Chapter XVIII. Strange Noises

The frightened cries of Flossie and Freddie soon awakened Nan and Bert, and it was not long before Harry and Dorothy, too, had roused themselves.

"What's the matter?" asked Bert.

"Oh, we've gone adrift in the storm," his mother said. "But don't worry. Papa says it will be all right."

"Come up on deck and see what's going on!" cried Bert to Harry.

He had begun to dress, and now he thrust his head out from his room. "Hurry up, Harry," he added. "We want to see this storm."

"No, you must stay here," Mrs. Bobbsey said. "It is too bad a storm for you children to be out in, especially this dark night. Your papa and Captain White will do all that needs to be done."

"Mamma, it--it isn't dark when the lightning comes," said Freddie. He did not seem to be afraid of the brilliant flashes.

"No, it's light when the flashes come," said his mother. "But I want you all to stay here with me. It is raining very hard."

"I should say it was!" exclaimed Harry, as he heard the swish of the drops against the windows of the houseboat.

"Is Snap all right, mamma?" asked Flossie. "And Snoop? I wouldn't want them out in the storm."

"They're all right," Mrs. Bobbsey said.

"Oh, what's that!" suddenly cried Nan, as the houseboat gave a bump, and leaned to one side.

"We hit something," Bert said. "Oh, I wish I could go out on the deck!"

"No, indeed!" cried his mother. "There! They've started the engine. Now we'll be all right."

As soon as Mr. Bobbsey had found out that the houseboat had broken loose from the mooring ropes in the storm, he awakened Captain White, and told him to start the motor.

This had been done, and now, instead of drifting with the current of the creek, the boat could be more easily steered. Soon it had been run into a sheltered place, against the bank, where, no matter how hard the wind blew, it would be safe.

"Are we all right now?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, as her husband came down to the cabin.

"Yes, all right again," he said. "There really was not much danger, once we got the motor started."

"Is it raining yet?" asked Freddie, who was sitting in his mother's lap, wrapped in a sweater.

"Indeed it is, little fat fireman," his father answered. "You wouldn't need your engine to put out a fire to-night."

The patter of the raindrops on the deck of the houseboat could still be heard, and the wind still blew hard. But the thunder and lightning were not so bad, and gradually the storm grew less.

"Well, we'd better get to bed now," said Mr. Bobbsey. "To-morrow we shall go to the big lake."

"Did the storm take us far back down the creek?" asked Bert.

"Not more than a mile," said his father.

"And the man can't tie us in with wire again, can he?" Freddie wanted to know. "If he does, and I had one of those cutter-things, I could snip it."

"You won't have to, Freddie," laughed Bert.

"Speaking of that mean farmer reminds me of the poor boy who ran away from him," said Mrs. Bobbsey to her husband, when the children had gone to bed. "I wonder where he is to-night, in this storm?"

"I hope he has a sheltered place," spoke the father of the Bobbsey twins.

Not very much damage had been done by the storm, though it was a very hard one. In the morning the children could see where some big tree branches had blown off, and there had been so much rain, that the water of the creek was higher. But the houseboat was all right, and after breakfast, when they went up the creek again, they stopped and got the pieces of broken rope, where the Bluebird had been tied before.

The houseboat then went on, and at noon, just before Dinah called them to dinner, Nan, who was standing near her father at the steering wheel, cried:

"Oh, what a lot of water!"

"Yes, that is Lake Romano," said Mr. Bobbsey. "We'll soon be floating on that, and we'll spend the rest of our houseboat vacation there."

"And where shall we spend the rest of our vacation?" asked Bert, for it had been decided that the houseboat voyage would last only until about the middle of August.

"Oh, we haven't settled that yet," his father answered.

On and on went the Bluebird, and, in a little while, she was on the sparkling waters of the lake.

"I don't see any waterfall," said Freddie, coming toward his father, after having made Snap do some of his circus tricks.

"The waterfall is at the far end of the lake," said Mr. Bobbsey.

"I wonder if there are any fish in this lake?" spoke Bert.

"Let's try to catch some," suggested his cousin Harry, and soon the two boys were busy with poles and lines.

The Bobbsey twins, and their cousin-guests, liked Lake Romano very much indeed. It was much bigger than the lake at home, and there were some very large boats on it.

Bert and Harry caught no fish before dinner, but in the afternoon they had better luck, and got enough for supper. The evening meal had been served by Dinah, Snap and Snoop had been fed, and the family and their guests were up on deck, watching the sunset, when Dinah came waddling up the stairs, with a queer look on her face.

"Why, Dinah! What is the matter?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, seeing that something was wrong. "Have you lost some more sandwiches?"

"No'm, it ain't sandwiches dish yeah time," Dinah answered. "But I done heard a funny noise jest now down near mah kitchen."

"A funny noise?" repeated Mr. Bobbsey. "What was it like?"

"Jes like some one cryin'," Dinah answered. "I thought mebby one ob de chilluns done got locked in de pantry, but I opened de do', an' dey wasn't anybody dere. 'Sides, all de chilluns is up heah. But I shuah did heah a funny noise ob somebody cryin'!"

Mrs. Bobbsey looked at her husband and said:

"You'd better go see what it is, Richard."