Chapter I. The Train Wreck
 

"Come on, let's make a snow man!" cried Bert Bobbsey, as he ran about in the white drifts of snow that were piled high in the yard in front of the house.

"That'll be lots of fun!" chimed in Freddie Bobbsey, who was Bert's small brother. "We can make a man, and then throw snowballs at him, and he won't care a bit; will he, Bert?"

"No, I guess a snow man doesn't care how many times you hit him with snowballs," laughed the older boy, as he tried to catch a dog that was leaping about in the drifts, barking for joy. "The more snowballs you throw at a snow man the bigger he gets," said Bert.

"Oh, Bert Bobbsey, he does not!" cried a girl with dark hair and sparkling brown eyes, as she ran along with a smaller girl holding her red-mittened hand. "A snow man can't grow any bigger! What makes you tell Freddie so?"

"Course a snow man can grow bigger!" declared Bert. "A snowball grows bigger the more you roll it in the snow, doesn't it?"

"Yes," admitted Nan--Nan being the name of the brown-eyed girl, Bert's twin sister. "I know a snowball grows bigger the more you roll it, but you don't roll a snow man!" went on the brown-eyed girl.

"Ho, ho! wouldn't that be funny?" laughed the little girl, whose hand Nan held.

"What would be funny, Flossie?" asked Freddie, and one look at the two smaller Bobbsey children would have told you that they, too, were twins. In fact the four Bobbseys were twins--that is there were two sets of them--Bert and Nan, and Flossie and Freddie. "What would be funny?" Freddie wanted to know. "Tell me! I want to laugh."

"Yes, you generally do want to laugh, little fireman!" and Bert Bobbsey laughed himself as he gave his small brother the pet name that Daddy Bobbsey had thought up some time ago. "But, as Flossie says, it would be funny to see a snow man rolling around in the drifts to make himself bigger," went on Bert.

"But you said he'd get bigger if we threw snowballs at him," insisted Nan.

"And he will," went on Bert. "You see, a snowball gets bigger when you roll it around the yard, because more snow keeps sticking to it all the while. And if we make a snow man and then throw little snowballs at him, these snowballs will stick to him and he'll grow bigger, won't he?"

"Oh, I didn't know you meant that way!" and now Nan, herself, began to laugh. Of course Flossie and Freddie joined in, though I am not sure that they knew what the joke was all about, but they were having fun in the snow and that was all they cared for.

It was a fine snow storm, at least for the Bobbsey twins and the other children of Lakeport. It was not too cold, and the white flakes had come down so fast that there was now enough snow to make many snow men and snowballs, and leave plenty for coasting down hill.

The Bobbsey twins had hurried out to play in the snow as soon as they got home from school, and now they were having fine fun. Snap, their dog, was playing with them, leaping about in the drifts, diving through them, as the Bobbsey twins had seen swimmers dive through waves down at the seashore and Snap would come out on the other side of the drift all covered with white flakes, as though he were a snow dog.

Dear old Dinah, the fat, jolly, good-natured colored cook, who had been with the Bobbseys many years, stood at the window looking at the children having fun in the snow.

"Why doesn't yo' go out an' jine 'em?" she asked, as she looked at a sleek cat that was curled up asleep near the stove. "Why doesn't yo' go out in de snow? Dat's whut I asks yo', Snoop," went on Dinah. "Dar dey is--Flossie an' Freddie an' Nan an' Bert. An' Snap's out wif 'em, too. Why don't yo' go out an' jine de party?"

But Snoop seemed to like it better by the warm fire. He didn't want to "jine" any party, as Dinah called it. Snoop didn't like snow or water.

"Well, shall we make a snow man?" asked Bert, as he raced about with Snap, making the dog chase after sticks which would become buried deep under the snow, where Snap had to dig them out. But the dog liked this.

"Let's make a snow house. I think that would be more fun," said Nan.

"Oh, yes, and I can get my doll, and we can have a play party in the snow house," cried Flossie.

"Can't we take the snow man into the snow house?" Freddie wanted to know. "That'll be more fun than dolls. And we can make believe the snow house gets on fire, and I'll be a fireman and put it out. Oh, let's play that!" he cried, his eyes shining in fun.

"Yes, anything like playing fireman suits you," returned Bert. "But it would be pretty hard even to pretend a snow house was burning. Snow can't catch fire, Freddie!"

"Well, we could make believe!" said the little fellow. "Anyhow, I'm going to start to make a snow man, and you can make the snow house."

"And I'll get my doll!" added Flossie, starting toward the house, her little fat legs and feet making holes in the snow drifts as she tried to hurry along.

"Wait, I'll carry you," offered Nan. "You're getting so fat, little fairy, that you'll look like a snow man yourself, if you keep on."

"Are snow mans always fat?" asked Flossie.

"They always seem to be," Nan said, as she lifted up her little sister in her arms. Snap, the dog, came flurrying through the snow after them. "My, I can hardly carry you!" panted Nan, for Flossie was indeed growing fast, and was heavy.

However, Nan managed to carry Flossie over to a path Mr. Bobbsey had told Sam, who was Dinah's husband, to shovel through the snow that morning. It was easier for Flossie to walk on the shoveled path, so Nan put her down.

The two girls went into the house, Flossie to get her doll, while Nan went to the kitchen and said something to Dinah, the fat, jolly cook.

"Suah, I gibs 'em to yo'!" exclaimed Dinah, laughing all over at Nan's question. "I'll put 'em in a bag, so's yo'all won't spill 'em!"

And when Flossie was ready to go out again with her doll, Nan went with her, carrying a bag, at which Snap sniffed hungrily.

"What you got?" asked the little girl.

"Oh, you'll see pretty soon," Nan answered,

"Is it a secret?" Flossie kept on teasing.

"Sort of secret," Nan answered.

When the two girls reached the place where they had left the two boys, Bert was beginning to make a snow house and Freddie was rolling a snowball as the start of a snow man. You know how they are made; a small snowball for the man's head, and a larger one for his body, with legs underneath. Freddie hoped Bert would help him when it came to the big snowball part of it.

"Is the snow house ready?" asked Flossie, who had gone in especially to get her doll, so she might have a "play party."

"Oh, no, it takes a good while to make a snow house," Bert said. "I don't believe I'll get it done before night if you don't help me."

"I'll help," offered Flossie. "Can I make the chimbley?"

"They don't have chimbleys on a snow house!" declared Freddie, pausing in his rolling of the snowball. "They don't have chimbleys on snow houses, 'cause they don't have fires in 'em; do they Bert?"

"That's right, Freddie," agreed the older boy. "But maybe, if Flossie wants it, we could put a make-believe chimney on the snow house."

"Oh, I do want it--awful much!" cried Flossie. "Come on, Nan, you help Bert make the snow house, and then we can all play in it.

"And you've got to let my snow man come in!" cried Freddie.

"Yes, we'll let him come in if you don't make him too big," agreed Bert, with a laugh.

Bert and Nan, the older Bobbsey twins, generally did what they could to please Flossie and Freddie, who sometimes wanted their own way too much.

"I guess I'll help make the snow house first," went on Freddie, walking away from the snowball he had partly rolled. "After that I'll make the man. It's better to make the house first, and then I'll know how big I can make the man."

"Yes, that would be a good idea, little fireman!" returned Bert, with a laugh and a look at Nan. And then Bert caught sight of the bag in his sister's hand--the bag around which Snap was sniffing so hungrily.

"What have you, Nan?" asked Bert, pausing in the midst of shoveling snow in a heap for the start of the snow house.

"Oh--something!" and Nan smiled.

"Something good?" Bert went on.

"I guess they're good," Nan said, smiling. "I haven't tasted 'em yet, but Dinah nearly always makes good cookies!"

"Oh, have you got some of Dinah's cookies?" cried Bert, dropping the shovel, and running toward Nan. "Give me some! Please!"

"I want some, too!" cried Flossie.

"So do I!" chimed in Freddie.

Snap didn't say anything, but from the way he barked and leaped about I am sure he, too, wanted some of the cookies.

"Dinah gave me enough for all of us," said Nan, as she opened the bag. "Yes, and there's a broken piece off one that you can have," she went on to Snap, the dog.

Beginning with Flossie, then handing one to Freddie, next passing a cookie to Bert and helping herself last, as was polite, Nan gave out the cookies. Forgotten, now, were snow houses, snow men, snowballs, and even Flossie's doll. The Bobbsey twins were eating Dinah's cookies.

They had each begun on the second helping, when suddenly a loud crash sounded, which seemed to come from the direction of the railroad tracks which ran not far from the Bobbsey home. The crash was followed by loud shouting.

"I wonder what that was?" cried Bert.

"Sounded like thunder," returned Nan.

"Let's go and see," said Bert.

Just as they were starting from the yard, Charley Mason, a boy who lived farther up the street, on the hill, came running along.

"Oh, you ought to see it!" he cried, his eyes big with wonder.

"See what?" asked Bert.

"Smash-up on the railroad, down in the rocky cut!" answered Charlie. "Two engines smashed together, and the cars are all busted! I saw it from the top of the hill! I'm going down! Come on!"