Chapter XVII. The First Snow
 

There was considerable talk among the boys in Danny's room after Mr. Tetlow departed. And it was noticed that Danny and some of his particular friends looked around with rather frightened faces, over their shoulders, as they talked among themselves. What they said could not be heard, for they spoke in whispers.

"I hope you weren't one of those boys, Bert," said Nan, as she passed her brother on the way home from school that afternoon. "If you were -"

"You needn't worry," he said, with a smile. "I'm not ready to smoke yet."

"Nor ever, I hope," said Nan, as she turned up her little nose. "It - it smells so."

Nothing more was heard of the smoking matter for several days, and it was about forgotten, when something else came to claim the attention of the Bobbsey twins and their friends.

It was toward the close of school one afternoon, when all the pupils were wishing the hands of the clock would point to letting-out time, that Nan, looking from the window, and away from her arithmetic book, saw a few white flakes of snow sifting lazily down. At once she was all attention, and her lesson was forgotten.

"Oh!" she thought, "it's snowing! And it looks as if it would be a big storm. Oh, I'm so glad!"

Nan did not know all the trouble and misery a big snow storm can cause, so she may be forgiven for wishing for one. She only saw the side of it that meant fun for her and her friends.

The flakes were coming down faster now, and there was about them something which seemed to tell that this storm would be more than a mere flurry or squall, and that it would keep up for some time, making big drifts.

But now a number of other pupils in the room had noticed the storm, and eyes were out of doors rather than on books. The teacher saw that she was not getting the attention of her class, and she understood the reason.

"Now, boys and girls," she said gently, "you can have a good time in the snow after you get out of here. So please give attention to your lessons for a few minutes more. Then you will be finished. Nan Bobbsey, you may go to the board and do the third example."

But Nan was thinking so much of the fun she might have riding down hill, or snowballing with her friends, that she got the example wrong, and had to go to her seat. Nor was Bert any more successful.

Bert was busy thinking about putting a bell and a steering wheel on the new bob he and Charley had made, and when he was asked how many times two and a half went into ten he answered: "Three." He was thinking how many times he would ring the bell on the bob when he came to a street crossing.

When the Bobbsey twins, little and big, came out of school the snow was coming down more thickly. The flakes were not so large, but there were more of them, and they blew here and there in the wind, drifting into piles that would make the shoveling off of walks hard the next day.

There were just about enough of the white crystals on the ground, when the school children came out to make a few snowballs, and this they at once proceeded to do.

Danny Rugg, who had not forgiven Bert for the many times the Bobbsey lad had gotten the best of him, threw a ball at Freddie. But Bert was on the watch, and managed to jump up and catch the white missile in his hand. Then he threw it at Danny, striking him on the neck.

"Here! Where you throwin'?" demanded Danny, in angry tones.

"The same place you are," replied Bert, not a bit afraid. "Good weather for ice cream, Danny," he added, and Danny went off in an angry fashion.

Other boys and girls too, threw the snowballs, but it was in goodnatured fun, and no one was hurt. Some rough boys did use hard snowballs, but they were soon left to play among themselves, while the others amused themselves with soft and fluffy missiles, which, breaking as they hit, scattered the white stuff all over, harming no one.

The girls, while they played at this sport, also indulged in washing the faces of each other. With handsful of snow they rubbed the ears and cheeks of their chums so that there came a healthy glow to the skin.

One or two children, who lived near the school, ran in their yards as soon as the classes were dismissed, and brought out their sleds. But the snow was too thin to pack well and at best the coasting was not good.

"But it soon will be," declared Bert, as he and Charley walked along. "We must finish our bob in a hurry."

"All right. We'll work on it late tonight."

And so the sound of hammer, plane and saw was heard in the old barn, where the sled was being built, until nearly ten o'clock.

"She ought to go very fast!" exclaimed Charley, as they paused to look at their sled.

"I'm sure she will," agreed Bert. "And we'll put some carpet on the top of the main board, for a cushion for some of the girls." His chum agreed that this would be a good plan, and so the bob was made very attractive for the girls.

Bert and Charley took the big sled out for a private trial on a little hill behind the barn without telling anyone about it. They slid down very swiftly, and as they were walking up again Bert said:

"I think we have a fast one all right, Charley."

"I'm sure we have," was the answer.

"It will pass anything on the main hill," went on Bert, and his friend believed him.

The storm kept up all night, and in the morning there was snow enough to suit anyone. Bert laughed as he looked out of the window and saw it.

"There'll be coasting now all right!" he cried, as he saw the big stretch of white over the fields and on the hills. "We can have bob sled races, too."

"Can't we come?" asked Flossie.

"We like sled rides," added Freddie.

"You may come part of the time," answered Bert. "But big sleds aren't for little folks like you."

Not far from the Bobbsey home was a long hill that was most excellent for coasting. It was on this that Charley and Bert had decided to test their new sled on a long stretch.

As they hauled it from the barn where it had been made, and started to pull it to the hill, there were many laughs at the odd homemade affair. For Bert and Charley had done most of the work themselves, and it was rather rough.

"She'll never coast!" cried one boy, with a laugh. He was quite a friend of Danny's.

"Here comes the sled that can, though!" cried another, and Danny himself came into view, pulling a fine, new, big bob after him.

"That's the fastest one on the hill," boasted another lad who was helping Danny pull his sled.

"Well, I think ours is fast, too," said Bert calmly.

"Do you want to race?" asked Danny with a sharp glance at Bert.

"I don't mind," was the answer. It was after school, following the first snow, and the hill was just right for coasting.

"Come on! Come on!" cried a number of boys and girls, as they heard what went on between Danny and Bert. "There's going to be a race on the big hill between the big bobs."

There was much excitement. The sleds were the two largest owned by anyone in the neighborhood, and both were fine ones. Danny had bought his, but Bert and Charley had made theirs, and so, though it was not so fancy, it was stronger. Most eyes were on Danny's sled, for it was painted in bright colors, and brightly varnished. It had a red cushion of carpet on the top, and places at the side to rest one's feet.

The bob of Bert and Charley was built just the same, but it was painted in homemade fashion, and the carpet seat was an old and faded one. But it had a new gong and a fine big steering wheel.

"All ready for the race," cried Danny, as he got his sled in position. "Who's going down with me?"

A number of boys came forward.

"Who's going with Bert and me?" asked Charley, and several others stepped forward.

"Go ahead, if you want to come in last!" sneered Danny, as he got his sled in place. "I'll tell 'em you're coming, Bert."

"All right," was the cool answer. "Get an, boys!"

Soon both sleds were filled, and all was ready for the big race - the first of the season.