THE FAT MAN WITH HIS GROUCH
Nan Sherwood had steered this big bobsled down Pendragon Hill many times. She had no fear of an accident when they started, although the rush of wind past them seemed to stop her breath and made her eyes water.
There really was not a dangerous spot on the whole slide. It crossed but one road and that the path leading down to Professor Krenner’s cabin. At this intersection of the slide and the driveway, Walter Mason had erected a sign-board on which had been rudely printed:
Stop! Look! Listen!
Few people traversed this way in any case; and it did seem as though those who did would obey the injunction of the sign. Not so a heavy-set, burly looking man who was tramping along the half-beaten path just as Nan and her chums dashed down the hill on the bobsled. This big man, whose broad face showed no sign of cheerfulness, but exactly the opposite, tramped on without a glance at the sign-board. He started across the slide as the prow of the Sky-rocket, with Nan clinging to the wheel, shot into view.
The girls shrieked in chorus—all but Nan herself. The stubborn, fat man, at last awakened to his danger, plunged ahead. There was a mighty collision!
The fat man dived head-first into a soft snow bank on one side of the slide; the bobsled plunged into another soft bank on the other side, and all the girls were buried, some of them over their heads, in the snow.
They were not hurt—
“Save in our dignity and our pompadours!” cried Laura Polk, the red-haired girl, coming to the surface like a whale, “to blow.”
“Goodness—gracious—Agnes!” ejaculated the big girl, who was known as “Procrastination” Boggs. “What ever became of that man who got in our way?”
Nan Sherwood had already gotten out of the drift and had hauled her particular chum, Bess Harley, with her to the surface. Grace Mason and Lillie Nevins were crying a little; but Nan had assured herself at a glance that neither of the timid ones was hurt.
She now looked around, rather wildly, at Amelia Boggs’ question. The fat man had utterly disappeared. Surely the bobsled, having struck him only a glancing blow, had not throw him completely off the earth!
Bess was looking up into the snowy tree-tops, and Laura Polk suggested that maybe the fat man had been only an hallucination.
“Hallucination! Your grandmother’s hat!” exclaimed Amelia Boggs. “If his wasn’t a solid body, there never was one!”
“What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?” murmured Laura.
“Both must be destroyed,” finished Bess. “But I see the tail of our bob, all right.”
Just then Nan ran across the track. At the same moment a floundering figure, like a great polar bear in his winter coat, emerged from the opposite drift. The fat man, without his hat and with his face very red and wet, loomed up gigantically in the snow-pile.