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The Bobbsey Twins in the Country(Chapter16)

2006-08-22 19:41

  Chapter XVI. The Flood

  The heavy downpour of rain had ceased now, and everybody ran to the barn to see what damage the fire had done.

  "It almost caught my pigeon coop!" said Harry, as he examined the blackened beams in the barn near the wire cage his birds lived in.

  "The entire back of this barn will have to be rebuilt," said Uncle Daniel. "John, are you sure you didn't drop a match in the hay?"

  "Positive, sir!" answered John. "I never use a match while I'm working. Didn't even have one in my clothes."

  Bert whispered something to Harry. It was too much to have John blamed for their wrongdoing.

  "Father!" said Harry bravely, but with tears in his eyes. "It was our fault; we set the barn afire!"

  "What!" exclaimed Uncle Daniel in surprise. "You boys set the barn afire!"

  "Yes," spoke up Bert. "It was mostly my fault. I threw the cigarette away and we couldn't find it."

  "Cigarette!" exclaimed Uncle Daniel. "What! - you boys smoking!"

  Both Bert and Harry started to cry. They were not used to being spoken to like that, and of course they realized how much it cost to put that nasty old cigarette in their mouths. Besides there might have been a great deal more damage if it hadn't been for the rain.

  "Come with me!" Uncle Daniel said; "we must find out how all this happened," and he led the unhappy boys into the coach house, where they all sat down on a bench.

  "Now, Harry, stop your crying, and tell me about it," the father commanded.

  Harry tried to obey, but his tears choked him. Bert was the first able to speak.

  "Oh, Uncle Daniel," he cried, "we really didn't mean to smoke. We only rolled up some corn silk in a piece of paper and - "

  His tears choked back his words now, and Harry said:

  "It was I who rolled the cigarette, father, and it was awful, it almost made us sick. Then when Bert put it in his mouth - "

  "I threw it away and it must have fallen in the hay!" said Bert.

  "Why didn't you come and tell me?" questioned Uncle Daniel severely. "It was bad enough to do all that, but worse to take the risk of fire!"

  "Well, the storm was coming," Harry answered, "and we went to help John with the hay!"

  "Now, boys," said Uncle Daniel, "this has been a very serious lesson to you and one which you will remember ail your lives. I need not punish you any more; you have suffered enough from the fright of that awful fire. And if it hadn't been that you were always pretty good boys the Lord would not have sent that shower to save us as He did."

  "I bet I'll never smoke again as long as 1 live," said Harry determinedly through hid [sic] tears.

  "Neither will I," Bert said firmly, "and I'll try to make other fellows stop if I can."

  "All right," answered Uncle Daniel, "I'm sure you mean that, and don't forget to thank the Lord to-night for helping us as He did. And you must ask His pardon too for doing wrong, remember."

  This ended the boys' confession, but they could not stop crying for a long time, and Bert felt so sick and nervous he went to bed without eating any supper. Uncle Daniel gave orders that no one should refer to the fire or cause the boys any more worry, as they were both really very nervous from the shock, so that beyond helping John clear things up in the burned end of the barn, there was no further reference to the boys' accident.

  Next day it rained very hard - in fact, it was one of those storms that come every summer and do not seem to know when to go away.

  "The gate at the sawmill dam is closed," Harry told Bert, "and if the pond gets any higher they won't be able to cross the plank to open up the gate and let the water out."

  "That would be dangerous, wouldn't it?" Bert asked.

  "Very," replied Harry. "Peter Burns' house is right in line with the dam at the other side of the plank, and if the dam should ever burst that house wou

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