Old Mr. Carford continued…
Danny Rugg, mean as he was, was not quite so mean as to discourage this hope. Some of the girls on the sleds that were coming nearer to the rushing horses seemed about to roll off, rather than take chances of steering out of the way of the steeds.
“What can Bert be going to do?” asked Grace. “How can he save them?”
“I don’t know,” answered Nellie. “Let’s watch him. Maybe he’s going to stop the horses.”
“He’d never dare!” murmured Grace.
“Oh, Bert is brave,” was the answer.
But Bert had no intention of leaping for the horses’ heads just now. His first idea was to get his sister and the other girls to a place of safety. As he came near to them, his sled going much faster than theirs, he called out:
“Steer to the right! Go to the right! I’ll see if I can’t make the horses go over to one side.”
“All right!” cried Nan, who understood what her brother meant. “Keep to the right, girls,” she called to her frightened chums, “and don’t any of you fall off!”
Those who had been about to roll from their sleds now held on with firmer clasps. They were close to the runaway team now. Bert was near to them also, and, while wondering to whom they belonged, and whether they had injured their driver or anyone else in their mad rush, he caught up a handful of snow as his sled glided onward.
It was hard work to throw the snow ball at the horses, going down hill as he was, but Bert managed to do it. He had the good luck to hit one of the animals with the wad of snow, and this sent the horse over to one side, its mate following. This was just what Bert wanted, as it gave Nan and the others more room to coast past them.
And this is just what the girls did. Their sleds whizzed past the runaways, one sled, on which Hattie Jenson rode, almost grazing a hoof.
“Now you’re safe!” cried Bert. “Keep on to the foot of the hill! You’re all right!”
He gathered up another handful of snow, and threw it at the steeds, making them swerve more than ever towards the side of the hill. Then one of the animals slipped and stumbled. This caused them both to slow up, and Bert, seeing this, left his sled, rolling off, and letting it go down without him.
Hardly thinking of what he was doing, he ran for the heads of the horses. Perhaps it was not just wise, for Bert was not very tall, but he was brave. However, he was not to stop the runaways all alone, for just then some of the larger boys, who had been rushing down the hill, came up, and before the horses could start off again several lads had grasped them by the bridles and were quieting them.
“That was a good idea of yours, Bert Bobbsey,” said Frank Miller. “A fine idea, to throw snowballs at them. It made them go to one side all right, and slowed them up.”
“I wanted to save the girls,” said Bert, who was panting from his little run.
“Whose team is it?” asked another boy.
“I don’t know,” answered Bert. “I can’t say that I ever saw them before. There’s no one in the sled, anyhow, though it is pretty well loaded with stuff.”
He and the other boys looked into the vehicle. It contained a number of boxes and bags. Then the boys looked down the hill and saw that the girls who had been in danger were now safe. Nan and the others were walking up, dragging their sleds.
The boys then noticed a man half running up the slope. He was waving his arms in an excited fashion.
“I guess that’s the man who owns the horses,” said Charley Mason.
There was no doubt of it a few minutes later, when the man came close enough to make himself heard.
“Are they all right, boys?” he asked. “Are my horses hurt?”
“They don’t seem to be,” answered Frank.
“That’s good. Are my things all right?”
“Everything seems to be here,” said Charley Mason, who was standing beside Bert. “I know who he is now,” went on Charley in a low tone to his chum. “He’s Mr. James Carford, of Newton.”
“He’s lame,” observed Bert, for the man limped slightly.
“Yes, he was in the war,” went on Charley. “He’s real rich, too, but peculiar, they say.”
By this time aged Mr. Carford was looking over the team and the sled and its contents. He seemed weary and out of breath.
“Yes, everything is all right,” he said slowly. “I hope no one was hurt by my runaways, I never knew ’em to do that before. I left ’em outside the store a minute while I went in to get something, and they must have taken fright. I hope no one was hurt.”
“No, everyone got out of the way in time,” said Bert.
“That’s good. Who stopped the horses?” the old man asked.
“Bert Bobbsey,” answered Frank Miller. “He warned his sister and the other girls to steer to one side, and then he threw snow at the horses and made them fall down. Then they slowed up so we could grab ’em.”
“Ha! Bert Bobbsey did that, eh?” exclaimed aged Mr. Carford. “So this is the second time a Bobbsey has mixed up in my family affairs. The second time,” and Mr. Carford looked at Bert in a peculiar manner.
“Did you fall out of the sled, Mr. Carford?” asked another boy, coming up just then.
“No, they started off when I was in the store. Funny, too, that they should. Well, I’m glad there’s no one hurt and no damage done. I couldn’t walk home to Newton. I’m much obliged to you boys. And to you too, Bert Bobbsey.
“Are you Richard Bobbsey’s son?” he suddenly asked, peering at Bert from beneath his shaggy eyebrows.
“Ha! I thought so. You look like him. You do things like him, too, without stopping to be asked. Yes, this is the second time a Bobbsey has meddled with my family affairs. Trying to do me a good turn, I suppose. Well, well!” and he seemed lost in thought.
“What is it? What is the matter?” asked Nan, in a low voice of her brother, as she came to stand beside him. “Is he finding fault because you helped stop his runaway horses?”
“No, Nan. I don’t exactly understand what he does mean,” answered Bert. “There seems to be some mystery about it.”