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rings of fur around it.

"It's a little bear!" gasped Nan. "Oh, Bert! we'd better run back to
camp before the big bear comes."

Bert looked at the furry animal, whose bright eyes peered at the Bobbsey
twins, and then Nan's brother laughed.

"I know what it is!" he said. "It's a raccoon. I can tell by the rings
on its tail."

"A raccoon!" gasped Nan. "Will it - will it hurt us?"

"No," answered Bert, and this was borne out a moment later, for with a
snorting grunt the raccoon turned and scurried away into the bushes.

"There!" said Bert. "He's gone!"

"I'm glad of it," returned Nan, with a sigh of relief. "I don't like
raccoons when I'm chestnutting."

"They're nice!" declared Bert. "I wish I could see him again."

But the raccoon did not show itself, probably being just as much
frightened at having seen the Bobbsey twins as Nan was at getting a
glimpse of the ring-tailed creature.

Over this little fright, the Bobbsey twins walked on again, and soon
they had reached the grove that the foreman had told them about.

"This must be the place - there are chestnut trees here," said Bert. His
father had taught him how to tell the more common sorts of trees by
means of their leaves and bark.

"Well, let's look for chestnuts," proposed Nan.

With sticks the children began poking among the leaves, turning them
over, for the little brown nuts, when the frost has popped them out of
their prickly shells, have a great trick of hiding under the leaves.

"Oh, I've found one!" cried Nan. "Two - three! Oh, Bert, I've found
three!"

She held out her hand with three shining brown nuts in it.

"Ought to be a lot more than that here," said Bert, still poking away
among the leaves. "There's lots of trees and fresh burrs here. I guess
the squirrels and chipmunks have been here too."

"Oh, I've found two more! I'm beating you!" laughed Nan, as she picked
up more nuts.

"I've found one, anyhow, and it's a big one," cried Bert, as he picked
up his first. "But there aren't as many as I thought there would be."

The children continued to pick up a few nuts at a time, but there were
not so many scattered over the ground as the lumberman had led them to
expect.

"There's the chap who's been taking the nuts!" suddenly cried Bert.

"Who?" asked Nan, looking up after stooping to pick two of the brown
prizes from a bursted burr.

"That squirrel!" cried Bert, pointing to one of the big-tailed gray
fellows, sitting on a tree and looking down at the Bobbsey twins. "He
and the chipmunks can soon clean up a chestnut grove."

Just then a red squirrel, one of the most noisy chatterers of the woods,
caught sight of the children and began to "scold" them. Oh, what a
racket he made, his thin tail jerking from side to side as he gave his
shrill cries! Bert and Nan laughed at him.

"He's had his share of nuts," said Bert, "and he's mad 'cause we're
taking some, I guess. But we aren't getting as many as we'd like."

"No," agreed Nan. "Maybe if we go on a little farther we'll find more."

"We'll try," agreed Bert and, almost before they knew it, the two
children had wandered some distance from the place where Mr. Denton had
told them to stop.

"Oh, look! There's a pile of nuts here!" cried Nan, reaching another
grove of chestnut trees. "The squirrels haven't been here yet! Goodie!"

This was evident, for it did not take long, poking among the dried
leaves, to show that the chestnuts were quite thick on the ground. In a
short time Bert and Nan had half filled the salt bags they had brought
with them to hold their spoils of the woods.

"Oh, this is great!" cried Nan, straightening up after four or five
minutes of picking nuts from the ground.

"A little more of this and we'll have enough," said her brother.

But just then Nan looked up at the sky, which she could see through the
overhead trees, and what she saw in the heavens made her exclaim:

"Bert, I believe it's going to storm! Look at the clouds! And it's
getting ever so much colder, too!"

Indeed there was a chill in the air that had not been present when the
Bobbsey twins started out that morning.

"Well, we'll go back in a few minutes," Bert suggested. But a little
while after he had said this, there was a quick darkening of the air,
the wind began to blow, and, so suddenly as to startle the children,
they found themselves enveloped in such a blinding, driving squall of
snow that they could not see ten feet on either side!

"Oh, Bert!" cried Nan. "It's a blizzard! Oh, shall we ever get back to
Cedar Camp and to mother?"




CHAPTER XI - OLD MRS. BIMBY


"Pooh!" exclaimed Bert Bobbsey, as he ran through the half-blinding
snowstorm toward Nan. "This isn't anything! It's only what they call a
squall. I s'pose they call it that because the wind howls, or squalls,
like a baby. Anyhow, I'm not afraid! It's fun, I think!"

By this time he had reached Nan's side, the two having been separated
when the sudden storm burst. And now that Nan saw Bert near her and
noticed that he had his bag of lunch, as she had hers, she took heart
and said:

"Well, maybe it won't be so bad if we can find a place to stay, and can
eat our dinner."

"Of course we can!" cried Bert. "There's lots of places to stay in these
woods. We can find a hollow tree! I'll look for one!"

"Oh, don't!" cried Nan, as Bert moved away from her. "I don't want to go
into a hollow tree. There might be owls in 'em!"

"Well, that's so," admitted Bert. "I'm not afraid of owls," he said
quickly, "but of course their claws could get tangled in your hair. I'll
look for another place - or I can make a lean-to. That's what the
lumbermen and hunters do."

"I think it would be just as easy to get under one of the big, green
Christmas trees," suggested Nan. "Look, hardly any snow falls under
them."

She pointed to a large cedar tree near them, and, as you may have
noticed if you were ever in the woods where these trees grow, scarcely
any snow drifts under their low-hanging branches.

"That would be a regular tent for us," said Nan.

"Yes," agreed Bert, peering through the storm at the tree toward which
his sister pointed. "We could get under one of those. But I think maybe
we'd better not stand still. Let's walk on."

"But toward home!" suggested Nan. "We oughtn't to go any farther
gathering nuts, Bert."

"No, I guess not," he agreed. "Anyhow, we have quite a lot. We'll start
back for Cedar Camp. And when we get hungry we'll stop under a Christmas
tree and eat. I'm beginning to feel hungry now," and Bert felt in his
overcoat pocket to make sure that the lunch, which he had put there, was
still safe. It was, he was glad to find, and Nan had hers.

"Yes, we'll eat in a little while," she said. "But we'd better start
back to camp."

So the two older Bobbsey twins started off in the blinding snowstorm,
little realizing that they were going directly away from camp instead of
toward it. The wind whipped the snow into their faces, so that they
could see only a little way in advance. And as they were in a strange
woods, with only a small path leading back to camp, it is no wonder they
became lost.

But we must not forget that we have left Flossie and Freddie, the
smaller Bobbsey twins, in trouble. In playing sawmill Freddie had tipped
Flossie out of the wheelbarrow, and the little girl had rolled down the
slippery pine-needle hill into the stream just above the dam.

"Come quick! Come quick!" Freddie had cried. "Flossie'll go over the
waterfall! Oh, hurry, somebody!"

He knew enough about waterfalls to understand that they were dangerous;
that once a boat or a person got into the current above the falls they
would be pulled along, and cast over, to drop on the rocks below.

Poor Flossie was too frightened to cry. Besides, as she fell in her head
went under the water, and you can't call out when that happens. Flossie
could only gurgle.

Luckily, however, there were several lumbermen on the bank of the
stream, floating the logs down to be snaked out by the hook and chain,
and sawed into boards. One of these men, Jake Peterson, was nearest to
Flossie when the little girl tumbled into the stream.

"I'll get you out!" cried Mr. Peterson.

He dropped the big iron-pointed pole with which he was pushing logs and
ran toward the little girl, while Freddie, trying to do all he could,
slid down the slippery hill, as it was a quicker way down than by
running.

Into the water with his big rubber boots waded Mr. Peterson, and it was
not a quarter of a minute after Flossie had fallen in before she was
lifted out.

"Oh! Oh!" she managed to gasp and gurgle, as she caught her breath,
after swallowing some of the ice-cold water. "Oh, am I dr-dr-drowned?"

"I should say not!" answered Mr. Peterson. "You'll be all right. I'll
take you to mother."

By this time Mrs. Bobbsey and Mrs. Baxter had rushed out of the log
cabin, and Tom Case came from his sawmill. Several other lumbermen,
hearing Freddie's excited cries, came running up, but there was nothing
for them to do, as Flossie was already rescued.

"What has happened?" cried Mrs. Bobbsey, as she saw her little girl,
dripping wet, in the arms of Mr. Peterson.

"She fell in," explained the lumberman. "She wasn't in more than a few
seconds, though. All she needs is dry clothes!"

"I - I dumped her in!" sobbed Freddie. "But I didn't mean to. We were
playin' sawmill with the wheelbarrow, and I gave Flossie a ride, an' I
slipped on the pine needles, and she rolled down the hill."

"Never mind, dear! You didn't mean to," answered his mother, soothingly.
"We must get Flossie to bed and keep her warm so she won't take cold."

With Mrs. Baxter's help, this was soon done, and in a short time after
the accident Flossie was sitting up in a warm bed, sipping hot lemonade
and eating crackers, while Freddie sat near her, doing the same.

Unless Flossie caught cold there would be no serious results from the
accident. But Mrs. Bobbsey used it as a lesson for Freddie, telling him
always to be careful when on a pine-needle-covered hill, near the water
especially.

Flossie was enjoying her importance now, and she was begging her mother
to tell her a story, in which request Freddie joined, when Mrs. Bobbsey,
looking out of the window, was surprised to see how dark the clouds had
become all of a sudden.

"I believe we are going to have a snowstorm," she said. And a few
minutes later the snow came down so thick and fast that the lumbermen
had to stop work, because they could not see where to drive the horses,
nor to guide the logs down the stream to the mill.

"My, what a storm!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey, as she went to the window to
look out. "A regular blizzard!"

"We can have fun coasting down hill!" laughed Freddie. "And Flossie can
be out to-morrow, can't she, Mother?"

"Yes, I think so," answered Mrs. Bobbsey, hardly thinking of what she
was saying. "I hope Bert and Nan started back from the chestnut grove
before this storm broke," she said. "If they are out in this it will be
dreadful! I must see if daddy has come back," she added, for her husband
had gone to see about the missing Christmas trees. "If Bert and Nan are
out in this storm they will lose their way, I'm sure."

And this is just what Bert and Nan did. Clutching their bundles of
lunch, and with their bags of chestnuts in their hands, the two older
Bobbsey twins were struggling onward through the storm. They were warmly
dressed, and it was not as cold as weather they had often been out in
before. But they had seldom been out in a worse storm.

"Hadn't we - maybe we'd better stop and rest and eat something, Bert,"
suggested Nan, after a while.

"Maybe we had," he agreed, half out of breath because it was hard work
walking uphill and against the wind. And almost before they knew it the
children were going up a hill, though they did not remember having come
down one on their trip to the chestnut grove.

They found a sheltered place under a big cedar tree, and, crawling
beneath its protecting branches, they sat on the bare ground, where
there was, as yet, no snow. The white flakes swirled and drifted all
about them, but the thick branches of the tree, growing low down, made a
place like a green tent.

"It's nice in here," said Bert, as he opened his bundle of lunch.

"Yes, but we ought to be at home," said Nan.

"We'll go home as soon as we eat a little," said her brother.

But after they had each eaten a sandwich and some cookies, and Bert had
cracked a few chestnuts between his teeth and had found them rather too
cold and raw to be good, the twins decided to go on.

Out into the storm they went, away from the shelter of the friendly
tree. The storm was worse, if anything, and, without knowing it, Bert
and Nan had become completely turned around. Every step they took
carried them farther and farther away from their home camp. And they had
journeyed quite a distance from the cabin before finding any chestnuts.

"Oh, Bert!" Nan exclaimed after a while, half sobbing, "I can't go a
step farther. The snow is so thick, and it's so hard to walk in. And the
wind blows it in my face, and I'm cold! I can't go another step!"

"That's too bad!" Bert exclaimed. "Maybe we're almost back to camp,
Nan."

"It doesn't look so," his sister answered, trying to peer about through
the swirling flakes.

"Wait a minute!" suddenly cried Bert, as there came a lull in the blast
of wind. "I think I see something - a cabin or a house."

"Maybe it's our cabin," suggested Nan, "though I don't remember any of
the trees around here. There aren't any cut down here as there are in
camp."

"Well, I see something, anyhow," and Bert pointed to the left, off
through the driving flakes. "Let's go there, Nan."

Through the storm the children struggled, hand in hand. They reached a
log cabin - a lonely log cabin it was, standing all by itself in the
midst of a little clearing in the woods.

"This isn't our camp, Bert!" said Nan.

"No," the boy admitted. "But somebody lives here. I see smoke coming
from the chimney. I'm going to knock."

With chilled fingers Bert pounded on the cabin door.

"Who's there?" asked a woman's voice above the racket of the storm.

"Two of the Bobbsey twins!" answered Nan, not stopping to think that
everyone might not know her and her brother by this name.

"Please let us in!" begged Bert. "We're from Cedar Camp! Who are you?"

"I'm Mrs. Bimby," was the answer, but neither Bert nor Nan recognized
the name. A moment later the cabin door was opened, and an old woman
confronted them. She looked at the two children for a moment; then, "Did
you bring any news of Jim?" she asked.




CHAPTER XII - MR. BOBBSEY IS WORRIED


Bert and Nan Bobbsey stood on the step of the log cabin, while Mrs.
Bimby, the old woman, held open the door. The snow blew swirling in
around her, and a wave of grateful warmth seemed to rush out as if to
wrap itself around the cold twins. For a moment they stood there, and
Bert was just beginning to wonder if the old woman was going to shut the
door in the faces of his sister and himself.

"Did you bring any news of Jim?" asked old Mrs. Bimby.

"Jim?" repeated Bert.

"Do you mean Jim Denton, the foreman at Cedar Camp?" asked Nan.

"No, child! I mean my Jim - Jim Bimby. He went off to town just before
this awful storm. But land sakes! here I am talking and keeping you out
in the cold. Come in!"

It was cold. Bert and Nan were beginning to feel that now, for the storm
was growing worse, and it was now late afternoon. The sun was beginning
to go down, though of course it could not be seen on account of the snow
and clouds. The Bobbsey twins had wandered farther and longer than they
had thought. But at last they had found a place of shelter.

"It's just like me to keep you standing there while I talk," said Mrs.
Bimby. "I'm sorry. But I'm so worried about Jim that I reckon I don't
know what I'm doing. Come in and get warm, and I'll give you something
to eat."

"We've got something to eat, thank you," said Nan. "But we would like to
get warm," and she followed Bert inside the log cabin, as Mrs. Bimby
stepped aside to make room for them to enter.

"Got something to eat, have you?" questioned the old woman. "Well,
you're lucky, that's all I've got to say. I've only a little, but I
expect Jim back any minute with more, though a dollar don't buy an awful
lot these days."

"Does Jim live here?" asked Bert, as he walked over to a stove, in which
a fire of wood was burning, sending out a grateful heat.

"Of course he lives here," said Mrs. Bimby. "He's my husband. He's a
logger - a lumberman."

"Oh, maybe he works for my father!" exclaimed Nan. "Mr. Bobbsey, you
know. He owns part of Cedar Camp."

"No, I don't know him," said Mrs. Bimby, "though I've heard of Cedar
Camp. They got a lot of Christmas trees out of there."

"That's what we came up about," explained Bert. "Some Christmas trees my
father bought to sell didn't come to Lakeport, and he came up here to
see about them. We came with him - and my mother and the other twins."

"Good land! are there more of you?" asked Mrs. Bimby in surprise. "You
two are twins, for a fact. But - - "

"There's Flossie and Freddie," interrupted Nan. "We left them back in
camp while we went after chestnuts."

"We got some, too," added Bert. "But we sort of got lost in the storm.
Do you s'pose your husband could take us back to Cedar Camp?" he asked
Mrs. Bimby. "My father will pay him," he said, quickly, as he saw Mrs.
Bimby shaking her head.

"Maybe Mr. Bimby works at the sawmill," suggested Nan.

"No," said the old woman, "Jim is a logger and wood cutter, but he
doesn't work at Cedar Camp. That's too far off for him to go to and get
back from."

"Too far off!" echoed Nan, and she began to have a funny feeling, as she
told Bert afterward.

"Yes," resumed Mrs. Bimby. "Cedar Camp is away over on the other side of
the hills. You're a long way from home. You must have taken the wrong
road in the storm."

"I - I guess we did," admitted Bert. "But couldn't your husband take us
back?"

Again Mrs. Bimby shook her head.

"Jim, my husband, isn't home," she said. "He went over to town just
before the storm to get us something to eat. But now I don't see how
he's going to get back," and she went to a window to look out at the
storm.

It was getting much worse, as Bert and Nan could see. The wind howled
around the corners of the log cabin of Jim Bimby, the logger, and the
blast whistled down the chimney, even blowing sparks out around the door
of the wood-burning stove.

"Yes, it's a bad storm," went on the old woman. "I wish Jim was back,
and with some victuals to eat. When you twins knocked I thought it was
Jim. I wish he'd come back, but he's an old man, and he may fall down in
the snow and not be able to get up. He isn't as strong as he used to be.
I'm certainly worried about Jim!"

"Oh, maybe he'll come along all right," said Nan, trying to be helpful
and comforting.

"If he doesn't pretty soon it'll be night, and in all this storm he
never can find his way after dark. But you children take your things off
and sit up and have a cup of tea with me. I've got some tea and
condensed milk left, anyhow."

"We can't take tea unless it's very weak," said Nan, remembering her
mother's rule in this respect.

"All right, dearie, I'll make it weak for you twins, though I like it
strong myself," said Mrs. Bimby. "My, what a storm! _What_ a storm!" and
she drew her shawl more closely around her shoulders as the wind howled
down the chimney.

Bert and Nan took off their warm things, laying their packages of lunch
and the bags of chestnuts on the table. Nan saw the old woman go to a
closet, and the glimpse the Bobbsey girl had of the shelves showed her
that they contained only a little food.

"Bert and I have some of our lunch left," said Nan.

"And you can have some, if you want to," went on Bert. "We put up a
pretty good lunch, and there's more'n half of it left."

"Bless your hearts, my dears," said Mrs. Bimby. "I wouldn't take your
lunch. You'll need it yourselves. I've a little victuals left in the
house, though if my Jim doesn't get back soon there won't be much for
to-morrow. My, what a storm! What a storm!"

The small log cabin seemed to shake and tremble in the wind, as though
it would blow away. And the snow was now coming down so thickly that
Bert and Nan could see only a short distance out of the window. There
was little to see, anyhow, save trees and bushes, and these were fast
becoming covered with snow.

Mrs. Bimby busied herself about the stove, putting the kettle on so she
could make tea, and Bert and Nan watched her. The Bobbsey twins were
wondering what would happen, how they could get home, and whether or not
their father and mother would worry. Nan looked about the cabin. She did
not see any beds, but a steep flight of stairs, leading up to what
seemed to be a second story, might provide bedrooms, Nan thought. The
cabin was clean and neat, and she was glad of that.

"I do hope Jim comes," murmured Mrs. Bimby, as she poured the boiling
water on the dry tea leaves in the pot. "I do hope he isn't
storm-bound!"

Bert and Nan hoped the same thing, for, somehow, Bert thought if Mr.
Bimby came along he would take the twins back to Cedar Camp.

"Now sit up, dearies, and have some weak tea, and I'll take mine strong.
I need it for my nerves," said the old woman.

And while Bert and Nan had thus found shelter from what turned out to be
one of the worst storms ever remembered in the country around Cedar
Camp, the other Bobbsey twins, Flossie and Freddie, were safe at home
with their mother. Flossie was now cozy and warm after her dip into the
water.

"There's your father!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey, as she heard someone
stamping off the snow at the front door. "I hope he has Bert and Nan
with him."

But when Mr. Bobbsey came in alone and heard that the older twins had
not come back from their nutting trip, a worried look came over his
face.

"Not back yet!" he exclaimed. "Why, it's getting dark and the storm is
growing worse! I must start out after them with some of the lumbermen.
They must be lost!"




CHAPTER XIII - OLD JIM


"Don't you think Bert and Nan will be along in a little while?" asked
Mrs. Bobbsey of her husband, as she crossed the big front room in the
log cabin to meet him.

"Be in _soon_!" he exclaimed. "Why, they've been gone too long now,
and - - "

Mrs. Bobbsey, not letting Flossie and Freddie see her, made a motion
with her hands toward her husband. Then he understood that his wife did
not want him to frighten the smaller twins by letting it become known
how worried he was about Bert and Nan.

"Oh - yes," said Mr. Bobbsey, as he understood his wife's idea. "Oh, yes,
Bert and Nan will be along soon now."

"I'll be glad!" exclaimed Freddie.

"So will I," added Flossie, from her place on one of the bunks in a
bedroom opening out of the living room. "I want some chestnuts."

"Hello, little Fat Fairy! what's the matter with you?" asked her father,
noticing for the first time that Flossie was in bed. "Sick?" he asked.

"I just fell in the water," Flossie explained.

"I dumped her in, but I didn't mean to," Freddie said.

"Oh! Up to some of your fireman tricks, were you?" laughed Mr. Bobbsey,
for he saw, by a glance at his wife, that the small twins were now in no
danger.

"No, Daddy, I wasn't playing fireman," Freddie answered, though that was
one of his favorite pastimes. "We were going to make a sawmill."

"Oh!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey. "Well, whatever you do, keep away from the
big buzz saw," he warned. "And now," he went on in a low voice to his
wife, so Freddie and Flossie would not hear, "we must do something about
Bert and Nan."

"Yes," she agreed. "I'm worried about them, but I didn't want Flossie
and Freddie to know. Oh, to think of their being out in this storm!"

"It is pretty bad," her husband admitted. "I was caught in it, and
hurried back. I didn't think the children would go far away."

"Nor I," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "I suppose they didn't find chestnuts where
they expected to, and wandered on. Are there any wild animals in the
woods?"

"Well, no, none to speak of," her husband said slowly. "You don't need
to worry about that. But I'll get Jim Denton, and some of the men, and
we'll start right out after Bert and Nan."

"I wish I could come with you!" exclaimed his wife, as anxious and
worried as was Mr. Bobbsey.

"You'll have to stay here with Flossie and Freddie," he said. "I'll soon
find Bert and Nan and bring them back."

"I hope so," murmured his wife, but as she glanced out of the window and


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