The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore Laura Lee Hope
CHAPTER I CHASING THE DUCK
"Suah's yo' lib, we do keep a-movin'!" cried Dinah, as she climbed into the big depot wagon.
"We didn't forget Snoop this time," exclaimed Freddie, following close on Dinah's heels, with the box containing Snoop, his pet cat, who always went traveling with the little fellow.
"I'm glad I covered up the ferns with wet paper," Flossie remarked, "for this sun would surely kill them if it could get at them."
"Bert, you may carry my satchel," said Mrs. Bobbsey, "and be careful, as there are some glasses of jelly in it, you know."
"I wish I had put my hat in my trunk," remarked Nan. "I'm sure someone will sit on this box and smash it before we get there."
"Now, all ready!" called Uncle Daniel, as he prepared to start old Bill, the horse.
"Wait a minute!" Aunt Sarah ordered. "There was another box, I'm sure. Freddie, didn't you fix that blue shoe box to bring along?"
"Oh, yes, that's my little duck, Downy. Get him quick, somebody, he's on the sofa in the bay window!"
Bert climbed out and lost no time in securing the missing box.
"Now we are all ready this time," Mr. Bobbsey declared, while Bill started on his usual trot down the country road to the depot.
The Bobbseys were leaving the country for the seashore. As told in our first volume, "The Bobbsey Twins," the little family consisted of two pairs of twins, Nan and Bert, age eight, dark and handsome, and as like as two peas, and Flossie and Freddie, age four, as light as the others were dark, and "just exactly chums," as Flossie always declared.
The Bobbsey twins lived at Lakeport, where Mr. Richard Bobbsey had large lumber yards. The mother and father were quite young themselves, and so enjoyed the good times that came as naturally as sunshine to the little Bobbseys. Dinah, the colored maid, had been with the family so long the children at Lakeport called her Dinah Bobbsey, although her real name was Mrs. Sam Johnston, and her husband, Sam, was the man of all work about the Bobbsey home.
Our first volume told all about the Lakeport home, and our second book, "The Bobbsey Twins in the Country," was the story of the Bobbseys on a visit to Aunt Sarah and Uncle Daniel Bobbsey in their beautiful country home at Meadow Brook. Here Cousin Harry, a boy Bert's age, shared all the sports with the family from Lakeport. Now the Lakeport Bobbseys were leaving Meadow Brook, to spend the month of August with Uncle William and Aunt Emily Minturn at their seashore home, called Ocean Cliff, located near the village of Sunset Beach. There they were also to meet their cousin, Dorothy Minturn, who was just a year older than Nan.
It was a beautiful morning, the very first day of August, that our little party started off. Along the Meadow Brook road everybody called out "Good-by!" for in the small country place all the Bobbseys were well known, and even those from Lakeport had many friends there.
Nettie Prentice, the one poor child in the immediate neighborhood (she only lived two farms away from Aunt Sarah), ran out to the wagon as Uncle Daniel hurried old Bill to the depot.
"Oh, here, Nan!" she called. "Do take these flowers if you can carry them. They are in wet cotton battin at the stems, and they won't fade a bit all day," and Nettie offered to Nan a gorgeous bouquet of lovely pure white, waxy lilies, that grow so many on a stalk and have such a delicious fragrance. Nettie's house was an old homestead, and there delicate blooms crowded around the sitting-room window.
Nan let her hatbox down and took the flowers.
"These are lovely, Nettie," she exclaimed; "I'll take them, no matter how I carry them. Thank you so much, and I hope I'll see you next summer."
"Yes, do come out again!" Nettie faltered, for she would miss Nan, the city girl had always been so kind—even lent her one of her own dresses for the wonderful Fourth of July parade.
"Maybe you will come down to the beach on an excursion," called Nan, as Bill started off again with no time to lose.
"I don't think so," answered Nettie, for she had never been on an excursion—poor people can rarely afford to spend money for such pleasures.
"I've got my duck," called Freddie to the little girl, who had given the little creature to Freddie at the farewell party as a souvenir of Meadow Brook.
"Have you?" laughed Nettie. "Give him plenty of water, Freddie, let him loose in the ocean for a swim!" Then Nettie ran back to her home duties.
"Queer," remarked Nan, as they hurried on. "The two girls I thought the most of in Meadow Brook were poor: Nettie Prentice, and Nellie the little cash girl at the fresh-air camp. Somehow, poor girls seem so real and they talk to you so close—I mean they seem to just speak right out of their eyes and hearts."
"That's what we call sincerity, daughter," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "You see, children who have trials learn to appreciate more keenly than we, who have everything we need. That appreciation shows in their eyes, and so they seem closer to you, as you say."
"Oh! oh! oh!" screamed Freddie, "I think my duck is choked. He's got his head out the hole. Take Snoop, quick, Bert, till I get Downy in again," and the poor little fellow looked as scared as did the duck with his "head out of the hole."
"He can't get it in again," cried Freddie, pushing gently on the little lump of down with the queer yellow bill—the duck's head. "The hole ain't big enough and he'll surely choke in it."
"Tear the cardboard down," said Bert. "That's easy enough," and the older brother, coming to the rescue, put his fingers under the choking neck, gave the paper box a jerk, and freed poor Downy.
"When we get to the depot we will have to paste some paper over the tear," continued Bert, "or Downy will get out further next time."
"Here we are," called Uncle Daniel, pulling up to the old station.
"I'll attend to the baggage," announced Mr. Bobbsey, "while you folks all go to the farther end of the platform. Our car will stop there."
For a little place like Meadow Brook seven people getting on the Express seemed like an excursion, and Dave, the lame old agent, hobbled about with some consequence, as he gave the man in the baggage car instruction about the trunk and valises. During that brief period, Harry, Aunt Sarah, and Uncle Daniel were all busy with "good-byes": Aunt Sarah giving Flossie one kiss more, and Uncle Daniel tossing Freddie up in the air in spite of the danger to Downy, the duck.
"All aboard!" called the conductor.
"Come and see us at Christmas!" called Bert to Harry.
"I may go down to the beach!" answered Harry while the train brakes flew off.
"We will expect you Thanksgiving," Mrs. Bobbsey nodded out the window to Aunt Sarah.
"I'll come if I can," called back the other.
"Now, let us all watch out for the last look at dear old Meadow Brook," exclaimed Nan, standing up by the window.
"Let Snoop see!" said Freddie, with his hand on the cover of the kitten's box.
"Oh, no!" called everybody at once. "If you let that cat out we will have just as much trouble as we did coming up. Keep him in his box."
"He would like to see too," pouted Freddie. "Snoop liked Meadow Brook. Didn't you, Snoopy!" putting his nose close to the holes in the box.
"I suppose by the time we come back from the beach Freddie will have a regular menagerie," said Bert, with a laugh. "He had a kitten first, now he has a kitten and a duck, and next he'll have a kitten, a duck, and a—-"
"Sea-serpent," put in Freddie, believing that he might get such a monster if he cared to possess one.
"There goes the last of Meadow Brook," sighed Nan, as the train rounded a curve and slowed up on a pretty bridge. "And we did have such a lovely time there!"
"Isn't it going to be just as nice at the ocean?" Freddie inquired, with some concern.
"We hope so," his mother replied, "but sister Nan always likes to be grateful for what she has enjoyed."
"So am I," insisted the little fellow, not really knowing what he meant himself.
"I likes dis yere car de best," spoke up Dinah, looking around at the ordinary day coach, the kind used in short journeys. "De red velvet seats seems de most homey," she went on, throwing her kinky head back, "and I likes to lean back wit'out tumbling ober."
"And there's more to see," agreed Bert. "In the Pullman cars there are so few people and they're always—-"
"Proud," put in Flossie.
"Yes, they seem so," declared her brother, "but see all the people in this car, just eating and sleeping and enjoying themselves."
Now in our last book, "The Bobbsey Twins in the Country," we told about the trip to Meadow Brook in the Pullman car, and how Snoop, the kitten, got out of his box, and had some queer experiences. This time our friends were traveling in the car with the ordinary passengers, and, of course, as Bert said, there was more to be seen and the sights were different.
"It is splendid to have so much room," declared Mrs. Bobbsey, for Nan and Flossie had a big seat turned towards Bert and Freddie's, while Dinah had a seat all to herself (with some boxes of course), and Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey had another seat. The high-back, broad plush seats gave more room than the narrow, revolving chairs, besides, the day coach afforded so much more freedom for children.
"What a cute little baby!" exclaimed Nan, referring to a tiny tot sleeping under a big white netting, across the aisle.
"We must be quiet," said Mrs. Bobbsey, "and let the little baby sleep. It is hard to travel in hot weather."
"Don't you think the duck should have a drink?" suggested Mr. Bobbsey. "You have a little cup for him, haven't you, Freddie?"
"Yep!" answered Freddie, promptly, pulling the cover off Downy's box.
Instantly the duck flew out!
"Oh ! oh! oh!" yelled everybody, as the little white bird went flying out through the car. First he rested on the seat, then he tried to get through the window. Somebody near by thought he had him, but the duck dodged, and made straight for the looking glass at the end of the car.
"Oh, do get him, somebody!" cried Freddie, while the other strange children in the car yelled in delight at the fun.
"He's kissing himself in the looking glass," declared one youngster, as the frightened little duck flapped his wings helplessly against the mirror.
"He thinks it's another duck," called a boy from the back of the car, clapping his hands in glee.
Mr. Bobbsey had gone up carefully with his soft hat in his hand. Everybody stopped talking, so the duck would keep in its place.
Nan held Freddie and insisted on him not speaking a word.
Mr. Bobbsey went as cautiously as possible. One step more and he would have had the duck.
He raised his hand with the open hat—and brought it down on the looking glass!
The duck was now gazing down from the chandelier!
"Ha! ha! ha!" the boys laughed, "that's a wild duck, sure!"
"Who's got a gun!" the boy in the back hollered.
"Oh, will they shoot my duck!" cried Freddie, in real tears.
"No, they're only making fun," said Bert. "You keep quiet and we will get him all right."
By this time almost everyone in the car had joined in the duck hunt, while the frightened little bird seemed about ready to surrender. Downy had chosen the highest hanging lamps as his point of vantage, and from there he attempted to ward off all attacks of the enemy. No matter what was thrown at him he simply flew around the lamp.
As it was a warm day, chasing the duck was rather too vigorous exercise to be enjoyable within the close confines of a poorly ventilated car, but that bird had to be caught somehow.
"Oh, the net!" cried Bert, "that mosquito netting over there. We could stretch it up and surely catch him."
This was a happy thought. The baby, of course, was awake and joined in the excitement, so that her big white mosquito netting was readily placed at the disposal of the duck hunters.
A boy named Will offered to help Bert.
"I'll hold one end here," said Will, "and you can stretch yours opposite, so we will screen off half of the car, then when he comes this way we can readily bag him."
Will was somewhat older than Bert, and had been used to hunting, so that the present emergency was sport to him.
The boys now brought the netting straight across the car like a big white screen, for each held his hands up high, besides standing on the arm of the car seats.
"Now drive him this way," called Bert to his father and the men who were helping him.
"Shoo! Shoo! Shoo!" yelled everybody, throwing hats, books, and newspapers at the poor lost duck.
"Shoo!" again called a little old lady, actually letting her black silk bag fly at the lamp.
Of course poor Downy had to shoo, right into the net!
Bert and Will brought up the four ends of the trap and Downy flopped.
"That's the time we bagged our game," laughed Will, while everybody shouted and clapped, for it does not take much to afford real amusement to passengers, who are traveling and can see little but the other people, the conductor, and newspapers.
"We've got him at last," cried Freddie in real glee, for he loved the little duck and feared losing his companionship.
"And he will have to have his meals served in his room for the rest of his trip," laughed Mrs. Bobbsey, as the tired little Downy was once more put in his perforated box, along the side of the tin dipper of water, which surely the poor duck needed by this time.
CHAPTER II A TRAVELING MENAGERIE
It took some time for the people to get settled down again, for all had enjoyed the fun with the duck. The boys wanted Freddie to let him out of the box, on the quiet, but Bert overheard the plot and put a stop to it. Then, when the strange youngsters got better acquainted, and learned that the other box contained a little black kitten, they insisted on seeing it.
"We'll hold him tight," declared the boy from the back seat, "and nothing will happen to him."
''But you don't know Snoop," insisted Bert. "We nearly lost him coming up in the train, and he's the biggest member of Freddie's menagerie, so we have to take good care of him."
Mr. Bobbsey, too, insisted that the cat should not be taken out of the box; so the boys reluctantly gave in.
"Now let us look around a little," suggested Mrs. Bobbsey, when quiet had come again, and only the rolling of the train and an occasional shrill whistle broke in on the continuous rumble of the day's journey.
"Yes, Dinah can watch the things and we can look through the other cars," agreed Mr. Bobbsey. "We might find someone we know going down to the shore."
"Be awful careful of Snoop and Downy," cautioned Freddie, as Dinah took up her picket duty. "Look out the boys don't get 'em," with a wise look at the youngsters, who were spoiling for more sport of some kind.
"Dis yeah circus won't move 'way from Dinah," she laughed. "When I goes on de police fo'ce I takes good care ob my beat, and you needn't be a-worryin', Freddie, de Snoopy kitty cat and de Downy duck will be heah when you comes back," and she nodded her wooly head in real earnest.
It was an easy matter to go from one car to the other as they were vestibuled, so that the Bobbsey family made a tour of the entire train, the boys with their father even going through the smoker into the baggage car, and having a chance to see what their own trunk looked like with a couple of railroad men sitting on it.
"Don't you want a job?" the baggagemaster asked Freddie. "We need a man about your size to lift trunks off the cars for us."
Of course the man was only joking, but Freddie always felt like a real man and he answered promptly:
"Nope, I'm goin' to be a fireman. I've put lots of fires out already, besides gettin' awful hurted on the ropes with 'Frisky.'"
"Frisky, who is he?" inquired the men.
"Why, our cow out in Meadow Brook. Don't you know Frisky?" and Freddie looked very much surprised that two grown-up people had never met the cow that had given him so much trouble.
"Why didn't you bring him along?" the men asked further.
"Have you got a cow car?" Freddie asked in turn.
"Yes, we have. Would you like to see one?" went on one of the railroaders. "If your papa will bring you out on the platform at the next stop, I'll show you how our cows travel."
Mr. Bobbsey promised to do this, and the party moved back to meet Nan, Flossie, and their mamma. Freddie told them at once about his promised excursion to the cattle car, and, of course, the others wanted to see, too.
"If we stop for a few minutes you may all come out," Mr. Bobbsey said. "But it is always risky to get off and have to scramble to get back again. Sometimes they promise us five minutes and give us two, taking the other three to make up for lost time."
The train gave a jerk, and the next minute they drew up to a little way station.
"Here we are, come now," called Mr. Bobbsey, picking Freddie up in his arms, and telling the others to hurry after him.
"Oh, there go the boys from our car!" called Bert, as quite a party of youngsters alighted. "They must be going on a picnic; see their lunch boxes."
"I hope Snoop is all right," Freddie reflected, seeing all the lunch boxes that looked so much like Snoop's cage.
"Come on, little fellow," called the baggage man, "we only have a few minutes."
Then they took Freddie to the rear car and showed him a big cage of cows—it was a cage made of slates, with openings between, and through the openings could be seen the crowded cattle.
"Oh, I would never put Frisky in a place like that," declared Freddie; "he wouldn't have room to move."
"There is not much room, that's a fact," agreed the man. "But you see cows are not first-class passengers."
"But they are good, and know how to play, and they give milk," said Freddie, speaking up bravely for his country friends. "What are you going to do with all of these cows'"
"I don't know," replied the man, not just wanting to talk about beefsteak. "Maybe they're going out to the pasture."
One pretty little cow tried to put her head out through the bars, and Bert managed to give her a couple of crackers from his pocket. She nibbled them up and bobbed her head as if to say:
"Thank you, I was very hungry."
"They are awfully crowded," Nan ventured, "and it must be dreadful to be packed in so. How do they manage to get a drink?"
"They will be watered to-night," replied the man, and then the Bobbseys had to all hurry to get on the train again, for the locomotive whistle had blown and the bell was ringing.
They found Dinah with her face pressed close to the window pane, enjoying the sights on the platform.
"I specked you was clean gone and left me," she laughed. "S'pose you saw lots of circuses, Freddie?"
"A whole carful," he answered, "but, Dinah," he went on, looking scared, "where's Snoop?"
The box was gone!
"Right where you left him," she declared. "I nebber left dis yeah spot, and nobody doan come ter steal de Snoopy kitty cat."
Dinah was crawling around much excited, looking for the missing box. Bert, Nan, and Flossie, of course, all rummaged about, and even Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey joined in the search. But there was no box to be found.
"Oh, the boys have stoled my cat!" wailed Freddie. "I dust knowed they would!" and he cried outright, for Snoop was a dear companion of the little fellow, and why should he not cry at losing his pet?
"Now wait," commanded his father, "we must not give up so easily. Perhaps the boys hid him some place."
"But suah's you lib I nebber did leab dis yeah seat," insisted Dinah, which was very true. But how could she watch those boys and keep her face so close to the window? Besides, a train makes lots of noise to hide boys' pranks.
"Now, we will begin a systematic search," said Mr. Bobbsey, who had already found out from the conductor and brakeman that they knew nothing about the lost box. "We will look in and under every seat. Then we will go through all the baggage in the hangers" (meaning the overhead wire baskets), "and see if we cannot find Snoop."
The other passengers were very kind and all helped in the hunt. The old lady who had thrown her hand bag at Downy thought she had seen a boy come in the door at the far end of the car, and go out again quickly, but otherwise no one could give any information that would lead to the discovery of the person or parties who had stolen Snoop.
All kinds of traveling necessities were upset in the search. Some jelly got spilled, some fresh country eggs were cracked, but everybody was good-natured and no one complained.
Yet, after a thorough overhauling of the entire car there was no Snoop to be found!
"He's gone!" they all admitted, the children falling into tears, while the older people looked troubled.
"They could hardly have stolen him," Mr. Bobbsey reflected, "and the conductor is sure not one of those boys went in another car, for they all left the train at Ramsley's."
"I don't care!" cried Freddie, aloud, "I'll just have every one of them arrested when we get to Auntie's. I knowed they had Snoop in their boxes."
How Snoop could be "in boxes" and how the boys could be found at Auntie's were two much mixed points, but no one bothered Freddie about such trifles in his present grief.
"Why doan you call dat kitty cat?" suggested Dinah, for all this time no one had thought of that.
"I couldn't," answered Freddie, "'cause he ain't here to call." And he went on crying.
"Snoop! Snoop! Snoop Cat!" called Dinah, but there was no familiar "me-ow" to answer her.
"Now, Freddie boy," she insisted, "if dat cat is alibe he will answer if youse call him, so just you stop a-sniffing and come along. Dere's a good chile," and she patted him in her old way. "Come wit Dinah and we will find Snoop."
With a faint heart the little fellow started to call, beginning at the front door and walking slowly along toward the rear.
"Stoop down now and den," ordered Dinah, "cause he might be hiding, you know."
Freddie had reached the rear door and he stopped.
"Now jist gib one more good call" said Dinah, and Freddie did.
"Snoop! Snoop!" he called.
"Me-ow," came a faint answer.
"Oh, I heard him!" cried Freddie.
"So did I!" declared Dinah.
Instantly all the other Bobbseys were on the scene.
"He's somewhere down here," said Dinah. "Call him, Freddie!"
"Snoop! Snoop!" called the boy again.
"Me-ow—me-ow!" came a distant answer.
"In the stove!" declared Bert, jerking open the door of the stove, which, of course, was not used in summer, and bringing out the poor, frightened, little cat.
CHAPTER III RAILROAD TENNIS
"Oh, poor little Snoop!" whispered Freddie, right into his kitten's ear. "I'm so glad I got you back again!"
"So are we all," said a kind lady passenger who had been in the searching party. "You have had quite some trouble for a small boy, with two animals to take care of."
Everybody seemed pleased that the mischievous boys' pranks had not hurt the cat, for Snoop was safe enough in the stove, only, of course, it was very dark and close in there, and Snoop thought he surely was deserted by all his good friends. Perhaps he expected Freddie would find him, at any rate he immediately started in to "purr-rr," in a cat's way of talking, when Freddie took him in his arms, and fondled him.
"We had better have our lunch now," suggested Mrs. Bobbsey, "I'm sure the children are hungry."
"It's just like a picnic," remarked Flossie, when Dinah handed around the paper napkins and Mrs. Bobbsey served out the chicken and cold-tongue sandwiches. There were olives and celery too, besides apples and early peaches from Uncle Daniel's farm.
"Let us look at the timetable, see where we are now, and then see where we will be when we finish," proposed Bert.
"Oh yes," said Nan, "let us see how many miles it takes to eat a sandwich."
Mr. Bobbsey offered one to the conductor, who just came to punch tickets.
"This is not the regular business man's five-minute lunch, but the five-mile article seems more enjoyable," said Mr. Bobbsey.
"Easier digested," agreed the conductor, accepting a sandwich. "You had good chickens out at Meadow Brook," he went on, complimenting the tasty morsel he was chewing with so much relish.
"Yes, and ducks," said Freddie, which remark made everybody laugh, for it brought to mind the funny adventure of little white Downy, the duck.
"They certainly can fly," said the conductor with a smile, as he went along with a polite bow to the sandwich party.
Bert had attended to the wants of the animals, not trusting Freddie to open the boxes. Snoop got a chicken leg and Downy had some of his own soft food, that had been prepared by Aunt Sarah and carried along in a small tin can.
"Well, I'se done," announced Dinah, picking up her crumbs in her napkins. "Bert, how many miles you say it takes me to eat?"
"Let me see! Five, eight, twelve, fourteen: well, I guess Dinah, you had fifteen miles of a chicken sandwich."
"An' you go 'long!" she protested. "'Taint no sech thing. I ain't got sich a long appetite as date. Fifteen miles! Lan'a massa! whot you take me fo?"
Everybody laughed and the children clapped hands at the length of Dinah's appetite, but when the others had finished they found their own were even longer than the maid's, the average being eighteen miles!
"When will we get to Aunt Emily's?" Flossie asked, growing tired over the day's journey.
"Not until night," her father answered. "When we leave the train we will have quite a way to go by stage. We could go all the way by train, but it would be a long distance around, and I think the stage ride in the fresh air will do us good."
"Oh yes, let's go by the stage," pleaded Freddie, to whom the word stage was a stranger, except in the way it had been used at the Meadow Brook circus.
"This stage will be a great, big wagon," Bert told him, "with seats along the sides."
"Can I sit up top and drive?" the little one asked.
"Maybe the man will let you sit by him," answered Mr. Bobbsey, "but you could hardly drive a big horse over those rough roads."
The train came to a standstill, just then, on a switch. There was no station, but the shore train had taken on another section.
"Can Flossie and I walk through that new car?" Nan asked, as the cars had been separated and the new section joined to that directly back of the one which the Bobbseys were in.
"Why, yes, if you are very careful," the mother replied, and so the two little girls started off.
Dinah took Freddie on her lap and told him his favorite story about "Pickin' cotton in de Souf," and soon the tired little yellow head fell off in the land of Nod.
Bert and his father were enjoying their magazines, while Mrs. Bobbsey busied herself with some fancy work, so a half-hour passed without any more excitement. At the end of that time the girls returned.
"Oh, mother!" exclaimed Nan, "we found Mrs. Manily, the matron of the Meadow Brook Fresh Air Camp, and she told us Nellie, the little cash girl, was so run down the doctors think she will have to go to the seashore. Mother, couldn't we have her down with us awhile?"
"We are only going to visit, you know, daughter, and how can we invite more company? But where is Mrs. Manily? I would like to talk to her," said Mrs. Bobbsey, who was always interested in those who worked to help the poor.
Nan and Flossie brought their mother into the next car to see the matron. We told in our book, "The Bobbsey Twins in the Country," how good a matron this Mrs. Manily was, and how little Nellie, the cash girl, one of the visitors at the Fresh Air Camp, was taken sick while there, and had to go to the hospital tent. It was this little girl that Nan wanted to have enjoy the seashore, and perhaps visit Aunt Emily.
Mrs. Manily was very glad to see Mrs. Bobbsey, for the latter had helped with money and clothing to care for the poor children at the Meadow Brook Camp.
"Why, how pleasant to meet a friend in traveling!" said the matron as she shook hands with Mrs. Bobbsey. "You are all off for the seashore, the girls tell me."
"Yes," replied Mrs. Bobbsey. "One month at the beach, and we must then hurry home to Lakeport for the school days. But Nan tells me little Nellie is not well yet?"
"No, I am afraid she will need another change of air to undo the trouble made by her close confinement in a city store. She is not seriously sick, but so run down that it will take some time for her to get strong again," said the matron.
"Have you a camp at the seashore?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.
"No; indeed, I wish we had," answered the matron. "I am just going down now to see if I can't find some place where Nellie can stay for a few weeks."
"I'm going to visit my sister, Mrs. Minturn, at Ocean Cliff, near Sunset Beach," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "They have a large cottage and are always charitable. If they have no other company I think, perhaps, they would be glad to give poor little Nellie a room."
"That would be splendid!" exclaimed the matron. "I was going to do a line of work I never did before. I was just going to call on some of the well-to-do people, and ask them to take Nellie. We had no funds, and I felt so much depended on the change of air, I simply made up my mind to go and do what I could."
"Then you can look in at my sister's first," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "If she cannot accommodate you, perhaps she can tell who could. Now, won't you come in the other car with us, and we can finish our journey together?"
"Yes, indeed I will. Thank you," said the matron, gathering up her belongings and making her way to the Bobbsey quarters in the other car.
"Won't it be lovely to have Nellie with us!" Nan said to Flossie, as they passed along. "I am sure Aunt Emily will say yes."
"So am I," said little Flossie, whose kind heart always went out when it should. "I know surely they would not let Nellie die in the city while we enjoy the seaside."
Freddie was awake now, and also glad to see Mrs. Manily.
"Where's Sandy?" he inquired at once. Sandy had been his little chum from the Meadow Brook Camp.
"I guess he is having a nice time somewhere," replied Mrs. Manily. "His aunt found him out, you know, and is going to take care of him now."
"Well, I wish he was here too," said Freddie, rubbing his eyes. "We're goin' to have lots of fun fishing in the ocean."
The plan for Nellie was told to Mr. Bobbsey, who, of course agreed it would be very nice if Aunt Emily and Uncle William were satisfied.
"And what do you suppose those boxes contain?" said Mrs. Bobbsey to Mrs. Manily, pointing to the three boxes in the hanger above them.
"Shoes?" ventured the matron.
"Nope," said Freddie. "One hat, and my duck and my cat. Downy is my duck and Snoop is my cat."
Then Nan told about the flight of the duck and the "kidnapping" of Snoop.
"We put them up there out of the way," finished Nan, "so that nothing more can happen to them."
The afternoon was wearing out now, and the strong summer sun shrunk into thin strips through the trees, while the train dashed along. As the ocean air came in the windows, the long line of woodland melted into pretty little streams, that make their way in patches for many miles from the ocean front. "Like 'Baby Waters'" Nan said, "just growing out from the ocean, and getting a little bit bigger every year."
"Won't we soon be there?" asked Freddie, for long journeys are always tiresome, especially to a little boy accustomed to many changes in the day's play.
"One hour more," said Mr. Bobbsey, consulting his watch.
"Let's have a game of ball, Nan?" suggested Bert, who never traveled without a tennis ball in his pocket.
"How could we?" the sister inquired.
"Easily," said Bert. "We'll make up a new kind of game. We will start in the middle of the car, at the two center seats, and each move a seat away at every catch. Then, whoever misses first must go back to center again, and the one that gets to the end first, wins."
"All right," agreed Nan, who always enjoyed her twin brother's games. "We will call it Railroad Tennis."
Just as soon as Nan and Bert took their places, the other passengers became very much interested. There is such a monotony on trains that the sports the Bobbseys introduced were welcome indeed.
We do not like to seem proud, but certainly these twins did look pretty. Nan with her fine back eyes and red cheeks, and Bert just matching her; only his hair curled around, while hers fell down. Their interest in Railroad Tennis made their faces all the prettier, and no wonder the people watched them so closely.
Freddie was made umpire, to keep him out of a more active part, because he might do damage with a ball in a train, his mother said; so, as Nan and Bert passed the ball, he called,—his father prompting him:
"Ball three "
Bert jerked with a sudden jolt of the train and missed.
"Striker's out!" called the umpire, while everybody laughed because the boy had missed first.
Then Bert had to go all the way back to center, while Nan was four seats down.
Three more balls were passed, then Nan missed.
"I shouldn't have to go all the way back for the miss," protested Nan. "You went three seats back, so I'll go three back."
This was agreed to by the umpire, and the game continued.
A smooth stretch of road gave a good chance for catching, and both sister and brother kept moving toward the doors now, with three points "to the good" for Nan, as a big boy said.
Who would miss now? Everybody waited to see. The train struck a curve! Bert threw a wild ball and Nan missed it.
"Foul ball!" called the umpire, and Bert did not dispute it.
Then Nan delivered the ball.
"Oh, mercy me!" shrieked the old lady, who had thrown the handbag at Downy, the duck, "my glasses!" and there, upon the floor, lay the pieces. Nan's ball had hit the lady right in the glasses, and it was very lucky they did not break until they came in contact with the floor.
"I'm so sorry!" Nan faltered. "The car jerked so I could not keep it."
"Never mind, my dear," answered the nice old lady, "I just enjoyed that game as much as you did, and if I hadn't stuck my eyes out so, they would not have met your ball. So, it's all right. I have another pair in my bag."
So the game ended with the accident, for it was now time to gather up the baggage for the last stop.
CHAPTER IV NIGHT IN A BARN
"Beach Junction! All off for the Junction!" called the train men, while the Bobbseys and Mrs. Manily hurried out to the small station, where numbers of carriages waited to take passengers to their cottages on the cliffs or by the sea.
"Sure we haven't forgotten anything?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, taking a hasty inventory of the hand baggage.
"Bert's got Snoop and I've got Downy," answered Freddie, as if the animals were all that counted.
"And I've got my hatbox and flowers," added Nan.
"And I have my ferns," said little Flossie.
"I guess we're all here this time," Mr. Bobbsey finished, for nothing at all seemed to be missing.
It was almost nightfall, and the beautiful glow of an ocean sunset rested over the place. At the rear of the station an aged stage driver sat nodding on his turnout. The stage coach was an "old timer," and had carried many a merry party of sightseers through the sandy roads of Oceanport and Sunset Beach, while Hank, the driver, called out all spots of interest along the way. And Hank had a way of making things interesting.
"Pike's Peak," he would call out for Cliff Hill.
"The Giant's Causeway," he would announce for Rocky Turn.
And so Hank was a very popular stage driver, and never had to look for trade—it always came to him.
"That's our coach," said Mr. Bobbsey, espying Hank. "Hello there! Going to the beach?" he called to the sleepy driver.
"That's for you to say," replied Hank, straightening up.
"Could we get to Ocean Cliff—Minturn's place—before dark?" asked Mr. Bobbsey, noticing how rickety the old stagecoach was.
"Can't promise," answered Hank, "but you can just pile in and we'll try it."
There was no choice, so the party "piled" into the carryall.
"Isn't this fun?" remarked Mrs. Manily, taking her seat up under the front window. "It's like going on a May ride."
"I'm afraid it will be a moonlight ride at this rate," laughed Mr. Bobbsey, as the stagecoach started to rattle on. Freddie wanted to sit in front with Hank but Mrs. Bobbsey thought it safer inside, for, indeed, the ride was risky enough, inside or out. As they joggled on the noise of the wheels grew louder and louder, until our friends could only make themselves heard by screaming at each other.
"Night is coming," called Mrs. Bobbsey, and Dinah said: "Suah 'nough we be out in de night dis time."
It seemed as if the old horses wanted to stand still, they moved so slowly, and the old wagon creaked and cracked until Hank, himself, turned round, looked in the window, and shouted:
"All right there?"
"Guess so," called back Mr. Bobbsey, "but we don't see the ocean yet."
"Oh, we'll get there," drawled Hank, lazily.
"We should have gone all the way by train," declared Mrs. Bobbsey, in alarm, as the stage gave one squeak louder than the others.
"Haven't you got any lanterns?" shouted Mr. Bobbsey to Hank, for it was pitch-dark now.
"Never use one," answered the driver. "When it's good and dark the moon will come up, but we'll be there 'fore that. Get 'long there, Doll!" he called to one horse. "Go 'long, Kit!" he urged the other.
The horses did move a little faster at that, then suddenly something snapped and the horses turned to one side.
"Whoa! Whoa!" called Hank, jerking on the reins. But it was too late! The stage coach was in a hole! Several screamed.
"Sit still!" called Mr. Bobbsey to the excited party. "It's only a broken shaft and the coach can't upset now."
Flossie began to cry. It was so dark and black in that hole.
Hank looked at the broken wagon.
"Well, we're done now," he announced, with as little concern as if the party had been safely landed on Aunt Emily's piazza, instead of in a hole on the roadside.
"Do you mean to say you can't fix it up?" Mr. Bobbsey almost gasped.
"Not till I get the stage to the blacksmith's," replied Hank.
"Then, what are we going to do?" Mr. Bobbsey asked, impatiently.
"Well, there's an empty barn over there," Hank answered. "The best thing you can do is pitch your tent there till I get back with another wagon."
"Barn!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey.
"How long will it take you to get a wagon?" demanded Mr. Bobbsey.
"Not long," said Hank, sprucing up a trifle. "You just get yourselves comfortable in that there barn. I'll get the coach to one side, and take a horse down to Sterritt's. He'll let me have a horse and a wagon, and I'll be back as soon as I kin make it."
"There seems nothing else to do," Mr. Bobbsey said. "We may as well make the best of it."
"Why, yes," Mrs. Manily spoke up, "we can pretend we are having a barn dance." And she smiled, faintly.
Nevertheless, it was not very jolly to make their way to the barn in the dark. Dinah had to carry Freddie, he was so sleepy; Mrs. Manily took good care of Flossie. But, of course, there was the duck and the cat, that could not be very safely left in the broken-down stagecoach.
"Say, papa!" Bert exclaimed, suddenly, "I saw an old lantern up under the seat in that stagecoach. Maybe it has some oil in it. I'll go back and see."
"All right, son," replied the father, "we won't get far ahead of you." And while Bert made his way back to the wagon, the others bumped up and down through the fields that led to the vacant barn.
There was no house within sight. The barn belonged to a house up the road that the owners had not moved into that season.
"I got one!" called Bert, running up from the road. "This lantern has oil in, I can hear it rattle. Have you a match, pa?"
Mr. Bobbsey had, and when the lantern had been lighted, Bert marched on ahead of the party, swinging it in real signal fashion.
"You ought to be a brakeman," Nan told her twin brother, at which remark Bert swung his light above his head and made all sorts of funny railroad gestures.
The barn door was found unlocked, and excepting for the awful stillness about, it was not really so bad to find refuge in a good, clean place like that, for outside it was very damp—almost wet with the ocean spray. Mr. Bobbsey found seats for all, and with the big carriage doors swung open, the party sat and listened for every sound that might mean the return of the stage driver.
"Come, Freddie chile," said Dinah, "put yer head down on Dinah's lap. She won't let nothin' tech you. An' youse kin jest go to sleep if youse a mind ter. I'se a-watchin' out."
The invitation was welcome to the tired little youngster, and it was not long before he had followed Dinah's invitation.
Next, Flossie cuddled up in Mrs. Manily's arms and stopped thinking for a while.
"It is awfully lonely," whispered Nan, to her mother, "I do wish that man would come back."
"So do I," agreed the mother. "This is not a very comfortable hotel, especially as we are all tired out from a day's journey."
"What was that?" asked Bert, as a strange sound, like a howl, was heard.
"A dog," lightly answered the father.
"I don't think so," said Bert. "Listen!"
"Oh!" cried Flossie, starting up and clinging closer to Mrs. Manily, "I'm just scared to death!"
"Dinah, I want to go home," cried Freddie. "Take me right straight home."
"Hush, children, you are safe," insisted their mother. "The stage driver will be back in a few minutes."
"But what is that funny noise?" asked Freddie. "It ain't no cow, nor no dog."
The queer "Whoo-oo-oo" came louder each time. It went up and down like a scale, and "left a hole in the air," Bert declared.
"It's an owl!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey, and she was right, for up in the abandoned hay loft the queer old birds had found a quiet place, and had not been disturbed before by visitors.
"Let's get after them," proposed Bert, with lantern in hand.
"You would have a queer hunt," his father told him; "I guess you had better not think of it. Hark! there's a wagon! I guess Hank is coming back to us," and the welcome sound of wheels on the road brought the party to their feet again.
"Hello there!" called Hank. "Here you are. Come along now, we'll make it this time."
It did not take the Bobbseys long to reach the roadside and there they found Hank with a big farm wagon. The seats were made of boards, and there was nothing to hold on to but the edge of the boards.
But the prospect of getting to Aunt Emily's at last made up for all their inconveniences, and when finally Hank pulled the reins again, our friends gave a sigh of relief.
CHAPTER V A QUEER STAGE DRIVER
"I reckon I'll have to make another trip to get that old coach down to the shop," growled the stage driver, as he tried to hurry the horses, Kit and Doll, along.
"I hardly think it is worth moving," Mr. Bobbsey said, feeling somewhat indignant that a hackman should impose upon his passengers by risking their lives in such a broken-down wagon.
"Not worth it? Wall! I guess Hank don't go back on the old coach like that. Why, a little grease and a few bolts will put that rig in tip-top order." And he never made the slightest excuse for the troubles he had brought upon the Bobbseys.
"Oh, my!" cried Nan, "my hatbox! Bert you have put your foot right into my best hat!"
"Couldn't help it," answered the brother; "I either had to go through your box or go out of the back of this wagon, when that seat slipped," and he tried to adjust the board that had fallen into the wagon.
"Land sakes alive!" exclaimed Dinah. "Say, you driver man there!" she called in real earnest, "ef you doan go a little carefuler wit dis yere wagon you'll be spilling us all out. I just caught dat cat's box a-sliding, and lan' only knows how dat poor little Downy duck is, way down under dat old board."
"Hold on tight," replied Hank, as if the whole thing were a joke, and his wagon had the privilege of a toboggan slide.
"My!" sighed Mrs. Bobbsey, putting her arms closer about Flossie, "I hope nothing more happens."
"I am sure we are all right now," Mrs. Manily assured her. "The road is broad and smooth here, and it can't be far to the beach."
"Here comes a carriage," said Bert, as two pretty coach lights flashed through the trees.
"Hello there!" called someone from the carriage.
"Uncle William!" Nan almost screamed, and the next minute the carriage drew up alongside the wagon.
"Well, I declare," said Uncle William Minturn, jumping front his seat, and beginning to help the stranded party.
"We are all here," began Mr. Bobbsey, "but it was hard work to keep ourselves together."
"Oh, Uncle William," cried Freddie, "put me in your carriage. This one is breakin' down every minute."
"Come right along, my boy. I'll fix you up first," declared the uncle, giving his little nephew a good hug as he placed him on the comfortable cushions inside the big carriage.
There was not much chance for greetings as everybody was too anxious to get out of the old wagon. So, when all the boxes had been carefully put outside with the driver, and all the passengers had taken their places on the long side seats (it was one of those large side-seated carriages that Uncle William had brought, knowing he would have a big party to carry), then with a sigh of relief Mrs. Bobbsey attempted to tell something of their experiences.
"But how did you know where we were?" Bert asked.
"We had been waiting for you since four o'clock," replied Uncle William. "Then I found out that the train was late, and we waited some more. But when it came to be night and you had not arrived, I set out looking for you. I went to the Junction first, and the agent there told me you had gone in Hank's stage. I happened to be near enough to the livery stable to hear some fellows talking about Hank's breakdown, with a big party aboard. I knew then what had happened, and sent Dorothy home,—she had been out most of the afternoon waiting—got this carryall, and here we are," and Uncle William only had to hint "hurry up" to his horses and away they went.
"Oh, we did have the awfulest time," insisted Freddie.
"I feel as if we hadn't seen a house in a whole year," sighed little Flossie.
"And we only left Meadow Brook this morning," added Nan. "It does seem much longer than a day since we started."
"Well, you will be in Aunt Emily's arms in about two minutes now," declared Uncle William, as through the trees the lights from Ocean Cliff, the Minturn cottage, could now be seen.
"Hello! Hello!" called voices from the veranda.
"Aunt Emily and Dorothy!" exclaimed Bert, and called back to them:
"Here we come! Here we are!" and the wagon turned in to the broad steps at the side of the veranda.
"I've been worried to death," declared Aunt Emily, as she began kissing the girls.
"We have brought company," said Mrs. Bobbsey, introducing Mrs. Manily, "and I don't know what we should have done in all our troubles if she had not been along to cheer us up."
"We are delighted to have you," said Aunt Emily to Mrs. Manily, while they all made their way indoors.
"Oh, Nan!" cried Dorothy, hugging her cousin as tightly as ever she could, "I thought you would never come!"
"We were an awfully long time getting here," Nan answered, returning her cousin's caress, "but we had so many accidents."
"Nothing happened to your appetites, I hope," laughed Uncle William, as the dining-room doors were swung open and a table laden with good things came into sight.
"I think I could eat," said Mrs. Bobbsey, then the mechanical piano player was started, and the party made their way to the dining room.
Uncle William took Mrs. Manily to her place, as she was a stranger; Bert sat between Dorothy and Nan, Mr. Bobbsey looked after Aunt Emily, and Mr. Jack Burnet, a friend of Uncle William, who had been spending the evening at the cottage, escorted Mrs. Bobbsey to her place.
"Come, Flossie, my dear, you see I have gotten a tall chair for you," said Aunt Emily, and Flossie was made comfortable in one of those "between" chairs, higher than the others, and not as high as a baby's.
It was quite a brilliant dinner party, for the Minturns were well-to-do and enjoyed their prosperity as they went along. Mrs. Minturn had been a society belle when she was married. She was now a graceful young hostess, with a handsome husband. She had married earlier than her sister, Mrs. Bobbsey, but kept up her good times in spite of the home cares that followed. During the dinner, Dinah helped the waitress, being perhaps a little jealous that any other maid should look after the wants of Flossie and Freddie.
"Oh, Dinah!" exclaimed Freddie, as she came in with more milk for him, "did you take Snoop out of the box and did you give Downy some water?"
"I suah did, chile," said Dinah, "and you jest ought ter see that Downy duck fly 'round de kitchen. Why, he jest got one of dem fits he had on de train, and we had to shut him in de pantry to get hold ob him."
The waitress, too, told about the flying duck, and everybody enjoyed hearing about the pranks of Freddie's animals.
"We've got a lovely little pond for him, Freddie," said Dorothy. "There is a real little lake out near my donkey barn, and your duck will have a lovely time there."
"But he has to swim in the ocean," insisted Freddie, "'cause we're going to train him to be a circus duck."
"You will have to put him in a bag and tie a rope to him then," Uncle William teased, "because that's the only way a duck can swim in the ocean."
"But you don't know about Downy," argued Freddie. "He's wonderful! He even tried to swim without any water, on the train."
"Through the looking glass!" said Bert, laughing.
"And through the air," added Nan.
"I tell you, Freddie," said Uncle William, quite seriously: "we could get an airship for him maybe; then he could really swim without water."
But Freddie took no notice of the way they tried to make fun of his duck, for he felt Downy was really wonderful, as he said, and would do some wonderful things as soon as it got a chance.
When dinner was over, Dorothy took Nan up to her room. On the dresser, in a cut-glass bowl, were little Nettie Prentice's lilies that Nan had carried all the way from Meadow Brook, and they were freshened up beautifully, thanks to Dorothy's thoughtfulness in giving them a cold spray in the bath tub.
"What a lovely room!" Nan exclaimed, in unconcealed admiration.
"Do you like it?" said Dorothy. "It has a lovely view of the ocean and I chose it for you because I know you like to see pretty sights out of your window. The sun seems to rise just under this window," and she brushed aside the dainty curtains.
The moonlight made a bright path out on the ocean and Nan stood looking out, spellbound.
"I think the ocean is so grand," she said. "It always makes me feel so small and helpless."
"When you are under a big wave," laughed her cousin, who had a way of being jolly. "I felt that way the other day. Just see my arm," and Dorothy pushed up her short sleeve, displaying a black and blue bruise too high up to be seen except in an evening dress or bathing costume.
"How did you do that?" asked Nan, in sympathy.
"Ran into a pier," returned the cousin, with unconcern. "I thought my arm was broken first. But we must go down," said Dorothy, while Nan wanted to see all the things in her pretty room. "We always sit outside before retiring. Mamma says the ocean sings a lullaby that cures all sorts of bad dreams and sleeplessness."
On the veranda Nan and Dorothy joined the others. Freddie was almost asleep in Aunt Emily's arms; Uncle William, Mr. Bobbsey, and Mr. Burnet were talking, with Bert as an interested listener; while Mrs. Manily told Aunt Emily of her mission to the beach. As the children had thought, Aunt Emily readily gave consent to have Nellie, the little cash girl, come to Ocean Cliff, and on the morrow Nan and Dorothy were to write the letter of invitation.
CHAPTER VI THE OCEAN
Is there anything more beautiful than sunrise on the ocean?
Nan crept out of bed at the first peep of dawn, and still in her white robe, she sat in the low window seat to see the sun rise "under her window."
"What a beautiful place!" Nan thought, when dawn gave her a chance to see Ocean Cliff. "Dorothy must be awfully happy here. To see the ocean from a bedroom window!" and she watched the streaks of dawn make maps on the waves. "If I were a writer I would always put the ocean in my book," she told herself, "for there are so many children who never have a chance to see the wonderful world of water!"
Nettie's flowers were still on the dresser.
"Poor little Nettie Prentice," thought Nan. "She has never seen the ocean and I wonder if she ever will!"
Nan touched the lilies reverently. There was something in the stillness of daybreak that made the girl's heart go out to poor Nettie, just like the timid little sunbeams went out over the waters, trying to do their small part in lighting up a day.
"I'll just put the lilies out in the dew," Nan went on to herself, raising the window quietly, for the household was yet asleep. "Perhaps I'll find someone sick or lonely to-morrow who will like them, and it will be so much better if they bring joy to someone, for they are so sweet and pretty to die just for me."
"Oh!" screamed Nan the next minute, for someone had crept up behind her and covered her eyes with hands. "It is you, Dorothy!" she declared, getting hold of the small fingers. "Did I wake you with the window?"
"Yes, indeed, I thought someone was getting in from the piazza. They always come near morning," said Dorothy, dropping down on the cushions of the window seat like a goddess of morn, for Dorothy was a beautiful girl, all pink and gold, Bert said, excepting for her eyes, and they were like Meadow Brook violets, deep blue. "Did you have the nightmare?" she asked.
"Nightmare, indeed!" Nan exclaimed. "Why, you told me the sun would rise under my window and I got up to—-"
"See it do the rise!" laughed Dorothy, in her jolly way. "Well, if I had my say I'd make Mr. Sol-Sun wear a mask and keep his glare to himself until respectable people felt like crawling out. I lower my awning and close the inside blinds every night. I like sunshine in reasonable doses at reasonable hours, but the moon is good enough for me in the meantime," and she fell over in a pretty lump, feigning sleep in Nan's cushions.
"I hope I did not wake anyone else," said Nan.
"Makes no difference about me, of course," laughed the jolly Dorothy. "Well, I'll pay you back, Nan. Be careful. I am bound to get even," and Nan knew that some trick was in store for her, as Dorothy had the reputation of being full of fun, and always playing tricks.
The sun was up in real earnest now, and the girls raised the window sash to let in the soft morning air.
"I think this would really cure Nellie, my little city friend," said Nan, "and you don't know what a nice girl she is."
"Just bring her down and I'll find out all about her," said Dorothy. "I love city girls. They are so wide awake, and never say silly things like—like some girls I know," she finished, giving her own cousin a good hug that belied the attempt at making fun of her.
"Nellie is sensible," Nan said, "and yet she knows how to laugh, too. She said she had never been in a carriage until she had a ride with us at Meadow Brook. Think of that!"
"Wait till she sees my donkeys!" Dorothy finished, gathering herself up from the cushions and preparing to leave. "Well, Nannie dear, I have had a lovely time," and she made a mock social bow. "Come to see me some time and have some of my dawn, only don't come before eleven A.M. or you might get mixed up, for its awful dark in the blue room until that hour." And like a real fairy Dorothy shook her golden hair and, stooping low in myth fashion, made a "bee-line" across the hall.
"She doesn't need any brother," Nan thought as she saw Dorothy bolt in her door like a squirrel; "she is so jolly and funny!"
But the girls were not the only ones who arose early that morning, for Bert and his father came in to breakfast from a walk on the sands.
"It's better than Meadow Brook," Bert told Nan, as she took her place at the table. "I wish Harry would come down."
"It is so pleasant we want all our friends to enjoy it," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "But I'm sure you have quite a hotel full now, haven't you, Dorothy?"
"Lots more rooms up near the roof," replied Dorothy, "and it's a pity to waste them when there's plenty of ocean to spare. Now, Freddie," went on Dorothy, "when we finish breakfast I am going to show you my donkeys. I called one Doodle and the other Dandy, because papa gave them to me on Decoration Day."
"Why didn't you call one Uncle Sam?" asked Freddie, remembering his part in the Meadow Brook parade.
"Well, I thought Doodle Dandy was near enough red, white, and blue," said Dorothy.
The children finished breakfast rather suddenly and then made their way to the donkey barn.
"Oh, aren't they lovely!" exclaimed Nan, patting the pretty gray animals. "I think they are prettier than horses, they are not so tall."
"I know all about goats and donkeys," declared Freddie.
"I know Nan likes everything early, so we will give her an early ride," proposed Dorothy.
The Bobbseys watched their cousin with interest as she fastened all the bright buckles and put the straps together, harnessing the donkeys. Bert helped so readily that he declared he would do all the harnessing thereafter. The cart was one of those pretty, little basket affairs, with seats at the side, and Bert was very proud of being able to drive a team. There were Dorothy, Nan, Freddie, Flossie, and Bert in the cart when they rode along the sandy driveway, and they made a very pretty party in their bright summer costumes. Freddie had hold of Doodle's reins, and he insisted that his horse went along better than did Dandy, on the other side.
"Oh, won't Nellie enjoy this!" cried Nan, thinking of the little city girl who had only had one carriage ride in all her life.
"Mrs. Manily is going up to the city to bring her to-day," said Bert. "Aunt Emily sent for the depot wagon just as we came out."
Like many people at the seashore, the Minturns did not keep their own horses, but simply had to telephone from their house to the livery stable when they wanted a carriage.
"Oh, I see the ocean!" called out Freddie, as Bert drove nearer the noise of the waves. "Why didn't we bring Downy for his swim?"
"Too early to bathe yet!" said Dorothy. "We have a bathing house all to ourselves,—papa rented it for the summer,—and about eleven o'clock we will come down and take a dip. Mamma always comes with me or sends Susan, our maid. Mamma cannot believe I really know how to swim."
"And do you?" asked Nan, in surprise.
"Wait until you see!" replied the cousin. "And I am going to teach you, too."
"I'd love to know how, but it must be awfully hard to learn," answered Nan.
"Not a bit," went on Dorothy; "I learned in one week. We have a pool just over there, and lots of girls are learning every day. You can drive right along the beach, Bert; the donkeys are much safer than horses and never attempt to run away."
How delightful it was to ride so close to the great rolling ocean! Even Freddie stopped exclaiming, and just watched the waves, as one after another they tried to get right under Dorothy's cart.
"It makes me almost afraid!" faltered little Flossie, as the great big waves came up so high out on the waters, they seemed like mountains that would surely cover up the donkey cart. But when they "broke" on the sands they were only little splashy puddles for babies to wash their pink toes in.
"There's Blanche Bowden," said Dorothy, as another little cart, a pony cart, came along. "We have lovely times together. I have invited her up to meet us this afternoon, Nan."
The other girl bowed pleasantly from her cart, and even Freddie remembered to raise his cap, something he did not always think necessary for "just girls."
"Some afternoon our dancing class is going to have a matinee," said Dorothy. "Do you like dancing, Bert?"
"Some," replied her cousin in a boy's indifferent way. "Nan is a good dancer."
"Oh, we don't have real dances," protested Nan; "they are mostly drills and exercises. Mamma doesn't believe in young children going right into society. She thinks we will be old soon enough."
"We don't have grown-up dances," said Dorothy, "only the two-step and minuet. I think the minuet is the prettiest of all dances."
"We have had the varsovienne," said Nan, "that is like the minuet. Mother says they are old-time dances, but they are new in our class."
"We may have a costume affair next month," went on Dorothy. "Some of the girls want it, but I don't like wigs and long dresses, especially for dancing. I get all tangled up in a train dress."
"I never wore one," said Nan, "excepting at play, and I can't see how any girl can dance with a lot of long skirts dangling around."
"Oh, they mostly bow and smile," put in Bert, "and a boy has to be awfully careful at one of those affairs. If he should step on a skirt there surely would be trouble," and he snapped his whip at the donkeys with the air of one who had little regard for the graceful art of dancing.
"We had better go back now," said Dorothy, presently. "You haven't had a chance to see our own place yet, but I thought you wanted to get acquainted with the ocean first. Everybody does!"
"I have enjoyed it so much!" declared Nan. "It is pleasanter now than when the sun grows hot."
"But we need the sun for bathing," Dorothy told her. "That is why we 'go in' at the noon hour."
The drive back to the Cliff seemed very short, and when the children drove up to the side porch they found Mrs. Bobbsey and Aunt Emily sitting outside with their fancy work.
Freddie could hardly find words to tell his mother how big the ocean was, and Flossie declared the water ran right into the sky it was so high.
"Now, girls," said Aunt Emily, "Mrs. Manily has gone to bring Nellie down, so you must go and arrange her room. I think the front room over Nan's will be best. Now get out all your pretty things, Dorothy, for little Nellie may be lonely and want some things to look at."
"All right, mother," answered Dorothy, letting Bert put the donkeys away, "we'll make her room look like—like a valentine," she finished, always getting some fun in even where very serious matters were concerned.
The two girls, with Flossie looking on, were soon very busy with Nellie's room.
"We must not make it too fussy," said Dorothy, "or Nellie may not feel at home; and we certainly want her to enjoy herself. Will we put a pink or blue set on the dresser?"
"Blue," said Nan, "for I know she loves blue. She said so when we picked violets at Meadow Brook."
"All right," agreed Dorothy. "And say! Let's fix up something funny! We'll get all the alarm clocks in the house and set them so they will go off one after the other, just when Nellie gets to bed, say about nine o'clock. We'll hide them so she will just about find one when the other starts! She isn't really sick, is she?" Dorothy asked, suddenly remembering that the visitor might not be in as good spirits as she herself was.
"Oh, no, only run down," answered Nan, "and I'm sure she would enjoy the joke."
So the girls went on fixing up the pretty little room. Nan ran downstairs and brought up Nettie Prentice's flowers.
"I thought they would do someone good," she said. "They are so fragrant."
"Aren't they!" Dorothy said, burying her pretty nose in the white lilies. "They smell better than florists' bouquets. I suppose that's from the country air. Now I'll go collect clocks," and without asking anyone's permission Dorothy went from room to room, snatching alarm clocks from every dresser that held one.
"Susan's is a peach," she told Nan, apologizing with a smile, for the slang. "It goes off for fifteen minutes if you don't stop it, and it sounds like a church bell."
"Nellie will think she has gotten into college," Nan said, laughing. "This is like hazing, isn't it?"
"Only we won't really annoy her," said Dorothy. "We just want to make her laugh. College boys, they say, do all sorts of mean things. Make a boy swim in an icy river and all that."
"I hope Bert never goes to a school where they do hazing," said Nan, feeling for her brother's safety. "I think such sport is just wicked!"
"So do I," declared Dorothy, "and if I were a new fellow, and they played such tricks on me, I would just wait for years if I had to, to pay them back."
"I'd put medicine in their coffee, or do something."
"They ought to be arrested," Nan said, "and if the professors can't stop it they should not be allowed to run such schools."
"There," said Dorothy, "I guess everything is all right for Nellie." She put a rose jar on a table in the alcove window. "Now I'll wind the clocks. You mustn't look where I put them," and she insisted that not even Nan should know the mystery of the clocks. "This will be a real surprise party," finished Dorothy, having put each of five clocks in its hiding place, and leaving the tick-ticks to think it over, all by themselves, before going off.
CHAPTER VII NELLIE
"Shall I take my cart over to meet Nellie and Mrs. Manily, mother?" Dorothy asked Mrs. Minturn, that afternoon, when the city train was about due.
"Why, yes, daughter, I think that would be very nice," replied the mother. "I intended to send the depot wagon, but the cart would be very enjoyable."
Bert had the donkeys hitched up and at the door for Nan and Dorothy in a very few minutes, and within a half-hour from that time Nan was greeting Nellie at the station, and making her acquainted with Dorothy.
If Dorothy had expected to find in the little cash girl a poor, sickly, ill child, she must have been disappointed, for the girl that came with Mrs. Manily had none of these failings. She was tall and graceful, very pale, but nicely dressed, thanks to Mrs. Manily's attention after she reached the city on the morning train. With a gift from Mrs. Bobbsey, Nellie was "fitted up from head to foot," and now looked quite as refined a little girl as might be met anywhere.
"You were so kind to invite me!" Nellie said to Dorothy, as she took her seat in the cart. "This is such a lovely place!" and she nodded toward the wonderful ocean, without giving a hint that she had never before seen it.
"Yes, you are sure the air is so strong you must swallow strength all the time," and Nellie knew from the remark that Dorothy was a jolly girl, and would not talk sickness, like the people who visit poor children at hospital tents.
Even Mrs. Manily, who knew Nellie to be a capable girl, was surprised at the way she "fell in" with Nan and Dorothy, and Mrs. Manily was quite charmed with her quiet, reserved manner. The fact was that Nellie had met so many strangers in the big department store, she was entirely at ease and accustomed to the little polite sayings of people in the fashionable world.
When Nellie unpacked her bag she brought out something for Freddie. It was a little milk wagon, with real cans, which Freddie could fill up with "milk" and deliver to customers.
"That is to make you think of Meadow Brook," said Nellie, when she gave him the little wagon.
"Yes, and when there's a fire," answered Freddie, "I can fill the cans with water and dump it on the fire like they do in Meadow Brook, too." Freddie always insisted on being a fireman and had a great idea of putting fires out and climbing ladders.
There was still an hour to spare before dinner, and Nan proposed that they take a walk down to the beach. Nellie went along, of course, but when they got to the great stretch of white sand, near the waves, the girls noticed Nellie was about to cry.
"Maybe she is too tired," Nan whispered to Dorothy, as they made some excuse to go back home again. All along the way Nellie was very quiet, almost in tears, and the other girls were disappointed, for they had expected her to enjoy the ocean so much. As soon as they reached home Nellie went to her room, and Nan and Dorothy told Mrs. Minturn about their friend's sudden sadness. Mrs. Minturn of course, went up to see if she could do anything for Nellie.
There she found the little stranger crying as if her heart would break.
"Oh, I can't help it, Mrs. Minturn!" she sobbed. "It was the ocean. Father must be somewhere in that big, wild sea!" and again she cried almost hysterically.
"Tell me about it, dear," said Mrs. Minturn, with her arm around the child. "Was your father drowned at sea?"
"Oh no; that is, we hope he wasn't." said Nellie, through her tears, "but sometimes we feel he must be dead or he would write to poor mother."
"Now dry your tears, dear, or you will have a headache," said Mrs. Minturn, and Nellie soon recovered her composure.
"You see," she began, "we had such a nice home and father was always so good. But a man came and asked him to go to sea. The man said they would make lots of money in a short time. This man was a great friend of father and he said he needed someone he could trust on this voyage. First father said no, but when he talked it over with mother, they, thought it would be best to go, if they could get so much money in a short time, so he went."
Here Nellie stopped again and her dark eyes tried hard to keep back the tears.
"When was that?" Mrs. Minturn asked.
"A year ago," Nellie replied, "and he was only to be away six months at the most."
"And that was why you had to leave school, wasn't it?" Mrs. Minturn questioned further.
"Yes, we had not much money saved, and mother got sick from worrying, so I did not mind going to work. I'm going back to the store again as soon as the doctor says I can," and the little girl showed how anxious she was to help her mother.
"But your father may come back," said Mrs. Minturn; "sailors are often out drifting about for months, and come in finally. I would not be discouraged—you cannot tell what day your father may come back with all the money, and even more than he expected."
"Oh, I know," said Nellie. "I won't feel like that again. It was only because it was the first time I saw the ocean. I'm never homesick or blue. I don't believe in making people pity you all the time." And the brave little girl jumped up, dried her eyes, and looked as if she would never cry again as long as she lived—like one who had cried it out and done with it.
"Yes, you must have a good time with the girls," said Mrs. Minturn. "I guess you need fun more than any medicine."
That evening at dinner Nellie was her bright happy self again, and the three girls chatted merrily about all the good times they would have at the seashore.
There was a ride to the depot after dinner, for Mrs. Manily insisted that she had to leave for the city that evening, and after a game of ball on the lawn, in which everybody, even Flossie and Freddie, had a hand, the children prepared to retire. There was to be a shell hunt very early in the morning (that was a long walk on the beach, looking for choice shells), so the girls wanted to go to bed an hour before the usual time.
"Wait till the clock strikes, Nellie," sang Dorothy, as they went upstairs, and, of course, no one but Nan knew what she meant.
Two hours after this the house was all quiet, when suddenly, there was the buzz of an alarm clock.
"What was that?" asked Mrs. Minturn, coming out in the hall.
"An alarm clock," called Nellie, in whose room the disturbance was. "I found it under my pillow," she added innocently, never suspecting that Dorothy had put it there purposely.
By and by everything was quiet again, when another gong went off.
"Well, I declare!" said Mrs. Minturn. "I do believe Dorothy has been up to some pranks."
"Ding—a-ling—a-long—a-ling!" went the clock, and Nellie was laughing outright, as she searched about the room for the newest alarm. She had a good hunt, too, for the clock was in the shoe box in the farthest corner of the room.
After that there was quite an intermission, as Dorothy expressed it. Even Nellie had stopped laughing and felt very sleepy, when another clock started.
This was the big gong that belonged in Susan's room, and at the sound of it Freddie rushed out in the hall, yelling.
"That's a fire bell! Fire! fire! fire!" he shouted, while everybody else came out this time to investigate the disturbance.
"Now, Dorothy!" said Mrs. Minturn, "I know you have done this. Where did you put those clocks?"
Dorothy only laughed in reply, for the big bell was ringing furiously all the time. Nellie had her dressing robe on, and opened the door to those outside her room.
"I guess it's ghosts," she laughed. "They are all over."
"A serenade," called Bert, from his door.
"What ails dem der clocks?" shouted Dinah. "'Pears like as if dey had a fit, suah. Nebber heard such clockin' since we was in de country," and Susan, who had discovered the loss of her clock, laughed heartily, knowing very well who had taken the alarm away.
When the fifteen minutes were up that clock stopped, and another started. Then there was a regularly cannonading, Bert said, for there was scarcely a moment's quiet until every one of the six clocks had gone off "bing, bang, biff," as Freddie said.
There was no use trying to locate them, for they went off so rapidly that Nellie knew they would go until they were "all done," so she just sat down and waited.
"Think you'll wake up in time?" asked Dorothy, full of mischief as she came into the clock corner.
"I guess so," Nellie answered, laughing. "We surely were alarmed to-night." Then aside to Nan, Nellie whispered: "Wait, we'll get even with her, won't we?" And Nan nodded with a sparkle in her eyes.
CHAPTER VIII EXPLORING—A RACE FOR POND LILIES
"Now let's explore," Bert said to the girls the next morning. "We haven't had a chance yet to see the lake, the woods, or the island."
"Hal Bingham is coming over to see you this morning," Dorothy told Bert. "He said you must be tired toting girls around, and he knows everything interesting around here to show you."
"Glad of it," said Bert. "You girls are very nice, of course, but a boy needs another fellow in a place like this," and he swung himself over the rail of the veranda, instead of walking down the steps.
It was quite early, for there was so much planned, to be accomplished before the sun got too hot, that all the children kept to their promise to get up early, and be ready for the day's fun by seven o'clock. The girls, with Mrs. Bobbsey, Mrs. Minturn, and Freddie, were to go shell hunting, but as Bert had taken that trip with his father on the first morning after their arrival, he preferred to look over the woods and lake at the back of the Minturn home, where the land slid down from the rough cliff upon which the house stood.
"Here comes Hal now," called Dorothy, as a boy came whistling up the path. He was taller than Bert, but not much older, and he had a very "jolly squint" in his black eyes; that is, Dorothy called it a "jolly squint," but other people said it was merely a twinkle. But all agreed that Hal was a real boy, the greatest compliment that could be paid him.
There was not much need of an introduction, although Dorothy did call down from the porch, "Bert that's Hal; Hal that's Bert," to which announcement the boys called back, "All right, Dorothy. We'll get along."
"Have you been on the lake yet?" Hal asked, as they started down the green stretch that bounded the pretty lake on one side, while a strip of woodland pressed close to the edge across the sheet of water.
"No," Bert answered, "we have had so much coming and going to the depot since we came down, I couldn't get a chance to look around much. It's an awfully pretty lake, isn't it?"
"Yes, and it runs in and out for miles," Hal replied. "I have a canoe down here at our boathouse. Let's take a sail."
The Bingham property, like the Minturn, was on a cliff at the front, and ran back to the lake, where the little boathouse was situated. The house was made of cedars, bound together in rustic fashion, and had comfortable seats inside for ladies to keep out of the sun while waiting for a sail.
"Father and I built this house," Hal told Bert. "We were waiting so long for the carpenters, we finally got a man to bring these cedars in from Oakland. Then we had him cut them, that is, the line of uprights, and we built the boathouse without any trouble at all. It was sport to arrange all the little turns and twists, like building a block house in the nursery."
"You certainly made a good job of it," said Bert, looking critically over the boathouse.
"It's all in the design, of course; the nailing together is the easiest part."
"You might think so," said Hal, "but it's hard to drive a nail in round cedar. But we thought it so interesting, we didn't mind the trouble," finished Hal, as he prepared to untie his canoe.
"What a pretty boat!" exclaimed Bert, in real admiration.
The canoe was green and brown, the body being colored like bark, while inside, the lining was of pale green. The name, Dorothy, shone in rustic letters just above the water edge.
"And you called it Dorothy," Bert remarked.
"Yes, she's the liveliest girl I know, and a good friend of mine all summer," said Hal. "There are some boys down the avenue, but they don't know as much about good times as Dorothy does. Why, she can swim, row, paddle, climb trees, and goes in for almost any sport that's on. Last week she swam so far in the sun she couldn't touch an oar or paddle for days, her arms were so blistered. But she didn't go around with her hands in a muff at that. Dorothy's all right," finished Hal.
Bert liked to hear his cousin complimented, especially when he had such admiration himself for the girl who never pouted, and he knew that the tribute did not in any way take from Dorothy's other good quality, that of being a refined and cultured girl.
"Girls don't have to be babies to be ladylike," added Bert. "Nan always plays ball with me, and can skate and all that. She's not afraid of a snowball, either."
"Well, I'm all alone," said Hal. "Haven't even got a first cousin. We've been coming down here since I was a youngster, so that's why Dorothy seems like my sister. We used to make mud pies together."
The boys were in the canoe now, and each took a paddle. The water was so smooth that the paddles merely patted it, like "brushing a cat's back," Bert said, and soon the little bark was gliding along down the lake, in and out of the turns, until the "narrows" were reached.
"Here's where we get our pond lilies," said Hal.
"Oh, let's get some!" exclaimed Bert. "Mother is so fond of them."
It was not difficult to gather the beautiful blooms, that nested so cosily on the cool waters, too fond of their cradle to ever want to creep, or walk upon their slender green limbs. They just rocked there, with every tiny ripple of the water, and only woke up to see the warm sunlight bleaching their dainty, yellow heads.
"Aren't they fragrant?" said Bert, as he put one after the other into the bottom of the canoe.
"There's nothing like them," declared Hal. "Some people like roses best, but give me the pretty pond lilies," he finished.
The morning passed quickly, for there was so much to see around the lake. Wild ducks tried to find out how near they could go to the water without touching it, and occasionally one would splash in, by accident.
"What large birds there are around the sea," Bert remarked. "I suppose they have to be big and strong to stand long trips without food when the waves are very rough and they can hardly see fish."
"Yes, and they have such fine plumage," said Hal. "I've seen birds around here just like those in museums, all colors, and with all kinds of feathers—Birds of Paradise, I guess they call them."
"Do you ever go shooting?"
"No, not in summer time," replied Hal. "But sometimes father and I take a run down here about Thanksgiving. That's the time for seaside sport. Why, last year we fished with rakes; just raked the fish up in piles—'frosties,' they call them."
"That must be fun," reflected Bert.
"Maybe you could come this year," continued Hal. "We might make up a party, if you have school vacation for a week. We could camp out in our house, and get our meals at the hotel."
"That would be fine!" exclaimed Bert. "Maybe Uncle William would come, and perhaps my Cousin Harry, from Meadow Brook. He loves that sort of sport. By the way, we expect him down for a few days; perhaps next week."
"Good!" cried Hal. "The boat carnival is on next week. I'm sure he would enjoy that."
The boys were back at the boathouse now, and Bert gathered up his pond lilies.
"There'll be a scramble for them when the girls see them," he said. "Nellie McLaughlin, next to Dorothy, is out for fun. She is not a bit like a sick girl."
"Perhaps she isn't sick now," said Hal, "but has to be careful. She seems quite thin."
"Mother says she wants fun, more than medicine," went on Bert. "I guess she had to go to work because her father is away at sea. He's been gone a year and he only expected to be away six months."
"So is my Uncle George," remarked Hal. "He went to the West Indies to bring back a valuable cargo of wood. He had only a small vessel, and a few men. Say, did you say her name was McLaughlin?" exclaimed Hal, suddenly.
"Yes; they call him Mack for short, but his name is McLaughlin."
"Why, that was the name of the man who went with Uncle George!" declared Hal. "Maybe it was her father."
"Sounds like it," Bert said. "Tell Uncle William about it sometime. I wouldn't mention it to Nellie, she cut up so, they said, the first time she saw the ocean. Poor thing! I suppose she just imagined her father was tossing about in the waves."
The boys had tied the canoe to its post, and now made their way up over the hill toward the house.
"Here they come," said Bert, as Nan, Nellie, and Dorothy came racing down the hill.
"Oh!" cried Dorothy, "give me some!"
"Oh, you know me, Bert?" pleaded Nellie.
"Hal, I wound up your kite string, didn't I?" insisted Nan, by way of showing that she surely deserved some of Hal's pond lilies.
"And I found your ball in the bushes, Bert," urged Dorothy.
"They're not for little girls," Hal said, waving his hand comically, like a duke in a comic opera. "Run along, little girls, run along," he said, rolling his r's in real stage fashion, and holding the pond lilies against his heart.
"But if we get them, may we have them sir knight?" asked Dorothy, keeping up the joke.
"You surely can!" replied Hal, running short on his stage words.
At this Nellie dashed into the path ahead of Hal, and Dorothy turned toward Bert. Nan crowded in close to Dorothy, and the boys had some dodging to get a start. Finally Hal shot out back of the big bush, and Nellie darted after him. Of course, the boys were better runners than the girls, but somehow, girls always expect something wonderful to happen, when they start on a race like that. Hal had tennis slippers on, and he went like a deer. But just as he was about to call "home free" and as he reached the donkey barn, he turned on his ankle.
Nellie had her hands on the pond lilies instantly, for Hal was obliged to stop and nurse his ankle.
"They're yours," he gave in, handing her the beautiful bunch of blooms.
"Oh, aren't they lovely!" exclaimed the little cash girl, but no one knew that was the first time she ever, in all her life, held a pond lily in her hand.
"I'm going to give them to Mrs. Bobbsey," she decided, starting at once to the house with the fragrant prize in her arms. Neither Dorothy nor Nan had caught Bert, but he handed his flowers to his cousin.
"Give them to Aunt Emily," he said gallantly, while Dorothy took the bouquet and declared she could have caught Bert, anyhow, if she "only had a few more feet," whatever that meant.
CHAPTER IX FUN ON THE SANDS
"How many shells did you get in your hunt?" Bert asked the girls, when the excitement over the pond lilies had died away.
"We never went," replied Dorothy. "First, Freddie fell down and had to cry awhile, then he had to stop to see the gutter band, next he had a ride on the five-cent donkey, and by that time there were so many people out, mother said there would not be a pretty shell left, so we decided to go to-morrow morning."
"Then Hal and I will go along," said Bert. "I want to look for nets, to put in my den at home."
"We are going for a swim now," went on Dorothy; "we only came back for our suits."
"There seems so much to do down here, it will take a week to have a try at everything," said Bert. "I've only been in the water once, but I'm going for a good swim now. Come along, Hal."
"Yes, we always go before lunch," said Hal starting off for his suit.
Soon Dorothy, Nan, Nellie, and Flossie appeared with their suits done up in the neat little rubber bags that Aunt Emily had bought at a hospital fair. Then Freddie came with Mrs. Bobbsey, and Dorothy, with her bag on a stick over her shoulder, led the procession to the beach.
As Dorothy told Nan, they had a comfortable bathhouse rented for the season, with plenty of hooks to hang things on, besides a mirror, to see how one's hair looked, after the waves had done it up mermaid fashion.
It did not take the girls long to get ready, and presently all appeared on the beach in pretty blue and white suits, with the large white sailor collars, that always make bathing suits look just right, because real sailors wear that shape of collar.
Flossie wore a white flannel suit, and with her pretty yellow curls, she "looked like a doll," so Nellie said. Freddie's suit was white too, as he always had things as near like his twin sister's as a boy's clothes could be. Altogether the party made a pretty summer picture, as they ran down to the waves, and promptly dipped in.
"Put your head under or you'll take cold," called Dorothy, as she emerged from a big wave that had completely covered her up.
Nellie and Nan "ducked" under, but Flossie was a little timid, and held her mother's right hand even tighter than Freddie clung to her left.
"We must get hold of the ropes," declared Mrs. Bobbsey, seeing a big wave coming.
They just reached the ropes when the wave caught them. Nellie and Nan were out farther, and the billow struck Nellie with such force it actually washed her up on shore.
"Ha! ha!" laughed Dorothy, "Nellie got the first tumble." And then the waves kept dashing in so quickly that there was no more chance for conversation. Freddie ducked under as every wave came, but Flossie was not always quick enough, and it was very hard for her to keep hold of the ropes when a big splasher dashed against her. Dorothy had not permission to swim out as far as she wanted to go, for her mother did not allow her outside the lines, excepting when Mr. Minturn was swimming near her, so she had to be content with floating around near where the other girls bounced up and down, like the bubbles on the billows.
"Look out, Nan!" called Dorothy, suddenly, as Nan stood for a moment fixing her belt. But the warning came too late, for the next minute a wave picked Nan up and tossed her with such force against a pier, that everybody thought she must be hurt. Mrs. Bobbsey was quite frightened, and ran out on the beach, putting Freddie and Flossie at a safe distance from the water, while she made her way to where Nan had been tossed.
For a minute or so, it seemed, Nan disappeared, but presently she bobbed up, out of breath, but laughing, for Hal had her by the hand, and was helping her to shore. The boys had been swimming around by themselves near by, and Hal saw the wave making for Nan just in time to get there first.
"I had to swim that time," laughed Nan, "whether I knew how or not."
"You made a pretty good attempt," Hal told her; "and the water is very deep around those piles. You had better not go out so far again, until you've learned a few strokes in the pools. Get Dorothy to teach you."
"Oh, oh, oh, Nellie!" screamed Mrs. Bobbsey. "Where is she? She has gone under that wave!"
Sure enough, Nellie had disappeared. She had only let go the ropes one minute, but she had her back to the ocean watching Nan's rescue, when a big billow struck her, knocked her down, and then where was she?
"Oh," cried Freddie. "She is surely drowned!"
Hal struck out toward where Nellie had been last seen, but he had only gone a few strokes when Bert appeared with Nellie under his arm. She had received just the same kind of toss Nan got, and fortunately Bert was just as near by to save her, as Hal had been to save Nan. Nellie, too, was laughing and out of breath when Bert towed her in.
"I felt like a rubber ball," she said, as soon as she could speak, "and Bert caught me on the first bounce."
"You girls should have ropes around your waists, and get someone to hold the other end," teased Dorothy, coming out with the others on the sands.
"Well, I think we have all had enough of the water for this morning," said Mrs. Bobbsey, too nervous to let the girls go in again.
Boys and girls were willing to take a sun bath on the beach, so, while Hal and Bert started in to build a sand house for Freddie, the four girls capered around, playing tag and enjoying themselves generally. Flossie thought it great fun to dig for the little soft crabs that hide in the deep damp sand. She found a pasteboard box and into this she put all her fish.
"I've got a whole dozen!" she called to Freddie, presently. But Freddie was so busy with his sand castle he didn't have time to bother with baby crabs.
"Look at our fort," called Bert to the girls. "We can shoot right through our battlements," he declared, as he sank down in the sand and looked out through the holes in the sand fort.
"Shoot the Indian and you get a cigar," called Dorothy, taking her place as "Indian" in front of the fort, and playing target for the boys.
First Hal tossed a pebble through a window in the fort, then Bert tried it, but neither stone went anywhere near Dorothy, the "Indian."
"Now, my turn," she claimed, squatting down back of the sand wall and taking aim at Hal, who stood out front.
And if she didn't hit him—just on the foot with a little white pebble!
"Hurrah for our sharpshooter!" cried Bert.
Of course the hard part of the trick was to toss a pebble through the window without knocking down the wall, but Dorothy stood to one side, and swung her arm, so that the stone went straight through and reached Hal, who stood ten feet away.
"I'm next," said Nellie, taking her place behind "the guns."
Nellie swung her arm and down came the fort!
"Oh my!" called Freddie, "you've knocked down the whole gun wall. You'll have to be—-"
"Court-martialed," said Hal, helping Freddie out with his war terms.
"She's a prisoner of war," announced Bert, getting hold of Nellie, who dropped her head and acted like someone in real distress. Just as if it were all true, Nan and Dorothy stood by, wringing their hands, in horror, while the boys brought the poor prisoner to the frontier, bound her hands with a piece of cord, and stood her up against an abandoned umbrella pole.
Hal acted as judge.
"Have you anything to say why sentence should not be pronounced upon you?" he asked in a severe voice.
"I have," sighed Nellie. "I did not intend to betray my country. The enemy caused the—the—downfall of Quebec," she stammered, just because the name of that place happened to come to her lips.
"Who is her counsel?" asked the Judge.
"Your honor," spoke up Dorothy, "this soldier has done good service. She has pegged stones at your honor with good effect, she has even captured a company of wild pond lilies in your very ranks, and now, your honor, I plead for mercy."
The play of the children had, by this time, attracted quite a crowd, for the bathing hour was over, and idlers tarried about.
"Fair play!" called a strange boy in the crowd, taking up the spirit of fun. "That soldier has done good service. She took a sassy little crab out of my ear this very day!"
Freddie looked on as if it were all true. Flossie did not laugh a bit, but really seemed quite frightened.
"I move that sentence be pronounced," called Bert, being on the side of the prosecution.
"The prisoner will look this way!" commanded Hal.
Nellie tossed back her wet brown curls and faced the crowd.
"The sentence of the court is that the prisoner be transported for life," announced Hal, while four boys fell in around Nellie, and she silently marched in military fashion toward the bathing pavilion, with Dorothy and Nan at her heels.
Here the war game ended, and everyone was satisfied with that day's fun on the sands.
CHAPTER X THE SHELL HUNT
"Now, all ready for the hunting expedition," called Uncle William, very early the next morning, he having taken a day away from his office in the city, to enjoy himself with the Bobbseys at the seashore.
It was to be a long journey, so Aunt Emily thought it wise to take the donkey cart, so that the weary travelers, as they fell by the wayside, might be put in the cart until refreshed. Besides, the shells and things could be brought home in the cart. Freddie expected to capture a real sea serpent, and Dorothy declared she would bring back a whale. Nellie had an idea she would find something valuable, maybe a diamond, that some fish had swallowed in mistake for a lump of sugar at the bottom of the sea. So, with pleasant expectations, the party started off, Bert and Hal acting as guides, and leading the way.
"If you feel like climbing down the rocks here we can walk all along the edge," said Hal. "But be careful!" he cautioned, "the rocks are awfully slippery. Dorothy will have to go on ahead down the road with the donkeys, and we can meet her at the Point."
Freddie and Flossie went along with Dorothy, as the descent was considered too dangerous for the little ones. Dorothy let Freddie drive to make up for the fun the others had sliding down the rocks.
Uncle Daniel started down the cliffs first, and close behind him came Mrs. Bobbsey and Aunt Emily. Nan and Nellie took another path, if a small strip of jagged rock could be called a path, while Hal and Bert scaled down over the very roughest part, it seemed to the girls.
"Oh, mercy!" called Nan, as a rock slipped from under her foot and she promptly slipped after it. "Nellie, give me your hand or I'll slide into the ocean!"
Nellie tried to cross over to Nan, but in doing so she lost her footing and fell, then turned over twice, and only stopped as she came in contact with Uncle William's heels.
"Are you hurt?" everybody asked at once, but Nellie promptly jumped up, showing the toss had not injured her in the least.
"I thought I was going to get an unexpected bath that time," she said, laughing, "only for Mr. Minturn interfering. I saw a star in each heel of his shoe," she declared' "and I was never before glad to bump my nose."
Without further accident the party reached the sands, and saw Dorothy and the little ones a short distance away. Freddie had already filled his cap with little shells, and Flossie was busy selecting some of the finest from a collection she had made.
"Let's dig," said Hal to Bert. "There are all sorts of mussels, crabs, clams, and oysters around here. The fisheries are just above that point."
So the boys began searching in the wet sand, now and then bringing up a "fairy crab" or a baby clam.
"Here's an oyster," called Nellie, coming up with the shellfish in her hand. It was a large oyster and had been washed quite clean by the noisy waves.
"Let's open it," said Hal. "Shall I, Nellie?"
"Yes, if you want to," replied the girl, indifferently, for she did not care about the little morsel. Hal opened it easily with his knife, and then he asked who was hungry.
"Oh, see here!" he called, suddenly. "What this? It looks like a pearl."
"Let me see," said Mr. Minturn, taking the little shell in his hand, and turning out the oyster. "Yes, that surely is a pearl. Now, Nellie, you have a prize. Sometimes these little pearls are quite valuable. At any rate, you can have it set in a ring," declared Mr. Minturn.