The Bobbsey Twins in Washington
BY LAURA LEE HOPE
AUTHOR OF "THE BOBBSEY TWINS," "THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES," "THE OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES," ETC.
BOOKS BY LAURA LEE HOPE
12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.
THE BOBBSEY TWINS SERIES THE BOBBSEY TWINS THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE COUNTRY THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE SEASHORE THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SCHOOL THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SNOW LODGE THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON A HOUSEBOAT THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT MEADOW BROOK THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT HOME THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN A GREAT CITY THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON BLUEBERRY ISLAND THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON THE DEEP BLUE SEA THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN WASHINGTON THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON GRANDPA'S FARM BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE PLAYING CIRCUS BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT AUNT LU'S CITY HOME BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CAMP REST-A-WHILE BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE IN THE BIG WOODS BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON AN AUTO TOUR BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AND THEIR SHETLAND PONY BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE GIVING A SHOW THE OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES THE OUTDOOR GIRLS OF DEEPDALE THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT RAINBOW LAKE THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN A MOTOR CAR THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN A WINTER CAMP THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN FLORIDA THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT OCEAN VIEW THE OUTDOOR GIRLS ON PINE ISLAND THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN ARMY SERVICE THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT HOSTESS HOUSE
I UNDER THE HAY II DIGGING OUT III THE WASHINGTON CHILDREN IV MISS POMPRET'S CHINA V "WHAT A LOT OF MONEY!" VI WONDERFUL NEWS VII ON A TRIP VIII IN NEW YORK IX WASHINGTON AT LAST X LOST XI THE PRESIDENT XII WASHINGTON MONUMENT XIII A STRAY CAT XIV STRAY CHILDREN XV "WHERE ARE THEY?" XVI THE FIRE BELL XVII FREDDIE'S REAL ALARM XVIII THE ORIENTAL CHILDREN XIX "OH LOOK!" XX A GREAT BARGAIN XXI JUST SUPPOSE XXII HAPPY DAYS
UNDER THE HAY
"This is 'most as much fun as we had on Blueberry Island, or when we went to Florida on the deep, blue sea, isn't it, Bert?" asked Nan Bobbsey, as she sat on the porch and fanned herself with her hat. She and her brother had been running around the house, playing a new game, and Nan was warm.
"Yes, it's fun all right," agreed Bert. "But I liked the deep, blue sea better—or even Blueberry Island," and off came his hat to cool his flushed face, for, though it was late in September, the day was warm.
"But we couldn't stay on the island, always," went on Nan. "We have to go to school, daddy says!"
"Don't speak about it!" begged Bert. "I don't want to go to school for a long, long time, and not then!"
"Have we got to go to school?" asked a little light-haired and blue-eyed girl, as she ran up the steps, to sink in a heap at the feet of her sister, Nan Bobbsey. "When do we go?" she went on.
"Oh, not right away, 'little fat fairy!'" laughed Nan, giving Flossie the name her father sometimes called her. "School won't open for two weeks more."
"Hurray!" cried Bert. "The longer it stays closed the better I like it. But come on, Nan! Let's have some more fun. This isn't like Blueberry Island, sitting still on a porch!"
"You haven't sat still more than three minutes, Bert Bobbsey!" cried his sister. "I can hardly get my breath, you made me run so fast!"
Just then a little boy, who had the same sort of blue eyes and golden hair that made Flossie such a pretty little girl, came tumbling up the steps with a clatter and a bang, falling down at Bert's feet. The older boy caught his small brother just in time, or there might have been a bumped nose.
"Hi there, Freddie, what's the matter?" asked Bert, with a laugh. "Is our dog Snap chasing you, or have you been playing a trick on our cat Snoop?"
"I—I—I'm a—a fireman!" panted Freddie. for he, too, was out of breath from running. "I'm a fireman, and I—I've got to get the engine. There's a big, big fire!" and his eyes opened wide and round.
"A big fire—really?" asked Nan quickly.
"Course not! He's only making believe!" replied Bert.
"Well, I thought maybe he might have seen some boys start a bonfire somewhere," explained Nan. "They sometimes do."
"I know they do," admitted Bert. "And I hope they don't start one near daddy's lumberyard."
"There was a fire down in the lumber once!" exclaimed Freddie. He was too young to have seen it, but he had heard his father and mother talk about the time Mr. Bobbsey's lumberyard was nearly burned out. Freddie Bobbsey was very fond of a toy fire engine he had been given for Christmas, and his father often called Freddie a "little fireman," just as Flossie was named a "fairy."
"Well, if it's only a make-believe fire we can sit here and cool off," went on Nan. "What were you doing, Flossie?" she asked her little sister.
"Oh, I was having a race with our cat Snoop; but I guess I beat, 'cause Snoop didn't get here to the porch before I did."
"Yes, you won the race all right," laughed Bert. "But it's too hot for any more running games. I wish we were back on the island where we found that boy, Jack Nelson, and could play we were sailors and could splash in the water."
"That would be fun!" sighed Nan, as she fanned herself harder than ever with her hat.
The Bobbsey twins had, a few days before, returned to their home from a vacation spent on a strange island off the coast of Florida. They had gone there with Cousin Jasper Dent to rescue a boy who had been left in a lonely cave, and very many strange adventures the Bobbsey twins and their father and mother, to say nothing of Cousin Jasper, had had on that voyage.
Now the simple games they tried to get up around the house, and the thought of having to go back to school soon, made them feel a bit lonesome for the deep, blue sea, over which they had made a voyage to rescue the boy, Jack Nelson, and also for Blueberry Island, where once they spent a vacation.
"I know what we can do!" cried Nan, after a rest.
"What?" asked Bert, always ready to join Nan in any fun she thought of. "What can we do?"
"Go out to the barn and play that's a ship like the one we went on to Florida. It'll be cooler in the barn than it is here, anyhow."
"That's so," admitted Bert. "And oh! I know how we can have packs of fun!"
"How?" This time it was Nan who eagerly asked.
"Why we can swing on some of the ropes that are in the haymow. I guess the ropes are there to tie things up on in the winter. But we can swing on 'em now, and make believe we're sailors, just as we did when we found that boy in the cave where we went with Cousin Jasper."
"Oh, so we can!" cried Nan. "Come on!"
"I'll be a fireman on the ship!" declared fat Freddie, as he got slowly to his feet from the floor where he had been sitting near Bert. I'll be a fireman and squirt water."
"Not real—only make believe" cried Bert. "Water spoils hay, you know, Freddie. You can't splash any water on daddy's hay in the barn."
"No, I'll only make believe," agreed the light-haired little boy. "Come on Flossie!" he called to his sister, who had slipped down off the porch to run after a big black cat that marched along with his tail in the air, "like a fishing pole," Bert said. "Come on, Flossie!" called Freddie. "We'll go out to the barn and play ship and sailors, and I'll be a fireman and you can be——"
"I'm going to be hungry, and have something good to eat! That's what I'll be," declared Flossie quickly. "I'm going to be AWFUL hungry!"
"Oh dear!" exclaimed Nan, but she was laughing. "That's always the way. Those two want to do something different."
"Well, we can all make believe we're hungry," said Bert. "And maybe Dinah will give us some cookies to eat."
"There she goes now. I'll ask her!" offered Nan, as she saw the Bobbsey's fat and good-natured colored cook cross the lawn with a small basket of clothes to hang up. "We'll have a little play-party out in the barn."
"But I'm going to be real hungry—not make believe!" said Freddie. "I want to eat real."
"And so you can!" declared Nan. "I'll get enough for all of us."
A little later the Bobbsey twins—the two pairs of them—were on the way to the barn that stood a little way back of the house. Mr. Bobbsey did not live on a farm. He lived in a town, but his place was large enough to have a barn on it as well as a house. He kept a horse, and sometimes a cow, but just now there was no cow in the stable—only a horse.
And the horse was not there, either, just then, for it was being used to pull a wagon about the streets of Lakeport. Mr. Bobbsey had an automobile, but he also kept the horse, and this animal was sometimes used by the clerks from the lumber office.
So out to the barn, which had in it the winter supply of hay and oats for the horse, went the Bobbsey twins. Nan and Bert, being older, reached the place first, each one carrying some sugar and molasses cookies Dinah had given them. After Nan and Bert ran Flossie and Freddie, each one looking anxiously at the packages of cookies,
"Don't those cookies look good?" cried Flossie.
"And I guess they'll eat just as good as they look," was Freddie's comment.
Just then Nan's foot slipped on a small stone, and she came very near falling down.
"Oh!" cried Flossie and Freddie together.
"Don't drop your cookies, Nan!" came quickly from Bert.
"Oh, if you dropped 'em they'd get all dirty," said Flossie.
"They wouldn't get very dirty," answered Freddie hopefully. "Anyway, we could brush 'em off. They'd be good enough to eat, wouldn't they?" and he looked at Bert.
"I guess they wouldn't get very dirty," answered Bert. "Anyway, Nan didn't drop them. But you'd better be careful, Nan," he went on.
"Don't be so scared, Bert Bobbsey," answered his sister. "I won't drop them."
In a minute more the Bobbsey twins were at the barn where the sugar and molasses cookies Dinah had given them were put in a safe place.
"There are the ropes!" exclaimed Bert, as he pointed to some dangling from a beam near the haymow.
"They're too high to climb!" Nan said, for some of the ropes were fast to the rafters of the barn.
"Oh, we won't climb 'em!" Bert quickly returned, for he knew his mother would never allow this. "We'll just swing on 'em, low down near this pile of hay, so if we fall we can't hurt ourselves."
"I want to swing on a rope, too!" exclaimed Freddie, as he heard what his older brother and sister were talking of. "I like to be a sailor and swing on a rope."
"Not now, Freddie," answered Bert. "The ropes are too high for you and Flossie. You just play around on the barn floor, and you can watch Nan and me swing. Then we'll play steamboat, maybe."
"I want to be the steam, and go puff-puff!" cried Freddie.
"And I want to be the captain and say 'All aboard!'" was Flossie's wish.
"You can take turns," agreed Bert. "Now don't get in our way, Flossie and Freddie. Nan and I want to see how big a swing we can take by holding to the ropes."
"All right. I'll go and see if I can find any eggs," replied Freddie. "Hens lay eggs in the barn."
"Well, if you find a nest don't step in it and break all the eggs," warned Nan.
She and Bert, as Flossie and Freddie went marching around the big barn, climbed up on the pile of hay, and began swinging on the ropes. To and fro swung the older Bobbsey twins.
"Isn't this better than Blueberry Island?" asked Nan.
"Well no, it isn't any better," said Bert; "but it's just as good. Look, I'm going to let go and drop on the hay."
"Be careful and don't hurt yourself!" begged Nan, as she swung to and fro, her feet raised from the hay beneath her, while Bert, also, swayed slowly to and fro.
"Oh, I'll be careful!" Bert promised. "Anyhow, the hay is nice and soft to fall in. I'll make believe I'm a man in the circus, falling from the top of the tent."
He swung a little farther to and fro, and then suddenly cried:
"Here I go!"
"Oh!" screamed Nan, but, really, nothing happened to harm Bert. He just dropped into the pile of soft hay.
"Come on, Nan! You try it! Lots of fun!" laughed Bert as he scrambled up and made for his rope again.
Nan said "no" at first, but when Bert had swung once more and again dropped into the hay, she took her turn. Into the hay she plunged, and sank down to her shoulders in the soft, dried grass.
"Come on—let's do it some more!" laughed Bert. Then he and his older sister had lots of fun swinging on the ropes and dropping into a pile of hay.
"I wonder what Flossie and Freddie are doing," said Bert, after they had had about an hour of this fun. "I haven't seen them for a long while."
"Maybe they found a hen's nest and took the eggs to the house," said Nan. "They'd do that."
"Yes, if they found one," agreed Bert. "Well, we'll see where they are after I take another swing. And I'm going to take a big one."
"So will I!" decided Nan. "Oh, it's just as nice as Blueberry Island or on the deep, blue sea, isn't it, Bert?"
"It is when we play this way—yes. But just watch me."
"Here come Flossie and Freddie now!" exclaimed Nan, as she glanced at her older brother, who was taking a firm hold of the rope for his big swing. The two smaller twins, at this moment, came into the barn through the door that led to the cow stable.
"Where have you been?" asked Nan, as she watched Bert get ready for his swing.
"Oh, we had fun," said Flossie.
"And I squirted water, out where the horse "drinks," added Freddie,
"I hope you didn't get wet!" exclaimed Nan. "If you did——"
"Well, I have on a dirty waist, so it won't hurt me any if I am wet," said Freddie calmly. "I want to swing like that, Bert," he added. "Give me a swing!"
"After I've had my turn I'll give you and Flossie each one," promised Nan. "Watch me, Bert!" she called.
Off the mow swung Nan, clinging to the swaying rope with both hands.
"Come on—let's both let go together and see who falls into the hay first!" proposed Bert.
"All right!" agreed Nan.
"One, two, three!" cried Bert. "Ready! Let go!"
He and Nan let go of the ropes at the same time. Together they dropped down to the hay—and then something happened! The two older Bobbsey children jumped too near the edge of the mow, where the hay was piled in a big roll, like a great feather bed bolster, over the top rail. And Bert and Nan, in their drop, caused a big pile of hay—almost a wagonload—to slip from the mow and down to the barn floor. And directly underneath were Flossie and Freddie!
Down on the two little twins fell Bert and Nan and the big pile of dried grass, and, in an instant, the two golden heads were buried out of sight on the barn floor in a large heap of hay.
"Oh, Bert Bobbsey! look what you did," cried Nan.
She picked herself up from the barn floor, to which she had slid after having come down with the pile of hay, with her brother, right where Flossie and Freddie had been playing a moment before.
"Look what you did!" she cried again.
"I didn't do it any more than you did!" exclaimed Bert. "But where is Flossie? And where's Freddie?" He looked around, not seeing the smaller twins, and not having noticed exactly what had happened to them. "Where are they, Nan?"
"Under the hay, and we've got to dig 'em out! I'll get the pitchfork. That's what Sam does when he gets the hay to feed the horse. I can dig out Flossie and Freddie!" cried Nan,
She started to run across the barn floor, but was stopped by a call from Bert.
"Don't do that!" he said.
"What?" she asked.
"Don't get the pitchfork! It's sharp and might hurt Flossie and Freddie. I'll pull the hay off with my hands. You go and tell mother or Dinah! Somebody's got to help! There's 'most a whole load of hay on 'em I guess!"
And indeed it was a large part of the pile of hay in the Bobbsey barn that had slid from the mow when Bert jumped on it. And this hay now covered from sight the "little fireman" and the "little fat fairy," as Daddy Bobbsey called his two little twins.
"Yes, I'll go for Dinah!" cried Nan. "She knows how to dig under the hay, I guess!"
"And I'll start digging now," added Bert, as he began tossing aside the wisps of dried grass that covered his small brother and sister from sight.
And while the rescue of Freddie and Flossie is being arranged for, I will take this chance to tell my new readers something of the four children, about whom I am going to write in this book.
There are other books ahead of this one, and the first is named after the children. It is called "The Bobbsey Twins," and relates some of the early adventures of Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie. Those are the names of the twins, as you have already learned.
The Bobbsey family lived in an eastern city called Lakeport, at the head of Lake Metoka. Mr. Bobbsey was in the lumber business and had an office near his lumberyard, which was "down town" as the children called it.
Now I'll tell you just a little about the four children, their friends and something about the other books, and then I'll get on with the story, which I hope you will wish to read.
There were two sets of twins, you see. Bert and Nan were the older. They each had dark brown hair, brown eyes and were rather tall for their age, and not so very fat; though, of late, with all the good times they had had in the country at Blueberry Island and on the deep, blue sea, the older twins were getting stouter. "Fatter," Freddie called it.
Flossie and Freddie were just the opposite of Bert and Nan. The smaller pair of twins were short and stout, and each had light hair, and blue eyes that looked at you, sometimes, in the funniest way you can imagine.
Besides Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey there was Dinah, the fat, good-natured colored cook, who knew how to make more kinds of cake than you could eat in one day. And then there was Sam Johnson, her husband. Sam worked about the Bobbsey house and barn, looked after the horse and sometimes drove the automobile, though he said he liked a horse better. But the Bobbsey family liked the automobile, so the horse was used down in the lumberyard more often than to take Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie for a ride.
The Bobbsey twins had many friends and relations, but I will not take up your time, now, telling you about them. I must not forget, however, to mention Snoop and Snap. Snoop was a fine, big cat, and he was named "Snoop" because he always seemed to be "snooping" into everything, as Dinah said. Snoop didn't do that to be bad, he just wanted to find out about things. Once he wanted to find out what was inside an empty tin can, and so he stuck his head in and he couldn't get it out until Bert helped him.
Snap was the Bobbsey dog, and he wasn't called "Snap" because he would snap at you. No indeed! It was because, when Bert put a cracker on his dog's nose, the animal would "snap" it off with a jerk of his head and eat it—eat the cracker I mean. That was one reason he was called "Snap." But there were other reasons, too.
And so the Bobbsey twins lived in a fine house in a pleasant city and they had lots of fun. Those of you who have read the other books know that. They went to the country and to the seashore, to visit Uncle William at the latter place, and Uncle Daniel Bobbsey in the former.
Of course the Bobbsey twins went to school, and there is a book telling about them there, and the fun and adventures they had. Later on they went to "Snow Lodge," and after an exciting winter, they spent part of the summer on a houseboat.
When Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie went to Meadow Brook, which was the country home of Uncle Daniel, the twins never expected very much to happen. But it did, and they talked about it for a long time. Then they came home to have more good times, and, later on, went to a great city. I haven't space, here, to tell you all that happened. You must get the book and read it for yourself.
After that they spent a summer on Blueberry Island, and there were gypsies on the island. Some strange things happened, but the Bobbsey twins enjoyed every hour of their stay, and did not want to come home.
But they had to, of course, and still more strange adventures awaited them. Those you may read about in the book just before this. It is called: "The Bobbsey Twins on the Deep, Blue Sea," and in it is related how the family went on a voyage to an island off the coast of Florida, to rescue a poor, sick boy who had been left there by mistake.
Now they were home once more.
It was almost time for school to open for the fall term, and the twins were playing in the barn, making the most of the last days of their vacation, when the accident happened about the hay, as I have told you.
"Flossie! Freddie! Are you under there?" called Bert, anxiously, as he threw aside armful after armful of the dried grass. "Are you down there under the hay?"
He paused a moment to listen for an answer, but none came. If Flossie and Freddie were there, either they did not hear him or they were so smothered by the hay that they could not answer.
"Oh, I hope nothing has happened to them!" exclaimed Bert, and he began digging away faster than before.
Certainly it was a large pile of hay to have fallen on two little children. But then the hay was soft, and Bert, himself, had often been buried under a pile in the field. It had not hurt, but the dust had made him sneeze.
Faster and faster Bert dug away at the hay. He heard feet pattering on the barn floor back of him, and, turning, saw Snap, the big dog, come running in.
"Oh, Snap!" cried Bert, "Flossie and Freddie are under the hay! Help me dig 'em out!"
"Bow wow!" barked Snap, just as if he understood. Of course he didn't really know what had happened, but he saw Bert digging away and Snap himself knew enough to do that. Often enough he had dug up, with his front paws, a bone he had buried in the hard ground. This digging in the soft hay was easier than that.
So Snap began to paw aside the hay, just as Bert was doing, and while boy and dog were doing this into the barn came fat Dinah, with Nan running ahead of her.
"Whut's dish yeah has happened, Bert? Whut's all dish yeah I heah Nan say?" demanded the black cook. "Whut you done gone an' done to yo' l'il broth' an' sistah? De pooh l'il honey lambs!"
"I didn't do anything!" declared Bert. "I was swinging on a rope, over the haymow, and so was Nan. And Flossie and Freddie were playing on the barn floor under the mow. I fell on the hay and so did Nan, and a whole lot of it slid down and fell on top of Flossie and Freddie and—and—now they're down under there, I guess!"
"Good land ob massy!" exclaimed Dinah. "Dat suah is a lot to happen to mah poor l'il lambkins! Where is you, Flossie? Where is you, Freddie?" she cried.
There was no answer.
"Oh, Dinah! do get them out," begged Nan.
"I will, honey! I will!" exclaimed the colored woman.
"Shall I go to get Sam?" Nan wanted to know. "Mother isn't at home," she added to Bert. "She went over to Mrs. Black's. Oh, maybe we can't ever get Flossie and Freddie out!"
"Hush yo' talk laik dat!" cried Dinah. "Co'se we git 'em out! We kin do it. No need to git Sam. Come on now, Bert an' Nan! Dig as fast as yo' kin make yo' hands fly!"
Dinah bent over and began tossing aside the hay as Bert had been doing. Nan also helped, and Snap—well he meant to help, but he got in the way more than he did anything else, and Bert tried to send his dog out, but Snap would not go.
Faster and faster worked Dinah, Nan and Bert, and soon the big pile of hay, which had fallen on Flossie and Freddie grew smaller. It was being stacked on another part of the floor.
"Maybe I'd better go and telephone to daddy!" suggested Nan, when the hay pile had been made much smaller. "You don't see anything of them yet, do you Dinah?" she asked anxiously.
"No, not yet, honey! But I soon will. We's 'most to de bottom ob de heap. No use worritin' yo' pa. We'll git Freddie and Flossie out all right!"
Bert was tossing aside the hay so fast that his arms seemed like the spokes of a wheel going around. He felt that it was partly his fault that the hay had fallen on his little brother and sister.
"Now we'll git 'em!" cried Dinah, after a bit. "I see de barn flo' in one place. Come on out, chilluns!" she cried. "Come on out, Flossie an' Freddie! We's dug de hay offen yo' now! Come on out!"
Indeed the hay pile was now so small at the place where it had slid from the mow, that it would not have hidden Snap, to say nothing of covering the two Bobbsey twins.
But something seemed to be wrong. There were no little fat legs or chubby arms sticking out. The little Bobbsey twins were not in sight, though nearly all the hay had been moved aside.
Bert, Nan and Dinah gazed at the few wisps remaining. Then, in a queer voice Nan said:
"Why—why! They're not there!"
THE WASHINGTON CHILDREN
THERE was no doubt of it. Flossie and Freddie were not under the pile of hay that had fallen on them. The hay had all been cast aside now, so far away from the place where it had fallen that it could not serve for a hiding place. And Bert and Nan could see the bare floor of the barn.
"Where are they?" asked Bert, looking in surprise at Nan. "Where are Flossie and Freddie?"
"Dat's whut I wants to know!" declared Dinah. "Where is dey? Has yo' all been playin' a trick on ole Dinah?" and she looked sadly at Bert and Nan.
"Playing a trick?" cried Nan.
"We didn't play any trick!" exclaimed Bert. "Flossie and Freddie were down under that hay!"
"But they're not there now!" went on Nan.
"No," said Dinah, as she poked aside some of the wisps of hay with her foot. "Dey isn't heah now, an' where is dey? Dat's whut I'se askin' yo' all, Bert an' Nan? Where is dem two little lambkins?"
Bert looked at Nan and Nan looked at Bert. It was a puzzle. What had become of Flossie and Freddie between the time they disappeared under the sliding pile of hay and now, when it had been cleared away to another part of the barn.
"I saw them playing on the floor," said Nan. "Then, when Bert and I let go the ropes and jumped in the mow, a lot of hay came down all at once, and then I—I didn't see Flossie and Freddie any more. They surely were under the hay!"
"Yes," agreed Bert, "they were. But they aren't here now. Maybe they fell down through the floor!" he added hopefully. "The cow stable is under this part of the barn."
"Yes, but there isn't any hole in the barn floor here," said Nan. "And the cracks aren't big enough for Flossie and Freddie to slip through."
"No, dey didn't go t'rough de flo', dat's suah!" exclaimed Dinah. "It's mighty queer! I guess yo' all had best go call Sam," she went on to Nan. "Mebby he know something 'bout dish yeah barn dat I don't know. Go git Sam an'—"
Just then there came a joyous shout from the big barn doors behind Nan, Bert and Dinah.
"Here we are! Here we are! Oh, we fooled you! We fooled you!" cried two childish voices, and there stood the missing Flossie and Freddie, hay in their fluffy, golden hair, hay hanging down over their blue eyes, and hay stuck over their clothes.
"Here we are!" cried Freddie. "Did you was lookin' for us?"
"I should say we did was!" cried Bert, laughing, now, at Freddie's queer way of speaking, for, though the little fireman usually spoke quite properly, he sometimes went wrong.
"Where have you been?" asked Nan. "And how did you get out?"
"We crawled out from under the hay when it fell on us," explained Flossie. "Then Freddie says let's play hide and coop and we climbed up the little ladder and went up in the haymow and then we slid out of the little window and got outside the barn and then we just hid an' waited to see what you'd do." By this time Flossie was out of breath, having said all this without pause.
"But you didn't come after us," said Freddie, "and so we came to see where you were. And we fooled you, didn't we? We fooled you bad."
"I should say you did!" cried Bert. "We were digging the hay away. I thought you'd be away down underneath."
"We were," went on Flossie. "But we wiggled out, an' you didn't see us wiggle."
"No," agreed Nan, "we didn't see you. But, oh, I'm so glad you are all right!" she cried, and she hugged Flossie in her arms. "You aren't hurt, are you?"
"No, but I was tickled," said Flossie. "The hay did tickle me in my nose, and I wanted to sneeze."
"But I wouldn't let her!" explained Freddie. "I held my hand over her nose so she couldn't sneeze."
"I tried hard so I wouldn't," said Flossie, "and Freddie helped me. It feels awful funny not to sneeze when you want to. It tickles!"
"And the hay tickled me," went on Freddie. "It's ticklin' me now. There's some down my back," and he wiggled and twisted as he stood in the middle of the barn floor. Snap, the big dog, put his head to one side, and cocked up his ears, looking at the two smaller twins as if asking what it was all about, and what the digging in the hay was all for.
"Well, it's mighty lucky laik dat it wasn't no wuss!" exclaimed fat Dinah, with a sigh of relief. "I suah was clean skairt out ob mah seben senses when yo' come runnin' into mah kitchen, Nan, an' says as how Flossie an' Freddie was buried under de hay!"
"And they were!" said Nan. "I saw the hay go down all over them."
"So did I!" added Bert.
"But we wiggled out and hid so we could fool you!" laughed Freddie. "Didn't you see us crawl out?"
"No," answered Bert, "I didn't. If I had I wouldn't have dug so hard."
"Ouch! Something tickles me awful!" complained Freddie, twisting around as though he wanted to work his way out of his clothes. "Maybe there's a hay-bug down my back!" he went on.
"Good land of massy!" cried Dinah, catching him up in her arms. "Yo' come right in de house wif me, honey lamb, an' ole Dinah'll undress yo' an' git at de bug—if dey is one!"
"I guess we've had enough fun in the barn," said Nan. "I don't want to play here any more."
"I guess we'll have to put back the hay we knocked down," said Bert. That was one of the Bobbsey rules—to put things back the way they had been at first, after their play was done.
"Yes, we must put the hay up in the mow again," agreed Nan. "Daddy wouldn't like to have us leave it on the floor. I'll help you, Bert, 'cause I helped knock it down."
Dinah led the two younger twins off to the kitchen, with a promise of a molasses cookie each and a further promise to Freddie that she would take out of his clothes whatever it was tickling his back—a hay-bug or some of the dried wisps of grass.
Bert and Nan had not long been working at stacking the hay back in place before Sam came in. He had heard what had happened from Dinah, his wife, and he said, most kindly:
"Run along an' play, Bert an' Nan! I'll put back de hay fo' yo' all. 'Tain't much, an' it won't take me long."
"Thank you, Sam!" said Bert. "It's more fun playing outdoors to-day than stacking hay in a barn."
"Are you very sure you don't mind doing it, Sam?" asked Nan, for she wanted to "play fair."
"Oh, I don't mind!" exclaimed the good-natured Sam. "Hop along!"
"Didn't you ever like to play outdoors, Sam?" questioned Bert, as he and Nan started to leave the barn.
"Suah I did," answered Sam. "When I was a youngster like you I loved to go fishin' and swimmin' in the ole hole down by the crick."
"Oh, Sam, did you like to swim?" went on the Bobbsey boy quickly.
"I suah did, Bert. Down in our pa'ts I was considered the bestes' swimmer there."
"Some day I'm going to see you, Sam," declared Bert. "Maybe you could teach me some new strokes."
"I doan know about that, Bert. You see, I ain't quite so limber as what I used to be when I was your age or jest a little older. Now you jest hop along, both of you, and enjoy yourselves."
So Nan and Bert went out to find some other way of having fun. They wanted to have all the good times they could, as school would soon begin again.
"But we'll have a vacation at Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's," said Nan, as she and her brother talked it over.
"Thanksgiving's a long way off," said Bert, with a sigh.
The two children were walking along the side path toward the front yard when suddenly Snap, their dog, gave a savage growl. It was the kind of growl he never gave unless he happened to be angry, and Bert knew, right away, something must be wrong.
"What is it, Snap? A tramp?" asked the boy, looking around. Often Snap would growl this way at tramps who might happen to come into the yard. Now there may be good tramps, as well as bad ones, but Snap never stopped to find out which was which. He just growled, and if that didn't scare away the tramp then Snap ran at him. And no tramp ever stood after that. He just ran away.
But now neither Bert nor Nan could see any tramp, either in the yard or in the street in front of the house. Snap, though, kept on growling deep down in his throat, and then, suddenly, the children saw what the matter was. A big dog was digging a hole under the fence to get into the Bobbsey yard. The gate was closed, and though the dog might have jumped the fence, he didn't. He was digging a hole underneath. And Snap saw him. That's why Snap growled.
"Oh, Bert! Look!" cried Nan.
As she spoke the dog managed to get through the hole he had dug, and into the Bobbsey yard he popped. But he did not stay there long. Before he could run toward Bert and Nan, if, indeed, he had that notion, Snap had leaped toward the unwelcome visitor.
Snap growled and barked in such a brave, bold way that the other dog gave one long howl, and then back through the hole he wiggled his way, faster than he had come in. But fast as he wiggled out, he was not quick enough, for Snap nipped the end of the big dog's tail and there was another howl.
"Good boy!" cried Bert to his dog, as Snap came back to him, wagging his tail, having first made sure, however, that the strange dog was running down the street. "Good, old Snap!"
And Snap wagged his tail harder than ever, for he liked to be told he had been good and had done something worth while.
"I wonder what that dog wanted?" asked Nan.
"I don't know," answered Bert. "He was a strange one. But he didn't stay long!"
"Not with our Snap around!" laughed Nan.
The two older Bobbsey twins were wondering what they could do next to have a good time, when they heard their mother's voice calling to them from the side porch. She had come back from a little visit to a lady down the street, and had heard all about the accident to Flossie and Freddie.
"Ho, Nan! Ho, Bert! I want you!" called Mrs. Bobbsey.
"I guess she's going to scold us for making the hay slide on Flossie and Freddie," said Bert, rather anxiously.
"Well, we couldn't help it," replied his sister. "We didn't know it was so slippery. Yes, Mother; we're coming!" she answered, as Mrs. Bobbsey called again.
But, to the relief of Nan and Bert, their mother did not scold them. She just said:
"You must be a little more careful when you're playing where Flossie and Freddie are. They are younger than you, and don't so well know how to look out for themselves. You must look out for them. But now I want you to go down to daddy's office."
"What do you want us to do?" asked Nan.
"Here is a letter that he ought to have right away," went on Mrs. Bobbsey. "It came to the house by mistake. It should have gone to daddy's lumber office, but the postman left it while I was out, and Dinah was out in the barn with you children, so she could not tell him to carry it on down town. So I wish you'd take it to daddy. He has been expecting it for some time. It's about some business, and I don't want to open the letter and telephone what's in it. But if you two will just run down with it—"
"Of course we will!" cried Bert. "It'll be fun!"
"And may we stay a little while?" asked Nan.
"Yes, if you don't bother daddy. Here is the letter."
A little later Nan and Bert were in their father's office. The clerks knew the children and smiled at them, and the stenographer, who wrote Mr. Bobbsey's letters on the clicking typewriter machine, took the twins through her room into their father's private office.
As the door opened, Bert and Nan saw a strange man talking to Mr. Bobbsey. But what interested them more than this was the sight of two children—a boy and a girl about their own age—in their father's private office. The boy and girl were sitting on chairs, looking at the very same lumber books—those with pictures of big woods in them—that Nan and Bert often looked at themselves.
Mr. Bobbsey glanced up as the door opened. He saw his two older twins, and, smiling at them, said:
"Come in, Nan and Bert. I want you to meet these Washington children!"
MISS POMPRET'S CHINA
Bert and Nan looked at one another in some surprise as they stood in the door of their father's private office. What did he mean by saying that they were to come in and meet the "Washington children?" Who were the "Washington children?"
Nan and Bert were soon to know, for their father spoke again.
"Come on in. These are two of my twins, Mr. Martin," he added to the gentleman who was sitting near his desk. The two "Washington children," looked up from the lumber books they had been reading. No, I am wrong, they had not been reading them—only looking at the pictures.
"Two of your twins?" repeated Mr. Martin, with a smile. "Do you mean to say you have more twins at home?"
"Oh, yes, another set. Smaller than these. I wish you would see Flossie and Freddie. Come here, Bert and Nan. This is my friend, Mr. Martin," he continued, "and these are his children, Billy and Nell. They live in Washington, D.C."
So that was what Mr. Bobbsey meant. At first, Nan said afterward, she had a little notion that her father might have meant the boy and girl were the children of General George Washington. But a moment's thought told Nan that this could not be. General Washington's children, supposing him to have had any, would have been grown up into old men and women and would have passed away long ago. But Billy and Nell Martin lived in Washington, District of Columbia (which is what the letters D.C. stand for) and, Bert and Nan knew, Washington was the capital, or chief city, of the United States.
"Mr. Martin came in to see me on business," explained Daddy Bobbsey. "He is traveling for a lumber firm, and on this trip he brought his boy and girl with him."
"They aren't twins, though," said Mr. Martin with a nod at Nan and Bert.
"I think it's lovely to be a twin!" said Nell, with a smile at Nan. "Don't you have lots of fun?"
"Yes, we do," Nan said.
"I should think you could have fun in this lumberyard," remarked Billy Martin. "I'd like to live near it."
"Yes, we play in it," said Bert; and now that the "ice had been broken," as the grown folks say, the four children began to feel better acquainted.
"Did you come down for anything special?" asked Mr. Bobbsey of Bert.
"Yes, Daddy. Here's a letter mother gave us for you," the boy answered.
"Oh, this is the one I have been expecting," said Mr. Bobbsey to Mr. Martin. "Now we can talk business. Bert and Nan, don't you want to take Billy and Nell out in the yard and show them the lake? But don't fall in, and don't climb on the lumber," he added.
"Oh, I'd love to look at the lake!" cried Nell.
"And I like to see big piles of lumber," said her brother Billy.
"The children will be all right," said Mr. Bobbsey, in answer to a look from Mr. Martin. "My older twins often play about the lumberyard, and they'll see that Billy and Nell come to no harm."
So while the two men talked over lumber matters, Bert and Nan showed Billy and Nell the sights of their father's lumberyard, and took the Washington children down to Lake Metoka, where the blue waters sparkled in the sun.
"Oh, this is lovely!" exclaimed Nell. "It's nicer than Washington!"
"Don't you have a lake there?" asked Bert.
"No; but we have the Potomac River," answered Billy. "That's nice, but not as nice as this lake. Now let's go and look at the big piles of lumber."
"Yes, let's," echoed Nell.
The children tossed some chips into the lake, pretending they were boats, and then they walked around the yard to where long boards and planks were stacked into great piles, waiting to be taken away on boats or wagons.
Bert asked one of the workmen if they could play with some of the boards, and, receiving permission to do so, they had fun making something they called a house, and then on a see-saw.
"Oh, I always did love to see-saw!" said the little girl from Washington. "We don't get much of a chance to play that way where I come from."
"We have see-saw rides lots of times down here," answered Nan.
"Well, that's Because your father owns a lumberyard, and you can get plenty of boards to use for a see-saw," said Henry.
For an hour or more Bert and Nan entertained the Washington children in the lumberyard, and then, as it was getting close to dinner time, Nan told Bert they had better go back to their father's office.
They found Mr. Martin about to leave. And then Mr. Bobbsey thought of something.
"Look here, Henry!" he exclaimed to his friend, "there's no need of your going back to that hotel. Come out to the house—you and the children— and have dinner with me. I want you and your boy and girl to meet Flossie and Freddie, and I want you to meet Mrs. Bobbsey."
"Well, I'd like to," said Mr. Martin slowly, while the eyes of Nell and Billy glowed in delight. "But, perhaps it might bother your wife."
"Oh, no!" laughed Mr. Bobbsey. "She likes company. I'll telephone out that we're coming, and Dinah, that's our cook, will be delighted to get up something extra. They'll be glad to see you. Come out to the house, all of you, and make me a nice visit. Can't you stay a day or so?"
Eagerly Nan and Bert waited for the answer, for they liked the Washington children very much.
"Oh, no, we can't stay later than this evening," said Mr. Martin. "I've got other business to look after. But I'll come out to dinner with you."
"Oh, we'll have lots of fun!" whispered Nan to Nell. "You'll just love Flossie—she's so cute!"
"I'll show you my dog Snap," said Bert to Billy. "You ought to have seen him scare a strange dog just before we came down here."
"I like dogs," said Billy. "We could have one in Washington if we had a barn to keep him in."
"We've got a barn," went on Bert. "You ought to have seen what happened there this morning to Flossie and Freddie," and then he told about the little twins having been hidden under the hay.
Mr. Bobbsey's automobile was in the lumberyard, and in this the trip was quickly made to the home of the four twins, after Mrs. Bobbsey had been told, by telephone, that company was coming
Nell and Billy were glad to see Flossie and Freddie, and the six children had fun playing around the house and barn with Snoop and Snap.
Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey wanted Mr. Martin to stay two or three days with his children, but the Washington lumberman said it could not be done this time.
"I'm on a business trip," he said, "and I can't spend as much time in visiting and pleasure as I'd like, though I am trying to give Billy and Nell a good time. This is the first time I have ever taken them on a trip with me."
"And we've had such a lovely time!" exclaimed Nell.
"Packs of fun!" added her brother.
"I'm sorry we can't stay longer," went on Mr. Martin. "You folk must come to Washington some day."
"Yes, I expect to," said Mr. Bobbsey. "I've been counting on going there some day on some business matters."
"Well, when you come be sure to bring the children," said the father of Nell and Billy. "I think they would enjoy seeing the White House, the big Capitol building, the Congressional Library, Washington's home at Mt. Vernon and places like that."
"Could we see the Washington Monument?" asked Nan. She remembered looking at a picture of that in her geography.
"Oh, yes, I'd show you that, too," said Mr. Martin.
"And could we see the Potomac River?" Bert wanted to know.
"Surely!" laughed Billy's father. "I'll show you all the sights of Washington if you'll come and pay me a visit—all you Bobbsey twins!" he added.
"I wish we could go!" sighed Nan.
"Perhaps you can," said her father.
"Have you got any hay in Wash'ton?" asked Freddie, suddenly, and every one else laughed except himself and Flossie.
"Oh, I guess I could find enough hay for you and your little sister to hide under," answered Mr. Martin with a laugh, for he had heard the story of what had happened in the barn.
A little later Mr. Martin and his boy and girl had to leave. They said "good-bye," and while the father of the Washington children again asked Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey to come to visit him at his home, Nell and Billy whispered to Nan and Bert:
"Be sure and come, and bring Flossie and Freddie with you!"
"We will!" promised Nan, but neither she nor Bert guessed what a queer little adventure they were soon to have in Washington.
A few days later school opened, and the Bobbsey twins had to go back to their class-rooms. At first they did not like it, after the long, joyous vacation on the deep, blue sea, but their teachers were kind, and finally the twins began to feel that, after all, school was not such a bad place.
Thanksgiving Day came, bringing a little vacation period, and after church in the morning, the Bobbsey twins went home to eat roast turkey and cranberry sauce. Then they went out to play with some of their boy and girl friends, having lots of fun in the barn and yard.
"But don't slide any more hay down on Flossie and Freddie!" begged Mrs. Bobbsey.
"We won't!" promised Bert and Nan, and they kept their word.
It was about a week after Thanksgiving, and Bert and Nan were on their way home from school one day, when, as they passed a red brick house on the street next to theirs, they saw, standing on the porch, a pleasant- faced, elderly lady who was looking up and down the avenue.
"That's Miss Pompret," said Nan to Bert. "I heard mother say she was very rich."
"Is she?" asked Bert. "She looks kind of funny."
"That's 'cause she isn't married," returned Nan. "Some folks call her an old maid, but I don't think she's very old, even if her hair is white. Her face looks nice."
"Yes, but she looks kind of worried now," said Bert. "That's the way mother looks when she's worried."
They were in front of the house now, and could see Miss Pompret quite plainly. Certainly the elderly lady did look as though something troubled her.
"Good afternoon, Miss Pompret!" called Nan, as she was about to pass by. Bert took off his cap and bowed.
"Oh, you're half of the Bobbsey twins, aren't you?" asked Miss Pompret, with a smile. "I often see you go past. I only wish you were a little bigger."
"Bigger? Why?" asked Bert, in some surprise.
"Why, then," explained Miss Pompret, "you might take this letter to the post-office for me. It's very important, and I want it to go out on this mail, but I can't go to the post-office myself. If you Bobbsey twins were bigger I should ask you to take it. Tell me, is the other set of twins larger than you two?"
"No'm; they're smaller," explained Nan. "Flossie and Freddie are lots littler than we are."
"But we're big enough to take the letter to the post-office for you, Miss Pompret," said Bert. He had often heard his father and mother speak of this neighbor, and the kindnesses she had done.
"Are you sure you are big enough to go to the post-office for me?" asked Miss Pompret.
"We often go for daddy and mother," said Nan.
"Well, then, if you think your mother wouldn't mind, I would like, very much, to have you go," said Miss Pompret. "The letter is very important, but I can not take it myself, as I have company, and I have no one, just now, who can leave. I thought I might see some large boy on the street, but—"
"I'm big enough!" exclaimed Bert.
"Yes, I believe you are!" agreed the elderly lady, looking at him through her glasses. "Well, I shall be very thankful to you and your sister if you will mail the letter for me. And, on your way back, stop and let me know that you dropped it in the post-office all right."
"We will!" promised Bert, and Nan nodded her head in agreement with him. Miss Pompret handed over the letter, which was in a large envelope. Nan and Bert were soon at the post-office with it.
The white-haired lady was waiting for them on the porch as they came back along the street.
"Won't you come in, just for a minute?" she asked, smiling kindly at them. "My maid has just baked a chocolate cake, and I don't believe your mother would mind if you each had a piece."
"Oh, no'm—she wouldn't mind at all!" said Bert quickly.
"We like chocolate cake," said Nan, "but we didn't go to the post-office for that!"
"Bless your heart, child, I know you didn't!" laughed their new friend. "Please come in!"
The chocolate cake was all Bert and Nan hoped it would be, and besides that Miss Pompret set out on the table for them each a glass of milk. They looked around the beautiful but old-fashioned room, noting the dark mahogany furniture, the cut glass on the side-board, and, over in one corner, a glass cupboard, through the clear doors of which could be seen some china dishes.
Miss Pompret saw Nan looking at this set of china, and the elderly lady smiled as she said:
"Isn't it beautiful?"
"Yes," said Nan, softly. "I love pretty dishes."
"And these are my greatest treasure," said Miss Pompret. "I am very proud of them. They have been in my family over a hundred years. But there is a sad story about it—a very sad story about the old Pompret china." And the lady's face clouded.
"Did somebody break it?" asked Bert. Once he had broken a plate of which his mother was very proud, and he remembered how sad she felt.
"No, my china wasn't broken," said Miss Pompret. "In fact, there is a sort of mystery about it."
"Oh, please tell me!" begged Nan. "I like nice dishes and I like stories."
She and Bert looked at the closet of choice china dishes. Children though they were, they could see that the plates, cups, saucers and other dishes were not like the kind set on their table every day.
What could Miss Pompret mean about a "mystery" connected with her set of china?
"WHAT A LOT OF MONEY!"
Bert and Nan sat up very straight on the chairs in Miss Pompret's dining room, and looked first at her and then at the china closet with its shiny, glass doors. Miss Pompret sat up very straight, too, in her chair, and she, also, looked first from Nan and Bert to the wonderful china, which seemed made partly of egg shells, so fine it was and pretty.
Miss Pompret's dining room was one in which it seemed every one had to sit up straight, and in which every chair had to be in just the right place, where the table legs must keep very straight, too, and where not even a corner of a rug dared to be turned up. In fact it was a very straight, old-fashioned but very beautiful dining room, and Miss Pompret herself was an old-fashioned but beautiful lady.
"Now if you will sit very still, and not move, I'll bring out some pieces of my china set and show them to you," said Miss Pompret. "You were so kind as to take the letter to the post-office for me when I could not go myself, that I feel I ought to reward you to some way."
"The chocolate cake was enough," said Nan.
"Yes, it was awful good!" sighed Bert.
"Mother told you not to say 'awful,'" interposed Ben's sister.
"Oh, well, I mean it was terribly nice!" exclaimed the boy.
"I'm glad you liked it," went on Miss Pompret with a smile. "But I must not keep you too long, or your mother will be wondering what has become of you. But I thought you, Nan, would be interested in seeing beautiful china. You'll have a home of your own, some day, and nothing is nicer in a nice home than beautiful dishes."
"I know that!" cried Nan. "My mamma has some very beautiful dishes, and once in a great while she lets me look them over. Sometimes, too, we have them on the table—when it's some special occasion like a birthday or visitors."
"I don't much like to see the real nice dishes on a table," remarked Bert. "I'm always afraid that I'll break one of them, and then I know my mother would feel pretty bad over it."
"You must be careful, my boy. You can't handle nice china as you can your baseball or your football," said Miss Pompret, with a smile.
"Well, I guess they couldn't treat dishes like baseballs and footballs!" cried Nan. "Just think of throwing a sugar bowl up into the air or hitting it with a bat, or kicking a teapot all around the lots!"
"That certainly wouldn't be very nice," said Miss Pompret.
She went over to the closet, unlocked the glass doors, and set some of the rare pieces out on the lace cover of the dining room table. Bert and Nan saw that Miss Pompret handled each piece as though it might be crushed, even in her delicate hands, which were almost as white and thin as a piece of china.
"This is the wonderful Pompret tableware," went on the old lady. "It has been in my family over a hundred years. My great-grandfather had it, and now it has come to me. I have had it a number of years, and I think more of it than anything else I have. Of course, if I had any little children I would care for them more than for these dishes," went on Miss Pompret. "But I'm a lonely old lady, and you neighborhood children are the only ones I have," and she smiled rather wistfully at Nan and Bert.
Carefully dish after dish was taken from the closet and set out for the Bobbsey twins to look at. They did not venture to so much as touch one. The china seemed too easily broken for that.
"I should think you'd have to be very careful when you washed those dishes," remarked Nan, as she saw how light glowed through the side of one of the thin cups.
"Oh, I am," answered Miss Pompret. "No one ever washes this set but me. My maid is very careful, but I would not allow her to touch a single piece. I don't use it very often. Only when some old and dear friends come to see me is the Pompret china used. And then I am sorry to say, I can not use the whole set."
"Why not?" asked Bert. "Are you afraid they'll break it?"
"Oh no," and Miss Pompret smiled. "I'm not afraid of that. But you see I haven't the whole set, so I can't show it all. One of the sorrows of my life is that part of my beautiful set of china is missing."
"There's a lot of it, though," added Bert, as he saw a number of shelves covered with the rare plates, cups and saucers.
"Yes, but the sugar bowl and cream pitcher are missing," went on Miss Pompret, with a shake of her white head. "They were beautiful. But, alas! they are missing." And she sighed deeply.
"Where are they?" asked Nan.
"Ah, that's the mystery I am going to tell you about," said Miss Pompret. "It isn't a very big story, and I won't keep you long. It isn't often I get a chance to tell it, so you must forgive an old lady for keeping you from your play," and again she smiled, in rather a sad fashion, at Nan and Bert.
"Oh, we like it here!" exclaimed Nan quickly.
"It's lots of fun!" added Bert. "I like to hear about a mystery."
"Well," began Miss Pompret, "as I told you, this set of china has been in our family over a hundred years. It was made in England, and each piece has the mark of the man who made it. See, this is what I mean."
She turned over one of the cups and showed the Bobbsey twins where, on the bottom, there was the stamp, in blue, of some animal in a circle of gold.
"That is the mark of the Waredon factory, where this china was made," went on Miss Pompret. "Only china made by Mr. Waredon can have this mark on it."
"It looks like our dog Snap," said Bert.
"Oh, no!" laughed Miss Pompret. "That is supposed to be the British lion. Mr. Waredon took that as a trade-mark, and at the top of the golden circle, with the blue lion inside, you can see the letter 'J' while at the bottom is the letter 'W.' They stand for the name Jonathan Waredon, in whose English factory the china was made. Each piece has this mark on it, and no other make of china in the world can be rightfully marked like that.
"Well, now about the mystery. Some years ago, before you children were born, I lived in another city. I had the china set there with me, and then it was complete. I had the cream pitcher and the sugar bowl. One day a ragged man came to the house. He was very ragged and poor. I suppose you would call him a tramp.
"The cook I then had felt sorry for him, and let him come into the kitchen to have something to eat. As it happened, part of my rare china set was on a table in the same room. I was getting ready to wash it myself, as I would let no one else touch it.
"Well, when I came out to wash my beautiful dishes the sugar bowl and cream pitcher of the set were gone. They had been on the table when the tramp was eating the lunch the cook gave him, but now they could not be found. The cook and I looked all over for them—we searched the house, in fact, but never found them."
"Who took them?" asked Bert, eagerly.
"Well, my dear boy, I have never found out. The cook always said the tramp put the sugar bowl and cream pitcher in his pocket when her back was turned to get him a cup of coffee. At any rate, when he was gone the two pieces were gone also, and while I do not want to think badly of any one, I have come to believe that the tramp took my rare dishes."
"Didn't you ever see him again?" asked Nan.
"No, my dear, never, as far as I know."
"And did you never find the dishes?" Bert wanted to know.
"Never. I advertised for them. I inquired if any boys in the neighborhood might have slipped in and taken them for a joke, but I never found them. To this day," went on Miss Pompret, "I have never again set eyes on my cream pitcher and sugar bowl. They disappeared as completely and suddenly as though they had fallen down a hole in the earth. The tramp may have taken them; but what would he do with just two pieces? They were too frail for him to use. A man like that would want heavy dishes. Perhaps he knew how valuable they were and perhaps he intended asking a reward for bringing them back. But I never heard from him.
"So that is why my rare set of Pompret china is not complete. The two pieces are missing and I would give a hundred dollars this minute if I could get them back!"
"A—a hundred dollars!" exclaimed Bert.
"Yes, my boy. If some one would get me that sugar bowl and pitcher, with the mark of the lion in a golden circle, and the initials 'J' at the top and 'W' at the bottom, I would willingly pay one hundred dollars," said Miss Pompret.
"A—a whole hundred dollars!" gasped Bert. "What a lot of money!"
Miss Alicia Pompret began putting back in the glass-doored closet the pieces of rare china that had the blue lion in a circle of gold and the initials "J.W." on the bottom of each piece. Nan and Bert watched her, and saw how carefully her white hands took up each plate and cup.
"A hundred dollars!" murmured Bert again. "I'd like to have all that money. I'd buy—er—I'd buy a goat!"
"A goat!" exclaimed Miss Pompret.
"Yes," went on Bert. "Freddie nearly thought one once, when we went to the big city, but mother wouldn't let him keep it. Now we're back home; and if I had a hundred dollars I'd buy a goat."
"Well, if you can find my sugar bowl and pitcher I'll be glad to pay you a hundred dollars," said Miss Pompret with a smile at Bert. "But I don't know that I'd like a goat," she added.
"Do you really mean you'd pay a hundred dollars for two china dishes?" asked Nan, her eyes big with wonder.
"Yes, my dear," said Miss Pompret. "Of course if they were just two ordinary dishes, such as these," and she pointed to some on a side table, "they would not be worth a hundred dollars. But I need just those two pieces—the pitcher and sugar bowl—to make my rare set of china complete again. So if you children should happen to come across them, bring them to me and I'll pay you a hundred dollars. But, of course," she added, "they must be the pieces that match my set—they must have the lion mark on the underside. However," she concluded with a sigh, "I don't suppose you'll ever find them. The tramp must have broken them many long years ago. I'll never see them again."
"Did you know the tramp's name?" asked Bert.
"Bless you, of course not!" laughed Miss Pompret. "Tramps hardly ever tell their names, and when they do, they don't give the right one. No, I'm sure I'll never see my beautiful dishes again. Sometimes I dream that I shall, and I am disappointed when I awaken. But now I mustn't keep you children any longer. I've told you my little mystery story, and I hope you liked it."
"Yes, we did, very much," answered Nan "Only it's too bad!"
"You aren't sure the tramp took the dishes, are you?" asked Bert.
"No; and that is where the mystery comes in," said Miss Pompret. "Perhaps he didn't, and, maybe, in some unexpected way, I'll find them again. I hope I do, or that some one does, and I'll pay the hundred dollars to whoever does."
"My, that's a lot of money!" murmured Bert again, when he and Nan were once more on their way home, having said good-bye to Miss Pompret. "I wish we could find those dishes."
"So do I," agreed Nan. "But don't call 'em dishes, Bert."
"What are they?" her brother wanted to know.
"Why, they're rare china. When I grow up I'm going to have a set just like Miss Pompret's."
"With the dog on the bottom?"
"Tisn't a DOG, it's a LION!" exclaimed Nan.
"Well, it looks like our dog Snap," declared Bert.
They ran on home to find their mother out at the gate looking up and down the street for them.
"Are you children just getting home from school?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey. "Were you kept in for doing something wrong?"
"Oh, no'm!" exclaimed Nan. "We went to see Miss Pompret."
"And she's going to give us a hundred dollars if we find two of her dishes!" exclaimed Bert.
"My! What's all this?" asked his mother, laughing.
"'Tisn't dishes! It's rare china," said Nan, and then, between them, she and Bert told the story of the little favor they had done for Miss Pompret, and how she had invited them in, given them cake and milk, and told them the mystery story.
"Well, you had quite a visit," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Miss Pompret is a dear lady, rather queer, perhaps, but very kind and a good neighbor. I am glad you did her a favor. I have heard, before, about her china, and knew she had some other rare and old-fashioned things in her house. I have been there once or twice. Now I want you to go to the store for me. Sam is away and Dinah needs some things for supper."
"I want to go to the store, too!" exclaimed Freddie, who came around the corner of the house just then, with his face and hands covered with mud.
"Oh, my dear child! what have you been doing?" cried his mother.
"Oh, just makin' pies," answered Freddie, rubbing one cheek with a grimy hand. "I made the pies and Flossie put 'em in the oven to bake. We made an oven out of some bricks. But we didn't really eat the pies," he added, "'cause they were only mud."
"You look as though you had tried to eat them," laughed Nan. "Come, Freddie, I'll wash you clean."
"No, I want to go to the store!" he cried.
"So do I!" chimed in the voice of Flossie, as she, too, marched around the corner of the house, dirtier, if possible, than her little twin brother. "If Freddie goes to the store, I want to go with him!" Flossie cried.
"All right," answered Bert. "You go and wash Flossie and Freddie, Nan, and I'll get the express wagon and we'll pull them to the store with us. Then we can put the groceries in the wagon and bring them back that way."
"That will be nice," put in Mrs. Bobbsey. "I'll go and see just what Dinah wants. Run along with Nan, Flossie and Freddie, and let her wash you nice and clean."
This just suited the smaller twins, and soon they were being made, by Nan's use of soap and water in the bath room, to look a little less like mud pies. While Bert got out the express wagon, Snap, the big dog, saw his little master, and jumped about, barking in joy.
"I don't care if that is a lion on the back of Miss Pompret's dishes," murmured Bert, as he put a piece of carpet in the wagon for Flossie and Freddie to sit on, "it looks just like you, Snap. And I wonder if I could ever find that milk pitcher and sugar bowl and get that hundred dollars. I don't guess I could, but I'd like to awful much. No, I mustn't say 'awful,' but I'd like to a terrible lot. A hundred dollars is a pack of money!"
Down the street Nan and Bert pulled Flossie and Freddie in the little express wagon, with Snap running on ahead and barking in delight. This was the best part of the day for him—when the children came home from school. Flossie and Freddie came first, and then Nan and Bert, and then the fun started.
"Now don't run too fast!" exclaimed Flossie, as the express wagon began to bounce over the uneven sidewalk.
"Oh, yes, let's go real fast!" cried Freddie. "Let's go as fast as the fire engines go."
"We can't run as fast as that, Freddie," declared Nan, who was almost out of breath. "We'll just run regular."
And then she and Bert pulled the younger twins around for a little ride in the express wagon before they did the errand on which they had been sent.
"I had a letter from Mr. Martin to-day," said Mr. Bobbsey at the supper table that evening. "He asked to be remembered to you," he said to Mrs. Bobbsey. "And Billy and Nell sent their love to you children."
"They got safely back to Washington, did they?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Yes," her husband answered. "And they said they had had a very nice visit here. They are anxious to have us come to Washington to see them."
"Can we go?" asked Nan.
"Well, perhaps, some day," said her father.
"I'd like to go now," murmured Bert. "Maybe we might see that tramp in Washington, and get back Miss Pompret's dishes."
"Rare china," muttered Nan, half under her breath.
"What tramp is that, and what about Miss Pompret's dishes?" asked Daddy Bobbsey, as he took his cup of tea from Dinah.
Then he had to hear the story of that afternoon's visit of Nan and Bert.
"Oh, I guess Miss Pompret will never see her two china pieces again," said Mr. Bobbsey. "If the tramp took them he must have sold them, if he didn't smash them. So don't think of that hundred dollars, Bert and Nan."
"But couldn't we go to Washington, anyhow?" Bert wanted to know.
"Well, not right away, I'm afraid," his father answered. "You have to go to school, you know."
But a few days after that something happened. About eleven o'clock in the morning Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie came trooping home. Into the house they burst with shouts of laughter.
"What's the matter? What is it? Has anything happened?" cried Mrs. Bobbsey. "Why are you home from school at such a time of day?"
"There isn't any school," explained Nan.
"No school?" questioned her mother.
"And there won't be any for a month, I guess!" added Bert. "Hurray!"
"What do you mean?" asked his surprised mother. "No school for a month?"
"No, Mother," added Nan "The steam boiler is broken and they can't heat our room. It got so cold the teacher sent us home."
"An' we came home, too'" added Flossie. "We couldn't stay in our school 'cause our fingers were so cold!"
"Was any one hurt when the boiler burst?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.
"No," Bert said. "It didn't exactly burst very hard, I guess."
But Mrs. Bobbsey wanted to know just what the trouble was, so she called up the principal of the school on the telephone, and from him learned that the heating boiler of the school had broken, not exactly burst, and that it could no longer heat the rooms.
"It will probably be a month before we can get a new boiler, and until then there will be no more school," he said. "The children will have another vacation."
"A vacation so near Christmas," murmured Mrs. Bobbsey. "I wonder what I can do with my twins?"
Just then the telephone rang, and Mrs. Bobbsey listened. It was Mr. Bobbsey telephoning. He had heard of some accident at the school, and he called up his house, from the lumberyard, to make sure his little fat fairy and fireman, as well as Nan and Bert, were all right.
"Yes, they're home safe," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "But there will be no school for a month."
"Good!" exclaimed Daddy Bobbsey. "That will just suit me and the children, too. I'll be home in a little while, and I have some wonderful news for them!"
"Oh, I wonder what it can be!" exclaimed Nan, when her mother told her what Daddy Bobbsey had said.
ON A TRIP
The Bobbsey twins could hardly wait for their daddy to come home after their mother had told them what he said over the telephone.
"Tell me again, Mother, just what he told you!" begged Nan.
"Well, he said he was just as glad as you children were, that there was to be no more school for a month," answered Mrs. Bobbsey. "Though, of course, he was sorry that the steam boiler had broken. And then he said he had some wonderful news to tell us all."
"Oh, I know what it is!" cried Bert.
"What?" asked Nan.
"He's found the tramp that took Miss Pompret's dishes," went on Bert, "and he's got them back—daddy has—and he's going to get the hundred dollars! That's it!"
"Oh, I hardly think so," said Mrs. Bobbsey, with a smile. "I don't believe daddy has caught any tramp."
"They do sometimes sleep in the lumberyard," remarked Bert.
"Yes, I know," agreed his mother. "But, even if daddy had caught a tramp, it would hardly be the same man who took Miss Pompret's rare pieces of china—the pitcher and sugar bowl. And if it had been anything like that, daddy would have told me over the telephone."
"But what could the wonderful news be?" asked Nan.
"Something too long to talk about until he gets home, I think," answered Mother Bobbsey. "Have patience, daddy will soon be here!"
But of course the Bobbsey twins could not be patient any more than you could if you expected something unusual. They looked at the clock, they ran to the door several times to look down the street to see if their father was coming, and, at last, when Nan had said for about the tenth time: "I wonder what it is!" a step sounded on the front porch.
"There's daddy now!" cried Bert.
Eight feet rushed to the front door, and Mr. Bobbsey was almost overwhelmed by the four twins leaping at him at once.
"What is it?" cried Bert.
"Tell us the wonderful news!" begged Nan.
"Have you got another dog for us?" Flossie wanted to know.
"Did you bring me a new toy fire engine?" cried Freddie.
"Maybe it's a goat!" exclaimed Flossie.
"Now wait a minute! Wait a minute!" laughed Mr. Bobbsey, as he kissed each one in turn. "Sit down and I'll tell you all about it."
He led them into the library, and sat down on a couch, taking Flossie and Freddie up on his knees, while Bert and Nan sat close on either side.
"Now first let me hear all about what happened at school to-day," said Mr. Bobbsey, who had come home to dinner.
"Oh, no!" laughed Nan. "We want to hear the wonderful news first!"
"Oh, all right!" laughed her father. "Well, then, how would you all like to go off on a trip?"
"A trip?" cried Bert. "A real trip? To Florida?"
"Well, hardly there again so soon," replied his father.
"Do you mean a trip to some city?" asked Nan. "In a steamboat?" cried Freddie. "I want to go on a boat!"
"Yes, I think perhaps we can go on a boat," said Mr. Bobbsey.
"And in a train, too!" exclaimed Flossie. "I want to go on a train!"
"And I suppose, if we take this trip, we'll have to go on a train, also," and Mr. Bobbsey looked over the heads of the children and smiled at his wife who stood in the doorway.
"But you haven't told us yet where we are going," objected Nan.
"Is it to New York?" Bert wanted to know.
"Part of it is," his father replied.
"Oh, is it two trips?" Nan asked.
"Well, not exactly," answered Mr. Bobbsey. "You might say it has two parts to it, like a puzzle. The first part is to go on a trip to New York, and from there we'll go on a trip to—I'll let you see if you can guess. Come on, Bert, your turn first."
"To Uncle William's!" guessed Bert.
"No," answered his father. "Your turn, Nan."
"To Uncle Daniel's at Meadow Brook."
"No," and her father smiled at her.
"I know!" cried Freddie. "We're goin' on the houseboat."
"Wrong!" said Mr. Bobbsey. "Now what does my little fat fairy have to say?"
"Are we going swimming?" asked Flossie, who loved to splash in the water.
"Hardly!" laughed Daddy Bobbsey. "It's too cold. Well, none of you has guessed right, so I'll tell you. We're going to Washington to visit the Martin children who were here a while ago."
"Oh, to Washington!" cried Nan. "How nice!"
"And shall we see Billy and Nell?" Bert wanted to know.
"Yes," his father answered, "that's what we'll do. I had a letter from Mr. Martin the other day, inviting us all to come to his house to pay him a visit," he went on. "I didn't know just when I could go, but to- day I got another letter from another man in Washington, saying he wanted to see me about some lumber business. I may have to stay a week or two, so I thought I would take the whole family with me, and make a regular visit of it."
"Will you take us all?" asked Freddie.
"And Snap and Snoop an' an'—" began Flossie.
"Well, hardly the dog and the cat," explained her father. "Just mother, you four twins and I will go to Washington."
"When can we start?" Nan asked.
"As soon as your mother can get you ready," replied Mr. Bobbsey.
"I'm ready now," announced Freddie.
"And shall we stop in New York?" Bert demanded.
"Yes, for a day or so. And now what do you think of my news?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.
"It's just—wonderful!" cried Nan. "Oh, we'll have such fun with Nell and Billy!"
"And I want to see if I can drop a ball off Washington Monument," added Bert.
"Oh, you hadn't better try that," his father cautioned him. "You might hit some one. Well, then, it's all settled, and we'll go on the trip. How about it, Mother?" and he smiled at his wife.
"I think it will be very nice to go," she answered. "I like Mr. Martin and his children very much, and I'm sure we'll like Mrs. Martin too. It's fortunate that we can all go—that the children will not lose any schooling. For if all the classes stop, and the school is closed, they will all start evenly again when the boiler is fixed. So run along now, my twins, and get ready for lunch. Daddy and I have lots to talk about."
And so did the Bobbsey twins, as you can easily imagine.
If I told you all the things that happened in the next few days there would be but little else in this book except the story of getting ready for the journey. And as the trip itself is what you want to hear about, and especially what happened on it, I'll skip the getting ready and go right on with the story.
Trunks and valises were packed, Dinah and Sam were told what to do while the Bobbseys were away, and the children reminded the colored cook and her husband to be sure to feed Snap and Snoop plenty of things the dog and cat liked.
"Oh, I'll look after dem animiles all right, honey lamb!" said fat Dinah to Freddie. "I won't let 'em starve!"
"And maybe I can get another dog in Washington," said Freddie.
"And maybe I can find a cat!" added Flossie.
"Fo' de land sakes! doan brung any mo' catses an' dogses around heah," begged Dinah.
At last everything was in readiness. Mr. Bobbsey had written to Mr. Martin, telling of the coming of the Bobbsey twins to Washington, after a short stay in New York. The children said good-bye to Dinah and Sam, as well as to Snap and Snoop, and then one day they were taken to the railroad station in the automobile.
"All aboard!" cried the conductor, as the Bobbseys scrambled into the coach of the train that was to take them to New York. "All aboard!"
"Oh, isn't this fun?" cried Nan, as she settled herself in a seat with Bert.
"Great!" he agreed. "I wonder what will happen before we get back."
And it was going to be something very odd, I can tell you that much.
IN NEW YORK
The Bobbsey twins had been to so many places, and had so often ridden in railroad trains, that this first part of their trip—journeying in the steam cars—was nothing new to them. They were quite like old travelers; at least Nan and Bert were. For Flossie and Freddie there was always sure to be something new and strange on such a long railroad trip.
The two older twins had picked out a nice seat in the center of the car, and were comfortably settled, Bert kindly letting Nan sit next to the window.
"You may sit here after a while," Nan said to Bert. "We'll take turns."
"That will be nice," replied Bert.
But Flossie and Freddie were not so easily pleased. Each of the smaller twins wanted to sit next to the window, and their father and mother knew that soon the little snub noses would be pressed close against the glass, and that the bright eyes would see everything that flashed by as the tram speeded on.
But the trouble was that there were not enough seats for Flossie and Freddie each to have one, and, for a moment, it looked as though there would be a storm, Freddie slipped into the only whole vacant seat and took his place next the window.
"Oh, I want to sit there!" cried Flossie. "Mother, make Freddie give me that place! Please do!"
"No! I was first!" exclaimed the little boy, and this was true enough.
"I want to look out the window and see the cows!" went on Flossie, and her voice sounded as though she might cry at any moment. "I want to see the cows!"
"And I want to see the horses," declared Freddie. "If I'm going to be a fireman I've got to look at horses, haven't I?" he asked his father.
"Cows are better than horses!" half-sobbed Flossie. "Mother, make Freddie let me sit where I can look out!"
"Children! Children! This isn't at all nice!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey. "What shall I do?" she asked her husband in a low voice, for several of the passengers were looking at Flossie and Freddie, whose voices were rather loud.
"I'll let Flossie have my place," offered Nan. "I don't mind sitting in the outside seat. Here, Flossie, come over here and sit with Bert, and I'll sit with Freddie."
"Thank you, very much, Nan," said her mother in a low voice. "You are a good girl. I'm sure I don't know what makes Flossie and Freddie act so. They are usually pretty good on such a journey as this."
But Nan did not have to give up her place at the window, for a gentleman in the seat across the aisle arose and said to Mr. Bobbsey with a smile:
"Let your little girl take my seat near the window. I'm going into the smoking car, and I get off at the next station. I know how I liked to sit near a window, where I could see the horses and cows, when I was a little boy."
"Oh, thank you!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey. "That is very kind of you."
So the change was made. Flossie had a seat near one window, and Freddie near another, and Mr. Bobbsey sat with his "little fireman," while Mrs. Bobbsey took the other half of the seat with the "little fat fairy." Nan and Bert were together, and so there was peace at last. On rushed the train taking the Bobbsey twins to New York; and from there they were to go to Washington, where a strange adventure awaited them.
Nothing very much happened during the first part of the journey. Of course, Flossie and Freddie wanted many drinks of water, as they always did, and for a time they kept Bert busy going to the end of the car to fill the drinking cup. But as it was winter and the weather was not warm, the little twins did not want quite as much water as they would have wanted had the traveling been done on a hot day in summer. And at last Flossie and Freddie seemed to have had enough. They sat looking out of the window and speaking now and then of the many things they saw.
"I counted ten horses," announced Freddie after a while. "They were mostly on the road. I didn't see many horses in the fields."
"No, not very many horses are put out to graze in the fields in the winter, except perhaps on an extra warm day when there isn't any snow," said Mr. Bobbsey.
"And I saw two-sixteen cows!" exclaimed Flossie. "I saw them in a barnyard. Two-sixteen cows."
"There aren't so many cows as that; is there, Daddy?" asked Freddie.
"Well, perhaps not quite," agreed Mr. Bobbsey with a smile. "But Flossie saw a few cows, for I noticed them myself."
Then the smaller twins tried to count the telegraph poles and the trees that flashed past, and soon this made them rather drowsy. Flossie leaned back against her mother, and was soon sound asleep, while Freddie cuddled up in Daddy Bobbsey's arms and, in a little while, he, also, was in by-low land.
Bert and Nan took turns sitting next to the window, until the train boy came through with some magazines, and then the older twins were each allowed to buy one, and this kept them busy, looking at the pictures and reading the stories.
It was a rather long trip from Lakeport to New York, and it was evening when the train arrived in the big city. It was quite dark, and the smaller twins, at least, were tired and sleepy. But they roused up when they saw the crowds in the big station, and noticed the bright lights.
"I'm hungry, too!" exclaimed Freddie. "I want some supper. Oh, dear, I wish Dinah was here!"
"So do I!" added Flossie. "I guess my cat Snoop is having a good supper now."
"And I guess my dog Snap is, too!" went on Freddie. "Why can't we have supper?" he asked of his father, and several of the passengers, hurrying through the big station, turned to laugh at the chubby little fellow, who spoke very loud.
"We'll soon have supper, little fireman," said Mr. Bobbsey. "We might have eaten on the train, but I thought it best to wait until we reached our hotel, where we shall stay all night."
"How long are we going to be in New York?" asked Nan.
"Two or three days," her father replied. "I have some business to look after here. We may stay three days."
"That'll be fun!" exclaimed Bert. "There's a lot of things I want to see, and we didn't have time when we were here before."
The twins had been in New York before, as those of you know who have read the book called "The Bobbsey Twins In a Great City."
The hotel was soon reached, and, after being washed and freshened up in the bathroom of their apartment, the Bobbsey twins and their father and mother were ready to go down to supper. And not all the bright lights, nor the music which played all during the meal, could stop Flossie and Freddie from eating, nor Bert and Nan, either. The twins were very hungry.
The next day Mrs. Bobbsey took Nan and Flossie shopping with her, while Mr. Bobbsey took Bert and Freddie down town with him as the lumber merchant had to see some men on business, and he knew the two boys could wait in the different offices while he talked with his men friends.
"We will meet you in the Woolworth Building," said Mr. Bobbsey to his wife. "You bring Flossie and Nan there, and after we go up in the high tower we'll have lunch, and then go to the Bronx Park to see the animals."
"Oh, that will be fun!" cried Freddie. "I want to see a bear—two bears!"
"And I want to see ten—fifteen monkeys!" cried Flossie.
"Well, I hope you all get your wishes!" laughed Mother Bobbsey.
In one of the downtown offices where he had to stop to see a man, Mr. Bobbsey was kept rather a long time talking business, and Freddie and Bert got tired, or at least Freddie did. Bert was so interested in looking out of the high window at the crowds in the streets below, that he did not much care how long his father stayed. But Freddie wandered about the outer office, looking at the typewriter which a pretty girl was working so fast that, Bert said afterward, you could hardly see her fingers fly over the keys. The girl was too busy to pay much attention to what Freddie did until, all of a sudden, she looked down at the floor and exclaimed:
"Oh, it's raining in here! Or else a water pipe has burst!" She pointed to a little puddle of water that had formed under her desk, while another stream was running over the office floor.
"Why, it isn't raining!" declared Bert, for the sun was shining outside. "It can't be!"
"Then where did the water come from?" asked the girl.
"I—I guess I made it come!" confessed Freddie, walking out of a corner. "I got a drink from the water tank, but now I can't shut off the handle, and the water's comin' out as fast as anything!"
"Oh, my!" cried the girl, jumping up with a laugh, "I must shut it off before we have a flood here!"