Chapter II. Digging Out
 

"Oh, Bert Bobbsey! look what you did," cried Nan.

She picked herself up from the barn floor, to which she had slid after having come down with the pile of hay, with her brother, right where Flossie and Freddie had been playing a moment before.

"Look what you did!" she cried again.

"I didn't do it any more than you did!" exclaimed Bert. "But where is Flossie? And where's Freddie?" He looked around, not seeing the smaller twins, and not having noticed exactly what had happened to them. "Where are they, Nan?"

"Under the hay, and we've got to dig 'em out! I'll get the pitchfork. That's what Sam does when he gets the hay to feed the horse. I can dig out Flossie and Freddie!" cried Nan,

She started to run across the barn floor, but was stopped by a call from Bert.

"Don't do that!" he said.

"What?" she asked.

"Don't get the pitchfork! It's sharp and might hurt Flossie and Freddie. I'll pull the hay off with my hands. You go and tell mother or Dinah! Somebody's got to help! There's 'most a whole load of hay on 'em I guess!"

And indeed it was a large part of the pile of hay in the Bobbsey barn that had slid from the mow when Bert jumped on it. And this hay now covered from sight the "little fireman" and the "little fat fairy," as Daddy Bobbsey called his two little twins.

"Yes, I'll go for Dinah!" cried Nan. "She knows how to dig under the hay, I guess!"

"And I'll start digging now," added Bert, as he began tossing aside the wisps of dried grass that covered his small brother and sister from sight.

And while the rescue of Freddie and Flossie is being arranged for, I will take this chance to tell my new readers something of the four children, about whom I am going to write in this book.

There are other books ahead of this one, and the first is named after the children. It is called "The Bobbsey Twins," and relates some of the early adventures of Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie. Those are the names of the twins, as you have already learned.

The Bobbsey family lived in an eastern city called Lakeport, at the head of Lake Metoka. Mr. Bobbsey was in the lumber business and had an office near his lumberyard, which was "down town" as the children called it.

Now I'll tell you just a little about the four children, their friends and something about the other books, and then I'll get on with the story, which I hope you will wish to read.

There were two sets of twins, you see. Bert and Nan were the older. They each had dark brown hair, brown eyes and were rather tall for their age, and not so very fat; though, of late, with all the good times they had had in the country at Blueberry Island and on the deep, blue sea, the older twins were getting stouter. "Fatter," Freddie called it.

Flossie and Freddie were just the opposite of Bert and Nan. The smaller pair of twins were short and stout, and each had light hair, and blue eyes that looked at you, sometimes, in the funniest way you can imagine.

Besides Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey there was Dinah, the fat, good-natured colored cook, who knew how to make more kinds of cake than you could eat in one day. And then there was Sam Johnson, her husband. Sam worked about the Bobbsey house and barn, looked after the horse and sometimes drove the automobile, though he said he liked a horse better. But the Bobbsey family liked the automobile, so the horse was used down in the lumberyard more often than to take Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie for a ride.

The Bobbsey twins had many friends and relations, but I will not take up your time, now, telling you about them. I must not forget, however, to mention Snoop and Snap. Snoop was a fine, big cat, and he was named "Snoop" because he always seemed to be "snooping" into everything, as Dinah said. Snoop didn't do that to be bad, he just wanted to find out about things. Once he wanted to find out what was inside an empty tin can, and so he stuck his head in and he couldn't get it out until Bert helped him.

Snap was the Bobbsey dog, and he wasn't called "Snap" because he would snap at you. No indeed! It was because, when Bert put a cracker on his dog's nose, the animal would "snap" it off with a jerk of his head and eat it--eat the cracker I mean. That was one reason he was called "Snap." But there were other reasons, too.

And so the Bobbsey twins lived in a fine house in a pleasant city and they had lots of fun. Those of you who have read the other books know that. They went to the country and to the seashore, to visit Uncle William at the latter place, and Uncle Daniel Bobbsey in the former.

Of course the Bobbsey twins went to school, and there is a book telling about them there, and the fun and adventures they had. Later on they went to "Snow Lodge," and after an exciting winter, they spent part of the summer on a houseboat.

When Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie went to Meadow Brook, which was the country home of Uncle Daniel, the twins never expected very much to happen. But it did, and they talked about it for a long time. Then they came home to have more good times, and, later on, went to a great city. I haven't space, here, to tell you all that happened. You must get the book and read it for yourself.

After that they spent a summer on Blueberry Island, and there were gypsies on the island. Some strange things happened, but the Bobbsey twins enjoyed every hour of their stay, and did not want to come home.

But they had to, of course, and still more strange adventures awaited them. Those you may read about in the book just before this. It is called: "The Bobbsey Twins on the Deep, Blue Sea," and in it is related how the family went on a voyage to an island off the coast of Florida, to rescue a poor, sick boy who had been left there by mistake.

Now they were home once more.

It was almost time for school to open for the fall term, and the twins were playing in the barn, making the most of the last days of their vacation, when the accident happened about the hay, as I have told you.

"Flossie! Freddie! Are you under there?" called Bert, anxiously, as he threw aside armful after armful of the dried grass. "Are you down there under the hay?"

He paused a moment to listen for an answer, but none came. If Flossie and Freddie were there, either they did not hear him or they were so smothered by the hay that they could not answer.

"Oh, I hope nothing has happened to them!" exclaimed Bert, and he began digging away faster than before.

Certainly it was a large pile of hay to have fallen on two little children. But then the hay was soft, and Bert, himself, had often been buried under a pile in the field. It had not hurt, but the dust had made him sneeze.

Faster and faster Bert dug away at the hay. He heard feet pattering on the barn floor back of him, and, turning, saw Snap, the big dog, come running in.

"Oh, Snap!" cried Bert, "Flossie and Freddie are under the hay! Help me dig 'em out!"

"Bow wow!" barked Snap, just as if he understood. Of course he didn't really know what had happened, but he saw Bert digging away and Snap himself knew enough to do that. Often enough he had dug up, with his front paws, a bone he had buried in the hard ground. This digging in the soft hay was easier than that.

So Snap began to paw aside the hay, just as Bert was doing, and while boy and dog were doing this into the barn came fat Dinah, with Nan running ahead of her.

"Whut's dish yeah has happened, Bert? Whut's all dish yeah I heah Nan say?" demanded the black cook. "Whut you done gone an' done to yo' l'il broth' an' sistah? De pooh l'il honey lambs!"

"I didn't do anything!" declared Bert. "I was swinging on a rope, over the haymow, and so was Nan. And Flossie and Freddie were playing on the barn floor under the mow. I fell on the hay and so did Nan, and a whole lot of it slid down and fell on top of Flossie and Freddie and--and--now they're down under there, I guess!"

"Good land ob massy!" exclaimed Dinah. "Dat suah is a lot to happen to mah poor l'il lambkins! Where is you, Flossie? Where is you, Freddie?" she cried.

There was no answer.

"Oh, Dinah! do get them out," begged Nan.

"I will, honey! I will!" exclaimed the colored woman.

"Shall I go to get Sam?" Nan wanted to know. "Mother isn't at home," she added to Bert. "She went over to Mrs. Black's. Oh, maybe we can't ever get Flossie and Freddie out!"

"Hush yo' talk laik dat!" cried Dinah. "Co'se we git 'em out! We kin do it. No need to git Sam. Come on now, Bert an' Nan! Dig as fast as yo' kin make yo' hands fly!"

Dinah bent over and began tossing aside the hay as Bert had been doing. Nan also helped, and Snap--well he meant to help, but he got in the way more than he did anything else, and Bert tried to send his dog out, but Snap would not go.

Faster and faster worked Dinah, Nan and Bert, and soon the big pile of hay, which had fallen on Flossie and Freddie grew smaller. It was being stacked on another part of the floor.

"Maybe I'd better go and telephone to daddy!" suggested Nan, when the hay pile had been made much smaller. "You don't see anything of them yet, do you Dinah?" she asked anxiously.

"No, not yet, honey! But I soon will. We's 'most to de bottom ob de heap. No use worritin' yo' pa. We'll git Freddie and Flossie out all right!"

Bert was tossing aside the hay so fast that his arms seemed like the spokes of a wheel going around. He felt that it was partly his fault that the hay had fallen on his little brother and sister.

"Now we'll git 'em!" cried Dinah, after a bit. "I see de barn flo' in one place. Come on out, chilluns!" she cried. "Come on out, Flossie an' Freddie! We's dug de hay offen yo' now! Come on out!"

Indeed the hay pile was now so small at the place where it had slid from the mow, that it would not have hidden Snap, to say nothing of covering the two Bobbsey twins.

But something seemed to be wrong. There were no little fat legs or chubby arms sticking out. The little Bobbsey twins were not in sight, though nearly all the hay had been moved aside.

Bert, Nan and Dinah gazed at the few wisps remaining. Then, in a queer voice Nan said:

"Why--why! They're not there!"