MoboReader > Literature > Nan Sherwood's Winter Holidays; Or, Rescuing the Runaways


Nan Sherwood's Winter Holidays; Or, Rescuing the Runaways By Annie Roe Carr Characters: 7686

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Mr. Si Snubbins was a character, and he plainly was very much pleased with himself. His little, sharp eyes apprehended the situation quickly.

"I vow to Maria!" repeated the farmer. "Ye air all snowed up here, ain't ye? A hull trainful o' folks. Wall!"

"And oh, Mr. Snubbins!" said Nan Sherwood, "you have milk in those cans, haven't you?"

"Sure have, Miss."

"Oh, Mr. Carter!" called Nan, running back into the forward car; "here's a man with fresh milk. You don't have to take Mr. Bulson's."

"What's that?" demanded the baggage-man, Jim, in surprise. "Where'd he get it? From that cow-tree your friend was telling us about?"

"What's this about fresh milk?" asked Mr. Carter. "Be still, Bulson. You roar to fit your name. We can't hear the little lady."

"Who's that?" snarled the excited Bulson, glaring at Nan. "How came that girl on this train? Isn't that the Sherwood girl?"

But nobody paid the fat man much attention just then. The crew crowded after Nan and Mr. Carter toward the open door of the car.

"Hul-lo" exclaimed Mr. Carter, when he saw the farmer and realized how he had "dropped in." "That milk for sale?"

"Why, mister," drawled Snubbins, "I'm under contrac' ter Peleg Morton ter deliver two cans of milk to him ev'ry day. I wasn't goin' to have him claim I hadn't tried ter fulfil my part of the contrac', so I started 'cross-lots with the cans."

"How's he going to get the milk to the creamery?" demanded Mr.

Carter, shrewdly.

Si's eyes twinkled. "That's his part of the contrac'; 'tain't mine," he said. "But if ye ax me, I tell ye honest, Mr. Conductor, I don't see how Peleg's goin' ter do it. This is a sight the heaviest snow we've had for ten year."

"What'll you sell that milk for?" interrupted the anxious conductor.

"Fresh milk will be a whole lot better for these kiddies we've got in the

smoker than condensed milk. Just the same," he added, "I shall hold on to

Bulson's shipment."

"What'll I take for this milk, mister?" repeated Snubbins, cautiously. "Wall, I dunno. I'spect the price has gone up some, because o' the roads being blocked."

"That will do-that will do," Mr. Carter hastened to say. "I'll take the milk, give you a receipt, and you can fight it out with the claim agent. I believe," added Mr. Carter, his lips twisting into a grim smile, "that you are the farmer whose cow was killed by this very train last fall, eh?"

"Ya-as," said Si Snubbins, sorrowfully. "Poor Sukey! She never knew what hit her."

"But the claim agent knew what hit the road when you put in your claim.

That old cow wasn't worth more than ten dollars and you demanded fifty.

Don't raise the tariff on this milk proportionately, for I'm sure the

agent will not allow the claim."

Mr. Snubbins grinned and chuckled.

"I'll run my risk-I'll run my risk," he responded. "You kin have the milk for nawthin', if ye want it so bad. Bein' here all night, I expect ye be purty sharp-set, the whole on ye."

Mr. Carter had picked up the cans and had gone forward to have the milk thawed out at the boiler fire. Some of the brakemen had cleared away the snow by now and there was an open passage to the outside world. The keen kind blew in, and the pale, wintry sunshine lighted the space between the baggage cars. Mr. Snubbins grinned in his friendly way at the two girls.

"I reckon you gals," he said, "would just like to be over to my house where my woman could fry you a mess of flap-jacks. How's that?"

"Oh, don't mention it!" groaned Bess.

"Is your house near?" asked Nan.

"Peleg's the nighest. 'Tain't so fur. And when ye git out on top o' the snow, the top's purty hard. It blew so toward the end of that blizzard that the drifts air packed good."

"Yet you broke through," Bess said.

"Right here, I did, for a fac'" chuckled the farmer.

"But it's warm down here and it made the snow soft."

"Of course!" cried Nan Sherwood. "The stale air from the cars would naturally make the roof of the tunnel soft."

"My goodness! Can't you see the train at all from up there?" Bess demanded. "Is it all covered up?"

"I reckon the ingin's out o' the snow. She's steamin' and of course she'd melt the snow about her boiler and stack," the farmer said. "But I didn't look that way."

"Say!" demanded Bess, with some eagerness. "Is that Peleg's house near?"

"Peleg Morton? Why, 'tain't much farther than ye kin hear a pig's whisper," said Mr. Snubbins. "I'm goin' right there, myself. My woman wants ter know is Celia all right. She's some worrited, 'cause Celia went over to visit Peleg's gal airly yesterday mornin' an' we ain't seen Celia since."

Mr. Carter came back with one of the brakemen just then, bearing a can of milk. The kindly conductor had found a tin plate, too-a section of the fireman's dinner kettle-and into this he poured some of the milk for the hungry little spaniel.

"There you are, Buster," he said, patting the dog, beside which Nan knelt to watch the process of consumption-for the puppy was so hungry that he tried to get nose, ears and fore-paws right in the dish!

"You're awfully kind," Nan said to Mr. Carter. "Now the little fellow will be all right."

"You better get him out of the way of that fat man," advised the conductor. "He owns the dog, you know. Bulson, I mean. He's forward in the other car, gourmandizing himself on a jar of condensed milk. I let him have one can; but I'm going to hold the rest against emergency. Now that the snow has stopped falling," he added cheerfully, as he passed on, "they ought to get help to us pretty soon."

The puppy was ready to cuddle down in his carrier and go to sleep when he had lapped up the milk. Nan wiped his silky ears with her pocket handkerchief, and his cunning little muzzle as well, and left him with a pat to go and seek Bess.

She found her chum still talking with Mr. Snubbins in the opening between the two cars. "Oh, Nan!" cried the impulsive one, rushing to meet her chum. "What do you think?"

"On what subject, young lady-on what subject?" demanded Nan, in her most dictatorial way, and aping one of the teachers at Lakeview Hall.

"On the subject of eats!" laughed Bess.

"Oh, my dear! Don't talk about it, please! If you drew a verbal picture of a banquet right now," Nan declared, "I'd eat it, verb and all."

"Do be sane and sensible," said Bess, importantly. "We're going out to supper. Now, wait! don't faint, Nan. This Mr. Snubbins is a dear! Why, he is a regular angel with chin whiskers-nothing less."

"He's never invited us to his house for supper?"

"No. His home is too far. But he says we can come along with him to Peleg's house and they will welcome us there. They are very hospitable people, these Mortons, so our angel says. And he and his daughter, Celia, will come back with us. And we can buy something there at the Mortons' to help feed the hungry children aboard the train."

That last appealed to Nan Sherwood, if nothing else did. There was but a single doubt in her mind.

"Oh, Bess!" she cried. "Do you think we ought to go? Shouldn't we ask permission?"

"Of whom?" demanded Bess, in surprise. "Surely the train won't steam off and leave us," and she broke into a laugh. "Oh, come on, Miss Fussbudget! Don't be afraid. I've been asking permission a dozen times a day for more than three months. I'm glad to do something 'off my own bat,' as my brother Billy says. Come on, Nan."

So Nan went. They found Mr. Si Snubbins, "the angel with chin whiskers," ready to depart. He climbed up first and got upon the crust of the snow; then he helped both girls to mount to his level. So another adventure for Nan and Bess began.

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