a faint red light.

Jonas went up towards the fire. The hearth was very large, and formed of great, flat stones. On one side of it was a large heap of wood, which Jonas had prepared the night before, to be ready for his fire. On the other side was a black cat asleep, with her chin upon her paws. When the cat heard Jonas coming, she rose up, stretched out her fore paws, and then began to purr, rubbing her cheeks against the bottom of the settle.

"Good morning, Darco," said Jonas. "It is time to get up."

The cat's name was Darco.

Jonas took a pair of heavy iron tongs, which stood by the side of the fire, and pulled forward the log. He found that it had burned through, and by three or four strokes with the tongs, he broke it up into large fragments of coal, of a dark-reddish color. The air being thus admitted, they soon began to brighten and crackle, until, in a few minutes, there was before him a large heap of glowing and burning coals. He put a log on behind, then placed the andirons up to the log, and a great forestick upon the andirons. He placed the forestick so far out as to leave a considerable space between it and the backlog, and then he put the coals up into this space,-having first put in a slender stick, resting upon the andirons, to keep the coals from falling through. He then placed on a great deal more wood, and he soon had a roaring fire, which crackled loud, and blazed up into the chimney.

"Now for my lantern," said Jonas.

So saying, he took down a lantern, which hung by the side of the fire. The lantern was made of tin, with holes punched through it on all sides, so as to allow the light to shine through; and yet the holes were not large enough to admit the wind, to blow out the light.

Jonas opened the lantern, and took out a short candle from the socket within. Just as he was lighting it, the door opened, and Amos came in.

"Ah, Jonas," said he, "you are before me, as usual."

"Why, the youngest hand makes the fire, of course," said Jonas.

"Then it ought to be Oliver," said Amos,-"or else Josey."

"There! I promised to wake Oliver up," said Jonas.

"O, he's awake; and he and Josey are coming down. They have found out that there is snow on the ground."

"Is there much snow?" asked Jonas.

"I don't know," said Amos; "the ground seems pretty well covered. If there is enough to make sledding, you are going after wood to-day."

"And what are you going to do?" said Jonas.

"I am going up among the pines to get out the barn frame, I believe."

Here a door opened, and Oliver came in, followed by Josey shivering with the cold, and in great haste to get to the fire.

"Didn't your father say," said Amos to Oliver, "that he was going with me to-day, to get out the timber for the barn frame?"

"Yes," said Oliver, "he is going to build a great barn next summer. But I'm going up into the woods with Jonas, to haul wood. There's plenty of snow."

"I'd go too," said Josey, "if it wasn't so cold."

"It won't be cold in the woods," said Jonas. "There's no wind in the woods."

While they had been talking thus, Jonas had got his lantern ready, and had gone to the door, and stood there a minute, ready to go out.

"Jonas," said Josey, "are you going out into the barn?"

"Yes," said Jonas.

"Wait a minute, then, for me, just till I put on my other boot."

Jonas waited a minute, according to Josey's request, and then they all went out together.

They found the snow pretty deep, all over the yard, but they waded through it to the barn. They had to go through a gate, which led them into the barn-yard. From the barn-yard they entered the barn itself, by a small door near one corner.

There were two great doors in the middle of the barn, made so large that, when they were opened, there was space enough for a large load of hay to go in. Opposite these doors there was a space floored over with plank, pretty wide, and extending through the barn to the back side. This was called the barn floor. On one side was a place divided off for stables for the horses, and on the other side was the tie-up, a place for the oxen and cows. There was also the bay, and the lofts for hay and grain; and at the end of the tie-up there was a door leading into a calf-pen, and thence, by a passage behind the calf-pen, to a work-shop and shed. The small door where the boys came in, led to a long and narrow passage, between the tie-up and the bay.

They walked along, Jonas going before with his lantern in his hand. The cattle which had lain down, began to get up, and the horses neighed in their stalls; for the shining of the lantern in the barn was the well-known signal which called them to breakfast.

Jonas clambered up by a long ladder to the hay-loft, to pitch down some hay, and Josey and Oliver followed him; while Amos remained below to "feed out" the hay, as he called it, as fast as they pitched it down. It was pretty dark upon the loft, although the lantern shed a feeble light upon the rafters above.

"Boys," said Jonas, "it is dangerous for you to be up here; I'd rather you'd go down."

"Well," said Oliver, and he began to descend.

"Why?" said Josey; "I don't think there's any danger."

"Yes," said Jonas, "a pitchfork wound is worse than almost any other. It is what they call a punctured wound."

"What kind of a wound is that?" said Josey.

"I'll tell you some other time," said Jonas. "But don't stay up here. You don't obey so well as Oliver. Go down and give the old General some hay."

The old General was the name of a large white horse, quite old and steady, but of great strength. When he was younger, he belonged to a general, who used to ride him upon the parade, and this was the origin of his name.

Josey, at this proposal, made haste down the ladder, and began to put some hay over into the old General's crib. He then went round into the General's stall, and, patting him upon the neck, he asked him if his breakfast was good.

In the mean time, Oliver opened the great barn doors, and, taking a shovel, he began to clear away the snow from before them. The sky in the east was by this time beginning to be quite bright; and a considerable degree of light from the sky, and from the new-fallen snow, came into the barn. Josey got a shovel, and went out to help Oliver. After they had shoveled away the snow from the great barn doors, they went to the house, and began to clear the steps before the doors, and to make paths in the yards. They worked in this way for half an hour, and then, just as the sun began first to show its bright, glittering rays above the horizon, they went into the house. They found that the great fire which Jonas had built, was burnt half down; the breakfast-table was set, and the breakfast itself was nearly ready.

The boys came to the fireplace, to see what they were going to have for breakfast.

"Boys," said the farmer's wife, while she was turning her cakes, "go and call Amos in to family prayers,-and Jonas."

"You go, Oliver," said Josey.

Oliver said nothing, but obeyed his mother's direction. He went into the barn-yard, and he found Amos and Jonas at work in a shed beyond, getting down a sled which had been stowed away there during the summer. It ...

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