The Bobbsey Twins at Home/Chapter 20
LOST IN A STORM
"Oh, Tommy's in! Tommy's in!" cried Freddie, as he saw what had happened. "Oh, he'll be drowned!"
"Let's see if we can get him out!" shouted Johnnie.
"No, we mustn't go near that place. It's dangerous—Bert said so!" said Freddie. "I'll run and tell my father. He'll know what to do."
And this, really, was the wise thing to do, for such little boys as Freddie and Johnnie could not do much toward getting Tommy out of the cold water. Some other skaters, seeing what had happened, were gliding toward the big hole which had opened in the ice, and more boys or girls might have fallen in had not a man, who was skating near them, warned them away.
"Keep back!" shouted the man. "If you go too near, the ice will give way with you. I'll see if I can get him out."
By this time Tommy's head was to be seen above the water. He knew how to swim, but one cannot do much swimming in ice-cold water, and with skates on one's feet, besides wearing heavy clothing. Poor Tommy was in a sad plight.
"Help! Help!" he called.
"Yes, I'll help you as soon as I can," answered the man. "I must get a plank to put down on the ice, though, so it will bear my weight."
A plank on thin ice acts just as Bert's snowshoes did on the snow, it holds a person up, keeping him from breaking through.
While the man was running toward the piles of lumber in Mr. Bobbsey's yard, which was on the edge of the lake, Freddie and Johnnie, not stopping to take off their skates, ran toward the office where Freddie's father was.
By this time the men in the lumber office, looking out on the lake, had seen that something was wrong. And they guessed what sort of accident it was. Some of them ran out, and Mr. Bobbsey followed them.
"Oh, Daddy!" cried Freddie, when he saw his father. "He's in!"
"Who? Not Bert or Harry, I hope!"
"No, it's Tommy Todd—you know the boy—"
"Yes, yes! I know him. He went through the ice, did he? Here, men, get a rope to throw to him. The ice is too thin to go close enough to reach his hand. We must pull him out with a rope."
There were ropes in the office, to be used in tying loads of lumber on the delivery wagons, and Mr. Bobbsey caught up a coil and ran toward the place where Tommy was struggling in the water.
By this time the man who had warned the other skaters away had found two planks. He carried them as near to the edge of the hole through which Tommy had fallen as was safe. Then Mr. Bobbsey came with the rope. He walked out on the planks and called to Tommy.
"Catch hold of the rope, Tommy, and we'll pull you out!" shouted Mr. Bobbsey.
He tossed one end of the rope to the boy in the water, but it fell short. Pulling it back to him Mr. Bobbsey tossed it again. This time a coil fell near Tommy's hand. He grasped it and then Mr. Bobbsey and the other man, who was Mr. Randall, pulled Tommy out on the solid ice. Poor Tommy could hardly breathe.
"We must get him to a warm place at once!" cried Mr. Bobbsey. "I'll carry him to my office. There's a roaring hot fire there, and if we wrap him well in blankets we may keep him from getting cold."
In his arms Mr. Bobbsey carried the dripping lad. Luckily Tommy had kept his lips closed when he fell into the water, and he knew enough not to breathe when his head was under, so he had not swallowed too much water. But he was wet through, and ice-cold.
Mr. Randall first warned the other boys and girls about going too near the hole, then he stuck one of the planks up near it, with a piece of rag on it as a danger signal.
Beside the warm fire in the lumber office Tommy was undressed and wrapped in warm blankets. One of the men made some hot cocoa, and when Tommy drank this he felt much better.
"But you can't put on your clothes for a long time—not until they are well dried," said Mr. Bobbsey. "I guess Bert has an extra suit that will fit you. I'll telephone to my wife and have her send it here."
Sam, who was Dinah's husband, came a little later with an old suit of Bert's, and Mrs. Bobbsey sent word that Tommy was to keep it, as Bert did not need it any longer.
"But it's a fine suit for me," said Tommy, when he was dressed in it. "I guess it was lucky I fell in the water—I got some nice clothes by it."
"But don't fall in again even for that," said Mr. Bobbsey with a laugh. "You may take cold yet."
But Tommy did not. One of Mr. Bobbsey's friends happened to stop at the office on business, and, having a closed automobile, he offered to take Tommy home, so the boy would not have to go out in the cold air after his unexpected bath in the lake.
Bert and Harry, on coming back after their race to the lower end of the lake, were surprised to learn what had happened to Tommy. And when he had had enough of skating Bert said he would go and see if Tommy had reached home safely, and if Mrs. Todd needed anything.
Bert and Harry, who went with him, found Tommy sitting near the fire in the humble home near the city dumps.
"I'm glad I don't live here," said Harry, as he looked around before entering the house.
"I am too," added Bert. "It isn't very nice. I suppose when Tommy's father was alive they had things much nicer."
Tommy smiled at his two boy callers.
"This isn't working," he said. "And I ought to be at work, for it's Saturday and I do most of my errands then. But grandmother thought I ought to get warmed through before going out again."
"I guess that's right," said Bert. "How is your grandmother? Father told me to ask."
"She isn't very well," Tommy answered. "In fact, she had to go to bed after I came home. She says she feels sick."
"Maybe she ought to have a doctor," said Bert.
"Don't let her hear you say that," whispered Tommy. "She's in the next room, and she doesn't like to think of calling in a doctor. She says she hasn't any money to pay him."
"But that's not right," Bert began. "She ought to—"
Just then Harry nudged his cousin, and winked his eye in a way Bert understood. So Bert did not finish what he had started to say. Instead he remarked:
"Is there anything we can do for you, Tommy?"
"No, thank you, I guess not," answered the other. "I'm all right now, and I don't believe I'll take cold."
When Bert and Harry were outside and on their way home, Bert asked:
"What did you punch me for in there?"
"I didn't want you to talk so much about a doctor. I guess they haven't any money to pay one."
"No, I guess they haven't."
"But what's the matter with my paying for one to make a visit?" asked Harry. "Dad gave me some money to spend when I came on this visit, and I have most of it left. You've been doing all the treating. And you gave Tommy that suit; so I want to pay for a doctor's visit."
"We'll ask mother about it," said Bert. "I guess it would be better to have a doctor see Mrs. Todd."
Mrs. Bobbsey said it was very kind of Harry to think of using his pocket money to pay for a doctor for the sick.
"But you will not need to," she said. "There are physicians paid by the city to visit the poor. But I think we will have our own Dr. Young call and see her. The city physicians have enough to do in the Winter when there is so much illness. I'll send Dr. Young, and pay him myself."
Afterward Dr. Young told Mrs. Bobbsey that Mrs. Todd was not dangerously ill. She needed a tonic, perhaps, and this he gave her.
"But what she needs, most of all," he said, "is to get into a better house. It is not healthful down there. And she needs more and better food."
"Then I'll look after her," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "I belong to a club, the ladies of which are glad to help the poor. We will make Mrs. Todd our special case. I'll see what we can do about getting her into a better house, too. She is a very good woman and Mr. Bobbsey says he never had a better errand boy than Tommy."
Mrs. Bobbsey and the members of her club did many things for Mrs. Todd and Tommy. They planned to have them move into another house, but as the weather was very cold they decided that it was better for Mrs. Todd that she should wait a bit before making the change. Mrs. Bobbsey often sent good food to Tommy's grandmother. Sometimes Bert or Nan took the basket, and, when the weather was nice, Flossie and Freddie were allowed to go.
One Saturday afternoon about a week after the country visitors had gone home, when Dinah had finished baking bread, cake and pies, Mrs. Bobbsey said:
"I wish Mrs. Todd had some of these good things. But I haven't time to go down there to-day, and Bert and Nan are away."
"Let us go, Mother," begged Flossie. "Freddie and I can carry the basket easily."
"Well, I suppose you could," said Mrs. Bobbsey slowly. "It isn't very cold out to-day, though it looks as if it would snow. But perhaps it won't until you get back. You know the way to Mrs. Todd's now, and it isn't too far for you. But hurry back."
The little twins promised, and were soon on their way. They had often gone on long walks by themselves, for they knew their way fairly well about the city, and down toward Tommy's house there were few wagons or automobiles, so it was safe for them.
Carrying the basket of good things Flossie and Freddie were soon at the place where Mrs. Todd lived.
"You are good little ones to come so far to bring an old woman something to eat," said Mrs. Todd, with a smile, when she opened the door. "Come in and sit by the fire to get warm."
"We can't stay very long," said Flossie.
But she and Freddie stayed longer than they meant to, for Mrs. Todd knew many stories and she told the little twins two or three as they sat by the fire.
"Oh, it's snowing—snowing hard!" said Freddie suddenly, as he looked out of the window when Mrs. Todd had finished a story about a little red hen.
"Then we must hurry home," said Flossie.
They put on their wraps and overshoes and, bidding Mrs. Todd good-bye, off they went. But they had no sooner got outdoors than they found themselves in a bad storm. The wind was blowing hard, and the white flakes were swirling all around them.
"Why—why, I can hardly see!" cried Flossie. "It's just like a fog."
"And—and it's hard to breathe," said Freddie. "The wind blows right down my mouth."
"We could walk backwards and then it wouldn't," said Flossie, and they tried that for a while.
The children had been out in storms before, but they could not remember ever having been in one where the snow was so thick. As Flossie had said, she could hardly see because there were so many flakes coming down.
"Take hold of my hand, Freddie, and don't let go," said Flossie to her brother. "We don't want to get lost."
Along the street they walked as best they could, sometimes going backward so the wind would not blow in their faces so hard, and when they walked with their faces to the wind they held down their heads.
"Are we 'most home?" asked Flossie after a while.
"Well, I don't see our house," replied Freddie. "We've come far enough to be there, too."
They walked on a little farther and then Freddie stopped.
"What's the matter?" asked Flossie.
"I can't see any houses, or anything," answered her brother. "I—I guess we've come the wrong way, Flossie. I don't know where we are."
"Do you mean we—we're lost, Freddie?"
"I'm afraid so."