Chapter XX. The Big Storm
 

For a moment they all looked at one another by turns. Flossie and Freddie showed the most alarm. Bert started for the outside door, as though intending to make a search for his pet. Mr. Bobbsey questioned Dinah.

"Are you sure," he asked, "that Snap isn't around?"

"I suah am suah," she replied. "I done called him to git suffin to eat, an' when Snap won't come fo' dat he ain't around."

"That's so," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "I wonder if he could have followed after us, and got lost? Did any of you see him trailing us?"

"He did come a little way, when we started," came from Dorothy.

"Yes, but Dinah called him back; didn't you?" asked Nan of the cook.

"Yes, missis, dat's what I did. An' Snap come. Den, t' make suah he wouldn't sneak off an' foller yo'-all, I shut him up in de kitchen an' gibe him a chicken bone. Arter a while I let him out. He run around, kinder disappointed like, an' come back. Den I didn't look fo' him until a little while ago, but he was gone, an' I thought maybe, arter all, he'd come wif yo'."

"No, he didn't," said Mr. Bobbsey, with a shake of his head. "But we'll have a look around."

With Bert and Harry he went outside. But neither calling nor whistling brought any bark from Snap. Nor did he come bounding joyfully up, as he usually did when summoned. The darkness about Snow Lodge was quiet. There was no sign of Snap.

"He's gone off in the woods and is lost," said Harry.

"Snap knows better than to get lost," declared Bert. "He could find his way home from almost anywhere. I think he must have followed someone away."

"Would he do that?" asked Harry.

"He might with someone he knew, if that person petted him," said Mr. Bobbsey.

"That hunter--Henry Burdock!" suddenly exclaimed Bert. "Snap made great friends with him when we met him out in the woods the other day, and Henry said he'd make a fine hunting dog."

"I don't believe Henry Burdock would entice our dog away," said Mr. Bobbsey, with a shake of his head.

"Oh, of course I didn't mean on purpose," said Bert. "But Snap may have been running about in the woods at dusk when he met Henry. Then he may have followed him, for Snap is part hunting dog, and he gets crazy when he sees a gun. Maybe he followed Henry, and wouldn't be driven back through the snow."

"Maybe that's so," agreed Mr. Bobbsey. "In that case Snap will be all right, and we can get him in the morning. So don't worry any more."

They went back in the Lodge, to find Freddie and Flossie almost in tears. But the little twins felt better when it was explained to them that Snap might, after all, be safe with the young hunter.

"And will you get him first thing in the morning?" asked Freddie.

The following day was so nice that Flossie and Freddie were allowed to go with Bert, Nan, Harry and Dorothy to the cabin of Henry Burdock to look for Snap. The small twins were put on two sleds, the older children taking turns pulling them.

They easily found Henry's cabin, having been there several times since the night they spent in it. The hunter was just about to start off on a trip.

"Where's Snap?" called Bert, eagerly.

"Snap? I haven't seen him since that day I met you with him in the woods," answered the hunter.

"What! Isn't he here?" asked Harry.

Then they told of the missing dog. But Henry Burdock had not seen him.

"Where can he be?" spoke Nan, wonderingly.

Flossie and Freddie began to cry.

"Oh, a bear has Snap!" wailed Flossie.

"No, he hasn't!" declared Bert. "We'll find him."

"But where can he be?" said Dorothy. "Is there anyone else around here who might take him?"

Bert and Nan thought of the same thing at the same time.

"Danny Rugg!" they exclaimed.

"What do you mean?" asked Henry Burdock.

"He's a mean boy who is camping with his father near us," explained Bert. "Harry and I pelted him good with snowballs the other day, after he bothered us. I think he has enticed Snap away."

"Would your dog go with him?"

"Yes, he's friendly with Danny, for sometimes Danny is fairly good, and comes to our house. If he offered Snap a nice bone our dog might go with him."

"Then I advise you to have a look over where Danny is camping," said the young hunter.

It was quite a trip back to Snow Lodge and then over to the Rugg lumber camp, and Mrs. Bobbsey thought it too far to take Flossie and Freddie, so they were left behind on the second trip, Nan and Dorothy going with Bert and Harry.

They saw Danny Rugg standing in front of a log cabin which was on the edge of a lumber camp. The bully seemed uneasy at the sight of Harry and Bert, and called out:

"If you're coming here to make any trouble I'll tell my father on you. He's right over there."

"We're not going to make any trouble, Danny Rugg, if you don't," said Bert slowly, "But we came for Snap, our dog."

"I don't know anything about your dog," answered Danny, in surly tones.

"I think you do," said Bert, quietly. Then raising his voice, he called:

"Snap! Snap! Where are you, old fellow? Snap!"

There was a moment of silence, and then, from a small cabin some distance away, came loud barks.

"There's Snap! That's our dog!" cried Nan, joyfully, and at the sound of her voice the barking grew louder. There could also be heard the rattling of a chain.

"You've got him tied, Danny Rugg!" cried Bert, angrily. "Let him go at once or I'll hit you!"

"Don't you dare touch me!" cried the bully. "And you get off our land!"

"Not until I get my dog," said Bert, firmly.

He started for the cabin where the dog was, but Danny stepped in front of him. Bert shoved Danny to one side, and just then Mr. Rugg came up.

"Here! What does this mean?" he asked. "Bert Bobbsey, you here?"

"Yes, sir. I came after my dog. Danny has him tied up!"

"Danny, is this so?" asked Mr. Rugg, who knew some of his son's mean ways, and had tried in vain to break him of them. "Have you Bert's dog?"

"Well, maybe it is his dog. It was dark when he followed me home last night, and I tied him in that shack."

"I guess he wouldn't have followed you if you hadn't coaxed him," said Bert.

"Well, I couldn't drive him back," went on Danny, but the Bobbseys believed that he had deliberately coaxed Snap off to make trouble.

"Let the dog out at once," said Mr. Rugg to his son, and Danny had to do so, though he was angry and sullen over it.

How Snap leaped about his master and mistress and their cousins! How delightedly he barked! And his tail wagged to and fro so fast that it looked like two tails, as Freddie said afterward.

"Poor Snap!" said Bert, as he patted his pet "And so you were tied up all night? It was a mean trick!" and his eyes flashed at Danny, who looked on sneeringly.

"I am sorry for this, Bert," said Mr. Rugg. "If I had known Danny enticed away your dog I would have made him bring it back. Now I am going to punish him. You go back home to-day, Danny. You can't stay in the lumber camp any longer."

Danny felt badly, of course, but it served him right.

The Bobbseys and their cousins lost no time for getting back to Snow Lodge with Snap, who was hugged so much by Flossie and Freddie that Dinah said:

"Good land a' massy! Dat dog must be mos' starved, an' yo'-all is lubbin him so dat he ain't time to eat a sandwich. Let him hab some breakfast, an' den hug him!"

"Oh, but we like him so!" cried Flossie.

So Snap was restored, and Danny was sent home out of the woods, so there was no more trouble from him.

In the days that followed, the Bobbsey twins at Snow Lodge had many more good times. They made snow forts, and had snow-battles, they made big snow men and threw snowballs at them, and went on sleigh rides, or skated and ice-boated and played around generally, to their hearts' content.

Occasionally the two older boys went on long tramps with Henry Burdock as he visited his traps. They invited him to come to Snow Lodge, but he said:

"No, I'm never coming there until I can prove to my uncle that I never touched his money. Then I'll come."

One day, when Bert and Harry had been in the woods with the young hunter, he said to them:

"Don't go far away from Snow Lodge tomorrow, boys."

"Why not?" asked Bert.

"Because I think we're in for a big storm, and you might easily get lost again. Unless I'm mistaken, it's going to snow hard before morning."

Henry Burdock proved a true weather prophet, for when the Bobbseys and the other got up the next morning the ground was covered with a mantle of newly-fallen snow, and more was sifting down from the clouds. The wind, too, was blowing fiercely.

"It's going to be a bad storm," said Mr. Bobbsey, looking out after breakfast. "Luckily we have plenty of wood and plenty to eat."

The wind howled around Snow Lodge while the white flakes came down thicker and faster.

"Maybe we'll be snowed in," said Nan.

"That would be fun!" cried Bert.