Chapter XV. Bill Dayton
 

"Look out there! Look out!"

Bert and Nan Bobbsey, standing near a big stump, heard some one shout this to Flossie and Freddie as the two small Bobbsey twins looked up at the great tree which was slowly falling toward them. And then Bert and Nan added their voices to the shout which came from they knew not whom.

"Oh, Flossie! Run! Run!" cried Nan.

"Come here, Freddie! Come here!" yelled Bert.

The two small children did not really know they were in danger. There was so much to see in the woods, and they were so interested in watching the big tree fall, that they did not know it might fall right on them and crush them.

"Oh, what shall we do? What shall we do?" sobbed Nan, for she was crying now, for fear her little brother and sister would be hurt.

"I'll get 'em!" exclaimed Bert.

He started to run toward Flossie and Freddie, but he never could have reached them in time to snatch them out of the way of the falling tree.

However, there was some one else in the forest who knew just what to do and when to do it. There was another cry from some unseen man.

"Stand still! Don't move!" he shouted.

Then there was a crackling in the underbrush, and some one rushed out at Flossie and Freddie, who were standing under the tree looking up at the tottering trunk which was slowly falling toward them.

If the two little children had been alone in the woods they might have thought that the crackling and crashing in the underbrush was made by a bear breaking his way toward them. But they were not thinking of bears, just then.

In another instant Bert and Nan saw a man, dressed as were nearly all the "lumberjacks," spring down a little hill and rush at Flossie and Freddie. As for the two small Bobbsey twins themselves, they had no time to see anything very clearly. The first they knew they were caught up in the man's arms, Freddie on one side and Flossie on the other. That big, strong lumberman just tucked Freddie under his left arm and Flossie under his right and then he gave a jump and a leap that carried them all out of danger.

And only just in time, too! For no sooner had the lumberman picked up the two children and leaped off the path with them into a little cleared space than down crashed the big tree!

It made a sound like the boom of a big gun, or like the pounding of the giant waves in a storm at the seashore, where once the Bobbsey twins had spent a vacation.

Down crashed the big tree, breaking off smaller trees and bushes that were in its way. Down it fell, raising a big cloud of dust, and Flossie and Freddie, still held in the arms of the big man, saw it fall. But they were far enough away to escape getting hurt, though some pieces of bark and a shower of leaves scattered over them. The lumbermen had snatched them out of danger just in time.

"Oh! Oh! They're all right! They're saved!" gasped Nan, no longer crying now that she saw Flossie and Freddie were not hurt.

"Whew! That was pretty near a bad accident," said Bert, who had stopped running toward his brother and sister when he saw that the lumberman was going to get them.

As for the two little children themselves, they were so surprised at first that they did not know what to think. One moment they had been looking up at a big tree, wondering why it was toppling over toward them as they had sometimes seen their tall towers of building blocks fall. The next instant they had heard somebody rushing toward them out of the woods, they had felt themselves caught up in strong arms, and now they were being set down at a safe distance away from the fallen tree by a big man.

Flossie and Freddie looked at the big trunk which had crashed down. Then they saw Bert and Nan coming toward them. Next they looked up at the big lumberman.

"Who are you?" asked Freddie.

"That's just what I was going to ask you," replied the big man, with a laugh. "I think I can guess, though. You are the Bobbsey twins, aren't you? That is you're half of them, and the other half is over there," and he pointed to Bert and Nan who were walking toward Flossie and Freddie.

"Yes, we're the Bobbsey twins," answered Freddie. "We've come to the lumber camp. My mother--she owns it."

"So I've heard," the man said. "Well, if I were you I wouldn't go off by myself among the trees again. You never can tell when one is going to fall down. The man who cut this one should have stayed and finished it, and not have left it to fall with the first puff of wind. I must speak to him about it. And now I had better take you to your father and mother. Where are they?"

"We'll take them back, thank you," said Nan, who, with Bert, came up just then.

"Yes, we want to thank you a lot for getting them out of the way of the falling tree," went on Bert.

"It was the only way to save them," replied the lumberman. "I couldn't make them understand they must step back out of danger, so I had to rush to them and grab them. I'm afraid I did it pretty roughly, but I didn't mean to."

"You pinched me a little," said Flossie, speaking for the first time. "But I don't care. I wouldn't want that tree to hit me."

"I should say not!" exclaimed the lumberman. "We don't want the Bobbsey twins to get hurt."

"How'd you know our names are Bobbsey?" asked Freddie. "Are you a policeman? If you are, where's your brass buttons?"

"No, I'm not a policeman," answered the lumberman. "I suppose, in the city where you came from, all the policemen know you. But I guessed who you were because I sent a man to the depot to-day to meet the Bobbsey family, and you must belong to it."

"We do," explained Bert. "Our father and mother are back in the camp-- at the log cabin, you know."

"Yes, I know where it is very well," said the man, with a smile. "And, just to make sure you children won't go near any other trees that are ready to fall, I'll go back with you. I want to see Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey, anyhow."

"Do you work here?" asked Bert.

"Yes, I think you could call it that," answered the man, with a smile.

He took Flossie and Freddie by the hands, and they walked along with him, while Bert and Nan followed. On the way back to the camp, or place where the log cabins and other shacks were built, they met a man coming along with an axe on his shoulder.

"That big tree fell down," said the man who had saved the Bobbsey twins. "After this don't go away and leave a trunk nearly chopped through. These children might have been hurt."

"I'm sorry," said the man with the axe. "I won't do it again. But, just as I was going to finish chopping it down, one of the boys needed help with his team, and I ran to him. I forgot all about the big tree."

"Well, don't forget again," said the man who had saved Flossie and Freddie.

As the Bobbseys walked along with their new friend they saw their father and mother coming toward them.

"Bert, Nan, where have you been?" asked their mother.

"Off in the woods," Bert answered.

"And we saw a big tree fall down and it 'most falled on us!" added Flossie.

"But he pulled us out from under it! Didn't you?" went on Freddie, and he looked up at the big man in the big boots, who wore a red shirt like the other lumbermen.

"What's that?" asked Mr. Bobbsey. "Were you children near a falling tree?"

"That's what they were--too near for comfort," said the man as he let go of the hands of Flossie and Freddie, so the small Bobbsey twins might run to their mother. "It was careless of one of the men to leave a tree half chopped through. But no harm is done. I managed to get the kiddies out of the way in time."

Mr. Bobbsey must have guessed how it happened, for he shook hands heartily with the lumberman.

"I can't thank you enough," said the children's father. "You saved Flossie and Freddie from being hurt, if not killed! Do you work here?"

"I'm the foreman," answered the man quietly.

"Oh, we have been looking for you," said Bert's mother. "I am Mrs. Bobbsey."

"That's what I guessed, lady," answered the man. "I am glad to meet you. I've been expecting you."

"So you are the foreman," said Mr. Bobbsey slowly. "May I ask your name?"

The man seemed to wait a few seconds before answering. Then he looked away over the tops of the trees and said:

"Bill Dayton."

And his voice sounded rather strange, Mrs. Bobbsey thought.