Chapter X. Down the Creek
 

"There goes Snoop!"

"Oh, somebody get her!"

Nan and Dorothy both shouted at the same time. As for Bert, he was so surprised at having caught a fish, and at seeing the cat slide off the deck with it, that he could say nothing. It was almost the same with Harry. He had jumped to his feet, however, and had run toward Snoop, but too late.

Then, all of a sudden, Snap, with a loud bark, gave one spring, and the next moment he had jumped right over the deck railing, under which Snoop had slid. Right over it went Snap, and down into the lake. For he knew that Snoop had fallen in, and, being the kind of a dog that asks nothing better than to save something, or somebody, from the water, Snap was right on hand.

"Oh, my doll! My doll!" cried Flossie. "Snap is taking my doll into the lake with him! Come back, Snap! Come back!"

Snap did not stop to listen. He had, indeed, taken Flossie's doll with him. He had been holding it on his front paws as Snoop slid overboard, and, as he gave a jump, Snap did not come down on all four legs. He jumped while he was yet standing on his hind ones, and of course the doll went over the rail with him.

"What has happened?" cried Mrs. Bobbsey, as she heard the screaming, and the splashes in the water. "Have any of the children fallen in?" For she had gone to another part of the deck, with Dinah, out of sight of the twins for a moment. Now she came hurrying back, and a single look showed her that the children were all safe.

"What has happened?" she asked again.

"As nearly as I can figure out," said Mr. Bobbsey, "Bert caught a fish, Snoop tried to get it and fell into the water, and now Snap has gone in after Snoop."

"And Snap has my doll! She'll get all wet--she'll be drowned!" cried Flossie.

"I'll get her for you," offered Harry. But just now they were all anxious to see what Snap and Snoop did. Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey and the children looked over the side of the houseboat. They saw the black cat swimming about in the lake, and Snap, who was a fine water-dog, was paddling toward her.

"Hadn't you better stop the boat?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, for the Bluebird was slowly floating away from the dog and the cat.

"Yes, I guess it would be best," said Mr. Bobbsey. So he called out:

"Captain! Captain White! Stop the boat! Something overboard!"

Down in the little motor room Mr. White heard the shout, and he at once shut off the gasoline engine. Then he came up on deck as fast as his lame leg would let him, to see what was wrong.

"What's that you say?" he asked. "Somebody fell overboard?"

"The dog and the cat," explained Mr. Bobbsey. "I wonder how we can get them out? It's Snoop and Snap who are in the water."

"And my doll!" added Flossie. "I want my doll back!"

"Oh, yes, and Flossie's doll," added Mr. Bobbsey. "I guess you'd better get in the rowboat, Captain White. It will be easier to lift them out from there."

"I'll do it, Mr. Bobbsey," the captain said, as he limped down stairs again. By this time Snap had swum to where poor Snoop was paddling about in the water. The dog gently took hold of the cat by the back of the neck, where her loose fur would give a good hold. Then Snap, holding Snoop's head well up out of the water, started back for the houseboat.

"Good old Snap!" called Mr. Bobbsey. Snap wanted to bark and wag his tail, as he always did when any one spoke pleasantly to him, but he knew if he opened his mouth to bark now, he would have to drop Snoop. And Snap had hard enough work swimming, without trying to wag his tail. On he came toward the boat.

By this time Captain White had gotten into the small boat, which was pulled after the Bluebird, by a rope, and he was rowing toward the dog. Seeing that the smaller boat was nearer, Snap swam toward that, instead of toward the larger one. He held Snoop carefully up out of the water.

"That's a good dog, Snap!" called Captain White, as Snap came nearer. "I'll take her now."

The engineer lifted poor, wet, dripping Snoop into his boat. She crawled close up to Captain White, for she was much frightened. After Snap had delivered the cat he had rescued, he turned back again.

"Where are you going?" asked Captain White. "Don't you want to get in my boat, too, Snap?"

"Bow wow!" barked Snap. This time he could open his mouth, as he was not carrying a cat.

"Oh, he's going to get my doll!" cried Flossie. "Look, Snap is after my doll!"

And so he was. After taking Snoop safely to the boat, Snap had seen Flossie's doll floating on the top of the water, and had swum toward that, just as he would have gone toward a floating stick, had there been one near.

"OK, now he's got her!" cried the happy Flossie. "Now Snap has my doll. Goodie!"

"And, as she's a wooden doll, the water won't hurt her," said Nan, with a laugh, "Everything is coming out all right."

And so it seemed.

Taking the doll in his mouth, as he had taken the cat, Snap swam back toward the small boat, where Captain White waited for him, now and then petting poor Snoop. Just as the dog had done with the cat, so he did with the doll, giving her to the engineer of the Bluebird. Then, seeing that his work was all done, Snap once more swam toward the big boat, not trying to get into the small one.

"Good dog, Snap!" cried Mr. Bobbsey, as he leaned over to lift him in, for there were no steps by which to climb up the side of the Bluebird.

This time Snap barked and wagged his tail, and then he gave himself a big shake to get rid of the water. He sent a regular shower of spray all about.

"Come, girls!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey with a laugh, "this is no place for us. We haven't our bathing suits on!" and she, with Nan and Dorothy, ran back out of the way of the scattering drops from Snap's shaggy coat.

A little later Captain White rowed up with Snoop and Flossie's doll, and the little girl at once said she was going to put a dry dress on the doll, so she wouldn't "take cold."

"Well," said Mr. Bobbsey, when the excitement had died down. "That's over, at any rate. All that over one little fish!"

"That's so--my fish started it all!" said Bert. "I wonder what became of it?" and he looked at his empty hook, dangling from the line of his pole.

"The fish dropped off," said Harry. "I saw it. But it was only a little one. It wouldn't have been any good."

"Poor Snoop!" said Mrs. Bobbsey. "All your trouble for nothing! You didn't get the fish."

"Oh, I'll soon catch some more for her, won't we, Harry?" Bert asked.

"That's what we will," answered the country cousin.

"Now if yo' folks am all done fallin' ovahbo'd I'se ready t' gib yo' all suffin t' eat," said Dinah, coming up from the dining-room.

"And I think we are ready to eat," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "This traveling on the water has given me an appetite."

"I guess it has all of us," spoke Mr. Bobbsey with a laugh, as he noticed the eager, hungry looks on the faces of the children.

"And give Snoop and Snap something good and hot, so they won't take cold," suggested Nan. "Though I don't believe they will this weather, it's so warm."

"I'm going to give my dollie hot chocolate," said Flossie, who, by this time, had put a dry dress on her pet.

The meal was a merry one, though at first the children, especially Flossie and Freddie, were too excited to eat. Then, too, it was so strange eating on a boat that was moving through the water, for the engine had been started again. Several times, during the meal, the two smaller twins jumped up from the table to run to the windows and look out over the lake. At last their mother said:

"Now, Flossie and Freddie, you must sit still and finish your dinner. Otherwise you may be ill. You'll have plenty of time to see things after you leave the table."

Snap was soon dry, from lying in the sun, and, a little later, Snoop was as warm and fluffy as before she had fallen into the lake. She picked out a warm spot on deck near Snap, for they had been the best of friends since the first day they had met, when Snoop came back from her long trip to Cuba, as I have told you in another book.

All the rest of that day the houseboat traveled over Lake Metoka. The children sat on Heck, and watched other boats pass them. Some of them were loaded with lumber for Mr. Bobbsey. Others were pleasure boats, and those on board waved their hands to the Bobbsey twins and their cousins.

"Are we going to travel all night?" asked Bert of his father, when Dinah called that supper was ready.

"No, we are going to anchor soon. We will go a little nearer shore first, though."

"And when will we start through Lemby Creek toward Lake Romano?"

"Oh, in a day or so, I fancy."

It was such a pleasant evening, that even the little twins were allowed to stay up on deck past their usual bedtime, looking at the twinkling stars, and the lights of other boats on the lake.

When Flossie and Freddie did get to bed, they did not go to sleep at once. It was very strange to them, sleeping on a boat in the water.

Finally the two little people dozed off, and then the older folks went to bed. In the middle of the night Freddie woke up. At first he could not remember where he was, and he wondered at the queer rocking motion of the boat, for a little wind was ruffling the lake.

Suddenly there came a loud toot.

"Mamma! Papa! I heard something!" cried Freddie, sitting up.

"Yes, dear. It was only the whistle of another boat," said his mother, who was in the room next to him. "Go to sleep again."

Freddie did.

"Well, I sure am going to catch some fish to-day," said Bert, when he and Harry went up on deck next morning, after breakfast.

"We'll try, anyhow," Harry said. "We're nearer shore now, and the fishing ought to be better. I'll get my line.".

Whether it was on account of the bait they used, or because the fish were not plentiful, the boys did not know, but they did not get even one bite. Anyhow, they had fun.

The Bluebird went slowly across the lake. The Bobbseys were in no hurry, and they wanted to enjoy the pleasant weather. For three days they sailed over the blue waters, and then Mr. Bobbsey told Captain White to steer toward Lemby Creek.

"We'll go through the creek into Lake Romano," said the twins' father. "That is a much larger lake. We'll spend most of our houseboat vacation there. We will also visit the big waterfall."

"That will be lovely!" exclaimed Dorothy. Though she lived near the sea, she also loved inland waters, such as rivers and lakes.

The houseboat moved so slowly, and was such a safe craft, that Bert and Harry were allowed to steer at times, when Mr. Bobbsey or Captain White stood near them in case of any danger. The two boy cousins had taken turns steering, until the Bluebird was close to the place where Lemby Creek emptied into Lake Metoka.

"You'd better let me take the steering wheel, now," said Mr. Bobbsey to Bert. "There is a little current from the creek into the lake, and we don't want to run ashore."

In a little while the houseboat was safely in the creek. This stream of water was narrow, though it was deep enough to float the Bluebird easily. The shores were so close, at times, that the tree branches overhung the deck, and brushed the rails.

"I could almost jump ashore," said Harry.

"But you mustn't try it!" cautioned his aunt. "You might fall in, and Snap couldn't rescue you as easily as he did Snoop or the doll."

As the houseboat went slowly around a bend in the creek, Nan, who stood in front, near her father, suddenly uttered a cry, and pointed toward shore.

"What is it?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.

"There's that boy--Will Watson!" spoke Nan. "You know--the one who liked our boat so," and she pointed to the strange lad who worked for Mr. Hardee. The boy was walking along the shore of the creek, a fish pole over his shoulder.

"Oh, let's ask him how to catch fish!" proposed Bert. "We haven't had any luck at all!"