The Bobbsey Twins at Home/Chapter 18
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!"