The Bobbsey Twins at Home/Chapter 15
"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!"