“Will Snap pull us, do you think, Freddie?” asked little Flossie Bobbsey, as she anxiously looked at her small brother, who was fastening a big, shaggy dog to his sled by means of a home-made harness. “Do you think he’ll give us a good ride?”
“Sure he will, Flossie,” answered Freddie with an air of wisdom. “I explained it all to him, and I’ve tried him a little bit. He pulled fine, and you won’t be much heavier. I’ll have the harness all fixed in a minute, and then we’ll have a grand ride.”
“Do you think Snap will be strong enough to pull both of us?” asked the little girl.
“Of course he will!” exclaimed Freddie firmly. “He’s as good as an Esquimo dog, and we saw some pictures of them pulling sleds bigger than ours.”
“That’s so,” admitted Flossie. “Well, hurry up, please, Freddie ’cause I’m cold standing here, and I want to get under the blankets on the sled and have a nice ride.”
“I’ll hurry all right, Flossie. You go up there by Snap’s head and pat him. Then he’ll stand stiller, and I can fix the harness on him quicker.”
Flossie, with a shake of her light curls, and a stamp of her little feet to rid them of the snow from the drift in which she had been standing, went closer to the fine-looking and intelligent dog, who did not seem to mind being all tied up with ropes and leather straps to Freddie’s sled.
“Good old Snap!” exclaimed Flossie, patting his head. “You’re going to give Freddie and me a fine ride; aren’t you, old fellow?”
Snap barked and wagged his tail violently.
“Hey! Stop that!” cried Freddie. “He’s flopping his tail right in my face!” the little boy added. “I can’t see to fasten this strap. Hold his tail, Flossie.”
Snap, hearing the voice of his young master — one of his two masters by the way — wagged his tail harder than ever. Freddie made a grab for it, but missed. Flossie, seeing this, laughed and Snap, thinking it was a great joke, leaped about and barked with delight. He sprang out of the harness, which was only partly fastened on, and began leaping about in the snow. Finally he stood up on his hind legs and marched about, for Snap was a trick dog, and had once belonged to a circus.
“There now! Look at that!” cried Freddie. “He’s spoiled everything! We’ll never get him hitched up now.”
“It — it wasn’t my fault,” said Flossie, a tear or two coming into her eyes.
“I know it wasn’t, Flossie,” replied Freddie, speaking more quietly. “It’s always just that way with Snap when he gets excited. Come here!” he called to the dog, “and let me harness you. Come here Snap!”
The dog was well enough trained so that he knew when the time for fun was over and when he had to settle down. Still wagging his tail joyously, however, Snap came up to Freddie, who started over again the work of harnessing the animal to the sled.
“I guess you’d better stand at his tail instead of at his head,” said Freddie. “So when he wags it you can grab it, Flossie, and hold it still. Then it won’t slap me in the face, and I can see what I’m doing. Hold his tail, Flossie.”
“Then he can’t wag it,” objected the little girl.
“I know he can’t. I don’t want him to.”
“But it may make him angry.”
“Snap never gets mad; do you, Snap?” asked Freddie, and the dog’s bark seemed to say “No, never!”
So Flossie held the dog’s tail, while Freddie put on the harness again. This time he succeeded in getting it all arranged to suit him, and the frisky Snap was soon made fast to the sled.
“Now get on, Flossie,” called her brother, “and we’ll see how fast Snap can pull us.”
“But don’t make him go too fast, Freddie,” begged the little girl. “For it’s hard pulling in the snow.”
“No, I’ll let him go slow,” promised Freddie. “But it won’t be hard work pulling us. My sled goes awfully easy, anyhow.”
Freddie tucked Flossie in amid the robes and rugs which the children had taken from the house, near which they had started to harness the dog. Then Freddie took his place in front of his sister, holding to two reins that were fastened to the dog’s head. Freddie had made no bit, such as is used for horses and goats, but he thought by making straps fast to a sort of muzzle by which he could guide Snap, by pulling his head to one side or the other.
“All ready, Flossie?” called Freddie, when he himself was comfortable on the sled.
“All ready,” she answered.
“Giddap, Snap!” cried Freddie, and, with a bark, off the dog started, pulling the sled and the two children after him.
“Oh, he’s going! He’s giving us a ride! It’s as real as anything!” cried Flossie in delight, holding fast to the sled. “Oh, Freddie!”
“Of course it’s real!” said Freddie. “Bert and Nan said Snap wouldn’t pull us, but I knew he would. I just wish they could see us now.”
As if in answer to this wish a little later, when the two smaller twins had turned a corner, they saw coming toward them their brother and sister Nan and Bert, also twins, but four years older.
“Look, look!” cried Flossie to Nan. “See what a nice ride we’re having.”
“Oh, look, Bert!” exclaimed Nan, “Snap really is pulling them,” and she grasped her brother’s arm. Bert was pulling his own sled and that of his twin sister.
“Yes, he’ll pull them a little way,” admitted Bert, as if he knew all about it, “and then, the first thing they know, Snap will turn around short and tip them into a snowdrift. He hasn’t been trained to pull a sled, no matter how many other tricks he can do.”
“I trained him myself!” declared Freddie, as he pulled on the lines to bring the dog to a stop. But Snap, seeing Nan and Bert, was eager to reach them to be patted and made much of, so he did not obey the command given by the reins, but kept on.
“Whoa there!” cried Freddie, holding back with all his little strength.
“See, I told you he wouldn’t mind,” said Bert, with a laugh.
“Oh, but isn’t it cute!” exclaimed Nan, flapping her hands. “I didn’t think they’d get any ride at all.”
“We’ll show you! We’ll have a fine ride!” panted Freddie, vainly trying to make Snap halt.
Then just what Bert said would happen seemed about to take place. The dog leaped around, and turned short to get nearer to the older Bobbsey twins.
“Look out!” cried Bert, but his warning came too late.
Over went the sled, and Flossie and Freddie were pitched from it into a big, fluffy bank of snow, falling into it deeply, but with no more harm to them than if they had landed on a bed of feathers.
“Oh dear!” cried Flossie, as she felt herself shooting toward the snow.
“Whoa there! Whoa! Don’t you run away, Snap!” shouted Freddie. Then his mouth was filled with snow and he could say nothing more.
“Oh, Bert! They’ll be smothered!” cried Nan. “Help me get them out!”
Bert was laughing, and trying to defend himself against the jumping up of Snap, who seemed to want to hug the boy with his paws.
“Stop laughing! Help me!” ordered Nan, who was already trying to lift Flossie from her snowy bed.
“I can’t help laughing — Freddie looked so funny when he went over,” said Bert.
“There’s no danger of smothering, though. That snow is as dry as sand. Here you go, Freddie. Give me your hand and I’ll pull you out.”
In a few seconds the smaller Bobbsey twins stood beside their larger brother and sister, while Snap capered about them, barking loudly and wagging his tail.
“Oh, he’s got loose, and the harness is all broken,” said Freddie, and tears of disappointment stood in his blue eyes.
“Never mind,” said Bert. “I’ll help you make a better harness to-morrow, Freddie. That one wasn’t strong enough for Snap, anyhow. I’ll fix it differently.”
“Oh, but we were going to have such a fine ride!” said Flossie, who was also ready to cry. The smaller twins were only about five years old, so it might have been expected.
“Well, come on and go coasting with Bert and me,” said Nan, as she patted her little sister’s head. “We’re going over on the long hill. It’s fine there, and you’ll have just as much fun as if you had Snap to pull you.”
“Shall we go, Freddie?” asked Flossie, who generally depended on him to start their amusements.