Chapter IX. Snoop and Snap
 

Nan and Dorothy, after waving good-bye to the girl friends on the dock, went down to the living room of the houseboat. There they found Mrs. Bobbsey and Dinah putting away some of the things that had been brought on board at the last moment.

"I 'clar t' goodness!" exclaimed the colored cook, "dish yeah houseboatin' am wuss dan movin'!"

"Oh, not quite as bad as that," said Mrs. Bobbsey, with a laugh. "But what are you going to do, Nan, dear? Do you like it, Dorothy?"

"Oh! indeed I do," answered the "seashore cousin," as Nan called her to distinguish her from Harry, who lived in the country.

"We are just going to our rooms for a minute, mother," Nan answered. "I want to show Dorothy my new sailor suit."

Every body on the houseboat was busy, even down to Flossie and Freddie, and the two little twins were busy having fun.

Mrs. Bobbsey and Dinah were engaged in putting to rights the different rooms, for there were a number on the Bluebird, which was built for a large family. Bert and Harry were up on deck fishing, as the boat moved slowly through the blue waters of Metoka Lake. Flossie and Freddie, as I have said, were playing, the little girl with her doll, and Freddie with a new toy his father had bought him.

As for Mr. Bobbsey, he was down in the engine room with "Captain White." Mr. White was one of Mr. Bobbsey's men who had once been in charge of a tugboat, but one day there was an accident aboard, and Mr. White was made lame for life.

But Mr. Bobbsey liked his faithful employee, and kept him at work, and since Mr. White could not do heavy tasks, he was allowed to do easy ones.

Mr. White was called "Captain" by every one, though he was not really a captain. Still, he knew a great deal about boats, the weather clouds and storms, and all things such as sea captains are supposed to know.

When Mr. Bobbsey bought Mr. Marvin's houseboat, he at once began to think of some one who could sail it for him, and take care of the gasoline engine. Naturally, he thought of Captain White. So the Bluebird was put in charge of Captain White, who, you may be sure, was very glad to be on the water again, even if it was only in a slow- moving houseboat, and not in a swift steam tug.

Mr. Bobbsey and Captain White were down in the motor, or engine room together. Mr. Bobbsey was learning how to run the gasoline engine.

I have told you how the Bluebird was driven along through the water by a small engine. It was not a steam engine, such as are found in many boats, but a gasoline one, such as those in most automobiles.

Mr. Bobbsey did not intend to sail very fast in the houseboat. In fact, for many days, he expected to just drift along, or push the boat with a long pole through some shallow creek, or in parts of the lake where it was not deep. When he wanted to move more quickly from place to place, there was the gasoline engine all ready to use. And Captain White knew how to use it.

Mr. Bobbsey came up out of the little motor room after a while, and watched his wife and Dinah putting things away. The boat was moving down the lake.

"Oh, look at your face!" suddenly cried Mrs. Bobbsey.

"What's the matter with it?" asked her husband, putting his hand up to his nose, as almost any person will do when you speak of his face.

"It's all black!" went on Mrs. Bobbsey. "So are your hands. Oh, Richard! What have you been doing?"

"Learning to run the gasoline engine," he said. "I want to know how it works so that if we need to start any time when Captain White is on shore, or asleep, I can do it."

"I hope you won't start off any time when Captain White is on shore," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "You don't know enough about a boat to run it without him."

"Very well, then. I promise I'll run the gasoline engine only when Captain White is asleep," said Mr. Bobbsey, with a laugh. "And then, if anything happens, I'll only have to awaken him, and ask him what is wrong."

"That's the best plan," said Mrs. Bobbsey, also laughing. "And now you had better go wash your face. Some one might see you--looking like that."

There was a nice little bathroom aboard the Bluebird, and Mr. Bobbsey was soon splashing away with the water and soap. Meanwhile Mrs. Bobbsey and Dinah finished their work, and went up on deck.

It was a very pleasant day, and with the sun shining down from a blue sky overhead, just warm enough, and not too hot, with a gentle breeze that hardly ruffled the surface of the lake, but which made it delightfully cool as the boat moved slowly along. In short, it was just perfect weather, as the Bobbsey twins started off on their houseboat.

Nan and Dorothy, having finished looking at each other's dresses, which always seems to delight girls, had come up on deck so that now the whole Bobbsey family, and their country, and seashore cousin visitors also, were there.

"Have you caught any fish yet?" asked Mr. Bobbsey, walking over to where Bert and Harry were dangling their lines in the water.

"Not yet, but we've had two or three bites," said Bert, hopefully.

"I think you'll have better luck when we reach some quiet place, and anchor," Mr. Bobbsey went on. "At any rate, you need not worry, if you don't catch any fish. Dinah will be able to give us something else for dinner, I think."

"I think so, too," said Harry with a laugh. "I can smell something cooking now."

This was so. For, though the Bobbseys had started early that morning, there was so much to do that it was now nearly noon. To them it seemed only an hour or so since they had started. Dinah was a good cook. She kept one eye on the clock and the other on the things she was cooking. And she made up her mind that the meals would be on time, even if they were served on a houseboat. So it was the cooking of dinner that Harry smelled.

"Oh, Dorothy!" exclaimed Nan, after a little while, during which the two girls looked across the lake to the distant shores they had left. "I must show you a new trick Snap has learned."

"What! Another trick?" cried Dorothy. "My! He knows a lot of them now. He certainly is a clever dog!"

Snap, as I have told you, used to belong to a circus before the Bobbseys bought him, so perhaps learning tricks came easier to him than to most dogs.

"Yes, I taught him this trick myself," went on Nan. "He will walk around on his hind legs, and carry a doll in his front paws, just like a nurse girl. When I dress him up in one of my old skirts and a jacket, he is too funny for anything! I'll make him do the trick now, only I won't dress him up, for I can't find the clothes he wears. I don't believe we brought them. But I'll make him carry the doll for you. Here, Snap!" called Nan.

The dog, who had been sleeping in a sunny Spot on deck, near Snoop, the black cat, sprang up, when he heard his name called.

"Where are you going to get a doll for him to carry?" asked Dorothy.

"I'll take Flossie's. You'll let sister take your doll to make Snap do a trick, won't you, dear?" she asked.

"Yes, Nan," answered flaxen-haired Flossie. "I just love to see Snap do that trick! He carries the doll so cute!"

Flossie brought her doll to Nan, and Snap stood near, wagging his tail, for he seemed to know what was coming.

"Now, Snap," said Nan, pointing her finger at the dog, "I want you to show Dorothy how you play nurse-girl, and carry a doll."

"Bow wow!" barked Snap. That was what he always said when any one spoke to him. I suppose he knew what he meant, but no one else did. At any rate, he seemed to understand what was said to him.

"Up, Snap! Up!" called Nan suddenly, and Snap rose on his hind legs, holding his fore paws out in front of him, so Nan could place the doll on them.

This the little girl did, putting Flossie's "sawdust baby" carefully across Snap's paws.

"Now take the doll for a walk!" ordered Nan, and, with another bark, off Snap started, parading across the deck.

"Oh, isn't he too cute!" cried Dorothy, laughing and clapping her hands. "Oh, what a smart dog he is!"

"Isn't he!" agreed Nan. "Bert said I never could teach him to do a trick, but I did."

"Indeed you did!" agreed Dorothy.

"Now come back here, Snap!" ordered Nan. But just then something happened.

How it was no one knew exactly, but Bert suddenly caught a fish. He was so surprised at getting a hard bite on his line, that he jerked it up quickly. Something flashed in the sunlight, and, the next moment, a little sunfish landed flapping on the deck, right in front of the sleeping black cat Snoop.

"Flop!" went the fish, and Snoop awakened with a jump. Up to her feet she leaped like a flash, and then she saw the fish. Snoop was very fond of fish, and made a spring for the one Bert had caught. But the fish was wet and slippery, and no sooner had Snoop pounced on it with her claws than the fish slid across the deck of the houseboat. Snoop slid after it, just as she often slid across the kitchen oilcloth, when she sprang for a piece of string that Flossie or Freddie would pull along to make the cat play.

Right across the deck, after the slippery fish slid Snoop, and, the next instant, the poor cat had slid right off the deck, and fallen into the lake with a splash!