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The Bobbsey Twins at Home
by Laura Lee Hope
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"And is Cousin Dorothy coming, too?" Nan asked.

"Yes, they will all be here in a few days now."

"Oh, I'm so glad!" cried Nan, clapping her hands. "We shall have such fun!"

"And can I have fun with you, too?" asked Flossie.

"Yes, dear," Nan promised.

"I wish Dorothy were a boy," put in Bert. "Of course I like her, but I can't have any fun with her. I wish Cousin Harry would come on from Meadow Brook. Then we could have a good time."

"You had a good time with Harry this Summer," suggested Mrs. Bobbsey.

"I like Dorothy," said Freddie, "and I'm glad she's coming 'cause I want to ask her something very much."

"What is it?" inquired Bert

"It's a secret," and Freddie looked very wise and important.

A few days later Mr. and Mrs. Minturn and their daughter Dorothy came from the seashore to pay a visit to the Bobbsey family.

Of course Bert was glad to see Dorothy, and was very nice to her, taking his cousin and Nan down to the store to buy some ice cream. But as Bert was a boy, and liked to play boys' games, Dorothy was better suited to Nan and Flossie than she was to Bert.

Freddie, however, seemed to be especially pleased that his cousin from the seashore had come on a visit. He watched his chance to have a talk with her alone, and the first thing he asked was:

"Dorothy, do you know where I can get a ship to go sailing on the ocean?"

"Go sailing on the ocean!" cried Dorothy. "What for, Freddie?"

"To find Tommy Todd's shipwrecked father. He wants to find him awful bad, and I promised to help. I was going to save up to buy a ship, but Daddy says it takes a long time. And I thought maybe as you lived near the ocean you could get a ship for us.

"It needn't be very large, 'cause only Tommy and Flossie and Dinah, our cook, and I will go in it. But we'd like to go soon, for Tommy's grandmother is poor, and if we could find his father he might bring her some money."

"Oh, you funny little boy!" cried Dorothy. "To think of going off in a ship! I never heard of such a thing!"

"Well, we're going!" said Freddie. "So if you hear of a ship we can get you tell me; will you, Dorothy?"

"Yes, my dear, I will. Is that what you've been trying to ask me ever since we got here?"

"Yes. I didn't want Nan and Bert to hear. You won't tell them; will you?"

"No, Freddie. I'll keep your secret."

But of course Dorothy knew there was no ship which so little a boy as Freddie could get in order to go sailing across the sea. But she did not want him to feel disappointed, and she knew better than to laugh at him. Freddie was very much in earnest.

Dorothy Minturn spent two happy weeks with the Bobbsey twins. She and they had many good times, and more than once Freddie asked the seashore cousin if she had yet found a ship for him and Tommy.

At last Dorothy thought it best to tell Freddie that there were no ships which she could get for him.

"Well, that's too bad," said Freddie, after thinking about it for several seconds. "If I can't buy a ship, and if you can't get one for me, Dorothy, I know what I can do."

"What?" she asked.

"I can make one. My papa has lots of boards in his lumber yard. I'll go down there and make a ship for Tommy and me."

The next day Freddie asked his mother if he might not go down to his father's yard. As the way was safe, and as he had often gone before, Mrs. Bobbsey said he might go this time. Off trudged Freddie, with some nails in one pocket and pieces of string in another.

"I can use a stone for a hammer," he said, "and nail some boards together to make a ship. That's what I'll do."

Freddie first went to his father's office, which he always did, so Mr. Bobbsey would know his son was at the yard. This time it happened that Mr. Bobbsey was very busy. He looked at Freddie for a moment, and then said:

"Now Freddie, do you see where James is sitting by that pile of shingles?" and he pointed across the yard.

"Yes, I see," Freddie answered. He knew James very well. He was the day watchman in the lumber yard, and he walked around here and there, seeing that everything was all right.

"Well, you go over to James and tell him I said he was to look after you," went on Mr. Bobbsey. "You may play about, but keep near James, and you'll be all right. When you get tired come back here."

"All right," said Freddie.

He and the other Bobbsey children often came to their father's yard to have good times, and James, or some of the men, was always told to look after the twins, if Mr. Bobbsey happened to be busy.

"Hello, James," called Freddie, as he walked over to the watchman.

"Hello!" answered the man cheerfully. "What are you doing here?"

"I've come to have some fun and play with you."

"All right," answered James. "What shall we play first?"



CHAPTER XI

A QUEER PLAY-HOUSE

Freddie Bobbsey thought for a minute. He and James had played numbers of games on other days when Freddie was allowed to come to his father's lumber yard. This time Freddie wanted to think of something new.

"Do you want me to tell you a story?" asked the watchman, for this was one of the "games." James knew many fine stories, for he had used to live in the woods, and had chopped down big trees, which were afterward sawed into boards, such as were now piled about the lumber yard.

Freddie always liked to have the old watchman tell tales of what had happened in the woods, but this time the little chap said:

"Thank you, no, James. I want to do some thing else."

"All right, Freddie. Shall we play steamboat, and shall I be the whistle?"

This was another fine game, in which Freddie got upon a pile of lumber and pretended it was a steamboat, while on the ground, down below, the watchman made a noise like a whistle, and pretended to put wood on the make-believe fire to send the steamboat along.

"No, I don't want to play steamboat," Freddie said. "But this game has a boat in it. Did you ever build a ship to go sailing in?"

"No, Freddie. I never did. Do you want to play that game?"

"Yes but I want to make a real boat. You see Tommy Todd's father is lost at sea, and we are going to look for him. So I want to make a ship. There's lumber enough, I guess."

"I guess there is," said James, looking around at the many piles of boards in Mr. Bobbsey's yards. "There's enough lumber, Freddie, but I don't know about making a ship. How big would it have to be?"

"Well, big enough to hold me and Tommy and my sister Flossie and Dinah, our cook. Dinah's very fat you know, James, and we'll have to make the ship specially big enough for her. Will you help me?"

"Why yes, I guess so, Freddie. That game will be as good as any to play, and I can do it sitting down, which is a comfort."

"Oh, but it's going to be a real ship!" declared Freddie. "I've got the nails to put it together with, and string for the sails. I can use a stone for a hammer," and he began to look about on the ground for one.

James scratched his head as he saw the bent and crooked nails Freddie had piled up on a bundle of shingles near by. Then the watchman glanced at the tangle of string.

"As soon as I find a stone for a hammer we'll start," Freddie said. "You can get out the boards."

James wanted to be kind and amuse Freddie all he could, for he liked the little boy. But to pull boards out of the neat piles in Mr. Bobbsey's lumber yard was not allowed, unless the boards were to be put on a wagon to be carted off and sold.

"I'll tell you what we'd better do, Freddie," said the watchman at last.

"What?" Freddie asked.

"We'd better make a little ship first. That will be easy and we can make it like a big one. Then we'll have something to go by—a sort of pattern, such as your mother uses when she makes a dress for your little sister."

"Oh yes!" cried Freddie. "That's what we'll do—make a little pattern ship first. It will be easier."

"Much easier," said James. "Now I'll find some small pieces of board for you, and——"

But just then one of the workmen in the yard called to the watchman to come and help him pile some lumber on a wagon.

"Wait just a minute, Freddie," said James. "I'll be back soon and help you."

"All right," answered Freddie. He sat down on a pile of shingles, and thought of the time when he and Tommy Todd should set off on their ship to find the shipwrecked Mr. Todd.

The watchman was gone longer than he expected. Freddie grew tired of waiting for him, and finally said to himself:

"I'm going to look for some wood myself. I guess I can find it." He looked for some on the ground, but, though there were many chips, and broken pieces, there was none of the kind Freddie thought would be good for a toy ship—the pattern after which the real one would be made.

"I guess I'll climb up on one of these piles of lumber," thought Freddie, "and see if there are any small pieces of board on top. It is easy to climb up."

This was true enough, and once or twice before Freddie had made his way to the top of a pile. Each stack of lumber was made in a sort of slanting fashion, so that the back of it was almost like a pair of steps. Lumber is piled this way to let the rain run off better.

Freddie went up the back part of a pile, some distance away from the bundles of shingles where he had been talking to James.

"This is an easy place to climb," Freddie said to himself. "I hope I shall find what I want on top."

Step by step he went up the pile of lumber, until he was at the top. But, to his disappointment, he found there nothing which he could bring James to use in making a small ship. The boards were all too long and wide.

"I might bring one down, and have James cut it smaller with his knife," said Freddie, speaking aloud. "That's what I'll do."

He lifted up one of the boards. As he did so the little boy noticed that the pile of lumber was swaying a little from side to side as he moved about.

"I guess I'd better get down off here," Freddie said. "This is too jiggily." He had been told to keep off "jiggily" lumber piles, as they were not safe.

Freddie dragged to the edge the board he had picked out for the watchman to make smaller. The little boy was just going to slide it over the edge of the pile to the ground, when, all at once Freddie felt himself falling.

"Oh dear!" he cried. "Something is going to happen!"

And something did happen. The lumber pile with Freddie on top, was falling over. Freddie did not know what to do; whether or not to jump. He looked down, but neither James nor any other man was in sight; and the office, where Freddie's father was working, was far on the other side of the yard.

"Oh dear!" cried Freddie again.

And then, with a crash, the top of the lumber pile slid over, carrying Freddie with it. A cloud of dust arose and the little Bobbsey chap could see nothing for a few seconds. And when he did open his eyes, after feeling himself come down with a hard bump, he found himself in a queer little house.

It really was a sort of house in which Freddie found himself—a little play-house, almost. The lumber had fallen about him in such a way that Freddie had not been hurt or squeezed by it in the least. The boards had piled up over his head, in a peak, like the peaked roof of a real house. Other boards were on the sides and in front, and there Freddie was, in a queer play-house that had made itself when the lumber slid over.

"Well!" thought Freddie, "this is funny! But I wonder how I can get out."

It was not dark in the queer play-house, for light came in between the cracks among the boards and planks. But though the cracks and openings were large enough to let in the light, they were not large enough to let Freddie get out.

The little boy pushed here and there, but the lumber was too heavy for him to move. Then he happened to think that if he did move one board it might loosen others which would fall down on his head.

"I'm in a little house," thought Freddie, "and I guess I'd better call my father to come and get me out. He'll know how to lift off the boards. I'll call daddy or James."

Freddie began to call. But as several lumber wagons were rattling up and down the yard just then, the little boy's voice was not heard. James, having finished helping the man load his wagon, came back to where he had left Freddie.

"Well, shall we start to make a little ship now?" asked the watchman. But no Freddie was in sight near the shingle pile.

"Humph! He got tired of waiting, I guess," thought James, "and went back to his father's office. Well, if he comes back I'll help him. He's a queer little chap, wanting to build a ship. A queer little chap."

And James never thought of going to look for Freddie, for the lumber pile, which had fallen and made itself into a sort of play-house was some distance away from the bundle of shingles. So James sat there in the sun, waiting, and, far off, Freddie was calling for help. For he wanted to get out, very much.



CHAPTER XII

TOMMY IS REWARDED

Freddie Bobbsey was a wise little chap, even if he was only about five years old, and when he found that he was shut up in the queer play-house, and could not get out, he did not cry. He stopped calling for help, when he found no one answered him, and sat down to think what was best to do.

"It would be nice in here, if Flossie could be with me to play," he said to himself. "But she couldn't get in unless some way was opened, or unless one of the cracks was made bigger. There ought to be a door and some windows to this place. Then we could go in and out, and have fun. And we ought to have something to eat, too," Freddie went on.

But there was nothing to eat under the pile of lumber, and Freddie had not thought to put a piece of cake or an apple in his pocket as he sometimes did when he went to visit his father.

That morning he had thought of nothing much but about making a ship to go sailing with Tommy Todd to look for Tommy's father. And all Freddie had put in his pockets were the nails and bits of string. He could not eat them, and, anyhow, they were back by the pile of shingles where he had been talking to James.

"Maybe James will come and find me after a bit," Freddie thought. "I'll just stay here and wait."

He called as loudly as he could once or twice more, but no one answered him. Freddie made himself as easy as he could in the queer little lumber play-house, and, as it was warm with the sun shining down, pretty soon he felt sleepy. How long he slept Freddie did not know, but, all of a sudden he was awakened by hearing a scratching sound near his ear. Some one was scratching away at the lumber.

"Who is there?" Freddie cried, sitting up.

No one answered but Freddie again heard the scratching.

"Oh—oh!" he exclaimed, shrinking back in one corner. "I wonder if that is a big rat? Rats scratch and gnaw."

Once more came the funny sound, and then Freddie heard:

Mew! Mew!

"Oh! Now I know that isn't a rat!" cried the little boy. "Rats can scratch, but rats can't mew. Only cats can do that! Here, pussy!" he called. "Come in and see me!"

Once more there was a scratching and a mewing and up through one of the larger cracks same a big gray cat, that lived in the lumber yard. Freddie knew her quite well, for he had often seen her in his father's office.

"Oh Sawdust!" he called joyfully. Sawdust was the cat's name; a very good name for a lumber yard cat, I think. "I'm so glad it's you, Sawdust!" cried Freddie.

The big cat came up to Freddie, and rubbed against his legs. The little boy rubbed her back and the cat's tail stood up stiff and straight, like the flag pole in front of Mr. Bobbsey's office.

"I thought you were a rat, Sawdust," went on Freddie. "But I'm glad you weren't. I like you!"

The cat purred again. She seemed to like Freddie, too. Soon she curled up beside him, and Freddie put his arm around her. And, before he knew it he was asleep again, and so was Sawdust. She had found her way into the queer play-house while wandering about the lumber yard as she often did, taking walks, I suppose, to make sure there were no mice or rats about.

It was not long after this that Mr. Bobbsey left the office to go over to one part of his lumber yard to see about some boards a man wanted to buy. On the way Freddie's father passed the place where James, the watchman, was sitting by the shingles.

"Well, did Freddie bother you much?" asked Mr. Bobbsey. "I'll look after him now, as I'm not so busy."

"Why no, he didn't bother me, Mr. Bobbsey," said the watchman. "He wanted to build a toy boat, and he brought some nails and string. I had to go over to help Jason load his wagon, and when I came back, having left Freddie to hunt for some boards, he wasn't here. Didn't he go back to the office?"

"Why no, he didn't!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey, in some alarm. "I haven't seen him. I wonder where he can have gone?"

They looked up and down the rows between the piles of lumber, but no Freddie could be seen.

"Perhaps he went home," said James. "You could find out by calling Mrs. Bobbsey on the telephone."

"So I could, yes. But if I asked if Freddie were home she would want to know why I asked, and why he wasn't here with me—that is, if he wasn't at home. Then she would worry for fear something had happened to him. No, I'll have to find out in some other way."

"I could take a walk down past the house," the watchman said. "I could look in and see if Freddie was there. If he wasn't, we'd know he was somewhere around the yard yet."

"Well, you might do that," Mr. Bobbsey said. He himself was a little worried now. "But don't let Mrs. Bobbsey see you," he went on to James. "If she did she'd want to know what you were doing away from the yard. Just walk past the house. If Freddie is at home he'll be out in the yard playing. If you don't see him let me know. Meanwhile, I'll be searching around here for him, and I'll get some of the men to look with me."

"All right," agreed James, hurrying off. While he was gone Mr. Bobbsey looked around the many lumber piles near the bundles of shingles where Freddie had last been seen. But no little boy was in sight, being, as we know, fast asleep, with the big yard cat, under the pile of boards which had fallen in the shape of a little play-house.

"This is queer," thought Mr. Bobbsey. "Freddie never goes home by himself after he has come to see me without telling me that he is going. I wonder where he is."

Mr. Bobbsey looked and called Freddie's name, but the little fellow, being sound asleep, did not hear.

Then Mr. Bobbsey told several of his men about the little lost boy, and they began searching for him. No one thought of looking under the pile of boards, for there were many such in the yard. And so Freddie remained hidden.

When he was not to be found Mr. Bobbsey grew more and more anxious, and he hoped that James would come back to say that Freddie was safe at home.

But when the watchman came back he said:

"Your other children are playing in the yard of your house, Mr. Bobbsey. Bert, Nan and Flossie are there. But Freddie isn't with them."

"Maybe he is in the house, getting something to eat," said Mr. Bobbsey.

"No, I hardly think so," answered James, "for when I was going past the house, on the other side of the street so they wouldn't see me, a little boy, who plays with Freddie, came running along. He called to Nan, this other little boy did, to know where Freddie was."

"And what did Nan say?"

"She said Freddie was down at the lumber yard."

"Then he can't have gone home, or Nan would know it. He must be around here somewhere. I—I hope he didn't go near the lake. And yet he might, with his idea of boats."

"Oh, I don't believe he would do that, Mr. Bobbsey," said James. "We'll find him."

Mr. Bobbsey and the men scattered through the lumber yard, looking on all sides of the many piles. But still no one thought of looking under the boards that had slid off the stack upon which Freddie had climbed. For it did not seem as though any one could be beneath them.

"Well, I don't know what to do," said Mr. Bobbsey, after a bit. "I guess I'll blow the big fire whistle, and get all the men from the shops and every place to help us look. This is too bad!"

Besides the lumber yard Mr. Bobbsey owned a mill, or shop, where boards were made into doors, windows and other parts of houses. Many men worked in this shop.

All this while Freddie was peacefully sleeping under the lumber, with Sawdust curled up near him, purring happily.

Finally, Freddie awakened again, and as he sat up and rubbed his eyes he could not, for a moment, remember where he was: Then he looked down and saw Sawdust, and he said:

"Oh, I'm in my little lumber play-house yet. I must get out. Where did you get in, Sawdust? Maybe I can get out the way you came in. Show me where it was."

Sawdust mewed. Perhaps she knew that Freddie was in trouble, though she did not quite understand all that he said. At any rate the big cat walked over toward a large crack, and squeezed her way through it to the outside.

"That's too small for me," said Freddie, for he could not get even one foot through the opening. "I'll have to find a bigger place."

He looked all over but there was none. Then he called out as loudly as he could:

"Papa! Mamma! Help me! I'm under the lumber!"

Freddie paused to listen. He heard some one walking past the pile of lumber. The little boy called as hard as he could:

"Get me out! Get me out!"

Then, suddenly, a voice asked:

"Who are you and where are you?"

"I'm Freddie Bobbsey," was the answer. "I'm down under the lumber and I can't get out. Please help me. Who are you?"

"Of course I'll help you, Freddie," was the answer. "I'm Tommy Todd. I just happened to pass through the lumber yard. I'm going to ask your father if he has any errands for me to do, as it's Saturday and there is no school. But I'll get you out first, Freddie."

"Oh Tommy! I'm so glad you came. Please get me out!"

But to get Freddie out from under the lumber was too hard for little Tommy Todd.

"I'll run and tell your father, Freddie," Tommy said. "Don't be afraid. He'll soon get you out."

"I'm not afraid," Freddie said.

Tommy ran up to Mr. Bobbsey, who was just getting ready to blow the big mill whistle and call out all the men, more than a hundred of them, to help search for the missing boy.

"Oh Mr. Bobbsey!" cried Tommy. "Freddie can't get out and I can't get him out."

"Where is he? Tell me quickly!"

"He's under a pile of lumber. I'll show you!"

Tommy quickly led the way, Mr. Bobbsey, James and some other men following. When they reached the pile of lumber that had slid over Freddie's head the men carefully but quickly lifted away the boards, and the little boy could come out.

"Oh Freddie!" cried his father. "I was so worried about you! What happened?"

Then Freddie told of having climbed up on the lumber pile, and of its having toppled over with him, but not hurting him in the least.

"It was just like a play-house," he said. "And I heard a scratching and thought it was a rat. But it was Sawdust."

"I saw the cat come out from under the lumber," said Tommy. "But I did not know Freddie was there until I heard him calling. I was coming to you to ask if you had any work for me this Saturday, as there isn't any school. I need to work to earn money for my grandmother."

"Work? Of course I can give you work," said Mr. Bobbsey, who had Freddie in his arms. "You deserve a good reward for finding Freddie for us, and you shall have it. I'm glad I didn't have to call out all the men, for if I had blown the big whistle Mrs. Bobbsey would have heard it, and she would have thought there was a fire."

So Tommy Todd was rewarded for having found where the lost Freddie was. The fresh air boy was given some easy work to do, for which he was well paid, and besides this, Mr. Bobbsey gave the grandmother five dollars to buy the food and the clothing which she needed very much.

"I'm glad I happened to come past the lumber pile where you were," said Tommy a little later, when he was taking Freddie home, for Mr. Bobbsey sent Tommy along to see that the little chap did not get lost again.

"I'm glad, too," said Freddie. "I'm not going to climb up on lumber piles any more. But we've got to make that boat, Tommy, and sail off to find your father."

"Yes, I wish we could find him, but I'm afraid we can't. Anyhow it will be Winter soon and it isn't any fun going to sea in the Winter, so my grandmother says. Maybe we'd better wait until it's Summer again before we think of the ship."

"Well, maybe we had, Tommy."



CHAPTER XIII

THE FIRST FROST

Mrs. Bobbsey was quite surprised when Tommy brought Freddie home, and she was more surprised when she heard what had happened, and how Freddie had been caught under the lumber.

"Dear me, I am glad they found you, Freddie!" she cried, kissing him.

"And so Tommy found you; did he?" asked Nan, smiling at the boy whom they had met in the train the day the fresh air children came home from the country.

"Yes," Tommy answered. "I was going on an errand for my grandmother, and the shortest way was through the lumber yard. I thought it would be a good chance to ask your father for work. And I am to have it—every Saturday and on some other days after school."

"You'll earn a lot of money," Freddie said, "and then we can build our ship."

"He can't get that idea out of his head," remarked Bert to Nan.

"Oh, he's anxious to help Tommy find his father," Nan answered. "I wish it would happen, but I'm afraid he never will be found."

Having seen that Freddie was safe at home, Tommy hurried back to the lumber yard office. Then he went on a number of errands for Mr. Bobbsey. The twins' father said, that night, he had seldom met such a bright and willing boy.

"Tommy will grow up to be a fine man, I'm sure," said Mr. Bobbsey.

One day, a little while after Freddie had been lost under the lumber pile, he and Flossie were standing in the school yard at recess, Alice Boyd came up to them.

"Want some candy?" she asked, holding out some in a paper.

"Thanks," said Freddie, taking some.

"Where did you get it?" Flossie inquired, as she took a piece.

"My sister and I made it," answered Alice.

"How do you make candy?" inquired Freddie.

"Oh, you just put some sugar and water on the stove in a tin dish," Alice answered, "and when it boils you pour it out on a buttered pan—you butter the pan just as you butter a slice of bread."

"Why do you butter the pan?" demanded Flossie.

"So the candy won't stick to it. Candy is awful sticky. Our dog got a lump in his mouth, and it stuck to his teeth so he couldn't open his jaws."

"I wouldn't give a dog candy," declared Freddie. "I'd rather eat it myself."

"Oh, well, we didn't 'zactly give the candy to our dog," said Alice. "A lump of it fell on the floor, and he grabbed it up before we could stop him. Anyhow, we didn't want the candy after it had rolled on the floor."

Flossie and Freddie ate the sweet stuff Alice handed them, and thought it very good. That afternoon when Flossie reached home from school, she marched out into the kitchen and said:

"Dinah, I'm going to make some candy!"

"Make candy, honey lamb! How yo' all gwine t' make candy?"

"Oh, you just put some sugar and water on the stove to boil, and when it boils you butter a pan like a slice of bread, and pour the candy in it so it won't stick. And if a lump falls on the floor—a lump of candy I mean—that belongs to Snap. Though I hope it doesn't make his jaws stick together so they'll never come open, or he can't bark. But I'm going to make some candy."

"Now look yeah!" said Dinah. "Does yo' ma know yo' is gwine t' do dish yeah candy business?"

"No, Dinah, but I'll tell her when she comes home," for on coming in from school Flossie had been told that her mother was not in.

"Yo'll tell her when she comes home?" cried the old colored cook. "Yo' won't need t' tell her, honey lamb. She'll done know dat yo' all has been up t' suffin queer. Make candy! Oh mah gracious! I done guess you'd bettah not!"

"Oh, please, Dinah! It's easy. You can help me."

Dinah gave in, as she usually did, and got out some sugar, some water and a saucepan for the little girl. Dinah knew Flossie was too little to be trusted alone around the stove, so she stood near herself.

"Let me pour in the water," begged Flossie, and she was allowed to do this. Then the sugar and water in the saucepan was soon bubbling on top of the stove. Flossie buttered a pan, getting almost as much butter on her fingers as she did on the tin, but Dinah gave her a wash rag, so that was all right.

Letting the candy boil, Dinah went about her kitchen work, while Flossie sat in a chair near the stove watching. Pretty soon the door bell rang, and Dinah went to answer it. Flossie stayed in the kitchen looking at the steaming pan of candy until she heard a voice calling to her from the yard.

"Flossie! Flossie! Come on out and play!"

It was Stella Janson, a little girl who lived next door.

"I can't come out right away, Stella," answered Flossie. "I'm making candy and I have to watch it. You sit down on the porch and when the candy is done I'll bring some out to you."

Flossie went to the door to tell this to the little girl, and then she saw that Stella had a new doll.

"Oh, isn't she pretty!" cried Flossie. "I must see her!"

Forgetting all about the candy boiling on the stove, Flossie went out on the porch. There she and Stella took turns holding the doll. All this while Dinah was at the front door. A peddler had rung the bell, and it took the colored cook some little time to tell him her mistress did not want to buy a new kind of piano polish.

All at once Dinah gave a cry and quickly closed the door.

"Sumfin's burnin'! Sumfin's burnin'!" she shouted as she hurried back to the kitchen.

At the same time Stella, who was out on the porch with Flossie, began to sniff the air.

"What's that funny smell?" she asked.

Flossie also sniffed.

"Oh, it's my candy burning!" she cried. "My nice candy! I forgot all about it!"

She and Dinah ran into the kitchen at the same time. Over the stove black smoke was curling up from the saucepan of candy.

"Oh, oh!" cried Flossie.

"Keep away, honey lamb—don't touch it!" cried Dinah. "It's hot! I'll lift it off!"

She was just doing that, using an iron holder so she would not burn her hand, when Freddie came rushing in, dragging after him his toy fire engine with which he had been playing out in the yard.

"Fire! Fire!" cried Freddie. "Fire! Fire! I'm a fireman! I put out fires! Look out!"

Freddie's fire engine, though a toy, squirted real water, from a real little rubber hose. The little fireman pointed the hose at Dinah, who was carrying the smoking and burning pan of candy over to the sink.

"Fire! Fire! Pour on water! Pour on water!" shouted Freddie.

"Look out dere, honey lamb! Don't squirt no watah on me!" cried Dinah.

But Freddie had started the pump of his engine, and a stream of water squirted all over Dinah.

"Oh mah good landy!" cried the fat cook. "Stop it, Freddie! Stop it! Dish yeah am awful! It suttinly am turrible!"

Luckily for Dinah, Freddie had been playing so long out in the yard with his engine that there was only a little water left in it. When this had squirted out there was no more until he filled the tank again.

"Oh my!" cried Dinah, as she went on over to the sink, and set down the smoking pan of candy. "Oh my!"

"Is the house on fire?" Freddie demanded.

"No, it isn't," said Flossie. "It's just my nice candy that burned. Oh dear! And I did want it so much!"

"Never mind, I'll make some mo', honey lamb!" promised Dinah, wiping her face on her apron. "But don't yo' squirt no mo' watah on me, Freddie pet."

"No, I won't, Dinah," he promised. "But I saw the smoke coming out of the kitchen, and I knew there was a fire."

"It wasn't 'zactly a fire," said Stella. "But I guess the candy burned up. It's as bad as when we dropped all of ours on the floor."

But good-natured Dinah made another pan of the sweet stuff for Flossie. This did not burn, and it was soon turned out into the buttered tin to cool. And when it was cool Flossie, Freddie and Stella ate it.

Mrs. Bobbsey only laughed when Flossie told her what had happened, but she said she thought the little girl had better not try to make any more candy until she was a little older.

The weather was getting colder day by day now. The children had red cheeks when they went to school, and they ran and romped along to keep warm.

"It will soon be cold enough to have a frost," said Mr. Bobbsey.

"Yes," said his wife, "I wouldn't be surprised if we had one to-night. I have brought in my geraniums and other plants."

"A frost!" cried Bert. "Good! That means the chestnuts will crack out of their burrs. We'll go chestnutting!"

The next morning Bert hopped out of bed earlier than usual. He looked from the window. The ground was white, and so was the roof of the porch.

"Oh, it's snow!" cried Freddie, who also got up.

"No, it's just frost," Bert said. "The first frost of the Winter. Now we'll get ready to have some fun. I'm glad to-day is Saturday. No school, and we can go after chestnuts!"

"Hurrah!" cried Freddie. "May I come, Bert?"

"Yes, we'll all go!"



CHAPTER XIV

AFTER CHESTNUTS

Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie all came down to breakfast together.

"Well, well!" exclaimed Mother Bobbsey, smiling at the children. "What does this mean? Saturday morning, and you are all up as early as though it were a school day. You haven't looked at the wrong date on the calendar; have you?"

"No, Mother," answered Freddie. "But we're going after chestnuts, and we must get to the woods early."

"So the squirrels won't get all the nuts, Bert says," put in Nan.

"But we'll leave some for them; won't we?" asked Flossie. "I wouldn't want the squirrels to go hungry."

"I guess there'll be enough for all of us," said Bert. "But there will be a lot of fellows after the nuts this morning, on account of the frost which has cracked open the prickly burrs, and let the nuts fall out. So if we want to get our share we'll have to start soon. Nan and I will look after Flossie and Freddie, Mother."

Mrs. Bobbsey thought for a moment.

"Yes, I guess it will be all right," she said. "The woods are safe, and there are no snakes this time of year."

"I'm not afraid of snakes," exclaimed Freddie. "They only stick out their tongues at you."

"Some snakes bite," said Bert. "But, as mother says, there are none in the woods now. When it gets cold snakes crawl inside hollow logs and go to sleep. So get ready to go after chestnuts!"

The Bobbsey twins finished their breakfast, and while Bert found some old salt bags which he put in his pocket to hold his chestnuts, Flossie and Freddie went out to the kitchen where Dinah was working.

"Dinah, where is the biggest basket you have?" asked Freddie.

"And I want the next biggest!" exclaimed Flossie.

"Mah goodness, honey lambs! What am all de meanin' ob big baskets?" asked the colored cook.

"We're going after chestnuts," explained Freddie, "and we want something to put them in. Here's just the basket I want," and he took a big one, that Dinah used sometimes when she went to market.

"I'll take this one," said Flossie, as she picked up one in which Sam, Dinah's husband, used to bring in kindling wood for the fire.

"Well, if yo' honey lambs brings dem baskets home full ob chestnuts yo' shore will hab a lot," laughed Dinah.

Flossie and Freddie, with their big baskets, went out in the side yard where Nan and Bert were waiting for them.

"Oh, look at what those children have!" Nan exclaimed. "You two surely don't expect to fill those baskets with chestnuts; do you?" she asked, laughing.

"Of course we do," said Freddie, very seriously.

"No, no!" cried Bert. "Those baskets are too big. There aren't that many chestnuts in the woods, and, if there were, and you filled the baskets you couldn't carry them home. Get smaller baskets, or do as Nan and I do—take salt bags. They're easier to carry, and you can stuff them in your pocket while you're going to the woods."

Flossie and Freddie still thought the big baskets would be best, but their mother told them to do as Bert said, and finally the four twins started off down the road, each one carrying a cloth salt bag.

About a mile from the Bobbsey home was a patch of woodland, in which were a number of chestnut trees.

"Oh, look! There goes Charley Mason!" called Nan to Bert as they were walking along the road. "I believe he's going chestnutting, too."

"It looks so," returned Bert. "I say, Charley!" he called, "are you going to the woods?"

"Yes," came the answer.

"Come along with us," cried Bert.

"All right," Charley answered. "I promised to call for Nellie Parks and her brother George, though."

"We'll stop and get them on our way past their house," said Nan, "and then we'll all go on together."

"It will be a regular party; won't it?" cried Freddie.

"It surely will," laughed Nan.

"Only we haven't anything to eat," said Flossie.

"We can eat chestnuts," declared Freddie.

"Too many of them, raw, before they are boiled or roasted, aren't good for you," said Nan. "So be careful."

Charley Mason crossed the street to join the Bobbsey twins, and a little later they reached the house where Nellie Parks and her brother lived. These two were on the steps waiting.

"Oh, hello, Nan!" cried Nellie. "I didn't expect to see you. Charley said he'd stop for us, but I'm glad you did, too. The Bobbseys are going with us, Mother," Nellie called back to her mother who was looking out of a window.

"It's a regular chestnutting party," said Flossie.

"Only we haven't anything to eat," added Freddie, and all the others laughed.

"That's so!" exclaimed Nellie's brother George, who was older than any of the others. "It isn't much of a party, even to go after chestnuts, unless you have something to eat. Wait a minute."

He hurried back into the house, and soon came out with a pasteboard box.

"What's in there?" asked his sister.

"Lunch for the chestnutting party," George answered. "Now you won't have to worry, Flossie and Freddie."

"That's nice!" said the two little twins in a chorus.

Together the children walked down the street, past Mr. Bobbsey's lumber yard, and then they were out in a part of the city where there were very few houses. It was almost like the country. A little later they came to the woods. The woods were on both sides of a broad road, and before the children reached the clump of trees they could see other boys and girls scurrying around, poking in among the leaves on the ground to get the nuts which had fallen down when the frost cracked open the burrs.

"I hope they'll leave some for us," said Nellie Parks.

"Oh, I guess there will be plenty," returned her brother.

The Bobbsey twins and their friends hurried into the woods. Flossie and Freddie were the first to begin poking among the leaves with sticks which they picked up.

"Have you found any nuts yet?" asked Freddie, after a minute or two.

"Oh yes, I've got one!" cried Flossie. "I've got two—three—a whole lot," and she showed some brown things in her fat little hand.

"Let's see," called Bert, and when Flossie held them out to him he laughed and said:

"Those aren't chestnuts. They are acorns. You have been looking under an oak tree, Flossie. You must look under a chestnut tree."

"Aren't these all chestnut trees?" asked Freddie.

"Oh, no," replied Bert, whose father had told him something of the different kinds of trees, from which lumber is made. "There are oak, hickory, maple and elm trees in these woods. Here, I'll show you a chestnut tree."

He pointed one out to the little twins, showing them how they could always tell it afterward by the leaves and bark.

"Look there for chestnuts and maybe you'll find some," said Bert. Flossie threw away the acorns, and she and Freddie began poking in among the leaves again, while the others went to different trees.

Freddie soon called:

"I've found some! I've found some!"

He hurried over to Bert with some shiny brown nuts in his hand. Each nut had a little "tail" fastened to it.

"Yes, those are chestnuts," Bert said. "Now see whether you or Flossie will fill a bag first."

"I've got a whole lot of nuts!" Flossie cried. "Oh, such a lot. Come on Freddie and—Ouch! Oh dear!" she suddenly cried.

"What is it?" asked Nan, quickly running over to her little sister. "Did you hurt yourself?"

"Something stuck me in the fingers," Flossie answered, holding up her chubby hand.

"Maybe it's a snake," said Freddie.

"No, it's only chestnut burr stickers," said Nan. "I'll get them out for you, Flossie. After this, open the burrs with a stick. Oh, look here!" she cried, as she glanced down at the ground. "Flossie has found a whole lot of nuts in a pile!"

They all came over to look at Flossie's find. Surely enough, there were a number of the brown nuts in a little hollow in the ground.

"How did they get there?" asked Nellie.

"Some squirrel or chipmunk must have gathered them in a heap, ready to carry to its nest," said George. "Well, we'll just take them, as it will save us the trouble of hunting for them. Put them in your bag, Flossie."

"But won't the squirrel be hungry?" asked the little girl.

"Well, don't take quite all of them. But there are lots of chestnuts this Fall, and the squirrels can find and gather them more easily than we can. Take them, Flossie."

"I'll give Freddie some too," she said, and the two small Bobbsey twins divided most of the nuts between them.

By this time Nan, Bert and Nellie had also found some of the nuts under different trees, though none were nicely piled up like those Flossie happened upon. The nuts were down under the dried leaves, which had fallen from the trees earlier in the season. By brushing the leaves to one side with a stick the nuts could be seen.

"This is too slow for me," said George Parks at last. "I want to pick nuts up faster than this."

"How can you do it?" asked Charley Mason.

"By shaking some down from a tree. Let's find a tree that has a lot of nuts on it, and shake it. Then the nuts will fall down, and they won't get under the leaves. We can easily pick them up then."

"Good!" cried Bert Bobbsey. "We'll do it."

They searched through the woods until they found just the tree they wanted. Looking up they could see the burrs clinging to the branches. The frost had opened the burrs and the brown nuts could be seen, just ready to fall.

"If there was a good wind," said George, "that would blow the nuts down: but, as there isn't, we must shake the tree."

"It's too big to shake," remarked Nan. "Why, you never could shake that tree. I can't even reach around it."

"You can't shake it by standing on the ground and pushing against it," said George. "I'll climb up among the branches and shake them. I've often done it."

"How are you going to climb such a big tree, when you can't get your arms around it?" Bert demanded.

"I'll show you," answered George. "Do you see this little thin tree, growing close to the big chestnut?"

"Yes," Bert answered.

"Well, I'm going to climb up the little tree until I get high enough to step from it into the branches of the big one," went on George. "Then we'll have plenty of nuts."

"And after we pick up all we want, can we eat?" asked Freddie.

There was a laugh at this.

"Hungry already; are you?" asked George. "Well, it does give one an appetite to come out on a crisp, cold day like this. Yes, after we gather up the nuts I'm going to shake down we'll see what mother put in the box."

George started to climb up the small tree. This was easy for him to do, for he could put his hands and legs around it. Up and up he went, just as you boys have often climbed trees. He was about ten feet from the ground when Bert suddenly saw the little tree beginning to bend over.

"Look out, George!" Bert called. "That tree is going to break with you!"

George looked down. And, just as he did so, there was a sharp, cracking sound and the tree broke and bent suddenly over. George fell toward the ground. Nan, Flossie and Nellie were screaming.



CHAPTER XV

THE STORM

"Look out there, George!"

"Jump over this way—away from the rocks!"

Bert and Charley called loudly to the boy who had climbed the little tree which broke with him. But George seemed to know what he was doing. As soon as he felt the tree going over he sprang out to one side, and came down, feet first, on a pile of leaves that were almost as soft and springy as a pile of hay in the meadow.

"Hurt yourself?" asked Bert.

"Not a bit—no. I'm all right," George answered.

"Oh dear!" cried Nan. "I thought sure you'd break your leg or arm or something."

"So did I," said Nellie. "Are you sure you're all right, George?"

"Of course I am. I'll show you by climbing another tree." George who had not even fallen down walked over toward the chestnut tree again.

"Well, pick out a good one to climb this time," Bert said, and George did. He first shook the next little tree that grew near the big chestnut, and made sure that it was not rotten, which was the trouble with the first one he had gone up.

This time everything was all right. George climbed up, and stepped from the small tree out on the branches of the one where the shiny, brown nuts hung all ready to be shaken down. And when George shook the branches of the chestnut tree, down came the nuts in a shower.

"Oh, what a lot!" cried Freddie, dancing about in glee.

"And one—one struck me right on the end of my nose!" laughed Flossie. "A chestnut on my nose! Ho! Ho!"

"Well, it's a good thing it wasn't a cocoa-nut!" cried George. "Pick 'em up now!"

This the children did. It was better than poking around among the leaves for the nuts, as those George jarred down lay on top, and could easily be seen.

The salt bags which the Bobbsey twins had brought with them, and the bags Nellie and Charley carried, were soon filled with nuts. Nellie picked up nuts for her brother, who was in the tree shaking them down, and Bert said:

"We'll all give George a share of ours, as he can't pick up any while he's in the tree."

"He can have half of mine," offered Freddie.

"Oh, no, little man, not as many as that," laughed George.

"I wish he'd come down pretty soon," murmured Flossie, after a bit.

"Why, are you tired of picking up nuts?" asked Nan, with a smile.

"No, not 'zactly," Flossie answered, "but I'm hungry, and——"

"Oh, I see! And you remember that George brought the lunch," said Nellie. "Well, I guess we can all eat now. Come on down, George, and we'll eat the picnic lunch."

"All right," her brother answered, and a little later he slid down the small tree. The bags of nuts were laid aside, George being given a share of the others, and then Nellie and Nan set out the lunch on top of a flat stump, which was like a little table.

Mrs. Parks had put sandwiches, cake and apples in the box, and there was enough for all. The children ate the lunch and had a good time, sitting around the stump-table. Then Flossie said:

"I'm thirsty! I want a drink!"

"Hum. Well, I'm afraid my mother didn't put any drinking water in the box," said George, looking carefully.

"Well, I can drink milk," Flossie said.

"There's no milk, either," answered George, while the others laughed.

"There's a spring of water over there," said Charley Mason, pointing off through the trees. "We could get some water if we had a cup."

"I can make a cup out of paper," Bert said. "We learned how in school the other day."

With some of the waxed paper which was in the lunch box Bert made a pretty good cup. Then when the thin skim of ice on top of the spring was broken, water could be dipped up, and every one had a nice drink. Flossie had two cupfuls, she was so thirsty.

They played tag and some other games under the trees after the lunch, and then, having gathered a few more nuts, they started back through the woods toward Lakeport.

As Flossie came near the little hollow in the ground where she had found the pile of nuts she cried out:

"Oh, look at the little squirrel! He's trying to find the nuts I took. Oh, I'm so sorry I took them."

"That isn't a squirrel, it's a chipmunk," said Bert. "You can tell it's a chipmunk by the stripes down its back. It does seem to be looking for the nuts though; eh, Charley?"

"Well, maybe he is," said George. "Here, I'll toss him a few. But there are lots more in the woods he can get, so he won't starve."

From his bag George threw a few nuts to the chipmunk. But the little fellow was not as tame as some squirrels to be seen in the city parks, for they will perch on your shoulder and eat nuts from your hand. The chipmunk, however, made a loud, chattering noise, with a sort of whistle in between and scampered up a tree like a flash of sunshine.

"Oh, he's gone!" cried Flossie, who liked to watch the lively little chap.

"Yes; he doesn't like company," said Bert.

Shouting and laughing, the Bobbsey twins reached home with their chestnuts.

"My, you did get a lot!" said their mother, as she looked into the opened bags. "I never thought you would get so many."

"There are many chestnuts this year," Bert said. "Now we will have some fun roasting and boiling them to-night."

They gathered about the fire after supper, and laid the chestnuts they wanted to roast on top of the stove. Nan and Flossie boiled theirs, but Bert and Freddie said they liked theirs best roasted.

All at once one of Freddie's chestnuts burst with a loud pop, and the pieces flew all over the kitchen.

"Oh my!" cried the little fellow. "What made it do that? Was there a fire cracker in it?"

Before any one could answer him another nut burst, and a piece of it hit Dinah on the end of her shiny, black nose.

"What am dat all?" she cried. "Who am frowin' t'ings at me? Was dat yo', Freddie lamb?"

"No, Dinah. It was a chestnut—one of mine. But I don't see what makes 'em pop that way, like corn."

"Did you make any holes in your chestnuts, or cut a little slit in the shell?" asked Bert of his brother.

"No. Do you have to do that?"

"You do unless you want your chestnuts to burst. You see," explained Bert, "there is water inside a chestnut, especially a new one. And when you put a nut on top of the hot stove the water is boiled and turned to steam, just as it is in the tea kettle. Then if the steam can't find any way to get out, as it swells it just bursts the shell of the nut and sends the pieces flying. That's what happened to yours, Freddie. I stuck a fork in each one of mine, and the little holes, made by the fork, let out the steam. Look here."

Freddie went over to the stove to look at the nuts Bert was roasting. Surely enough, from the tiny holes in each one steam was puffing, almost as if from a little toy engine.

"When all the steam gets out and the nut dries, it begins to roast," said Bert. "You must take yours off the stove and fix them that way, Freddie. I meant to tell you about it, but I forgot."

"Bang!" went another nut, bursting, and Dinah held a pan up in front of her face.

"I don't want t' git shot no mo'!" she said.

Bert helped Freddie fix the chestnuts, putting little holes in them, and then there was no more trouble. They roasted nicely, and when they were cool the children peeled off the dried shells and ate the nuts. Nan and Flossie boiled theirs in salt water, for salt seems to give the chestnuts a better flavor. In fact, salt is good with almost all kinds of nuts.

The twins "traded" their chestnuts, Flossie and Nan giving some of their boiled ones for the roasted ones of Bert and Freddie.

"I think we are going to have a storm," said Mr. Bobbsey as he came in toward bedtime, having gone to the store for Mrs. Bobbsey.

"What sort of storm?" asked Bert.

"A snow storm, I think. It feels that way, and the wind is rising. It's going to blow hard."

"I hope it doesn't blow the house over," said Freddie.

"I think you are safe," answered his father, laughing.

When the Bobbsey twins went to bed that night they could hear the wind moaning and howling around the house. It gave them a "shivery" sort of feeling, and they were glad to cuddle down in their warm beds. Soon they were asleep.

But about the middle of the night Bert and Freddie, who slept in the same room, were awakened by a loud noise.

"What was it?" asked Freddie in a whisper.

"The wind banging a shutter, I guess," Bert answered. "It woke me up. But go to sleep again, Freddie boy."

Just then the banging noise sounded again.

"Yes, it was a shutter," said Bert. "It has blown loose. I can hear daddy getting up to fasten it."

"It certainly is going to be a hard storm," Bert and Freddie heard their father say to their mother. "It's beginning to snow."

"Oh goodie!" whispered Freddie. "Did you hear that, Bert?"

"I certainly did."

"We'll have some fun to-morrow," Freddie went on. "I can go coasting."

"Yes, but go to sleep now," Bert advised.

"I can't, the wind makes so much noise," Freddie answered.

The wind was certainly howling and moaning loudly around the corner of the house. Suddenly there was a big crash on the roof of the kitchen extension near the windows of the room where Freddie and Bert slept. Then, after the first crash, came another.

Something smashed through the glass in the window nearest Freddie's bed and there was a thumping sound on the floor.

"Oh! oh!" cried Freddie throwing off the covers and jumping out. "The house is blowing down! The house is blowing down!"



CHAPTER XVI

THE FIRST SNOW

There was noise enough from the howling wind to make almost any one believe the house really was tumbling down after the crash which seemed to have broken in the window of the boys' room.

"What's the matter in there, Bert?" called Mr. Bobbsey.

"The house is falling down!" cried Freddie. "I'm afraid, Daddy! I want to come in with you."

"Well, come along, sonny," called Mrs. Bobbsey.

Freddie ran out into the hall, where there was a dim light burning. Bert felt the cold wind blowing in on him through the broken window. He could also feel flakes of snow on his face.

"Something really is the matter in here, Dad!" he called. "I guess the house is all right, but our window is broken."

"Did you hear that, Flossie?" asked Nan of her little sister, who was sleeping with her. But they were both awake now. "The wind was so strong that it blew in Bert's window."

"Oh, what a terrible storm," whispered Flossie, covering her head with the clothes. "I don't like it."

By this time Bert had slipped on his bath robe and had gone out into the hall. His father was coming along and, having turned on the electric light in the room where the two boys slept, he saw what had happened.

Both large panes of glass in one window were broken. The shattered glass lay on the carpet and the snow was blowing in, for the white flakes were coming down fast now. And there were also a number of bricks on the floor.

"Oh! oh!" cried Freddie, who had come back with his father. "Some one threw bricks through our window. Was that Jack Frost?"

"I guess it was North Wind," answered Mr. Bobbsey.

"What happened?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.

"The wind blew the top of the chimney off," replied her husband, "and some of the bricks crashed through Bert's window. Not much damage done, but the wind and snow are coming in."

"We can't sleep in our room!" cried Freddie. "What are we going to do?"

"I'll close the shutters and fasten a blanket over the window," said Mr. Bobbsey. "That will keep out nearly all the snow. What little wind blows in will not hurt—fresh air in the bedroom is a good thing."

Mr. Bobbsey closed the shutters, and tacked a blanket over the place where the glass was broken out of the window. Then, after he had taken away the bricks and swept up the broken glass so Bert and Freddie would not cut their feet on it, the boys went back to bed again.

It was some little time, though, before they could get to sleep, as the wind seemed to howl ever so much louder now that there was no glass in part of the window to keep out the sound.

"Is it snowing yet?" asked Freddie in a whisper of his brother, after they had been in bed for some time.

"I'll look," offered the older twin.

He slipped out of bed and to the window that had not been broken.

"Yes, it's snowing hard," he said.

"Good!" said Freddie. "We'll have some fine sleighrides."

It was quite cold in the boys' room, with the glass out of the window, for the wind blew through the blanket and shutters. But no more snow came in and the north wind did not knock any more bricks off the chimney. It was only a few loose ones that had come down, anyhow. Most of the chimney was all right.

It was the first snow-storm of the season, and when the Bobbsey twins awakened in the morning the ground was white and the flakes were still falling.

"Oh, what good times we'll have!" cried Nan.

"I'm glad I have my rubber boots!" said Flossie. "I can go wading in the deep drifts."

"Not until the storm stops some," said Mother Bobbsey.

It was Sunday, and the storm kept up all day so hard that the smaller Bobbsey twins could not go to Sunday school, though Nan and Bert managed to get there. And, as it was Sunday, the glass-man could not come to fix the broken window. But the shutters were kept closed, and with a blanket over the holes it was not so bad. Bert and Freddie liked to sleep in a cool room, and never had any heat turned on in their sleeping apartment. Their window was always open a little way, except on the very coldest nights.

The next day a man came to put the fallen bricks back on the chimney, and another man put new glass in the boys' window, so the damage from the storm was soon mended. The storm was over now, though it was cold, and the snow still covered the ground.

Then the Bobbsey twins had great sport. They got out their sleds and went coasting on the hill not far from their house, and when they were tired of this they played in the snow in their yard.

Flossie and Freddie rolled two big snow balls, so large that they were almost as big as the twins themselves, and finally the balls had in them so much snow that neither Freddie nor Flossie could push them around the yard.

"I'll take them and make them into a snow man for you," offered Bert. He put one snow ball on top of the other, Charley Mason helping him lift it, and then they made a third, smaller ball for the man's head.

Pieces of coal made eyes and nose for the snow man, and Nan gave Bert a bit of her red hair ribbon which, when fastened on the snow face, made it look exactly as if the snow man was sticking out his tongue at you.

His arms were made of long rolls of snow, and one was crossed on his chest, holding a broom. An old hat of Mr. Bobbsey's on top of the snow man's head made him look quite natural.

"Now you can finish the rest of him," said Bert to Flossie and Freddie. "Get some more pieces of coal, and put them down the front."

"What for?" Flossie asked.

"They will look like buttons on his overcoat," answered Bert.

"Oh, let's do it!" cried Freddie.

They did, and when they had finished putting a row of pieces of coal down the front of the snow man, they looked just as Bert had said they would—like buttons on a coat.

"Now let's make a little snow image, and he will be the snow man's little boy," said Freddie, after a bit.

"Oh, that will be nice!" cried Flossie.

The little twins rolled some smaller balls of snow, and, putting them together, as they had seen Bert do, they soon had a little snow boy, which stood beside the big snow man.

While the smaller Bobbsey twins were doing this Bert and Charley were making a snow fort in the back yard. And when it was finished some other boys came along and there was a snow battle. Bert and Charley, inside the fort, threw snowballs at the other boys outside. And every time they threw, Bert and Charley would dodge down behind the walls of the fort, so they were not hit very often.

But finally so many boys crowded around the snow fort, throwing balls from all sides at Bert and Charley, that they could not throw back fast enough, and they had to give up.

"Whoop! Come on, capture the fort!" cried Ned Barton.

Over the walls swarmed the boys, and Bert and Charley were taken "prisoners." Of course it was only in fun, and only soft snowballs, which hurt no one, were used, and all had a good time.

Then other boys took a turn inside the fort, while their chums threw snowballs at them from outside the walls, and the game went on this way, by turns.

"I'm glad it snowed," said Jimmie Heath.

"So am I," added Bert. "We can have such fun. I say, why not build a snow house?" he asked, after they had become tired of playing fort. "The snow is just right for packing."

"All right—a snow house!" cried the other boys. "We'll make one!"

They made a big pile of snow, using some of that which was in the walls of the fort. When the pile was large enough they began to dig out a place inside. This was to be the hollow part of the house, or the main room where they would stay.

Some boys worked at the outside walls, making them straight and smooth, while others took away the snow that Bert and Charlie dug from the inside.

The roof of the snow house was rounding, just like those of the snow houses made by the Eskimos in the arctic region. And finally, when Bert and Charley had the inside scooped out enough for more boys to get in, they all entered and sat about on some boxes which Bert found in the cellar.

The snow house was enjoyed by the boys and the Bobbsey twins for some days. But the sun was melting the snow a little every day, and one afternoon, when Flossie and Freddie came home from school early, and went out to play in the snow house, something happened.

Before long Flossie went to the kitchen to ask Dinah for some cookies to have a make-believe party in the snow house, and when the cook had given them to her, and the little girl was about to come out, she looked from the window and saw a strange sight.

Snap was playing about the yard with another dog. All of a sudden Snap gave a jump, right on top of the snow house, and he was so heavy, and the roof was so thin, that it caved in. Snap, with a bark, jumped away and ran off with the other dog, but Freddie was held fast by the pile of snow which fell on him, as he was inside.

"Oh! oh!" cried the little fellow, his voice muffled by the pile of snow. "Help me out! Help me out! I'm buried under the snow house! Help me out! Oh, Flossie!"



CHAPTER XVII

ON THE HILL

"Dinah! Dinah!" called Flossie, dropping to the floor the cookies she had gotten to take out to the snow house. "Oh, Dinah! Look at Freddie!"

Dinah hurried to the window.

"Freddie?" she asked. "Freddie? Where am Freddie? I can't see him, so how kin I look at him, Flossie lamb?"

"Oh, you can't see him!" wailed Flossie, "But you can hear him, can't you?"

Dinah listened.

"Help me out! Help me out!" Freddie was crying. His voice was rather faint, for he was under the snow, and it sounded as though he were down in the cellar. But though the snow roof had fallen in when Snap jumped on it, there was a sort of little cave, or hollow around his head so Freddie could call out.

"Don't you hear him?" asked Flossie, who was so excited she did not know what to do. "Don't you hear him, Dinah?"

"Yes, I heahs him all right," replied the colored cook, "but I can't see him, honey lamb."

"He's under the snow! In the snow house!" Flossie went on. "The roof fell on him because Snap jumped on it when I came in here to get the cookies. Oh, Dinah, will you help get him out?"

"Git Freddie lamb out? Course I will! In de snow house wid de roof fell in on him! Oh mah land ob massy!" cried Dinah. "It's jest laik it done happened once befo' when Bert made a bigger house."

She caught up a big spoon, which she used to stir the pancakes, and rushed out to the yard, Flossie running after her. Up to the big pile of snow, which did not look much like a house now, ran the cook. Then, just as she might have stirred a cake with the big spoon, she began digging in the snow. It was almost as good as a shovel.

In a little while Freddie's head was uncovered, and then it was easy to get him out. He wasn't hurt a bit, only a little scared, and he laughed when Dinah and Flossie brushed the snow off him.

"But you can't brush out what's down my neck, inside my coat," he said, squirming about. "It's cold, and it tickles."

"Snow down inside your clo'hes!" exclaimed Dinah. "Den yo' got t' come right in de house an' hab it tucken out. You'll ketch cold ef yo' don't."

"Maybe you could get it out if you stood me on my head and wiggled me," Freddie said, after thinking about it. "Could you try that, Dinah?"

"Try what, honey lamb?"

"Take hold of my feet, you and Flossie, and stand me on my head. Then the snow will run down from under my coat and I won't have to go in and undress. I don't want to do that. I want to build the snow house up again."

Dinah laughed.

"Ho! ho!" she said. "I'm not gwine t' do such t'ing as dat! No, sah! Yo' come, in de house an' git dry t'ings on," and with that she caught Freddie up under one arm and marched him into the house, where he soon changed into dry clothes.

"Now you can go out to play again," his mother said, "but don't go in any snow houses unless you are sure the roof is thick enough to keep from falling in on you. The sun is so warm now, I don't believe it will be safe to make snow houses. Play at something else."

"All right, Mother, we will," promised Flossie and Freddie.

They took the cookies which Flossie had forgotten about in the excitement and, after eating them, the two children made another snow man; for the first one, and his "little boy" as they called him, had melted into mere lumps.

For about a week the weather was warm, and most of the first snow melted. Then came another storm, which covered the ground deep with white flakes, and once more the coasting hill was lively with the shouting, laughing and merry boys and girls.

Flossie and Freddie, as well as Nan and Bert, spent as much time on the coasting hill as their mother would let them. After school every day they were out with their sleds, and on Saturday they were only home for their meals.

Bert and Charley Mason had made a bob-sled, by fastening two sleds together with a long plank. This they covered with a piece of carpet. On this eight or nine boys or girls could sit, while Bert or Charley steered the bob down the hill by a wheel fastened to the front sled.

On the back sled was a bell to warn other coasters out of the way, and sometimes, when there were not many on the hill, Freddie was allowed to sit on the rear sled and ring the bell. He liked that.

Flossie and Freddie each had sleds of their own, and they rode down on them alone, on one side of the hill where the smaller boys and girls kept by themselves.

"For," said Alice Boyd, "we don't want to get run over by the big bob."

"I guess not!" cried Johnnie Wilson. "Some day we'll make a bob ourselves, Freddie."

"That's what we will."

The Bobbsey twins were coasting one day after school, when Freddie saw, walking up the hill, Tommy Todd, the fresh air boy. Tommy looked tired, for he had just been doing some errands for Mr. Bobbsey.

"Hello, Tommy!" called Freddie. "Why don't you get your sled and have a coast? It's lots of fun."

"Yes, I guess it is," said Tommy, with a smile.

"Then go and get your sled," said Freddie again.

"No, I don't believe I will," Tommy said. And he said it in such a queer way that Nan Bobbsey whispered to Bert:

"I don't believe he has a sled, and he doesn't want to say so."

"I guess that's right," Bert replied. "I'll offer him a ride on our bob."

"That will be nice," Nan said. "He can have my place," for she had been coasting with her brother.

"Wouldn't you like to ride down with us?" asked Bert, of Tommy.

"Wouldn't I though?" cried Tommy, his eyes shining. "Well, I guess I would!"

"Come on, then," cried Bert.

"He can ride on my sled, too," said Freddie.

"And on mine!" added Flossie.

"I guess your sleds are too small," Bert said, with a smile, for Tommy was even bigger than Bert, and Bert could not fit on the sleds of his younger brother and sister any more.

"Thank you, just the same," said Tommy to the little Bobbsey twins. "I'll go down on the big bob. But I'll pull your sleds up the hill for you."

"That will be nice," declared Flossie. "I like riding down hill, but I don't like walking up, and pulling my sled."

Room was made for Tommy on the big bob-sled and he was soon gliding down the long hill, Bert steering. Once or twice the smaller boys or girls, on their little sleds, would edge over toward that part of the hill where the big boys and girls, with their sleds or bob-sleds, were coasting.

"Keep out of the way, little folks!" warned Bert. "There's room enough for you on your own side, and you might be hurt."

"And you two be careful," said Nan to Flossie and Freddie. "Stay on your own side."

The two small twins said they would do so.

"Now for a last coast!" cried Bert, when Tommy had been given a number of rides on the bob-sled. "It's time to go home to supper."

"Maybe we can come out after supper," said Nan. "There's going to be a lovely moon, and coasting by moonlight is fine."

"Maybe we can," Bert said. "Come on, Tommy," he called. "This is our last coast before supper."

"All right," Tommy answered. He had walked up the hill, pulling after him the sleds of Flossie and Freddie, who liked to have him help them in this way.

"Last coast, little ones!" Bert called to the small twins. "Then it's time to go home."

"Whose turn is it to steer?" asked Charley Mason.

"Yours, I guess," Bert answered. "Tommy, you can sit right behind Charley and watch how he does it. Then next time you come out on this hill we'll let you steer."

"Thanks!" exclaimed Tommy. He had been anxious to take hold of the wheel himself, but he did not like to ask.

On the bob-sled the boys and girls took their seats. Bert was on the back sled, to push off and ring the bell.

"All ready?" he called.

"All ready," answered Charley.

Bert gave a push and the bob-sled started down hill. On either side were other bob-sleds and single sleds, while farther off, to the right, were streams of smaller boys and girls.

Clang! Clang! went the bell, as Bert rang it.

The bob-sled was about half-way down the hill when Nan, sitting next to Tommy, who was behind Charley, gave a cry.

"Oh, look!" Nan exclaimed. "Flossie and Freddie! They're going to get right in our way! Steer out, Charley!"

The little Bobbseys, in taking their last coast, had come too near the part of the hill where the big sleds were.

"Flossie! Freddie!" cried Nan. "Look out! Steer away!"

But they did not seem able to do it.

"I guess we won't run into them," Charley said. He was trying as hard as he could to keep to one side.

All at once the bob-sled struck a lump of ice, and the front sled jumped into the air. Charley Mason was jarred so hard that he rolled off. The bob-sled swayed from side to side when no one was steering it.

Then Flossie and Freddie, on their sleds, steered right over in the way of the bob-sled. They could not help it, they said afterward, and that was probably true, for they did not know much about steering sleds.

"Oh!" cried Nan. "We'll run right over them."

But Tommy Todd, who was sitting behind Charley, slid forward as the other boy rolled off, and now Tommy grasped the steering wheel with all his might.

He twisted it around, to send the bob-sled away from Flossie and Freddie, who were almost under the runners now. Bert, who saw what was about to happen, was ringing the bell as hard as he could. The other boys were yelling and the girls were screaming.

"Flossie! Freddie! Fall off your sleds! Roll out of the way!" yelled Nan.



CHAPTER XVIII

BERT'S SNOWSHOES

For a moment it seemed as though there would be an accident, in which not only Flossie and Freddie, but some of those on the big bob-sled as well, would be hurt. But Tommy Todd seemed to know just what to do.

"It's all right!" he cried. "Stay on your sleds, Freddie and Flossie. I can steer out of your way."

And Tommy did. But the only way he could avoid hitting the two little twins was to steer the big bob-sled into a bank of soft snow on one side of the hill. This he did, and though he, Nan and some of those sitting in front were covered with a shower of the white flakes, no one was hurt. Flossie and Freddie kept on down the hill on their sleds, scared but not in the least harmed.

"Say, it's a good thing you grabbed that steering wheel when you did," said Bert to Tommy, as they all got off the bob-sled.

"I should say so!" cried Ned Barton. "I didn't know you could steer, Tommy."

"I didn't know it myself until I tried," Tommy said, with a smile, as he dug some snow out of his ear. "I knew I just had to steer, though, when I saw Charley fall off. We didn't want to run over Flossie and Freddie."

"It's a good thing you sat so close to the steering wheel," put in Nan. "You grabbed it just in time."

Flossie and Freddie came walking up the hill, and Charley, who had picked himself up, came walking down. He had not been hurt by his fall.

"Flossie—Freddie, what made you steer over to our side?" asked Bert.

"We couldn't help it," said Freddie.

"Our sleds just did it themselves," went on Flossie. "Did you think we were going to run into you?"

"No, but we almost ran into you!" exclaimed Nan. "You must be more careful or mother won't let you come out on the hill again."

"Well, we're tired of coasting now, anyhow," Freddie said. "We're going home."

Most of the others made ready to go home also, for it was nearly supper time.

"That was a fine thing you did—saving my little brother and sister from getting hurt, Tommy," said Bert, as he walked along, pulling the bob-sled after him. "I'll tell my father and mother what you did."

"Oh, that wasn't anything," Tommy said, "Anybody would have done the same if he had been in my place."

"Yes, but not everybody would have steered as quickly as you did. You surely can steer a bob! The next time you come out on the hill I'll let you steer a lot."

"Thanks," answered Tommy.

Mr. Bobbsey was very much pleased that night when he learned how good Tommy had been.

"I must keep an eye on that boy," he said. "I think he will make a good man. I'll help him all I can. He is so anxious to run errands and do work about the lumber yard to earn money. How is his grandmother?" Mr. Bobbsey asked his wife. "Have you been to see her lately?"

"Yes, but she isn't very well. She can't sew as much as she used to, but some ladies and myself are looking after her. Oh, I don't like to think of the danger Flossie and Freddie were in on that hill!"

"Oh, well, maybe they wouldn't have been hurt much," said Bert.

"Just the same, I think they would be safer on a little hill of their own," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Can't you find one for them, Bert?"

"Yes, I guess I could make a hill in the back yard for them."

"Make a hill? Why, Bert Bobbsey, nobody can make a hill!" cried Freddie. "It just has to grow."

"Well, I think I can make one. Just wait," was what Bert said.

The next Saturday he was busy in the back yard with some boards, a hammer and some nails.

"What are you doing?" asked Freddie, who had gotten up later than usual that morning.

"Making a little hill for you and Flossie."

"You can't do it," said Freddie. "Nobody can make a hill!"

But he watched what his brother was doing. Bert set some posts in the ground, though it was hard to dig, for the earth was frozen. But the posts did not have to go in very deep. From the top of the posts to the ground Bert next slanted two long boards, bracing them on the under side with shorter posts. Then he made a little platform by nailing boards from the tops of the first two posts to two others which he placed a little back of them.

"Why say, that does begin to look like a hill!" exclaimed Freddie, for the slanting boards were just like a slanting hill of earth. "Only you can't slide down on that 'cause it hasn't any snow on," he said.

"Well, it's easy enough to shovel some snow on, and pack it down hard," answered Bert. "You get your shovel and begin."

Freddie was delighted to do this, and was soon tossing up on the slanting boards shovelful after shovelful of snow. When Bert had finished nailing the platform on top of the posts, which were about seven feet high, he helped Freddie pile on the snow. When Flossie came out, after her brothers had been working for some time, the little girl cried:

"Oh, how did that hill get in our yard?" for by this time all the wood had been covered with the snow Freddie and Bert had piled on.

"Bert made the hill," said Freddie, proudly. "I didn't think he could do it, but he did. I thought hills had to grow."

"It's nice," said Flossie. "But how are we going to walk up to the top to slide down?"

The hill Bert had built was steep. He had made it that way as it had to be short, and he wanted the little coasters to get a "good start."

"I'll fix it so you can get to the top," Bert said. He got some boxes and piled them up, like steps. On these Flossie and Freddie could get on the little square platform which was at the top of the wooden hill, now covered with snow. They could pull their sleds up after them.

At the foot of the hill Bert, with Flossie and Freddie to help him, smoothed out the snow all the way across the yard, packing it hard so the sleds would glide over it easily.

"To-night we'll put some water on and let it freeze," Bert said. "Then you'll have a dandy hill, all your own, and you'll be in no danger from our big bob."

"That's fine!" cried Freddie.

"May we slide down it now?" asked Flossie.

"Yes," Bert told her. She had the first coast. There was only room for one at a time on the hill Bert made, so they had to take turns. Flossie sat on her sled on top of the little platform, and pushed herself off. Down she went with a whizz, half way across the yard.

"Oh, it's fine!" she cried. "I want to coast again!"

"It's Freddie's turn now," said Bert, and down went Freddie.

Then the Bobbsey twins had lots of fun on the "made" hill. They invited Johnnie Wilson and Alice Boyd over to coast with them, and the four little ones had a grand time.

"And they are in no danger, that is the nicest part of it," Mrs. Bobbsey said. "I don't have to worry about them now. I'm so glad you built the hill, Bert."

"I'm going to build something else," said Bert.

"What?" asked Nan.

"Snowshoes," was his answer.

"What are snowshoes?" Freddie demanded

"Shoes made so you can walk on top of the soft snow instead of sinking down in it," Bert replied. "Of course I can't make the kind the Indians and hunters make, which look something like lawn tennis rackets, but I know how to make another kind. I saw a picture of them in a book."

But before Bert started to make his snowshoes he made the little hill better for coasting. That night he poured water on the snow that covered it, and, as the weather was cold, the water and snow froze into a glaring stretch of ice.

And my! how Flossie and Freddie did whizz down the hill on their sleds then. It was perfectly safe, though, for Bert had put little strips of wood on the edges of the wooden hill, so the sleds would not slide off to one side.

When Charley Mason came over to see Bert one day he found his friend busy in the barn with some barrel staves, old skate straps, a hammer, nails and other things.

"What are you doing?" asked Charley.

"Making snowshoes," Bert answered. "I'm using barrel staves. They are long and broad, and if I can fasten them to my feet with straps I can walk along on top of the snow, and not sink in."

"I don't believe barrel staves will make very good snowshoes," Charley said.

"Just you wait," answered Bert.

He fastened the straps to the middle of the pieces of barrel, and then strapped the strips of wood to his shoes.

"Now watch me!" Bert cried.

Back of the barn was a field covered deep with snow. It had not been trampled down.

"I'm going to walk out there," Bert said.

He shuffled across the floor of the barn. He could only lift his feet up a little way, for if he raised them too far the barrel staves would have become criss-crossed and have tripped him. So Bert had to shuffle along just like a Chinese laundryman who wears those funny straw slippers without any heels.

Charley opened the back door of the barn for Bert, who stepped out into the snow. He shuffled along a little way, and did very well, for the broad, smooth pieces of wood under his feet did not sink down in the snow, which had a hard crust on top.

"See! What did I tell you?" cried Bert to Charley. "I'm walking on the snow all right!"

But just as he said that a queer thing happened. He came to a place where the shining sun had made the snow very soft. In spite of the barrel staves, first one of Bert's feet sank down and then the other. A funny look came over his face.

"What's the matter?" asked Charley, who was watching him.

"I—I'm stuck!" cried Bert. "I can't get my feet up! The staves are caught under the snow, and I can't move! Come and pull me out!"



CHAPTER XIX

THROUGH THE ICE

Charley was laughing so hard at the queer look on Bert's face, and at the funny way in which Bert stood in the snow, that, at first, he did not make a move to go to his chum's help. Then Bert cried again:

"I am stuck I tell you, Charley! Come on and help me. I can't lift my feet."

"Can't you, really?" Charley asked.

"No. The front edges of the barrel staves have slipped under the snow and it's packed on them so I can't raise them."

"All right, I'll help you," said Charley, still laughing. He waded out to where Bert was stuck. Charley's feet sank down deep in the soft snow. "I ought to have a pair of those shoes myself," he said, floundering along.

"Well, don't stop to make them now," said Bert. "Help me first."

But even with Charley's help it was impossible to pull up Bert's feet with the queer wooden shoes on. They had got stuck sideways in the deep snow. Finally Charley said.

"Oh, take 'em off, Bert! Loosen the straps and then you can pull your feet free, and lift up the barrel staves afterward."

"I guess that is the only way," Bert agreed, and he did it. Once his feet were clear of the staves, it was easy enough to raise them up and then he could wade back to the barn, carrying the staves.

"I won't try to go on the soft snow again," he said as he sat down on a box and once more fastened the snowshoes to his feet.

"Do you mean to say you're going to try it again?" asked Charley.

"I surely am," answered Bert. "I'm not going to give up, just because I got stuck once. Why don't you make you a pair of these shoes? There are some more barrel staves, and I'll get you the straps."

"I believe I will," Charley said, and set to work at once. Then he and Bert walked together over the hard frozen snow. As long as they stayed on this, where there was a crust, they were all right. They did not go where the snow was soft, and so they got along very well.

Freddie saw what his brother and Charley were doing, and he cried out:

"I want a pair of snowshoes, too!"

"You're too little," Bert said. But later on he and Charley made Freddie a pair, cutting the long barrel staves in two pieces. But Freddie did not find it as easy as his brother had found it, and he tripped and fell down in the snow, so the older boys had to pick him up. Then the small twin gave up the use of snowshoes.

"I like riding down hill better," he said.

Winter had now set in, with all its cold and snow, around Lakeport, and there were many days of fine coasting. Flossie and Freddie stayed on the hill Bert had made for them in the yard, but Nan and Bert, with their friends, went to the big hill, and used the bob-sled.

Then came a thaw and the coasting was spoiled. There were puddles of water all about, and one day coming home from school Freddie slipped and fell right into a puddle which was rather muddy.

"Oh, Freddie!" cried Flossie, who was walking with him. "Your clothes are all spoiled!"

"Well, I—I couldn't help it," Freddie said, looking down at the dripping mud and water. "I didn't see the slippery place."

"You must hurry home as soon as you can, and change into dry things, Freddie," said Nan, who was on the other side of the street with Ellen Moore and Nellie Parks. Nan had seen her little brother fall. "Run," Nan went on, "I'll hold your hand so you won't fall again."

Freddie gave his books to Flossie to carry, and he hurried on with Nan, running so he would be warmer and not take cold, for though the snow was melting it was still Winter.

As Nan and Freddie reached the house, they heard several persons talking in the parlor.

"Oh, there's company!" cried Nan. "They mustn't see you, Freddie, looking like this. I'll take you up the back stairs and change your clothes myself, or get Dinah to. Come on."

But just as Nan and Freddie were about to slip past the parlor door Mrs. Bobbsey came out to see who had come in, and with her came a boy about Bert's age. At the sight of him Freddie cried:

"Why, it isn't company. It's cousin Harry!"

"Oh, Freddie! What happened to you?" his mother asked.

"I—I fell down in a puddle," said the little boy. "But I couldn't help it, Mother. Oh, Harry, I'm glad you've come!" Freddie went on. "We can slide down hill—— Oh, no, we can't either," he said quickly. "All the snow is melted. But Bert made a hill in our back yard and when it snows again we'll have lots of fun on it. Did Uncle Daniel and Aunt Sarah come?"

"Yes, we're here," said Aunt Sarah herself, coming to the door. "Oh, but mercy, child! What happened?"

"Fell in a mud puddle," answered Freddie. "Where's Uncle Dan?"

"In there, talking to daddy," replied Mrs. Bobbsey. "But don't stand here talking, Freddie. Cousin Harry will excuse you until you change your clothes."

"Of course," answered Harry. "Where's Bert?" he asked of Nan.

"Coming along with Charley Mason. They're just down the street. I hurried on with Freddie."

"I guess I'll go to meet him," said Harry. "I'll see you when I come back, Freddie, and be sure you're good and dry."

"I will," promised the little chap, as his mother led him upstairs. "How long can Cousin Harry stay, Mother?" Freddie asked.

"Oh, about a week I guess."

"I hope he can stay until there's more snow."

Uncle Daniel, with Aunt Sarah and Harry, had come from Meadow Brook to pay a visit in Lakeport, just as Cousin Dorothy had come from the seashore some time before.

A little later, when Freddie had on dry clothes, he and Bert, with Harry and Charley, went out in the barn to play. Nan had to go to the store for her mother.

Freddie's hope that snow would come soon was not to be gratified—at least right away. The weather remained warm for nearly a week, and what little snow was left melted. Bert and Charley had no chance to show Harry how they could walk on the barrel-stave shoes. But Harry noticed how they were made, and said when he went back to Meadow Brook he was going to make a pair for himself.

Then one night the weather suddenly turned cold. It was a cold "snap," as Mr. Bobbsey said, and certainly there was "snap" to it, for the cold made the boards of the house crack and snap like a toy pistol.

"My, but it's cold!" exclaimed Nan, as she came down to breakfast.

"Just what we want!" cried Bert. "Eh, Harry?"

"Sure. This will make skating all right. Do you think the lake will be frozen over?"

"We can soon find out," Bert said. "I'll telephone down to dad's office and ask. One of the men can look out of the window and tell. If it is frozen we'll take our skates down and have some fun."

"I didn't bring any skates," Harry said.

"I've some extra pairs," said Bert "I guess one of 'em will fit you."

He called up his father's bookkeeper on the telephone, and word came back over the wire that Lake Metoka was frozen solidly, and that already some boys were out on it, gliding along.

"Hurrah!" cried Bert, when he heard this. "Talk about good luck! And to-day's Saturday, too!"

A pair of skates was found to fit Harry and the two larger boys, with Freddie trailing along behind, soon went down to the lake. They were well wrapped up to keep out the cold. Nan said she would come down later with Flossie.

"I have to practise my music first," said Nan.

Bert and Harry were good skaters, and Freddie did very well too, for his age. But he could cut none of the "fancy figures" as did his brother and cousin. Freddie was satisfied to glide around with some of the smaller boys he knew.

"Will you be all right, if Harry and I have a race down at the lower end of the lake?" asked Bert, after a bit.

"Course I will," said Freddie.

"Well, then we'll leave you for a little while. But don't go over near the point," warned Bert. "It isn't frozen so solidly there. The ice is thin and you may go through. Keep away from the point."

"I will," promised Freddie. The point was where some land curved out into the lake, making a sort of little cove, and as this was a sheltered place the ice had not frozen so thick there.

Bert and Harry raced away, to see who would first get to a certain point, while Freddie stayed with his little chums. Pretty soon, however, Freddie felt cold.

"I'm going in my father's office to get warm," he said to Johnnie Wilson who was with him. "Come on."

The two little chaps were soon in the warm office of the lumber yard. Freddie saw Tommy Todd come in, having been on an errand to the post-office for Mr. Bobbsey.

"Hello, Tommy!" called Freddie, who was warming his hands at the stove. "Why don't you go skating?"

"Haven't any skates," was the answer, and Tommy smiled. He was poor, and did not have any of the playthings other boys had, but for all that he was not cross or gloomy. "Besides, if I did have a pair I couldn't go. I have to work to-day," Tommy went on.

"Oh, I could let you have some time off to go skating, if you wanted to," said Mr. Bobbsey.

"Well, I would like it, if I had the skates," Tommy said. "But, as I haven't, I'll stay and run errands for you."

"You could take my skates, while I'm getting warm," Freddie said. "I guess I'll be quite a while getting warm, too, for it's awful cold out."

"Your skates are too small, I'm afraid," said Tommy.

"Bert has an extra pair. I heard him say so when he gave those to Harry," put in Freddie. "Couldn't Tommy take them, Daddy?"

"Why, yes, I think so. If you want to go up to the house after them I'll telephone Mrs. Bobbsey to have them ready for you," the lumber merchant said to his errand boy.

"Oh, yes, sir, I should like it! I haven't skated for a long time."

Mr. Bobbsey telephoned, and a little later Tommy was gliding about the frozen lake on a pair of Bert's skates, which, however, were quite good. Bert had laid them aside when he had been given a pair of shoe hockeys.

"Well, I'm warm enough now," said Freddie to Johnnie, after a bit. "Shall we go out and skate some more?"

Johnnie was willing and out they went. It seemed a little warmer now, for the sun was up higher. Many skaters were on the lake. All at once Freddie saw Tommy skating over toward the place which Bert had spoken of as not being safe.

"Tommy! Tommy!" cried Freddie. "Don't go there. The ice is too thin!"

But he was too late. Straight toward the point Tommy glided and the next minute there was a cracking of the ice and Tommy went down out of sight.



CHAPTER XX

LOST IN A STORM

"Oh, Tommy's in! Tommy's in!" cried Freddie, as he saw what had happened. "Oh, he'll be drowned!"

"Let's see if we can get him out!" shouted Johnnie.

"No, we mustn't go near that place. It's dangerous—Bert said so!" said Freddie. "I'll run and tell my father. He'll know what to do."

And this, really, was the wise thing to do, for such little boys as Freddie and Johnnie could not do much toward getting Tommy out of the cold water. Some other skaters, seeing what had happened, were gliding toward the big hole which had opened in the ice, and more boys or girls might have fallen in had not a man, who was skating near them, warned them away.

"Keep back!" shouted the man. "If you go too near, the ice will give way with you. I'll see if I can get him out."

By this time Tommy's head was to be seen above the water. He knew how to swim, but one cannot do much swimming in ice-cold water, and with skates on one's feet, besides wearing heavy clothing. Poor Tommy was in a sad plight.

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