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For a moment Danny Rugg just stared at Bert. Then the bully swallowed a sort of lump that came in his throat, and said:

"That isn't my button."

"Isn't it?" asked Bert, politely. "Why, it just matches the others on your coat, and it's got a few threads in the holes, and there are some threads in your coat, just where the button was pulled off. I guess it's your button, all right, Danny."

Danny did not say anything. He looked from the button to Bert, and then at the space on his coat where a button should have been, but where one was missing.

"Well—well," he stammered. "Maybe it is off my coat, but—but how did you get it, Bert Bobbsey?"

"I found it," was the answer. "Don't you want it back?"

He held it out to Danny, who took it slowly.

"Well," went on Bert, with a queer little smile at his enemy, "why don't you ask me where I found it, Danny?"

"Huh! I don't care where you found it. I s'pose you picked it up around the school yard, where I lost it, playing tag with the fellows."

"No, you didn't lose it there," went on Bert, still smiling. "You have another guess coming, Danny."

"Pooh! I don't care where you found it," and Danny was about to turn away.

"Wait a minute," said Bert. "Suppose I say that this button was found in our freezer of ice cream, that you and some other boys took off our stoop the night of Flossie's and Freddie's party, Danny? What about that?"

"It isn't—I didn't—you can't prove anything about me, Bert Bobbsey, and if you go around telling that I took your ice cream, I—I——"

But Danny did not know what else to say. He was confused and his face was white and red by turns, for he realized that Bert had good proof of what he said.

"Better go slow," advised Bert, calmly. "I don't intend to go around telling what you did. I just want to let you know that I am sure you took our ice cream.

"I—I——" began Danny. "You're only trying to fool me!" he exclaimed. "That button wasn't in it at all!"

"Wasn't it?" asked Bert, quietly. "Well, you just ask Charley Mason, or any of the fellows who were at the party, what we found in the freezer, and see what they say."

Danny had nothing to reply to this. Thrusting the button in his pocket he walked off. Bert was sure he had found the boy who had taken the ice cream.

Later, from a boy who had been friends with Danny for some time, but whose father, afterward, decided that his son was getting into bad company, and made him cease playing with the school bully, Bert learned that Danny had planned to take the ice cream freezer off the porch.

He and several boys did this, carrying it to the old barn. They had provided themselves with large spoons, and were having a good time, eating the cream, when they heard the approach of Bert and his friends, and fled, leaving the cream behind.

It was during a dispute as to who should have the right to first dip into the freezer that Danny and a boy named Jake Harkness had a struggle, and in this Danny lost a button which fell into the ice cream without anyone knowing it. The coat Danny wore that night he did not put on again for some time, but when he did Bert saw the missing button.

Danny knew that he had been found out. and for a time he had little to say. But Bert was boy enough not to be able to keep altogether quiet over his discovery. From time to time he would ask Danny:

"Lost any more buttons, lately?"

"You let me alone!" Danny would reply, surlily.

Of course this made talk, the boys wanting to know what it meant, and at last the story came out. This made Danny so angry that he picked several quarrels with Bert. On his part Bert tried to avoid them, but at last he could stand it no longer, and he and Danny came to blows again, Danny striking first.

Bert had been brought up with the idea that fighting, unless it could absolutely be avoided, was not gentlemanly, but in this case he could not get out of it.

He and Danny went at each other with their fists clenched, a crowd of other boys looking on, and urging one or the other to do their best, for both Danny and Bert had friends, though Bert was the best liked.

Danny struck Bert several times, and Bert hit back, once hitting Danny in the eye. Bert's lip was cut, and when the fight was over both boys did not look very nice. But everyone said Bert had the best of it.

"Oh, Bert!" exclaimed his mother, when he came home after the trouble with Danny. "You've been fighting!"

"Yes, mother, I have," he admitted. "I'm sorry, but I couldn't help it. Danny Rugg hit me first. I couldn't run away, could I?"

It was a hard question for a mother to answer. No mother likes to think her son a coward, and that was what the boys would have called Bert had he not stood up to Danny.

"I—I just had to!" continued Bert "And I beat him, anyhow, mother."

Mrs. Bobbsey cried a little, and then she made the best of it, and bathed Bert's cut lip and bruised forehead. She told his father about it, too, and Mr. Bobbsey, after hearing the account, asked:

"Who won?"

"Well, Bert says he did?"

"Um. Well, I've no doubt but what he did. He's getting quite strong."

"Oh, Richard!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey, in dismay.

"Well, boys will—er—have their little troubles," said her husband. "I'm sorry Bert had to fight, but I'm glad he wasn't a coward. But he mustn't fight any more."

Then Mr. Bobbsey sat down to read the evening paper.

The weather was getting cooler. Several nights there had been heavy frosts, and for some time the papers had been saying that it was going to snow, but the white flakes did not sift down from the sky.

Thanksgiving was approaching. It was the end of the Fall term of school, and there were to be examinations to see who would pass into the next higher classes for the Winter season.

Of course in the case of Freddie and Flossie, who were still in the kindergarten, the examinations were not very hard, but they were soon to go into the regular primary class, where they would learn to read. And both the twins were very anxious for this. Bert and Nan had somewhat harder lessons to do, and they had to answer more difficult questions in the examinations.

But I am glad to say that all of the Bobbsey twins were promoted, and Freddie and Flossie came home very proud to tell that when they went back again, after the Thanksgiving holidays, they would be in the primer reading book.

And such preparations as went on for Thanksgiving! Dinah was busy from morning until night, and when the little twins made inquiries about the turkey they were to have, Mr. Bobbsey said it would be the biggest he could buy.

"An' I'se gwine t' stuff him wif chestnuts an' oysters," said Dinah. "I tells you what chilluns, yo' all am suttinly gwine to hab one grand feed."

"I wish everybody was," said Flossie, a bit wistfully. "I hope our cat Snoop, wherever he is, has plenty of milk, and some nice turkey bones."

"I guess he will have," said Mamma Bobbsey, gently.

"I hope all the poor children in our school have enough to eat," said Freddie. "Mr. Tetlow said for us to bring what we could for them."

"And you never told me!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey. "Why didn't you? I would have sent something."

Neither Bert nor Nan had thought to mention at home that a collection would be taken at the school for the poor families in the town. But as soon as Mrs. Bobbsey heard what Freddie said she telephoned to her husband. Mr. Bobbsey went to see Mr. Tetlow, and from him learned that there were a number of families who would not have a very happy Thanksgiving.

Then the lumber merchant gave certain orders to his grocer and butcher, and if a number of poor people were not well supplied with food that gladsome season, it was not the fault of Mr. Bobbsey.

But I am getting a little ahead of my story. A few days before Thanksgiving Mrs. Bobbsey, with a letter in her hand, came to where the four twins were in the sitting room, talking over what they wanted for Christmas.

"Guess who are coming to spend Thanksgiving with us!" cried Mamma Bobbsey, as she waved the letter in the air.

"Uncle Bobbsey!" guessed Nan.

"Uncle Minturn," said Bert.

The little twins guessed other friends and relatives, and finally Mrs. Bobbsey said:

"Yes, your Uncle Bobbsey and Uncle Minturn are coming, and so are your aunts, and Cousin Harry, Cousin Dorothy and also Hal Bingham, whom you met at the seashore."

"Oh, what a jolly Thanksgiving it will be!" cried the Bobbsey twins.