Chapter XXI. The Falling Tree
 

How the wind did blow! How the snow swirled and drifted about the old farmhouse! But within it all were warm and comfortable. The fire on the open hearth was kept roaring tip the chimney, Sam piling on log after log. In the cozy kitchen Dinah kept at her work over the range, singing old plantation melodies.

The blowing wind and the drifting snow kept up all day. Flossie and Freddie begged to be allowed to go out for a little while, but their mother would not think of it. Bert and Harry tried to go a little way beyond the barn but were driven back by the cold, wintry blasts. Dorothy and Nan managed to have a good time in the attic of the old house, dressing up In some clothes of a by-gone age, which they found in some trunks.

"My! I hope the chimneys don't blow off!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey, as a particularly fierce blast shook the old house. "A fire now would be dreadful."

"I don't imagine there is much danger," said Mr. Bobbsey, with a laugh. "The way they built houses and chimneys when Snow Lodge was put up was different from nowadays. They were built to stay."

"Oh, but this is a terrible storm!"

"Yes, and it seems to be getting worse," agreed Mr. Bobbsey. "I hope no one is out in it. But, as I said, we have plenty to eat, and wood to keep us warm, and that is all we can ask."

The day slowly passed, but toward afternoon Flossie and Freddie grew fretful from having been kept in. They were used to going out of doors in almost any kind of weather.

"Come on up in the attic with us," suggested Nan, "and we'll have a sort of circus."

"And Snap can do tricks," cried Freddie, "and I'll give an exhibition with my fire engine."

"Of course!" exclaimed Dorothy, and the little Bobbsey twins forgot their fretfulness in a new series of games.

Harder blew the wind, and fiercer fell the snow. The path Mr. Bobbsey had shoveled was soon filled up again. Out at the back door was a drift that covered the rear stoop.

"If this keeps up we will be snowed in," said Mr. Bobbsey to his wife, as they prepared to lock up for the night.

They were gathered around the big open fire, popping corn and roasting apples, when a louder blast of wind than ever shook the house.

"Oh, what a night!" said Mrs. Bobbsey, with a shudder. "I wish we were in our home again!"

Hardly had she spoken than there came a fearful crash, and the whole house trembled. At the same time a blast of cold wind swept through it, scattering the fire on the hearth.

"Oh, what was that?" cried Mrs. Bobbsey.

"That old apple tree, at the corner of the house," said Mr. Bobbsey. "The storm has blown it over, and it has smashed a corner of the Lodge. Don't be afraid. We'll be all right," and he ran to close the door, to keep out the cold wind.