The heavy downpour of rain had ceased now, and everybody ran to the barn
see what damage the fire had done.
"It almost caught my pigeon coop!" said Harry, as he examined
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
"John, are you sure you didn't drop a match in the hay?"
"Positive, sir!" answered John. "I never use a match while
Didn't even have one in my clothes."
Bert whispered something to Harry. It was too much to have John blamed for
"Father!" said Harry bravely, but with tears in his eyes. "It
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
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
"Now, Harry, stop your crying, and tell me about it," the father
Harry tried to obey, but his tears choked him. Bert was the first able to
"Oh, Uncle Daniel," he cried, "we really didn't mean to smoke.
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
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.
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
"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
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,
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
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
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
would be swept away."
"And the barn and henhouse are nearer the pond than the house even!"
remarked. "It would be an awful loss for a poor man."
"Let's go up in the attic and see how high the pond is," Harry
From the top of the house the boys could see across the high pond bank into
"My!" Bert exclaimed; "isn't it awful!"
"Yes, it is," Harry replied. "You see, all the streams from
wash into this pond, and in a big storm like this it gets very dangerous."
"Why do they build houses in such dangerous places?" asked Bert.
"Oh, you see, that house of Burns' has stood there maybe one hundred
long before any dam was put in the pond to work the sawmill," said
"Oh, that's it - is it?" Bert replied. "I thought it was
queer to put
houses right in line with a dam."
"See how strong the water is getting," went on Harry. "Look
at that big log
"It will be fun when it stops raining," remarked Bert. "We
can sail things
"Yes, I've seen the pond come right up across the road down at Hopkins'
once," Harry told his cousins. "That was when it had rained a
"Say," called Dinah from the foot of the stairs. "You boys
up there better
get your boots on and look after that Frisky cow. John's gone off
somewhere, and dat calf am crying herself sick out in de barn. Maybe she
It did not take long to get their boots and overcoats on and hurry out to
"Sure enough, she is getting drownded!" exclaimed Harry, as they
poor little calf standing in water up to her knees.
"Where is all the water coming from?" sked Bert.
"I don't know," Harry answered, "unless the tank upstairs
The boys ran up the stairs and found, just as Harry thought, the tank that
supplied all the barns with water, and which also gave a supply for the
house to be used on the lawn, was flowing over.
"Is there any way of letting it out?" asked Bert, quite frightened.
"We can open all the faucets, besides dipping out pailfuls," said
"But I wish John would get back."
Harry ran to get the big water pail, while Bert turned on the faucet at
outside of the barn, the one in the horse stable, another that supplied
water for the chickens and ducks, and the one John used for carriage
washing. Frisky, of course, had been moved to a dry corner and now stopped
Harry gathered all the large water pails he could carry, and hurried up
the tank followed by Bert.
"It has gone down already," said Harry, as they looked into the
"But we had better dip out all we can, to make sure. Lucky we found
soon as we did, for there are all father's tools on the bench right under
the tank, besides all those new paints that have just been opened."
"Here comes John now," said Bert, as he heard the barn door open
"Come up here, John!" called Harry; "we're almost flooded
out. The tank
"It did!" exclaimed John. "Gracious! I hope nothing is spoiled."
"Oh, we just caught it in tine," Harry told him, "and we
opened up the
faucets as soon as we could. Then we began dipping out, to make sure."
"You were smart boys this time," John told him, "and saved
a lot of trouble
by being so prompt to act. There is going to be a flood sure. The dam is
roaring like Niagara, and they haven't opened the gates yet."
"I'm glad we are up high," Bert remarked, for he had never seen
flood before, and was a good deal frightened at the prospect.
"Hey, John!" called Freddie from the back porch. "Hey, bring
me some more
nails, will you? I need them for my ark."
"He's building an ark!" laughed Bert. "Guess we'll need it
all right if this
Harry got some nails from his toolbox in the carriage house, and the boys
went up to the house.
There they found Freddie on the hard cement cellar floor, nailing boards
together as fast as his little hammer could drive the nails in.
"How's that?" asked the little fellow, standing up the raft.
"I guess that will float," said Bert, "and when it stops
raining we can try
"I'm going to make a regular ark like the play one I've got home,"
Freddie, "only mine will be a big one with room for us all, besides
Snoop, Fluffy, and - "
"Old Bill. We'll need a horse to tow us back when the water goes down,"
Freddie went on working as seriously as if he really expected to be a little
Noah and save all the people from the flood.
"My, but it does rain!" exclaimed somebody on the front porch.
It was Uncle Daniel, who had just returned from the village, soaking wet.
"They can't open the gates," Uncle Daniel told Aunt Sarah. "They
water get so high the planks sailed away and now they can't get near the
"That is bad for the poor Burns family!" exclaimed Aunt Sarah.
"I had better
have John drive me down and see if they need anything."
"I stopped in on my way up," Uncle Daniel told her, "and
they were about
ready to move out. We'll bring them up here if it gets any worse."
"Why don't they go to the gates in a boat?" asked Bert.
"Why, my dear boy," said Uncle Daniel, "anybody who would
go near that
torrent in a boat might as well jump off the bridge. The falls are twenty-
five feet high, and the water seems to have built them up twice that. If
one went within two hundred feet of the dam the surging water would carry
"You see," said Harry, explaining it further, "there is like
a window in the
falls, a long low door. When this is opened the water is drawn down under
and does not all have to go over the falls."
"And if there is too much pressure against the stone wall that makes
dam, the wall may be carried away. That's what we call the dam bursting,"
finished Uncle Daniel.
All this was very interesting to Bert, who could not help being frightened
at the situation.
The boys told Uncle Daniel how the tank in the barn had overflowed, and
said they had done good work to prevent any damage.
"Oh, Uncle Daniel!" exclaimed Freddie, just then running up from
"Come and see my ark! It's most done, and I'm going to put all the
and things in it to save them from the flood."
"An ark!" exclaimed his uncle, laughing. "Well, you're a
fellow to build an ark to-day, Freddie, for we will surely need one if this
keeps up," and away they went to examine the raft Freddie had actually
nailed together in the cellar.
That was an awful night in Meadow Brook, and few people went to bed, staying
up instead to watch the danger of the flood. The men took turns walking
along the pond bank all night long, and their low call each hour seemed
strike terror in the hearts of those who were in danger.
The men carried lanterns, and the little specks of light were all that could
be seen through the darkness.
Mrs. Burns had refused to leave her home.
"I will stay as long as I can," she told Uncle Daniel. "I
have lived here
many a year, and that dam has not broken yet, so I'm not going to give up
"But you could hardly get out in time should it break," insisted
Daniel, "and you know we have plenty of room and you are welcome with
Still she insisted on staying, and each hour when the watchman would call
from the pond bank, just like they used to do in old war-times: "Two
- and - all is - well!" Mrs. Burns would look up and say, "Dear
Peter, of course, was out with the men. He could not move his barns and
chicken house, but he had taken his cow and horse to places of safety.
There were other families along the road in danger as well as the Burnses,
but they were not so near the dam, and would get some warning to escape
before the flood could reach them should the dam burst.
How the water roared! And how awfully dark it was! Would morning ever
"Four o'clock - the water rises!" shouted the men from the bank.
"Here, Mary!" called Peter Burns at the door of their little home,
your shawl on and run up the road as fast as you can! Don't wait to take
anything, but go!"
"Oh, my babies' pictures!" she cried. "My dear babies! I
must have them."
The poor frightened little woman rushed about the house looking for the
much-prized pictures of her babies that were in heaven.
"It's a good thing they all have a safe home to-night," she thought,
their mother could not give them safety if they were here."
"Come, Mary!" called Peter, outside. "That dam is swaying
like a tree-top,
and it will go over any minute." With one last look at the little home
Burns went out and closed the door.
Outside there were people from all along the road. Some driven out of their
homes in alarm, others having turned out to help their neighbors.
The watchmen had left the bank. A torrent from the dam would surely wash
that away, and brave as the men were they could not watch the flood any
"Get past the willows quick!" called the men. "Let everybody
who is not
needed hurry up the road!"
Mr. Mason, Mr. Hopkins, Uncle Daniel, and John, besides Peter Burns, were
the men most active in the life-saving work. There were not many boats to
be had, but what there were had been brought inland early in the day, for
otherwise they would have been washed away long before down the stream into
"What [sic] that?" called Uncle Daniel, as there was a heavy crash over
Then everybody listened breathless.
It was just coming daylight, and the first streak of dawn saw the end of
Not one man in the crowd dared to run up that pond bank and look over the
"It's pretty strong!" said the watchman. "I expected to hear
it crash an
There was another crash!
"There she goes!" said Mr. Burns, and then nobody spoke.
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Room | The
Bobbsey Twins in the Country