Chapter XVI. The Missing Sandwiches
 

"Flossie is in the water!"

"Get the boat!"

"Snap! Jump in and get her!"

"Oh, Flossie!"

So many were the excited cries that followed the falling over the rail of little Flossie, that no one could tell who was speaking, or crying out.

Harry, who was near the rail, turned sharply as he heard the splash, and then, quickly casting off his coat, he gave a clean dive over the side. Harry was a country boy, and had learned to swim when very young. He was not at all afraid of the water, and, more than once, he had pulled from "the old swimming hole," boys smaller than himself, who had gone beyond their depth, and could not get out.

"I'll get her!" cried Harry, as he dived over the side.

"Oh, it's all my fault!" sobbed Dorothy. "I said I'd watch her. But I forgot! It's all my fault!"

"No, it isn't, dear!" said Nan, quickly putting her arms around her cousin. "Flossie does things so quickly, sometimes, that no one can watch her. But we'll get her out, for the water isn't deep."

It was deep enough though, on that side of the boat, to be well over Flossie's head, and of course, plunging down from the height she did, she at once went under water.

Snap seemed to understand what had happened, and to know that his services were needed, for he gave a bark, and made a rush for the rail.

"Don't let him jump in!" cried Mr. Bobbsey to Bert. "If Harry can get her, Snap might only make trouble. Hold him back, Bert, while I get the rowboat."

Mrs. Bobbsey, with one arm around Freddie, had rushed to the rail to look down. She saw Flossie come to the surface, choking and gasping for breath, and then saw Harry, who had gone under, but who had come up again, strike out for the little girl.

"Oh, save her!" gasped Mrs. Bobbsey.

"He will!" said Bert. "Harry's a fine swimmer. Come back, Snap!" he called to the big dog, getting his hands on his collar, just in time, for Snap was determined to go to the rescue himself. He whined, pulled and tugged to get away from Bert.

"Help me hold him!" cried Bert to Nan.

"I will!" she answered, glad to be doing something. Together the two older Bobbsey twins managed to keep Snap back. Dorothy, too, helped, for Snap was very strong.

"Did Flossie go after a fish?" asked Freddie, and he asked it in such a queer way that it would have caused a laugh at any other time. Just now every one was too frightened to laugh.

After all, there really was not so much danger. Mr. Bobbsey had taught Flossie some of the things one must do when learning to swim, and that is to hold your breath when you are under water. For it is the water getting into the lungs that causes a person to drown. After her first plunge into the creek, the little girl thought of what her father had told her, and did hold her breath.

"I--I'll get you!" called Harry to her. "Don't be afraid, Flossie! I'll get you!"

Flossie was too much out of breath to answer, so she did not try to speak. Harry was soon at her side, and called to her:

"Now put your hands on my shoulders, Flossie, and I'll swim to the boat with you. Don't try to grab me around the neck."

Harry knew how dangerous it was for a person trying to rescue another in the water to be choked. Flossie was a wise little girl, even if she was not very old. She did as her cousin told her, and, with Flossie's hands on his shoulders, Harry began to swim toward the Bluebird.

He did not have to go very far, though, for by this time Mr. Bobbsey and Captain White were there with the rowboat, and the two children were soon lifted in. They were safe, and not harmed a bit, except for being wet through.

"Oh, Flossie, whatever did you do it for?" asked her mother, when she had hugged the dripping little girl in her arms. "Why did you do it?"

"Do what, mamma?" Flossie asked.

"Lean over so far."

"I wanted to see if I had a fish," went on Flossie. "And I had to lean over. And then I saw him."

"Saw whom?" asked her father. "What do you mean?"

"Why, I saw him--that boy," and Flossie seemed surprised that her father did not understand.

"What boy?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey. "Did you fall asleep there, Flossie, and were you dreaming, when you fell in?"

"No, mamma. I didn't fall asleep. I saw him, I tell you."

"I heard her say something about seeing some one, just as she went over the rail, head first," Dorothy said.

"But whom do you mean, Flossie?" asked puzzled Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Why, that boy--the one the bad man whipped."

"Oh, Will Watson!" exclaimed Bert. "Where did you see him, Flossie? Was he in one of the excursion boats that went past?"

"No, he was on our boat--down there," and Flossie pointed straight down. "I saw him!" she declared.

"I guess she must have dozed off a little, and dreamed it," spoke Mr. Bobbsey, with a smile. "That was it. The sun was so hot, that she just slept a little as she was fishing. She might have had a bite, and that awakened her so suddenly that she gave a jump and fell over the rail. I must have it built higher. Then there won't be any danger."

"Yes, do," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "We've had scares enough."

"But I did see that boy--the one that gave Bert the fish," insisted Flossie. "He was on our boat. I saw him as plain as anything."

"It must have been some one in the excursion boats that looked like him," spoke Nan.

"No, I saw Will!" declared the little twin, and, rather than get her excited by disputing, they allowed her to think she really had seen a strange face, as she leaned over.

"But of course she either dreamed it, or saw some one she thought was that runaway boy," Mr. Bobbsey said, afterward. "It's all nonsense to think he was on our boat."

Snap, who had not been allowed to go to the rescue, much as he had wanted to, leaped about Flossie, barking and wagging his tail in joy.

"Anybody would think he'd done it all," said Bert. "Say, Harry, you're all right! That was a dandy dive!" and he clapped his cousin on the back.

"Indeed we never can thank you enough. Harry," said Mrs. Bobbsey, and tears of thankfulness glistened in her eyes.

"Oh, it wasn't anything at all," the country boy said, modestly blushing, for he did not like such a "fuss" made over him. "I knew I could get her out."

"Well, it was very fine of you," said Mr. Bobbsey, warmly. "Now then, you had better change your clothes, for, though it is summer, you might take cold. And Flossie, too, must change."

"Yes, I'll look after her," said her mother "Now remember, little fat fairy," Mrs. Bobbsey went on, giving Flossie her father's pet name, "you must never lean over the rail again. If you do---"

"But I saw---" began Flossie.

"No matter what you saw--don't lean over the rail!" said her mother. "If you do, we shall have to give up this houseboat trip."

This seemed such a dreadful thing, that Flossie quickly promised to be very careful indeed.

"But I did see him, all the same!" she murmured, as her mother took her to the bedroom to change her clothes. "I saw that boy on our boat."

The others only laughed at Flossie for thinking such a queer thing.

"That poor boy is far enough away from here now," said Bert. "I wonder if he will really try to make his way out west?"

"I don't know," answered Harry, who had changed to a dry suit, hanging his other in the sun to let the water drip out of it. "I've read of boys making long journeys that way."

"I wouldn't want to try it," spoke Bert.

"Neither would I," said his cousin. "This houseboat suits me!"

Flossie was little the worse for her accident, and was soon playing about again with Snoop and Snap, and with Freddie. The little fellow and his sister made the dog and cat do many tricks.

It was the day after this, when the Bluebird had gone a little farther up the creek, that Mrs. Bobbsey planned a little picnic on shore. They were not far from a nice, green forest.

"We'll have Dinah put us up a little lunch, and we'll go in the woods and eat it," said Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Oh, that will be fun!" cried Nan. "Won't it, Dorothy?"

"Indeed it will," said the seashore cousin.

"I'm going to take my doll," Flossie said. "There's no water in the woods for her to fall in, is there, mamma?"

"No, not unless you drop her into a spring," laughed Mrs. Bobbsey.

"I'll see if Dinah has finished making the sandwiches," offered Nan. "She had them almost finished a little while ago."

But when Nan went to the dining-room, she found the colored cook very much excited.

"What is the matter, Dinah?" asked Nan.

"Mattah! What am de mattah?" Dinah repeated, "Dey's lots de mattah, Missie Nan."

"Why, what can it be?"

"De sandwiches is gone, dat's what's de mattah!"

"The sandwiches, Dinah?"

"Yes'm, de sandwiches what I done make fo' de excursnick!"

"Oh, you mean for our picnic, Dinah?"

"Yes'm, dat's it. Excursnick I calls it. But de sandwiches I done jest made am gone. I s'pects Massa Bert or his cousin done take 'em fo' fun."

"Oh, no, Dinah. Bert nor Harry wouldn't do that. Are you sure you made the sandwiches?"

"I'se jest as shuah, Missie Nan, as I am dat I'se standin' heah. I'se jest as shuah as I is dat time when I made de corn cakes, an' somebody tuck dem! Dat's how shuah I is! Dem sandwiches what was fo' de excursnick am done gone completely."

"But have you looked everywhere, Dinah?" asked Nan.

"Eberywhere! Under de table an' on top ob de table. I had dem sandwiches all made an' on a plate. I left dem in de dinin' room to go git a basket, an' when I come back, dey was gone entirely. I want t' see yo' ma, Missie Nan. I ain't gwing t' stay on dish yeah boat no mo, dat's what I ain't!"

"But why not, Dinah?" asked Nan, in some alarm.

"Because dey's ghostests on dish yeah boat; dat's what dey is! An' I ain't gwine stay on no ha'nted boat. Fust it were de corn cakes, an' now it's de sandwiches. I'se gwine away--I ain't gwine stay heah no mo'!"