Chapter XXI. The Rescue of Snoop, the Kitten
 

IT was certainly something that nobody had been expecting, and as the kite went higher and higher, and Snoop with it, both Flossie and Freddie set up a loud cry of fear.

"Snoop will be killed!" exclaimed the little girl. "Oh, poor dear Snoop!" and she wrung her hands in despair.

"Let him down!" shrieked Freddie. "Oh, Bert, please let my dear kitten down, won't you?"

Bert did not hear, for he was running over the common just as hard as he could, in his endeavor to raise the kite. Up and up it still went, with poor Snoop dangling helplessly at the end of the swaying tail.

At last Bert ran past the old barn which I have already mentioned. Just as he did this he happened to look up at the kite.

"Hullo, what's on the tail?" he yelled. "Is that a cat?"

"It's Snoop!" called out Freddie, who was rushing after his big brother. "Oh, Bert, do let him down. If he falls, he'll be killed."

"Well, I never!" ejaculated Bert.

He stopped running and gradually the kite began to settle close to the top of the barn. Poor Snoop was swinging violently at the end of the ragged tail. The swinging brought the frightened creature closer still to the barn, and all of a sudden Snoop let go of the kite tail and landed on the shingles.

"Snoop is on the barn!" cried Bert, as the kite settled on the grass a few yards away.

"Oh, Snoop! Snoop! are you hurt?" cried Freddie, running back a distance, so that he might get a view of the barn top.

Evidently Snoop was not hurt. But he was still scared, for he stood on the edge of the roof, with his tail standing straight up.

"Meow! meow! meow!" he said plaintively.

"He is asking for somebody to take him down," said Freddie. "Aren't you, Snoop?"

"Meow!" answered the black kitten.

"Oh, dear me, what will you do now?" cried Flossie, as she came chasing up.

"Perhaps I can get to the roof from the inside," said Bert, and he darted quickly into the barn.

There was a rickety pair of stairs leading to the barn loft and this he mounted. In the loft all was dark and full of cobwebs. Here and there were small holes through the roof, through which the water came every time it rained.

"Snoop! Snoop!" he called, putting his mouth close to one of the holes.

The kitten turned around in surprise. He hardly knew from whence the voice came, but he evidently knew Bert was calling, for he soon came in that direction.

As the barn was an old one and not fit to use, Bert felt it would do no harm to knock a shingle or two from the roof. Looking around, he espied a stout stick of wood lying on the floor and with this he began an attack on the shingles and soon had two of them broken away.

"Come, Snoop!" he called, looking out of the hole. "Come here!"

But the sound of the blows had frightened the kitten, and Snoop had fled to the slope of the roof on the opposite side of the barn.

"Where is he?" called the boy, to the twins below,

"Gone to the other side," said Freddie. "Don't like the noise, I guess."

"Chase him over here," returned Bert.

Both Freddie and Flossie tried to do so. But Snoop would not budge, but stood on the very edge of the roof, as if meditating a spring to the ground.

"Don't jump, please don't jump, Snoop!" pleaded Flossie. "If you jump you'll surely break a leg, or maybe your back!"

Whether Snoop understood this or not, it would be hard to say. But he did not jump, only stayed where he was and meowed louder than ever.

"Can't you drive him over?" asked Bert, after a long wait.

"Won't come," said Freddie. "Wants to jump down, I guess."

Hearing this, Bert ran down to the lower floor and outside.

"Can't you get a ladder?" asked Flossie. "Perhaps Mr. Roscoe will lend you one."

Mr. Roscoe lived at the other end of the common. He was a very old and very quiet man, and the majority of the girls and boys in Lakeport were afraid of him. He lived all alone and was thought to be queer.

"I--I can see," said Bert hesitatingly.

He ran across the common to Mr. Roscoe's house and rapped on the door. Nobody came and he rapped again, and then a third time.

"Who's there?" asked a voice from within.

"Please, Mr. Roscoe, is that you?" asked Bert.

"Yes."

"Well, our kitten is on the top of your old barn and can't get down. Can you lend me a ladder to get him down with?"

"Kitten on my barn? How did he get there?" and now the old man opened the door slowly and cautiously. He was bent with age and had white hair and a long white beard.

"He went up with a kite," said Bert, and explained the case, to which the old man listened with interest.

"Well! well! well!" exclaimed Mr. Roscoe, in a high piping voice. "Going to take a sail through the air, was he? You'll have to build him a balloon, eh?"

"I think he had better stay on the ground after this."

"He must be a high-flyer of a cat," and the old man chuckled over his joke.

"Will you lend me a ladder?" went on Bert.

"Certainly, my lad. The ladder is in the cow-shed yonder. But you'll have to raise it yourself, or get somebody to raise it for you. My back is too old and stiff for such work."

"I'll try it alone first," answered the boy.

He soon had the long ladder out and was dragging it across the common. It was very heavy and he wondered who he could get to help him raise it. Just then Danny Rugg came along.

"What are you doing with old Roscoe's ladder?" he asked.

Bert was on the point of telling Danny it was none of his business, but he paused and reflected. He wanted no more quarrels with the big boy.

"I am going to get our cat down from the barn roof," he answered.

"Humph!"

"Do you want to help me raise the ladder, Danny?"

"Me? Not much! You can raise your own ladder."

"All right, I will, if you don't want to help me," said Bert, the blood rushing to his face.

"So that's your cat, is it?" cried Danny, looking toward the barn. "I wouldn't have such a black beast as that! We've got a real Maltese at our house."

"We like Snoop very much," answered Bert, and went on with his ladder.

Danny hunted for a stone, and watching his chance threw it at Snoop. It landed close to the kitten's side and made Snoop run to the other side of the barn roof.

"Stop that, Danny Rugg!" cried a voice from the other end of the common, and Nan appeared. She had just heard about the happening to Snoop and was hurrying to the spot to see if she could be of assistance.

"Oh, go on with your old cat!" sneered Danny, and shuffled off past Mr. Roscoe's house.

The old man had come out to see what Bert was going to do with the ladder, and now he came face to face with Danny Rugg.

"Well, is it possible!" murmured the old man to himself. "That boy must belong around here after all!"

When Bert reached the barn he found a dozen boys collected, and several volunteered to assist him in raising the long ladder. It was hard work, and once the ladder slipped, but in the end it rested against the barn roof and then Bert went up in a hurry.

"Come, Snoop!" he called, and the kitten came and perched himself on Bert's shoulder.

When Bert came down the ladder those standing around set up a cheer, and Freddie and Flossie clapped their hands in delight.

"Oh, I'm so glad you got him back!" said Freddie and hugged the kitten almost to death.

"What boy was that who threw the stone?" asked Mr. Roscoe of Nan, while Bert was returning the ladder to the cow-shed.

"That was Danny Rugg," answered Nan. "He is a bad boy."

"I know he is a bad boy," said Mr. Roscoe. "A very bad boy indeed." And then the old man hurried off without another word. What he said meant a good deal, as we shall soon see.