Chapter XXII. The Missing Money
 

"What happened?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, when her husband had come back after going out to take a look around. "Is the house safe?"

"As safe as ever," he answered. "Just as I told you, the old apple tree blew over, and smashed the corner of the house near this living room. That's why we felt the crash so. But there is no great harm done. We can keep this door closed and not use that other part of the house at all. We have room enough without it. The wind and storm can't get at us here."

"I suah 'nuff thought de house was comin' down," said Dinah, who had run in from the kitchen at the sound of the crash.

"It was a hard blow," said Bert "Look, all the ashes are scattered," and he pointed to where the wind had blown them about the hearth.

Dinah soon swept them up, however, and more wood was put on the fire, and the Bobbseys were as comfortable as before. The part of the house which had been smashed by the tree was closed off from the rest.

Soon it was time to go to bed, but all night long the storm raged, making Snow Lodge tremble in the blast. Everyone was up early in the morning to see by daylight what damage had been done.

The sun rose clear, for the storm had passed. But oh? what a lot of snow there was! In big drifts it was scattered all over the place, and one side door was snowed in completely; and could not be opened. Sam had to shovel a lot of snow away from the kitchen steps before Dinah could go out.

"Let's go see where the tree fell," suggested Bert to Harry, when they were dressed, Nan and Dorothy joined them. They went to the corner of the house and there saw a strange sight. The old apple tree lay partly in the room into which it had crashed through the side of the house. And much snow had blown in also.

This room, however, was little used, except for storage, and there was nothing in it to be damaged save some old furniture. Bert and Harry made their way into the apartment, and the girls followed.

They were looking about at the odd sight, when something in a corner of the room, along the wall that was next to the living room, where the Bobbseys had spent the evening, caught Bert's eyes. He went toward it. He picked up a roll of what seemed to be green paper. It had been in a crack of the wall that had been made wider by the falling tree.

"Oh, look?" he cried. "What is this? Why, it's money!"

"A roll of bills!" added Harry, looking over his cousin's shoulder.

Slowly Bert unrolled them. There seemed to be considerable money there. One bill was for a hundred dollars.

"Where did it come from?" asked Nan.

"From a crack in the wall," spoke her brother. "It must have slipped down, and the falling tree made the crack wider, so I could see it."

"I wonder who could have put it there?" said Dorothy.

Bert and Nan looked at each other. The same thought came into their minds.

"The missing money!" cried Bert, "The roll of bills that Mr. Carford thought his nephew took! Can this be it?"

"Oh, if it only is!" murmured Nan. "Let's tell papa right away!"

Carrying the money so strangely found, the young folks went into the house where Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey were. The roll of bills was shown, and Mr. Bobbsey was much surprised.

"Do you think this can be the money Mr. Carford lost?" asked Bert.

"I shouldn't be surprised," said Mr. Bobbsey, quickly. "I'll take a look. Mr. Carford said he left it on the mantel in the living room And you found it in the room back of that I'll look."

Quickly he examined the mantel. Then he said:

"Yes, that's how it happened. There is a crack up here, and the money must have slipped down into it. All these years it has been in between the walls, until the falling tree made a break and showed where it was. Mr. Carford was mistaken. His nephew did not take the money. I always said so. It fell into the crack, and remained hidden until the storm showed where it was."

"Oh, how glad I am!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey. "Now Henry's name can be cleared! Oh, if he were only here to know the good news!"

There seemed to be no doubt of it. Years before Mr. Carford had placed the money on the shelf of the living room. He probably did not know of the crack into which it slipped. The roll of bills had gone down between the walls, and only the breaking of them when the tree fell on the house brought the money to light.

"It is a strange thing," said Mr. Bobbsey. "The missing money is found after all these years, and in such a queer way! We must tell Henry as soon as possible, and Mr. Carford also."

Suddenly there came a knock on the door. Bert went to it and gave a cry of surprise. There stood the young hunter--Henry Burdock.

"I came over to see if you were all right," he said. "We have had a fearful storm. Part of my cabin was blown away, and I wondered how you fared at Snow Lodge. Are you all right?"

"Yes, Henry, we are," said Mr. Bobbsey, "And the storm was a good thing for you."

"I don't see how. My cabin is spoiled. I'll have to build it over again."

"You won't have to, Henry. You can come to live at Snow Lodge now."

"Never. Not until my name is cleared. I will never come to Snow Lodge until the missing money is found, and my uncle says I did not take it."

"Then you can come now, Henry," cried Mr. Bobbsey, holding out the roll of bills. "For the money is found and we can clear your name!"

"Is it possible!" exclaimed the young hunter, in great and joyful surprise. "Oh, bow I have prayed for this! The money found! Where was it? How did you find it?"

Then the story was told, the children having their share in it.

"I can't tell you how thankful I am," said the young hunter. "This means a lot to me. Now my uncle will know I am not a thief. I must go and tell him at once."

"No, I'll go," said Mr. Bobbsey. "I want to prove to him that I was right, after all, in saying you were innocent. You stay here until I bring him."

Mr. Bobbsey went off in the big sled with Sam to drive the horses. It was a hard trip, on account of the drifts, but finally Newton was reached and Mr. Carford found. At first he could hardly believe that the money was found, but when he saw and counted it, finding it exactly the same as when he had put it on the shelf years before, he knew that he had done wrong in accusing Henry.

"And I'll tell him so, too," he said. "I'll beg his pardon, and he and I will live together again. Oh, how happy I am! Now I can go to Snow Lodge with a light heart."

Uncle and nephew met, and clasped hands while tears stood in their eyes. After years of suffering they were friends again. It was a happy, loving time for all.

"And I'll never be so hasty again," said Mr. Carford. "Oh, what a happy day this is, after the big storm! We must have a big celebration. I know what I'll do. I'll get up a party, and invite all the people in this part of the country. They all know that I accused Henry of taking that money. Now they must know that he did not. I will admit my mistake."

And that is what Mr. Carford did. He sent out many invitations to an old-fashioned party at Snow Lodge. The place where the tree had crashed through, to show the missing money, was boarded up, and the house made cozy again.

Then came the party, and the Bobbseys were the guests of honor-- particularly the twins and their cousins, for it was due to them, in a great measure, that the money had been found.

Mr. Carford stood up before everyone and admitted how wrong he had been in saying his nephew had taken the money.

"But all our troubles are ended now," he said, "and Henry and I will live in Snow Lodge together. And we will always be glad to see you here--all of you--and most especially--the Bobbseys."

"Three cheers for the Bobbsey twins!" someone called.

The children were pleased at this praise. They did not know that soon they would be helping some other people. You may read about this in "The Bobbsey Twins on a Houseboat."

Then followed a fine feast--a happy time for all, while Henry and his uncle received the good wishes of their friends and neighbors.

Snap raced about, barking and wagging his tail. Bert, Nan, Dorothy, Harry and Freddie and Flossie were here, there, everywhere, telling how the tree had blown down, and how they had found the money.

"Dear old Snow Lodge!" said Nan, when the party was over, and the guests gone. "We will have to leave it soon!"

"But perhaps we can come back some time," said Nan.

"I'd like to," agreed Bert. "Next winter I am going to build a bigger ice-boat, and sail all over the lake."

"And we'll make regular snowshoes, and go hunting in the woods," said Harry.

"But it will be summer before it is winter again," said Freddie. "I'm going to have a motor boat and ride in it. And I'll take my fire engine along, and pump water."

"Can I come, with my doll?" asked Flossie.

"Yes, you may all come!" exclaimed Mamma Bobbsey, as she hugged the two little twins.

"And don't forget," said Mr. Carford, "that Snow Lodge is open in the summer as well as in the winter. I expect you Bobbsey twins to visit me once in a while. I never can thank you enough for finding that missing money."

"Neither can I," said Henry.

And now that the story is all told, we will say good-bye to the Bobbsey twins and their friends.

THE END