Chapter XIX. Snap is Gone
 

Dorothy screamed, and turned back toward Nan when she saw Bert struck with the snowball. But plucky Nan kept on.

"That must be Danny Rugg!" cried Bert's sister. "No one else around here would be as mean as that!"

Bert stopped a moment to brush the snow from his eyes, and then he rushed toward the tree.

"Who is it?" cried Harry.

"I don't know--but I'm going to fed out," was Bert's answer. "Come along!"

The two boys hurried on, the girls lingering in the rear.

Again a snowball flew out of the tree, but it struck no one, though coming near to Nan.

By this time Bert was close to the tree. It was a hemlock, and the branches were quite thick, but Bert got a glimpse of someone hiding among them.

"Come down out of that!" Bert cried. "I see you!"

There was no answer.

"What do you mean by hitting us?" asked Harry angrily. "We didn't do anything to you."

Still there was no answer.

"I'm going to do some snowballing on my own account," spoke Bert. "Here goes!"

He quickly made a hard ball, and, circling around the tree to find an opening in the branches, he saw the figure of the boy more plainly.

"Danny Rugg!" cried Bert. "So it's you; is it? First you start a snowslide down on us and then you snowball us. This has got to stop. Take that!"

Bert threw, but though his aim was good, Danny, for it was the bully, managed to climb up higher in the tree, and the snowball broke into pieces against the branches.

"Ha! Ha!" laughed Danny.

"Oh, there's plenty more snow," said Harry, "and you can't have an awful lot up there."

His answer was another snowball, which struck him on the shoulder, doing no harm. Danny must have taken some snow-ammunition up the tree with him, and, in addition, there was a supply of the white flakes on the wide branches of the hemlock.

Bert and Harry both began throwing snowballs up into the tree, but they were at a disadvantage, for their missiles broke to pieces against the trunk or branches. On the other hand Danny could wait his chance and hit them when they came within sight.

"This won't do!" exclaimed Bert, after a bit. "We've got to get him out of that tree."

"How can we?" asked Harry. "Climb up it, and pull him down?"

"Oh, don't do that!" cried Nan. "You might get hurt."

"Yes, that would be risky," admitted Bert. "One of us might slip and fall. Hey you, Danny Rugg!" cried Bert. "Come on down, and we'll give you a fair show. Only one of us will tackle you at a time."

"Huh! Think I'm coming down?" asked Danny. "I'm not afraid of you, but I'm going to stay up here."

"Oh, are you?" asked Bert, as he thought of a new plan. "We'll see about that. Come here, Harry."

From the tree Danny looked down anxiously while Harry and Bert whispered together. The girls had walked off to one side.

"How are you going to get him down?" asked Harry.

"Cut the tree," answered Bert. "It's only a small one."

"But we can't even cut that down with our knives."

"I know. But on the ice-boat is that hatchet father gave me to take to be sharpened. I forgot about it on the way up the lake, and I was going to do it on the way back. There's a blacksmith shop in the big cove. But the hatchet is sharp enough to chop down this tree. We'll get it and give Danny a good scare."

"That's what we will. You stay here and I'll run down and get it."

Harry started off on a run, and Danny, still up the tree, wondered what plan was afoot. The bully had been out for a walk when he saw Bert and the others coming up the hill. He quickly climbed the tree in order to throw snowballs at them.

When Harry came back with the hatchet Bert once more called to Danny.

"Are you coming down and fight fair? I give you my promise that only one of us will tackle you at a time. You can have your choice."

"I'm not coming down!" cried Danny.

"Chop away, Harry!" called Bert. "I guess I can pepper him with a few snowballs if he tries to throw any at you."

The tree trunk was not very thick, and the hatchet was fairly sharp. In a little while the tree began swaying.

"I say now, stop that!" cried Danny, trying to get a better hold in the branches.

"Better come down before you fall," suggested Bert, who had a pile of snowballs ready.

The tree swayed more and more. Bert and Harry knew that even if Danny fell with it fie could not get hurt in the soft drifts. So Harry kept on chopping.

The tree swayed more and more. There was a cracking sound. Then Danny cried:

"Don't chop any more--I'm coming down!"

"Get ready, Harry!" called Bert. "We'll give him some of the same kind of a thing he gave us!"

In another instant Danny jumped, and as the swaying tree sprang back, when relieved of his weight, Bert and Harry leaped forward to pelt the bully with snowballs.

Danny tried to fight back, but he was no match for the two of them, and soon he began to look like a snow image, so well was he plastered with white flakes.

"Give it to him!" cried Bert, whose face still stung where Danny had struck him with a snowball.

"That's what I will," agreed Harry, whose ear was quite sore.

For a time Danny said nothing, but tried to block off the rain of snowballs, throwing some of his own back. Then, as he was almost overwhelmed by the ones Harry and Bert threw, the bully cried:

"Stop! Stop! I've had enough! I won't bother you any more!"

Danny was soon out of sight, running off in the direction of his father's lumber tract, and soon Bert and the others went back to the ice-boat.

They stopped at the blacksmith shop to have the hatchet, and reached home after a little sail on the Ice Bird.

"Did anything happen this time?" asked Freddie, as he greeted them on the return to Snow Lodge.

"Not much," replied Bert. "We just had a snow fight; that's all."

The skating and ice-boating lasted for some time, and the girls and boys had lots of fun. Nights were spent in popping corn, telling stories, roasting apples, and once, in the big sled, they all went to an entertainment in a nearby school hall.

It was on returning from this, in the evening, that Dinah met them at the door, asking:

"Did yo' all take dat dog Snap wif yo?"

"Take Snap? No," said Mr. Bobbsey.

"Isn't he here?"

The children began to look alarmed.

"He was here," said Dinah, "but I can't find him now, nohow. He suah am missin'."