"Help! Help!" he called.
"Yes, I'll help you as soon as I can," answered the man. "I must get a plank to put down on the ice, though, so it will bear my weight."
A plank on thin ice acts just as Bert's snowshoes did on the snow, it holds a person up, keeping him from breaking through.
While the man was running toward the piles of lumber in Mr. Bobbsey's yard, which was on the edge of the lake, Freddie and Johnnie, not stopping to take off their skates, ran toward the office where Freddie's father was.
By this time the men in the lumber office, looking out on the lake, had seen that something was wrong. And they guessed what sort of accident it was. Some of them ran out, and Mr. Bobbsey followed them.
"Oh, Daddy!" cried Freddie, when he saw his father. "He's in!"
"Who? Not Bert or Harry, I hope!"
"No, it's Tommy Todd—you know the boy——"
"Yes, yes! I know him. He went through the ice, did he? Here, men, get a rope to throw to him. The ice is too thin to go close enough to reach his hand. We must pull him out with a rope."
There were ropes in the office, to be used in tying loads of lumber on the delivery wagons, and Mr. Bobbsey caught up a coil and ran toward the place where Tommy was struggling in the water.
By this time the man who had warned the other skaters away had found two planks. He carried them as near to the edge of the hole through which Tommy had fallen as was safe. Then Mr. Bobbsey came with the rope. He walked out on the planks and called to Tommy.
"Catch hold of the rope, Tommy, and we'll pull you out!" shouted Mr. Bobbsey.
He tossed one end of the rope to the boy in the water, but it fell short. Pulling it back to him Mr. Bobbsey tossed it again. This time a coil fell near Tommy's hand. He grasped it and then Mr. Bobbsey and the other man, who was Mr. Randall, pulled Tommy out on the solid ice. Poor Tommy could hardly breathe.
"We must get him to a warm place at once!" cried Mr. Bobbsey. "I'll carry him to my office. There's a roaring hot fire there, and if we wrap him well in blankets we may keep him from getting cold."
In his arms Mr. Bobbsey carried the dripping lad. Luckily Tommy had kept his lips closed when he fell into the water, and he knew enough not to breathe when his head was under, so he had not swallowed too much water. But he was wet through, and ice-cold.
Mr. Randall first warned the other boys and girls about going too near the hole, then he stuck one of the planks up near it, with a piece of rag on it as a danger signal.
Beside the warm fire in the lumber office Tommy was undressed and wrapped in warm blankets. One of the men made some hot cocoa, and when Tommy drank this he felt much better.
"But you can't put on your clothes for a long time—not until they are well dried," said Mr. Bobbsey. "I guess Bert has an extra suit that will fit you. I'll telephone to my wife and have her send it here."
Sam, who was Dinah's husband, came a little later with an old suit of Bert's, and Mrs. Bobbsey sent word that Tommy was to keep it, as Bert did not need it any longer.
"But it's a fine suit for me," said Tommy, when he was dressed in it. "I guess it was lucky I fell in the water—I got some nice clothes by it."
"But don't fall in again even for that," said Mr. Bobbsey with a laugh. "You may take cold yet."
But Tommy did not. One of Mr. Bobbsey's friends happened to stop at the office on business, and, having a closed automobile, he offered to take Tommy home, so the boy would not have to go out in the cold air after his unexpected bath in the lake.
Bert and Harry, on coming back after their race to the lower end of the lake, were surprised to learn what had happened to Tommy. And when he had had enough of skating Bert said he would go and see if Tommy had reached home safely, and if Mrs. Todd needed anything.
Bert and Harry, who went with him, found Tommy sitting near the fire in the humble home near the city dumps.
"I'm glad I don't live here," said Harry, as he looked around before entering the house.
"I am too," added Bert. "It isn't very nice. I suppose when Tommy's father was alive they had things much nicer."
Tommy smiled at his two boy callers.
"This isn't working," he said. "And I ought to be at work, for it's Saturday and I do most of my errands then. But grandmother thought I ought to get warmed through before going out again."
"I guess that's right," said Bert. "How is your grandmother? Father told me to ask."
"She isn't very well," Tommy answered. "In fact, she had to go to bed after I came home. She says she feels sick."
"Maybe she ought to have a doctor," said Bert.
"Don't let her hear you say that," whispered Tommy. "She's in the next room, and she doesn't like to think of calling in a doctor. She says she hasn't any money to pay him."
"But that's not right," Bert began. "She ought to——"
Just then Harry nudged his cousin, and winked his eye in a way Bert understood. So Bert did not finish what he had started to say. Instead he remarked:
"Is there anything we can do for you, Tommy?"
"No, thank you, I guess not," answered the other. "I'm all right now, and I don't believe I'll take cold."
When Bert and Harry were outside and on their way home, Bert asked:
"What did you punch me for in there?"
"I didn't want you to talk so much about a doctor. I guess they haven't any money to pay one."
"No, I guess they haven't."
"But what's the matter with my paying for one to make a visit?" asked Harry. "Dad gave me some money to spend when I came on this visit, and I have most of it left. You've been doing all the treating. And you gave Tommy that suit; so I want to pay for a doctor's visit."
"We'll ask mother about it," said Bert. "I guess it would be better to have a doctor see Mrs. Todd."
Mrs. Bobbsey said it was very kind of Harry to think of using his pocket money to pay for a doctor for the sick.
"But you will not need to," she said. "There are physicians paid by the city to visit the poor. But I think we will have our own Dr. Young call and see her. The city physicians have enough to do in the Winter when there is so much illness. I'll send Dr. Young, and pay him myself."
Afterward Dr. Young told Mrs. Bobbsey that Mrs. Todd was not dangerously ill. She needed a tonic, perhaps, and this he gave her.
"But what she needs, most of all," he said, "is to get into a better house. It is not healthful down there. And she needs more and better food."
"Then I'll look after her," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "I belong to a club, the ladies of which are glad to help the poor. We will make Mrs. Todd our special case. I'll see what we can do about getting her into a better house, too. She is a very good woman and Mr. Bobbsey says he never had a better errand boy than Tommy."
Mrs. Bobbsey and the members of her club did many things for Mrs. Todd and Tommy. They planned to have them move into another house, but as the weather was very cold they decided that it was better for Mrs. Todd that she should wait a bit before making the change. Mrs. Bobbsey often sent good food to Tommy's grandmother. Sometimes Bert or Nan took the basket, and, when the weather was nice, Flossie and Freddie were allowed to go.
One Saturday afternoon about a week after the country visitors had gone home, when Dinah had finished baking bread, cake and pies, Mrs. Bobbsey said:
"I wish Mrs. Todd had some of these good things. But I haven't time to go down there to-day, and Bert and Nan are away."
"Let us go, Mother," begged Flossie. "Freddie and I can carry the basket easily."
"Well, I suppose you could," said Mrs. Bobbsey slowly. "It isn't very cold out to-day, though it looks as if it would snow. But perhaps it won't until you get back. You know the way to Mrs. Todd's now, and it isn't too far for you. But hurry back."
The little twins promised, and were soon on their way. They had often gone on long walks by themselves, for they knew their way fairly well about the city, and down toward Tommy's house there were few wagons or automobiles, so it was safe for them.
Carrying the basket of good things Flossie and Freddie were soon at the place where Mrs. Todd lived.
"You are good little ones to come so far to bring an old woman something to eat," said Mrs. Todd, with a smile, when she opened the door. "Come in and sit by the fire to get warm."
"We can't stay very long," said Flossie.
But she and Freddie stayed longer than they meant to, for Mrs. Todd knew many stories and she told the little twins two or three as they sat by the fire.
"Oh, it's snowing—snowing hard!" said Freddie suddenly, as he looked out of the window when Mrs. Todd had finished a story about a little red hen.
"Then we must hurry home," said Flossie.
They put on their wraps and overshoes and, bidding Mrs. Todd good-bye, off they went. But they had no sooner got outdoors than they found themselves in a bad storm. The wind was blowing hard, and the white flakes were swirling all around them.
"Why—why, I can hardly see!" cried Flossie. "It's just like a fog."
"And—and it's hard to breathe," said Freddie. "The wind blows right down my mouth."
"We could walk backwards and then it wouldn't," said Flossie, and they tried that for a while.
The children had been out in storms before, but they could not remember ever having been in one where the snow was so thick. As Flossie had said, she could hardly see because there were so many flakes coming down.
"Take hold of my hand, Freddie, and don't let go," said Flossie to her brother. "We don't want to get lost."
Along the street they walked as best they could, sometimes going backward so the wind would not blow in their faces so hard, and when they walked with their faces to the wind they held down their heads.
"Are we 'most home?" asked Flossie after a while.
"Well, I don't see our house," replied Freddie. "We've come far enough to be there, too."
They walked on a little farther and then Freddie stopped.
"What's the matter?" asked Flossie.
"I can't see any houses, or anything," answered her brother. "I—I guess we've come the wrong way, Flossie. I don't know where we are."
"Do you mean we—we're lost, Freddie?"
"I'm afraid so."
THE STRANGE MAN
The two Bobbsey twins stood in the snowstorm, looking at each other. Though they were both brave they were rather worried now, for they did not know which way to go to get home. If there had been no snow it would have been easy, but the white flakes were so thick that they could hardly see ten feet ahead of them.
"What are we going to do, Freddie?" Flossie asked.
"Well, I don't know," he answered. "I guess we'll just have to keep on walking until we come to a house, and then we can ask which way our home is. Maybe somebody in the house will take us home."
"But we can't see any houses. How can we ask?" said Flossie, and her voice was trembling.
Indeed, the storm was so thick that no houses were in sight. There might have been some near by, but the children could not see any.
Nor were any persons to be seen passing along the street. If there had been, one of them might easily have set the twins right. But the truth of it was that Flossie and Freddie had taken the wrong turn in coming out of Mrs. Todd's house, and instead of walking toward their home they had, in the confusion of the storm, walked right away from it. Every step they took put them farther and farther away from their own house.
And now, as they learned later, they were on the far edge of the city of Lakeport, beyond the dumps, on what was called the "meadows." In Summer this was a swamp, but with the ground frozen as it was it was safe to walk on it. But no houses were built on it, and there were only a few lonely paths across this meadow stretch.
In the Summer a few men cut a coarse kind of hay that grew on the meadows, but as hay-cutting is not done in Winter no one now had any reason for going to the meadows.
"Well, we mustn't stand still," said Flossie, after a bit.
"Why not?" asked Freddie. "Can't you stand still when you're tired?"
"Not in a snowstorm," Flossie went on with a shake of her head. "If you stand still or lie down you may go to sleep, and when you sleep in the snow you freeze to death. Don't you remember the story mother read to us?"
"Yes," answered Freddie. "But I don't feel sleepy now, so it's all right to stand still a minute while I think."
"What are you thinking about?" asked his sister.
"I'm trying to think which way to go. Do you know?"
Flossie looked all about her. It was snowing harder than ever. However, it was not very cold. Indeed, only that they were lost, the Bobbsey twins would have thought it great fun to be out in the storm.
They were well wrapped up, and they had on high rubbers, so they were not badly off except for being lost. That was not any fun, of course.
"Do you know where we are?" asked Freddie of his sister.
"No," she answered, "I don't. It doesn't look as if we were on any street at all. Look at the tall grass all around us."
Standing up through the snow was the tall meadow grass that had not been cut. Freddie looked at it.
"Oh, now I know where we are!" he cried. "We're down on the meadows. Bert brought me here once when he was looking for muskrats. He didn't get any, but I remember how tall the grass grew. Now I know where we are."
"All right, then you can take me home," Flossie said. "We're not lost if you know where we are."
"But I don't know which way our house is," Freddie went on, "and I can't see to tell with all these flakes coming down. I'll have to wait until it stops."
"S'posin' it doesn't stop all night?" asked Flossie.
"Oh, I guess it will," said Freddie. "Anyhow, we know where we are. Let's walk on and maybe we'll get off the meadows and on to a street that leads to our house."
Flossie was glad to walk, as it was warmer than when standing still; and so she and Freddie went on. They did not know where they were going, and, as they found out afterward, they went farther and farther from their home and the city with every step.
"Oh, look!" suddenly cried Flossie.
"What is it?" asked her brother, stumbling over a little pile of snow as he hurried up beside his sister, who had gone on ahead of him. "Did you find the right path, Flossie? But then I don't believe you did. I don't believe anybody, not even Santa Claus himself, could find a path in this snow storm."
"Yes he could," insisted Flossie. "Santa Claus can do anything. He could come right down out of the sky now, in his reindeer sleigh, and take us home, if he wanted to."
"Well, then," said Freddie, shaking his head as a snowflake blew into his ear and melted there with a ticklish feeling, "I just wish he would come and take us home. I'm—I'm getting tired, Flossie."
"So'm I. But I did see something, Freddie," and the little girl pointed ahead through the drifting flakes. "It wasn't the path, though."
"What'd you see?" demanded Freddie, rubbing his eyes so he could see more clearly.
"That!" and Flossie pointed to a rounded mound of snow about half as high as her head. It was right in front of her and Freddie.
"Oh, it's a little snow house!" cried Freddie.
"That's what I thought it was," Flossie went on. "Some one must have been playing out here on the meadows, and made this little house. It's awful small, but maybe if we curl up and stick our legs under us, we can get inside out of the storm."
"Maybe we can!" cried Freddie. "Let's try."
The children walked around the pile of snow, looking for the hole, such as they always left when they built snow houses.
"The front door is closed," said Freddie. "I guess they shut it after them when they went away."
"Maybe they're inside now," remarked Flossie. "If we knocked maybe they would let us in. Only it will be awful crowded," and she sighed. She was very cold and tired, and was worried about being lost. It was no fun, and she would have been glad to go inside the little snow house, even though some one else were in it also.
"There's no place to knock," Freddie said, as he looked about on every side of the round pile of snow. "And there's no door-bell. The next time I make a snow house, Flossie, I'm going to put a front door-bell on it."
"That'll be nice," his sister said. "But, Freddie, never mind about the door-bell now. Let's get inside. I'm awful cold!"
"So'm I. And another snowflake just went into my ear. It makes me wiggle when it melts and runs down inside."
"I like to wiggle," Flossie said. "I'm going to open my ears real wide and maybe a snowflake will get in mine. Does it feel funny?"
"Terribly funny. But you can't open your ears any wider than they are now, Flossie. They're wide open all the while—not like your eyes that you can open and shut part way."
"Maybe I can open my ears wider," Flossie said. "I'm going to try, anyhow."
She stood still in the snow, wrinkling her forehead and making funny "snoots" as Freddie called them, trying to widen her ears. But she gave it up finally.
"I guess I can't get a snowflake to tickle me," she said with a sigh.
"You can have the next one that goes into my ear," offered Freddie. "But they melt so soon and run down so fast that I don't see how I am going to get them out."
"Never mind," said Flossie. "I can get a snowflake in my ear when I get home. Just now let's see if we can't get inside this little house. If the door is frozen shut, maybe you can find a stick and poke it open. Look for a stick, Freddie."
"All right, I will," and Freddie began kicking away at the snow around his feet, hoping to turn up a stick. This he soon did.
"I've found one!" he cried. "Now we can get in and away from the storm. I'll make a hole in the snow house!"
With the stick, which was a piece of flat board, Freddie began to toss and shovel aside the snow. The top part came off easily enough, for the flakes were light and fluffy. But underneath them there was a hard, frozen crust and this was not so easily broken and tossed aside. But finally Freddie had made quite a hole, and then he and Flossie saw something queer. For, instead of coming to the hollow inside of the snow house, the little boy and girl saw a mass of sticks, dried grass and dirt. Over this was the snow, and it was piled up round, like the queer houses the Eskimos make in the Arctic regions.
"Oh, look!" cried Flossie. "It isn't a snow house at all. It's just a pile of sticks."
"Maybe it's a stick house, with snow on the outside," Freddie said. "I'm going to dig a little deeper."
He did so, tossing aside the grass, sticks and dirt. Flossie was watching him, and suddenly the two children saw something moving down in the hole that Freddie had dug. Presently a furry nose was thrust out, and two bright, snapping eyes looked at them.
"Oh, see! What is it?" cried Flossie.
Freddie dropped his stick shovel, and stumbled back. Flossie went with him. The sharp, furry nose was thrust farther out, and then they could see that it was the head of some animal, looking at them from inside the snow-covered stick house.
"Some one lives there after all," whispered Flossie. "Is it a—a bear, Freddie? If it is, we'd better run."
"Bears don't live in houses like this," said her brother. "They sleep all winter in hollow logs."
"Well, what is it then?" Flossie questioned, "Will it come after us?"
But the little animal seemed satisfied to look out of the hole in its house to see who had done the mischief. Then it began pulling the sticks and grass back into place with its paws and jaws.
"Oh, I know what it is!" Freddie cried. "It's a muskrat. They live in these mounds on the meadows. Bert told me so. This one's house looked extra big because it was all covered with snow. There wouldn't be room for us inside there, Flossie."
"I'm glad of it," answered the little girl. "I wouldn't want to crawl in with a lot of rats."
"Muskrats are nice," Freddie said. "Bert told me so."
"Well, I don't like 'em!" declared Flossie. "Come on, Freddie. Let's get away from here. That muskrat might chase us for breaking in his house, though we didn't mean to do any harm. Come on, Freddie," and the two little ones went on once more.
The storm was growing worse, and it was getting dark now with the heavy clouds up above.
"Say, Freddie," said Flossie, after a bit, "I'm tired. Why don't we holler?"
"Holler?" asked Freddie, trying to turn his overcoat collar closer around his neck. "What do we want to holler for?"
"For help," answered Flossie. "Don't you know, in books and stories, every time people get lost they holler for help?"
"Oh, that's right," Freddie said. "I forgot about that. Well, we can holler."
The twins shouted as loudly as they could, but their voices were not very strong, and the wind was now blowing so hard that even if any one had been near at hand he could hardly have heard the little ones calling.
"Help! Help!" shouted Flossie and Freddie together several times.
They listened, but all they could hear was the howling of the wind and the swishing of the snowflakes.
"Well, let's walk on some more," said Freddie, after a bit. "No use standing here."
"And it isn't much use walking on," returned Flossie; and her voice trembled. "We don't know where we're going."
Still she followed as Freddie trudged on.
"You walk behind me, Flossie," he said, "and that will keep some of the wind off you."
"Thank you, Freddie," was Flossie's answer. "But I'd rather walk by the side of you. You—you can hold my hand better then."
Hand in hand the twins went on. The wind seemed to blow all ways at once, and always in the faces of the tots. All at once, as Freddie made a stop to get his breath, he gave a shout.
"What's the matter?" asked Flossie. "Do you see something?"
"Yes, I guess it's a house," Freddie answered. "Look!"
He pointed to something that loomed up black in the midst of the cloud of snowflakes.
"I guess we'll be all right now," Flossie said. "We'll go in there and ask our way home."
But when they reached the black object they found that it was only an old shed which had been used to store some meadow hay. The door of the shed was shut, but Freddie tried to open it.
"We can go in there to get warm," he said, "if I can open it."
"I'll help you," said Flossie.
The two were struggling with the latch of the door when they saw some black object coming toward them out of the storm.
"Oh, maybe it's a cow," said Flossie.
"It's a man," cried Freddie, and so it proved. A tall, nice-looking man, his black beard white with snow, walked toward the children.
"Well, well!" he cried. "What does this mean? Such little tots out in this storm!"
"We're lost!" said Flossie.
The strange man laughed.
"Lost? So am I!" he cried. "It isn't the first time, either. I've been lost a whole lot worse than this. Now, as we're lost together, we'll see if we can't get found together. Here, we'll go in out of the storm a minute and you can tell me about yourselves."
With one pull of his strong arms he opened the shed door and went inside with Flossie and Freddie.
"This is better," said the man, as he closed the door to keep out the wind and snow. "This isn't exactly a warm house, but it will do until we get our breath. Now tell me how you came to be lost."
"We were out taking some things to a poor lady," said Freddie, "and she told us some nice stories."
"One was about a little red hen," put in Flossie.
"Yes," went on Freddie. "And when we saw it was snowing we came out in a hurry and took the wrong turn, I guess. We couldn't see any houses, and we hollered and nobody heard us, and then I saw this meadow grass and I knew where we were."
"So this is the meadows?" asked the strange man.
"Yes, sir, this is the meadows," said Freddy.
"We know we're on the meadows but we don't know where our house is," said Flossie. "We live in Lakeport, and we're the Bobbsey twins."
"The Bobbsey twins; eh?" returned the man. "Well, that's a nice name, I'm sure."
"And there are two more twins at home," went on Freddie. "They are Nan and Bert, and they're older than we are."
"They aren't lost," explained Flossie, carefully.
"I'm glad of that," the man said. "And I don't believe you'll be lost much longer."
"Do you know where our house is?" asked Freddie.
"No, not exactly," the man answered.
"Didn't you say you were lost, too?" asked Flossie.
"Yes, I did, little girl. I was lost. But now that you have told me where I am, I think I am found. And I think, too, that I can help you find your home. So you live in Lakeport. That's where I'm going."
"How did you come to get out on these meadows?" asked Freddie.
"Well, this is how it happened," the man said. "I was on my way to Lakeport, but, by mistake, I got off the train at Belleville. That's the station just below here. I did not want to wait for the next train so I hired a man with an automobile to take me on to Lakeport. But about a mile from here one of the tires of the automobile burst so the man could not take me any farther. Then I said I'd walk, as I thought I knew the road. I used to live in Lakeport about five years ago. I started off, but the storm came up, and I lost my way. The first I knew I found myself out in this big field which you say is the meadows."
"That's what they call it," Freddie said.
"Well then, now I know where I am and I know what to do. Do you think you can walk along with me?"
"Oh, we're not tired now," said Freddie. "We've had a nice rest in here. But do you know the way to our house?"
"I know the way to Lakeport. I had forgotten about these meadows. You see it was a good many years ago and I did not live in Lakeport long before I went away. But now I know where I am. When I lived in your city I used to come out here to hunt muskrats. If I am not mistaken this shed is near a path that leads to a road by which we can get to a trolley car. I don't know whether or not the trolleys are running, but maybe we can find an automobile."
"If you could find a telephone and telephone to my father's lumber yard office he would come in his automobile to get us," said Flossie.
"Well, perhaps I can do that," the man said. "Come along now, we'll start."
Out into the storm again went the Bobbsey twins. It was snowing as hard as ever, but they were not afraid now, for they each had hold of the man's hands, and they felt sure he Would get them safely home.
"Are you all right now?" asked the man, as he walked along in the snow, kicking away the flakes in a cloud such as a plow might throw on either side.
"Yes, we're all right now," Freddie said. "But we'll be righter when we get home."
"So mamma won't worry," added Flossie. "Mothers worry when their children are lost."
"That's too bad," said the man. "It isn't good for mothers to worry. But I'll get you home as soon as I can. You two youngsters have had quite a time of it, but I am glad to see you are brave and did not cry."
"Flossie's got some tears on her face," reported Freddie, looking over at his sister.
"I have not!" cried Flossie. "Those are melted snowflakes. I wanted to get some in my ear, so they'd make a funny, tickly feeling," she went on, "but there wouldn't any fall in. Some sat on my cheeks, though, and melted, and it's those what you see, Freddie Bobbsey, and not tears at all! I hardly ever cry, so there!"
"You cried when I busted your doll," Freddie said.
"Well, that was a good while ago," Flossie insisted, "and I was only a little girl. I hardly ever cry since I've growed up."
"No, I guess that's right," Freddie said. "She's 'bout as brave as me," he went on to the man.
"I'm sure she is, and I'm glad to hear that. You are both brave little tots, and I'm glad I found you. Whew!" he exclaimed, as the wind blew a cloud of snowflakes into his face, "this storm is getting worse. I'll have some melted-snow tears on my own cheeks, I think."
The strays kept on through the drifting snow, and, all the while, it was getting harder and harder for Flossie and Freddie to walk. The piles of snow were up to their knees in some places, and though the man easily forced his way through them, because he was big and strong, it was not so easy for the little Bobbsey twins to do so.
Pretty soon they came again to the rounded pile of snow that the two tots had mistaken for a little house. The white flakes had covered the hole Freddie had made with his stick.
"Let's stop and see if the muskrat is home yet," proposed the little boy.
"What muskrat?" asked the man.
"The one that lives in here. I started to dig in so Flossie and I could get out of the storm, and the muskrat put his head out and looked at us. I guess he was surprised."
"We were surprised, too," said Flossie. "At first I thought it was a little bear."
"Ha! Ha!" laughed the man. "And so you dug into a muskrat's meadow-house to get out of the storm? Well, that was a good idea, but I guess if you had gone in the muskrats would have run out. But it was a good thing you found the shed, and I'm glad I also found it. We will soon be home, I hope."
They lingered a moment, as Freddie wished to see if the muskrat would come out; but the creature was, very likely, away down deep in his house of sticks and mud, eating the sweet, tender roots of the plants he had stored away before Winter set in.
Once more the man led the Bobbsey twins onward.
Pretty soon Flossie began to lag behind. Her little feet went more and more slowly through the piles of snow, and once she choked back a sob. She wanted to cry, but she had said she was brave and scarcely ever shed tears, and she was not going to do it now. Still, she was so tired and cold and altogether miserable that she did not know what to do. Freddie, too, was hardly able to keep on, but he would not give up.
At last, however, the man looked down at the two little ones, and he noticed that they were really too tired to go farther. He stopped and said:
"Come! this will never do. I must carry you a bit to rest your legs. Wouldn't you like that?"
"Yes, I would," answered Flossie. "But you can't carry both of us; can you?"
"Well, I can try," said the man. "Let me think a minute, though. I think I will strap one of you on my back with my belt, and take the other in my arms in front. That will be the best way."
"Oh, I want to ride on your back!" cried Flossie.
"No, little girl, I think it will be best for your brother to do that. I will carry you in my arms in front. That will rest you both."
The man had a wide, big belt around his waist, and, taking this off, he put it over his shoulders, buckling it so that there was a loop hanging down his back. He put Freddie in this loop, astride, so the little boy could clasp his arms around the man's neck. Then, telling him to hold on tightly, and picking Flossie up in his arms, the man started off once more through the snow.
"This is fun!" cried Freddie, as he nestled his head down on the man's neck, keeping the snowflakes out of his eyes.
"I like it, too," Flossie said, cuddling up in the man's strong arms.
"Are we too heavy for you?" asked Freddie. "'Cause if we are you only need to carry us a little way, until we're rested, and then we can walk."
"But I'm not rested yet," Flossie said quickly. She liked to be carried this way. It made her think of the time when her father used to carry her when she was a little tot.
"Don't be afraid. I can carry you for some time yet," the man said with a laugh, as he walked on through the drifts.
"You can put me down now, if you like," Freddie said, after a bit. "I'm kinder cold, and if I walk I'll be warmer."
"Well, perhaps you will," the man replied.
"And I can walk, too," added Flossie. "My legs are all right now."
"I don't believe you will have to walk much farther," went on the man. "I think the path is near here, and then it will be easier for you."
The man soon found the path, though it was not easy to see, and, walking along that, they came to a road. A little later the Bobbsey twins and the man heard a bell ringing.
"That's a trolley-car!" cried the man. "Now we're all right."
And so they were. The trolley was one that ran between Belleville and Lakeport, and a little later the two children and the kind man were sitting in the warm electric car, speeding toward their home.
"I think I'd better get out at the nearest telephone, to let your folks know you are all right," the man said. "They will be worrying, and if we can't get another car we may find an automobile."
The car conductor knew where there was a telephone in a drug store that they passed a little later, and the man called up Mr. Bobbsey at the lumber office.
Mr. Bobbsey and the strange man talked a while over the telephone, and then the man, coming back to where the twins were just finishing their glasses of hot chocolate which he had bought for them, said:
"Your father is going to send the automobile for you, so we will stay here until it comes. I told him where we were."
"Was he worried?" asked Flossie.
"Yes, very much," the man answered. "Bert, your brother, went out to look for you but could not find you, and your father was just about to start out."
"Well, we're all right now," said Freddie, "and we thank you very much."
"Oh, that's all right," said the man, with a laugh. "In finding you I found myself, for I was lost, too."
In about half an hour Mr. Bobbsey's automobile came along, he himself being in it. He jumped out and hurried into the drug store.
"Flossie! Freddie!" he cried. "We were so worried about you! What happened?"
"Oh, we just got lost," said Freddie, calmly, "and this nice man found us."
"We found each other," said the stranger, with a smile, "and now that I have done all I can, I think I will go on my way. I came to Lakeport to find my mother and my son. They'll be surprised to see me for they think that I am dead."
"You don't say so!" cried Mr. Bobbsey. "Where does your mother live?"
"Somewhere in Lakeport. At least she and my son did the last I heard, though they may have moved. Perhaps you can direct me. My name is Henry Todd, and I am looking for a Mrs. James Todd and her grandson, Tommy Todd. I am a sea captain, and I was wrecked a number of years ago. It was on a lonely island and——"
"Say!" cried Freddie, so excited that he slipped right off the soda-water counter seat. "Say! Are you—are you Tommy Todd's father?"
"Yes, that's who I am," the man said. "But what do you know of Tommy?"
"Why, we'd been leaving a basket of things at his house—with Tommy's grandmother. Then we went out in the storm and got lost," Freddie cried in much excitement. "Oh, if you are Tommy's father we won't have to buy a ship and go off to the desert island looking for you, like Robinson Crusoe. Oh, how glad he'll be that you have come back!"
"And how glad I'll be when I see him and my mother!" cried Mr. Todd. "But you spoke of taking her some food. Is my mother poor, and in want?" he asked Mr. Bobbsey.
"She is poor, but not exactly in want. My wife and I and some friends have been looking after her. Your boy, Tommy, runs errands for me."
"Well, well! Tommy must be getting to be quite a boy now. And to think it was your children whom I found and who told me where I was, so none of us were lost. It is very strange! And can you tell me where my mother lives?"
"I can, and I'll take you there. It is not a very nice house, but we have a better one for her. Only she did not want to move in this cold weather."
"I can not thank you enough for being kind to my mother and my son," said Mr. Todd. "But now I shall be able to look after them. I have plenty of money and they need want for nothing now."
In the automobile, going back to Lakeport through the storm, Mr. Todd told Mr. Bobbsey and Flossie and Freddie his story.
He had sailed away, just as Tommy Todd had said, some years before. The vessel of which he was captain was wrecked, and he and some other sailors got to an island where the natives were kind to them.
But for many years no other ship came that way. So Mr. Todd could not get home nor could he send any word, though he very much wanted to do so. In that time he found some pearls which were very valuable. So, when finally a ship did pass the island and take off the wrecked sailors, Mr. Todd had more money than he had when he started out. For the pearls were very valuable.
As soon as Mr. Todd reached a place where he could send word to his aged mother that he was alive and safe he did so. But in some manner the message was never received.
As soon as he had sent the message Mr. Todd started out himself to get home. Finally, he reached the United States and took a train for Lakeport. But, as he had told Flossie and Freddie, he got off at the wrong station, and had come on in an automobile. Then came the accident to the tire and the storm, and the rest you know—how Mr. Todd and the Bobbsey twins met at the old shed on the meadows.
"Well, that is quite a wonderful story," said Mr. Bobbsey. "I'm sure your mother and son will be wild with joy to see you again. They have long thought you dead."
"I suppose so," said Mr. Todd. "The papers said my vessel was lost with all on board, and it did seem so when I could send no word."
"Only Tommy and I thought maybe you might be like Robinson Crusoe," said Freddie, "and we were going in a ship to look for you on the island, only I haven't money enough saved up in my bank."
"Bless your heart!" said Mr. Todd.
"I think this is what we will do," said Mr. Bobbsey. "We will stop at your mother's house, get her and Tommy, and bring you all to my house."
"Oh, that is too much trouble!" said Mr. Todd.
"No, not at all. I want you to have a happy time, and we shall be happy with you."
The automobile was stopped at the house by the dumps.
"I will go in first," said Mr. Bobbsey, "and tell your mother and boy that I have good news for them. If she were to see you too suddenly, your mother, who has not been well, might be taken ill again. I will prepare her for the good news."
You can imagine how happy Tommy and his grandmother were when they learned that Mr. Todd was alive. And when the shipwrecked sailor entered the house Tommy fairly threw himself into his father's arms, while Mr. Todd kissed him and kissed his mother in turn. Oh! they were very happy.
"We found him!" cried Freddie. "And he found us! And now everybody found everybody else and nobody's lost!" Freddie was very much excited.
"Only I'm hungry," said Flossie.
The Todds and Mr. Bobbsey and the twins were soon at the Bobbsey home, talking over what had happened. Mrs. Bobbsey became worried when Flossie and Freddie did not come home after the storm started, and she sent Bert to Mrs. Todd's house after them. But they had already left, and had become lost.
"Well, now Freddie and I won't have to get a ship and go looking for you," said Tommy, as he sat close to his father.
"No, indeed. All our troubles are over now."
And so they were. Mr. Todd had plenty of money to look after his mother and son and a few days later he rented a nice house into which they moved. He said he was never going to sea again. Then began happy days for those who had spent so many unhappy ones.
Tommy no longer had to run errands for Mr. Bobbsey, to get money to help support his grandmother. He often came to play with Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie, and the Bobbsey twins never grew tired of hearing Mr. Todd tell of how he was shipwrecked.
The Winter wore on. Christmas came. And what a happy one it was for the Todd family, as well as for the Bobbsey twins!
"We had as much fun at home this Winter as we did in the Summer at Meadow Brook," said Nan.
Winter or summer, these lively children manage to have a good time. Their next adventure will be called "The Bobbsey Twins in a Great City."
Now as they gathered in the living room Freddie said, "I'm glad we found Mr. Todd."
"And he found us," added Flossie.
Snap, the big dog, thumped his tail on the floor in front of the fire. Snoop, the black cat, purred in her sleep. Outside the snow was falling and Freddie cried:
"Now we can have more coasting!"
"And there'll be more skating, too," said Bert.
"But I'm not going to fall in again," said Tommy Todd.
And now, as every one is happy, we will say good-bye to the Bobbsey twins.
* * * * *
Obvious punctuation errors repaired.
Page 45: "acros" changed to "across". (came running across)
Page 90: "enevelope" changed to "envelope". (envelope flap)
Page 96: "Everyone one," changed to "Everyone,". (Everyone, whom)
Page 107: "Ah" changed to "All". ("All right,")
Page 110: "bead" changed to "head". (scratched his head)
Varied hyphenation and spacing in snowstorm and snowball/snow ball retained.