The Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope
Chapter XI. The Cruise of the "Ice Bird"
THE building of the ice boat by Bert and Charley Mason interested Nan almost as much as it did the boys, and nearly every afternoon she went down to the lumber yard to see how the work was getting along.
Mr. Bobbsey had given Bert just the right kind of lumber, and had a man at the saw-mill saw the sticks and boards to a proper size. He also gave his son some ropes and a pair of old iron runners from a discarded sleigh, so that all Charley had to provide was the bed-sheet already mentioned, for a sail.
The two boys worked with a will, and by Thursday evening had the ice boat completed. They christened the craft the Ice Bird, and Bert insisted upon it that his father come and see her.
"You have certainly done very well," said Mr. Bobbsey. "This looks as if you were cut out for a builder, Bert."
"Well, I'd like to build big houses and ships first-rate," answered Bert.
The sail was rigged with the help of an old sailor who lived down by the lake shore, and on Friday afternoon Bert and Charley took a short trip. The Ice Bird behaved handsomely, much to the boys' satisfaction.
"She's a dandy!" cried Bert. "How she can whiz before the wind."
"You must take me out soon," said Nan.
"I will," answered Bert.
The chance to go out with Bert came sooner than expected. On Monday morning Mrs. Mason made up her mind to pay a distant relative a visit and asked Charley if he wished to go along. The boy wanted to see his cousins very much and said yes; and thus the ice boat was left in Bert's sole charge.
"I'll take you out Monday afternoon, after school," said Bert to his twin sister.
"Good!" cried Nan. "Let us go directly school is out, so as to have some good, long rides."
Four o'clock in the afternoon found them at the lake shore. It was a cloudy day with a fair breeze blowing across the lake.
"Now you sit right there," said Bert, as he pointed to a seat in the back of the boat. "And hold on tight or you'll be thrown overboard."
Nan took the seat mentioned, and her twin brother began to hoist the sail of the Ice Bird. It ran up easily, and caught by the wind the craft began to skim over the surface of the lake like a thing of life.
"Oh, but this is lovely!" cried Nan gleefully. "How fast the boat spins along!"
"I wish there were more ice boats around," answered Bert. "We might then have a race."
"Oh, it is pleasure enough just to sail around," said Nan.
Many other boys and girls wished a ride on the ice boat, and in the end Bert carried a dozen or more across the lake and back. It was rather hard work tacking against the wind, but the old sailor had taught him how it might be done, and he got along fairly well. When the ice boat got stuck all the boys and girls got off and helped push the craft along.
"It is 'most supper time," said Nan, as the whistle at the saw-mill blew for six o'clock. "We'll have to go home soon, Bert."
"Oh, let us take one more trip," pleaded her twin brother.
The other boys and girls had gone and they were left alone. To please Bert, Nan consented, and their course was changed so that the Ice Bird might move down the lake instead of across.
It had grown dark and the stars which might have shone in the sky were hidden by heavy clouds.
"Not too far now, remember," said Nan.
The wind had veered around and was blowing directly down the lake, so, almost before they knew it, the Ice Bird was flying along at a tremendous rate of speed. Nan had to hold on tight for fear of falling off, and had to hold her hat, too, for fear that would be blown away.
"Oh, Bert, this is too fast!" she gasped, catching her breath.
"It's just glorious, Nan!" he cried. "Just hold on, it won't hurt you."
"But--how are we to get back?"
Bert had not thought of that, and at the question his face fell a little.
"Oh, we'll get back somehow." he said evasively.
"You had better turn around now."
"Let us go just a little bit further, Nan," he pleaded.
When at last he started to turn back he found himself unable to do so. The wind was blowing fiercely and the Ice Bird swept on before it in spite of all he could do.
"Bert! Bert! Oh, why don't you turn around?" screamed Nan. She had to scream in order to make herself heard.
"I--I can't," he faltered. "She won't come around."
Nan was very much frightened, and it must be confessed that Bert was frightened too. He hauled on the sail and on the steering gear, and at last the Ice Bird swung partly around. But instead of returning up the lake the craft headed for the western shore, and in a few minutes they struck some lumpy ice and some snow and dirt, and both were thrown out at full length, while the Ice Bird was tipped up on one side.
Bert picked himself up without difficulty and then went to Nan's aid. She lay deep in the snow, but fortunately was not hurt. Both gazed at the tipped-up ice boat in very great dismay.
"Bert, whatever shall we do now?" asked Nan, after a spell of silence. "We'll never get home at all!"
"Oh, yes, we shall," he said, bravely enough, but with a sinking heart. "We've got to get home, you know."
"But the ice boat is upset, and it's so dark I can't see a thing."
"I think I can right the ice boat. Anyway, I can try."
Doing his best to appear brave, Bert tried to shove the Ice Bird over to her original position. But the craft was too heavy for him, and twice she fell back, the second time coming close to smashing his toes.
"Look out, or you'll hurt your foot," cried Nan. "Let me help you."
Between them they presently got the craft right side up. But now the wind was blowing directly from the lake, so to get the Ice Bird out on the ice again was beyond them. Every time they shoved the craft out, the wind drove her back.
"Oh, dear, I guess we have got to stay here after all!" sighed Bert, at last.
"Not stay here all night, I hope!" gasped Nan. "That would be worse than to stay in the store, as Freddie did."
It began to snow. At first the flakes were but few, but soon they came down thicker and thicker, blotting out the already darkened landscape.
"Let us walk home," suggested Nan "That will be better than staying out here in the snow storm."
"It's a long walk. If only we had brought our skates." But alas! neither had thought to bring skates, and both pairs were in the office at the lumber yard.
"I don't think we had better walk home over the ice," said Bert, after another pause. "We may get all turned around and lost. Let us walk over to the Hopedale road."
"I wish we had some crullers, or something," said Nan, who was growing hungry. They had each had a cruller on leaving home, but had eaten them up before embarking on the ice-boat voyage.
"Please don't speak of them, Nan. You make me feel awfully hollow," came from her twin brother. And the way he said this was so comical it made her laugh in spite of her trouble.
The laugh put them both in better spirits and leaving the Ice Bird where she lay, they set off through the snow in the direction of the road which ran from Lakeport to the village of Hopedale, six miles away.
"It will take us over an hour to get home," said Nan.
"Yes, and I suppose we'll catch it for being late," grumbled Bert. "Perhaps we won't get any supper."
"Oh, I know mamma won't scold us after she finds out why we are late, Bert."
They had to cross a pasture and climb a fence before the road was reached. Here was an old cow-shed and they stood in the shelter of this for a moment, out of the way of the wind and driving snow.
"Hark!" cried Bert as they were on the point of continuing their journey.
"It's a dog!" answered Nan. "Oh, Bert, he's coming this way. Perhaps he is savage!"
They listened and could hear the dog plainly. He was barking furiously and coming toward them as fast as he could travel. Soon they made out his black form looming into view through the falling snow.