Chapter V. Snap's Escape
 

Nan found Flossie and Freddie, standing one on either side of the wooden crate in which Snoop made his journeys. The twins each had hold of the black cat, who did not seem to be enjoying life very much just then.

"He goes in this way, I tell you!" shouted Freddie.

"No, he goes in the other way!" cried Flossie, and then they both tried, at the same time, to thrust poor Snoop into his cage.

The cat cried out, and scrambled to get away.

"What's the matter?" asked Nan. "What does all this mean, Flossie and Freddie? Don't you know the automobile is waiting to take us to the station?"

"Well, I want to put Snoop in his cage!" insisted Freddie.

"And so do I!" cried Flossie.

"But she--she--Flossie wants to put him in, tail end first!" went on the excited little boy.

"Course--'cause that's right!" went on the little girl. "Freddie says he ought to go in head first," she exclaimed, "and you know, Nan, if you stand Snoop on his head he'll get dizzy, like I did when I hung dingle-dangle by my legs from the swing."

"And if he goes in tail first he'll get all tangled up!" retorted Freddie, who was almost crying now.

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Nan. "I guess I'll have to call papa or mamma, and they have enough to look after as it is, with the auto here, and almost train time. I never saw such children! What am I to do?"

"Let me put Snoop in tail first!" cried Flossie.

"No, he ought to go in his box head first!" declared her brother, and neither one of them would let go of the black cat. Snoop looked sadly at Nan, as though he wished she would rescue him, and put him in the traveling box either end first, if only he might be left in peace and quietness.

"Oh, dear!" Nan exclaimed again. "I really don't know what to do! I guess we'll leave Snoop home altogether!"

"Oh, no!" cried Flossie and Freddie.

"Here! What's all the trouble?" asked Bert, running around to the side porch. "Hurry up! The auto is waiting."

"It's these twins!" said Nan, hopelessly.

"It's Flossie!" accused Freddie. "She wants Snoop to go in tail end first, and he'll get all tangled up, 'cause he's got an awful long tail."

"And Freddie wants to put him in head first, and he'll get dizzy same as I did in the swing!" accused Flossie.

"Here! I'll settle this!" cried Bert, like a manly little chap. "Give me that cat!"

He took Snoop from Flossie and Freddie, who let go willingly enough. If Snoop could have talked he would have said, "Thank you, Bert!" I am sure he would have.

"There, we'll put him in feet first," Bert went on, carefully lowering the black cat into the box that way. "A cat always likes to land feet first," he explained, "then he won't get tangled up in his tail, nor dizzy. Now, Flossie and Freddie, hustle around front and get into the auto. I'll bring Snoop" he continued, as he fastened down the lid of the traveling cage.

"That's right! Feet first!" cried Freddie, a happy smile on his face.

"Of course! Why didn't we think of putting Snoop in that way?" asked Flossie, as she put her chubby hand in her brother's and ran with him around to the front porch.

"Oh, such children!" sighed Nan as she followed Bert, who carried Snoop in his cage. The black cat curled up and went to sleep. He was used to traveling this way.

"My! What was the trouble?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey. Nan and Bert explained, while Flossie and Freddie took their places in the gasoline machine.

"Are you all ready?" asked Mr. Bobbsey. "How about you, Dinah?" for the colored cook was being taken to the country to help look after the smaller twins.

"Oh, indeedy I'se all right, Mrs. Bobbsey," was Dinah's answer. "Heah, Freddie, let ole Dinah carry dat cat-box," for Bert had given Snoop in his cage to the small twin boy.

"No, I want to hold him," Freddie insisted, and he was allowed to have his way.

Sam, Dinah's husband, was to stay home to look after the Bobbsey city house, and he waved a good-bye as the automobile started off.

"Where's Snap?" asked Flossie, as they were rolling down the street.

"He's coming," reported Nan, for the big dog was running alongside the car. There would have been room for him to ride in it, but he preferred racing along the street, and he would be at the depot waiting for the family when they arrived.

"The train will be here in about five minutes," said Mr. Bobbsey, after they had reached the depot, and he had purchased the tickets. Then, while Flossie and Freddie took turns looking in at black Snoop through the slats of the box, Nan and Bert helped gather the valises into one pile. Mr. Bobbsey went to see about getting the trunks checked, and also about sending Snap in the baggage car, for the dog would have to ride that way to Meadow Brook.

At last, with a toot of the whistle, and a ringing of the bell, the engine, drawing the train, puffed into the station.

"All aboard!" called the conductor.

Many persons were getting on, while others were getting off. Mr. Bobbsey gathered his little family down toward the parlor, or chair, car.

"Heah you am, sah!" exclaimed the colored porter as he swung Flossie and Freddie up the steps, and helped Mrs. Bobbsey and Dinah. Nan and Bert felt big enough not to need any help.

"Hello! What's dish yeah?" cried the porter, as he picked up the box containing Snoop. "Am dish good to eat?" he asked, looking in at the black cat. "What am it?"

"Oh, it's our Snoop!" cried Flossie. "Don't hurt him!"

"'Deed an' I won't, little Missie!" laughed the colored porter. "I thought maybe it was a watermelon yo' all had in dat box."

"All aboard!" called the conductor again, and then, with the Bobbseys safely in their chair car, the train puffed away again, going faster and faster.

"The engine can hardly get its breath," remarked Freddie, as he listened to the puffing of the locomotive.

"I guess it's going up hill," said Bert, with a laugh.

The ride to Meadow Brook would take nearly all day, and Mrs. Bobbsey settled herself comfortably in the easy chair to look out of the window, after she had seen that Flossie and Freddie were all right. Nan and Bert looked after themselves, and Mr. Bobbsey, having seen that his family was comfortable, began to read his paper. Dinah took a chair in one corner where she could doze off. It always made her sleepy to ride in a train, she said.

Nan and Bert looked out at the passing scenery, as did Flossie and Freddie, when they were not taking turns peeking in at Snoop. As for the black cat himself, he had curled up into a little round ball, and was fast asleep.

He had become a traveler by this time, for once he had been to Cuba, when the circus lady took him, as I told you in one of the other books.

"I wonder how Snap is getting along in the baggage car?" said Bert to Nan, after a bit. "I think I'll go in and see."

"Oh, will papa let you?" inquired his sister.

"I don't know. I'll ask him."

Mr. Bobbsey was a little doubtful about letting Bert pass from one car to another when the train was moving.

"But it's a vestibule train, papa," said the boy. "It's like one big car. I can't fall off."

"Well, I don't know," said Mr. Bobbsey, slowly.

"I'll take him up front, if he wants to see about the dog," said a brakeman who had heard Bert's talk.

"Oh, thank you," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Be careful, Bert."

But, as it turned out, there was no danger at all. As Bert had said, the cars were joined together with "vestibules," that made the train like one big railway coach. And as it was slowing up to stop at a station, when Bert went forward to the baggage car, he had no trouble at all in walking along with the brake-man.

Bert found Snap very glad indeed to see him, and as the train was then at a standstill the boy took the chain off the dog's collar, and let him run about the car a little, for he had to be kept chained fast while the cars were in motion.

"I guess you want to run about a bit, eh, Snap?" said Bert.

"Bow wow!" barked the dog, and that was the best answer he could make. The man in the baggage car had seen to it that Snap had plenty of water to drink, for the day was very hot.

"Better chain him up again, my boy," suggested the baggage man, after a bit. "We'll start pretty soon now."

Bert led Snap over to the side of the car, where the collar-chain dangled, but, just then, Snap, looking out of the door of the baggage car, saw a strange dog on the depot platform. Whether Snap knew this dog, or thought he did, Bert could not tell.

But, an instant later, with a bark, Snap pulled away from Bert's grasp on his collar, and leaped out of the open car door. At the same moment the train started off.

"Snap! Snap!" cried Bert. "Come back here!"