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The Bobbsey Twins at Home/Chapter 19


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 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.