Chapter II. Snap Saves Freddie
 

Down on the soft green grass of the lawn, sat the two sets of Bobbsey twins. Yes, there were two "sets" of them, and I shall tell you how that was, in a little while.

"Begin at the beginning," suggested Bert to his sister. He always liked to hear all of anything, so Nan prepared to skip nothing.

"Well," said Nan, as she leaned over to re-tie the bow of Flossie's hair ribbon. It had become loose in the hurried search for the book straps. "Well, you know I went down to papa's lumber office this morning, to bring him the letter that came here to the house by mistake. It was a letter from--"

"You can skip that part of it," suggested Bert. "I don't want to wait so long about hearing the news."

"Well, I thought I'd tell you everything," said Nan. "Anyhow, when I was in papa's office he bought it."

"What did he buy?" asked Freddie, getting to the point more quickly than Bert would have done. "What'd he buy, Nan?"

"A houseboat," went on the older girl twin. Mr. Marvin was there, and he sold papa the Marvin houseboat. Oh! and such fun as we're--"

"What's a houseboat?" interrupted Flossie.

"It's a boat with a house on it, of course," spoke Bert, eagerly. "I know. I've seen lots of them. You can live in them just like in a house, only it's on water. There's more room in a houseboat than in a regular boat. Go on, Nan."

"Are we going to live in it?" asked Freddie.

"I think so--at least part of the time," said Nan. "Now I'll tell you all I know about it. I couldn't stay to ask all I wanted to, as papa was busy. Besides, it was sort of a secret, and I found it out by accident before he meant me to. So you mustn't tell mamma yet--it's to be a surprise to her," and Nan looked at the two smaller twins, and raised a cautioning finger.

"I won't tell," promised Flossie.

"Neither will I," promised Freddie. "Is that all you're going to tell us, Nan?"

"Well, isn't that enough?" demanded Nan. "I think it's just fine, that we're going to have a houseboat! I've always wanted one."

"So have I," spoke Bert. "Go on, Nan! Tell me more about it. How big is it? Is there an engine in it? Where is it? Can we go on board? When is papa going to get it? Is there a room for me in it? I wonder if I can run the engine and steer? How much did it cost?"

"Gracious!" cried Nan, pretending to cover her ears with her hands. "It will take me all morning, Bert, to answer those questions. Please start over again."

"First tell me where I can see the boat," suggested Bert. "I want to go look at it."

"It's down in the lake," said Nan.

"Come on, Flossie," spoke Freddie. "There's Snap coming back now, and maybe we can catch him. Then we'll harness him up. Dinah ought to be done with her baking now, and maybe she can find those straps for us. Here, Snap!"

Flossie and Freddie, being some years younger than Bert and Nan, did not care to bear much more about the houseboat just then. That they were going to have one was enough for them. They were much pleased and delighted, but they had the idea of hitching Snap to the express wagon, and they could not get that out of their minds.

"You go in and ask Dinah to help you look for the straps," directed Freddie to his little sister, "and I'll catch Snap. Here, Snap! Snap!" he called to the dog who had come back into the yard after a romp and frolic with his animal friend.

Snap was glad enough to stretch out on the grass and rest. He was tired from his run. Freddie put his arms around the dog's neck, and laid his head down on the shaggy coat.

"Now you can't run away again," said Freddie, as he pretended to go to sleep, while Flossie toddled into the house once more, to have another look for the missing book straps.

At a little distance from Freddie sat Nan and Bert, talking about the houseboat, and the good times they would have on board. Freddie roused up, and looked toward the house. Flossie had not yet come out.

"It takes her a long time," said the little boy. "We won't have any ride at all, if she doesn't hurry up."

Then Freddie saw something else that attracted his attention. This was Bert's bicycle, leaning now against the side of a shed. Bert was too much interested in the houseboat to want to ride just then.

A new idea came into Freddie's head.

"I'm going to have a ride on Bert's wheel, while I'm waiting for Flossie to come out with the straps," said the little twin chap. "Bert won't care."

Freddie did not take any chances on asking Bert. His elder brother was still busy talking to Nan about the new houseboat. Freddie scrambled to his feet.

"Now you stay there, Snap!" he commanded the big dog, for Snap, ready again for some fun, was anxious to follow his little master. "Lie down, Snap!" ordered Freddie, and Snap again stretched out.

Freddie walked slowly over toward the bicycle. Of course he was too small to ride it in the regular way, with his feet on the pedals, for his little legs were not long enough to reach them. But he could sit on the seat, and Bert had taught him how to steer a little, so that though a bicycle has only two wheels, and will tip over if it is not properly guided, Freddie could manage to ride a little way on it without toppling over, especially if some one put him on and gave him a push, or if he was given a start down a little hill.

"I'm going to have a ride," thought Freddie. "I'll have a little ride, while I'm waiting for Flossie."

Freddie had a velocipede of his own, but that had three wheels instead of two. Freddie thought two wheels were much more fun than three.

"If I can get up on that bicycle, I'll have a nice ride," murmured Freddie. He looked toward the house. Flossie was not in sight. She had not yet found the straps.

Then Freddie looked toward Bert and Nan. They were still busy talking about the houseboat. They paid no attention to Freddie.

The little twin chap looked around until he had found a small box. By stepping on this he could get up on the seat of the bicycle, which was leaning against the shed. Then Freddie could give himself a little push, and away he would go. There was a little hill leading from where the bicycle stood down to the gate, and into the road. The gate was open.

"Maybe I can even ride down the road a little way," thought Freddie to himself. "That would be great."

It was rather hard work for Freddie to get up on the bicycle from the box, but he managed it. Then he sat on the leather saddle, and took hold of the handle bars. As I have told you, he knew how to steer, even though he could not reach the pedals.

"Here I go!" cried Freddie softly, as he gave himself a little push. Down the hill he went, along the path, straight for the yard gate.

"Oh! I'm going out in the road!" exclaimed Freddie, this time out loud, for he was far enough away from Nan and Bert now.

And into the road he did go, on Bert's bicycle. The wheel was going faster and faster, for Bert had just oiled it and it rode very smoothly.

"This is great!" Freddie cried. "Maybe I can ride all the way to the bridge."

He looked down the road to where a little white bridge spanned a small brook. And then, as Freddie looked, he saw something which made his heart beat very fast indeed. For, coming right toward him, was a team of horses, hitched to a big lumber wagon--it was one of Freddie's papa's own lumber teams, as the little boy could see for himself.

On came the trotting team, pulling the heavily laden lumber wagon, and, worst of all, there was no driver on the seat to guide the horses. They were trotting away all by themselves, and Freddie was out in the road, on the bicycle that was far too big for him,

"Oh dear!" cried Freddie.

Just then he heard Flossie scream. She had come out on the side porch, and she saw the team coming toward her little brother.

"Nan! Bert!" screamed Flossie. "Look at Freddie!"

Nan and Bert jumped up and raced down the path.

"Freddie's in trouble again!" thought Bert.

It was not the first time Freddie had gotten into mischief. Though usually he was a pretty good boy, he sometimes made trouble without intending to.

I have told you there were two sets of Bobbsey twins, and those of you who have read the first book of this series know what I mean by that. The first book is called "The Bobbsey Twins," and in that I told you how the Bobbsey family lived in an eastern city called Lakeport, at the head of Lake Metoka. Mr. Bobbsey was a lumber merchant, and owned a large sawmill, and a yard, near the lake, in which yard were piled many stacks of lumber.

Nan and Bert were the older Bobbsey twins, being past nine, while Flossie and Freddie were about "half-past-five." So you see that is how there were two sets of twins. Nan was a tall, slender girl, with a dark face and red cheeks. Her eyes were brown, and so were her curls. Bert, too, was quite dark, like Nan.

Flossie and Freddie were very light, with blue eyes. They were short and fat, instead of tall and thin. So you see the two sets of twins were very different.

Oh! such good times as the Bobbsey twins had! I could not tell you all of them, if I wrote a dozen books. But some of the good times I have related in the first book. In the second, called "The Bobbsey Twins in the Country," there are more happenings mentioned.

Uncle Daniel Bobbsey, his wife Sarah, and their son Harry lived in the country, at a place called Meadow Brook, and there the twins often went on their vacation.

Uncle William Minturn, and his wife Emily, with their nine-year-old daughter Dorothy, lived at Ocean Cliff. As you might guess, this was on the coast, and in the third book, "The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore," I have told you of the good times the children had there, how they saw a wreck, and what came of it.

In "The Bobbsey Twins at School" you will find out how they came to get the dog Snap, as a pet. They already had a black cat, named Snoop, but one day, when the twins, with their father and mother, were on a railroad train, something happened, and Snoop was lost.

They found Snap, instead. He was a circus dog, and--but there, if you want to read of Snap, you must do so in the book about him. I shall tell you this much, though. Snap was a very fine dog, and could do many tricks, and in the end the Bobbseys kept him for a pet, as well as getting back their lost cat Snoop.

When school was over for the winter holidays one year, the Bobbseys went to "Snow Lodge," and in the book of that name I have told you about a queer mystery the twins helped solve while out amid the snow and ice.

Now the Bobbseys were back in their fine house in Lakeport, where Dinah, the fat cook, gave them such good things to eat, and where Sam Johnson, her husband, kept the lawns so nice and green for the children to play on.

Just now Freddie Bobbsey would have been very glad, indeed, to be playing on that same lawn instead of being on his brother's bicycle, rolling toward the team of lumber horses, who were coming straight for him.

"Oh, look at Freddie! Look at Freddie!" screamed Flossie, dropping the two book straps which she had at last found. "Save him, Nan! Bert! Oh, Freddie!"

"I 'clar t' goodness!" exclaimed fat Dinah in the kitchen. "Dem chillens am up t' some mo' trouble!"

"Freddie, steer to one side! Steer out of the way!" shouted Bert, as he ran for the gate. He could not hope to reach his little brother in time, though.

Freddie was too frightened and excited to steer. The bicycle was going fast--faster than he had ever ridden on it before. All he could do was to sit tight, and hold fast to the handle bars.

"Oh, he'll be run over!" cried Nan, as she, too, raced after Bert.

The team, with no driver to guide it, ran faster and faster. Freddie began to cry. And then, all at once, the front wheel of the bicycle ran over a stone, and turned to one side. The handle bars were jerked from Freddie's grasp, and over he went, wheel and all!

Luckily for him, he fell to one side of the road, on the soft grass, or he might have been injured, but, as it was, the fall did not hurt him at all. One of his little fat legs, though, became tangled up in the wire spokes of the front wheel, and Freddie lay there, with the wheel on top of him, unable to get up.

"Oh, Bert! Bert!" screamed Nan.

"Grab him--quick!" shouted Dinah, waddling down the walk. But she was too fat to go fast enough to do any good.

"Roll out of the way, Freddie!" cried Bert.

Freddie was too much entangled in the wheel to be able to move. And, all the while, the lumber team was coming nearer and nearer to him. Would the horses, with no driver at the reins, know enough to turn to one side, or would the wheels roll over poor Freddie and the bicycle?

Nan covered her face with her hands. She did not want to look at what was going to happen.

"I must get there in time to pull him out of the way!" thought Bert, as he ran as fast as he could. But the team was almost on Freddie now.

Suddenly the dog Snap, who had jumped up when he heard the shouts, saw what the danger was. Snap knew about horses, and he was smart enough to know that Freddie was in danger.

Without waiting for anyone to tell him what to do, Snap ran straight for the lumber team. Leaping up in front of them, and barking as loudly as he could, Snap turned the trotting horses to one side. And just in time, too, for, a little more, and one of the front wheels of the heavily loaded lumber wagon would have run over the bicycle in which Freddie was still entangled.

"Bow wow!" barked Snap. The horses were perhaps afraid of being bitten, though Snap was very gentle. At any rate, they turned aside, and would have run on faster, only Snap, leaping up, grabbed the dangling reins in his teeth and pulled hard on them. "Whoa!" called Bert. When the horses heard this, and felt the tug on the lines, they knew it meant to stop. And stop they did. Snap had saved Freddie.