[Transcriber's note: An illustration was included in the original text that did not belong in the story. It appeared in the first chapter after the paragraph ending "But they are pretty good skaters for such small children." The omitted text reads ]
The Bobbsey Twins in a Great City
LAURA LEE HOPE
AUTHOR OF "THE BOBBSEY TWINS," "THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES," "THE OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES," ETC.
NEW YORK GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS
BOOKS BY LAURA LEE HOPE
12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Price, per volume,
THE BOBBSEY TWINS SERIES
THE BOBBSEY TWINS THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE COUNTRY THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE SEASHORE THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SCHOOL THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SNOW LODGE THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON A HOUSEBOAT THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT MEADOW BROOK THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT HOME THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN A GREAT CITY THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON BLUEBERRY ISLAND
THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON GRANDPA'S FARM BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE PLAYING CIRCUS BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT AUNT LU'S CITY HOME BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CAMP REST-A-WHILE BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE IN THE BIG WOODS BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON AN AUTO TOUR
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS OF DEEPDALE THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT RAINBOW LAKE THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN A MOTOR CAR THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN A WINTER CAMP THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN FLORIDA THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT OCEAN VIEW THE OUTDOOR GIRLS ON PINE ISLAND
GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK.
COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY GROSSET & DUNLAP.
THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN A GREAT CITY
I. THE ICE-BOAT 1
II. BUILDING THE "BIRD" 13
III. A RUNAWAY 28
IV. THE OLD WOODCHOPPER 36
V. GLORIOUS NEWS. 46
VI. ON TO NEW YORK 59
VII. ON THE EXPRESS TRAIN 68
VIII. A LONG RIDE 80
IX. IN THE STORE 90
X. LOST UNDERGROUND 104
XI. FREDDIE AND THE TURTLE 116
XII. IN THE THEATRE 127
XIII. THE "RESCUE" OF FREDDIE 137
XIV. THE STORE CAMP 153
XV. SAD NEWS 161
XVI. THE BIG ELEPHANT 170
XVII. CALLED HOME 181
XVIII. A QUEER RIDE 191
XIX. THE GOAT 202
XX. MR. BOBBSEY COMES BACK 214
XXI. UNCLE JACK'S REAL NAME 225
XXII. REUNITED 233
THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN A GREAT CITY
"Oh, there comes my skate off again! Freddie, have you got any paste in your pocket?"
"Paste, Flossie! What good would paste be to fasten on your skate?"
"I don't know, but it might do some good. I can't make the strap hold it on any more," and a plump little girl shook back her flaxen, curling hair, which had slipped from under her cap and was blowing into her eyes, sat down on a log near the shore of the frozen lake and looked sorrowfully at the shining skate which had become loosened from her shoe.
"Come on, Flossie!" called the small, plump boy, just about the size of his sister, and with her same kind of light hair and blue eyes. "There go Bert, Nan and Tommy Todd 'way ahead of us. We'll never catch up to 'em if you sit here. Come on!"
"I can't help sitting here, Freddie Bobbsey! How am I going to skate on only one skate?" asked the little girl.
"Put on the other, and come along."
"I have put it on, lots of times, but it comes off every time I skate a little bit. That's why I want some paste. Maybe I could paste the strap fast around my shoe."
"I don't believe you could, Flossie," and this time the small, plump boy stopped skating around in a ring—"grinding the bar," as it is called—and glided toward his sister seated on the log. "Anyhow, I haven't any paste. What made you think I had?"
"Oh, you carry so much stuff in your pockets I thought maybe you'd have paste."
"I might if it was summer, Flossie, and I was making kites with Bert. But I haven't any paste now."
"Then have you got a postage stamp?"
"A postage stamp? Of course not! What good would a postage stamp be to fasten your skate strap?"
"Well, a postage stamp has paste on it, hasn't it? Anyhow, it's sticky, 'cause I got some on my tongue once, and I just know if I could only fasten down the end of this skate strap, to keep it from flopping up, and coming out of the buckle, I'd be all right. It's the flopping end that comes loose."
"Well, pooh! a postage stamp wouldn't be any good!" cried Freddie. "If you did stick it on it wouldn't last more than three strokes. A postage stamp wouldn't go far at all!"
"Some postage stamps do!" exclaimed Flossie. "Mother got one on a letter the other day and it had stuck itself on half-way round the world—she told me so. And if a stamp sticks half-way around the world I should think it would stick while I skated down to the end of the lake."
"Huh! That's different!" half grunted Freddie, for, just then, he was stooping over tightening one of his straps. "Anyhow, I haven't got a stamp."
"Well, maybe you could fix my skate so it wouldn't come off," suggested Flossie. "I've tried and tried, but I can't, and I don't want to stay here all alone."
"Why Flossie Bobbsey! I'm with you!"
"I know, but Nan and Bert are away down at the other end, with Tommy Todd, and Bert is going to buy hot chocolates. I know he is, 'cause he said so. I don't want to miss them."
"Me neither! Wait and I'll see if I can't fix your skate, Flossie."
Freddie was small—he and Flossie were the smaller pair of Bobbsey twins—but he was a sturdy little chap, and living out of doors, and playing games with his older brother Bert had taught Freddie how to do many things. He put Flossie's skate on her shoe, tightened the strap, and then made it still tighter by putting some pieces of wood under the leather loop.
"There!" he exclaimed, as he stood up, having been kneeling in the snow on the edge of the lake. "I guess that will hold, Flossie. Now come on, and we'll see how fast we can skate."
Together the brother and sister started off. This time Flossie's skate seemed to be all right, needing neither paste nor a postage stamp to hold it on, and in a little while the smaller twins had caught up to Bert and Nan, their brother and sister, who, with a boy neighbor, named Tommy Todd, had slowed up to wait for them.
"What kept you?" asked Nan. "Did you try to do some fancy skating, Flossie?"
"I guess Freddie stopped to see if there wasn't a crack in the ice where he could get some water to play fireman," remarked Bert with a smile, for his small brother was very fond of this game, and his best-liked toy was a small fire engine, which, when a spring was wound, could squirt real water.
"No, I didn't stop at any cracks!" exclaimed Freddie earnestly. "Cracks in the ice is dangerous—Daddy said so. It was Flossie's skate."
"That's right—it kept coming off," explained the blue-eyed girl. "But Freddie fixed it, and he didn't have to use a postage stamp, either. Did you, Freddie?"
"Well, I guess they know what it means, but we don't!" laughed Nan, taking her small sister's hand. "Come on, now, you little twins. I We waited for you, so we could all have hot chocolate together. You didn't get cold, I hope, stopping to fix your skate, Flossie?"
"Nope! I'm as warm as butter!"
"What does she mean by that?" asked Tommy Todd. "I often hear my grandmother say she's as warm as toast, but butter——"
"Well, when it's Winter, like it is now, you have to warm your butter so you can spread it on your bread," explained Flossie. "So I'm as warm as butter now."
"I wish I was!" cried Bert. "I'm getting a chill standing here waiting for you two! Come on, now. Skate lively, and we'll soon be there," and he pointed to a little candy and soda-water stand near the lower end of Lake Metoka, on the frozen surface of which the children were skating.
In the little cabin, which in Winter was built over the stand to make a warm place for skaters, hot chocolate and other drinks could be had, and Bert had promised to treat his brother and sisters, as well as Tommy Todd.
"Don't skate too fast," begged Flossie. "My skate might come off again, though Freddie fixed it pretty good."
"If it comes off again I'll skate and carry you on my back the rest of the way!" cried Bert. "I want something hot to drink. But mind you!" he cried, as he saw a mischievous look on his little sister's face, "don't dare make your skate come off on purpose! I don't want to carry you unless I have to."
"All right, Bert. I'll skate as fast as I can," promised Flossie.
The five started off, Tommy Todd skating beside Flossie to help her if she should need it. Tommy was a sort of chum of both pairs of twins, sometimes going with the older ones, Nan and Bert, and again with Flossie and Freddie. In fact, he played with these latter more often than with Nan and her twin, for Flossie and Freddie had played a large part in helping Tommy at one time, as I'll explain a little later.
It was a fine Winter's day, not too cold, and the sun was shining from a clear sky, but not warmly enough to melt the ice. The steel skates of the five children rang out a merry tune as they clicked over the frozen surface of the lake.
"Hurrah! Here we are!" cried Bert at last, as he skated on ahead and sat down on a bench in front of the "Chocolate Cabin," as they called the place. He began taking off his skates.
"Come on!" he called to the others. "I'll order the chocolate for you and have it cooling," for there was more trouble with Flossie's skate and Nan had stopped to help her fix it.
"Don't order chocolate for me, Bert!" called Nan. "I want malted milk. The chocolate is too sweet."
"Guess you're afraid of your complexion, Sis!" laughed Bert, as he went inside the little wooden house.
"Oh, Flossie, take both your skates off and walk the rest of the way," advised Nan, after she had tried, without much success, to fix the troublesome strap. "We'll get there sooner."
"All right," agreed Flossie. "It's a bother—this skate. I'm going to get a new pair."
"Maybe a new strap is all you need," said Tommy. "You can get one in there," and he nodded toward the little cabin.
A little later the five children were seated on stools in front of the counter, sipping the warm drinks which made their cheeks glow with brighter color and caused a deeper sparkle in their eyes.
"This is great!" cried Tommy Todd.
"That's what!" murmured Freddie, his nose deep in his cup.
"Don't forget about my strap," came from Flossie.
"Oh, yes," agreed Bert. "We don't want to have to drag you all the way home." The man who sold the chocolate and candy in the cabin also had skate straps for sale and one was soon found that would do for Flossie.
"Now my skate won't come off!" she cried, as once more they were on the ice. "I can skate as good as you, Freddie Bobbsey!"
"Let's have a race!" proposed Freddie. "Bert and Nan can give Flossie and me a head start, 'cause they're bigger than us. Will you?" he asked his brother.
"Yes, I guess so. A race will get us home quicker, and we're a little late."
"We'll let Flossie and Freddie start ahead of me," suggested Tommy, who, being a little elder than the two smaller twins, was a little better skater.
"All right," agreed Bert. "Any way you like. Go ahead, Floss and Fred. Skate on until I tell you to wait. Then I'll give Tommy a starting place and, when we're all ready, I'll give the word to begin."
Flossie and Freddie, hand in hand, skated ahead a little way. But Freddie's skate went over a little piece of wood on the ice and he tripped and fell, pulling Flossie down with him. The two plump twins were in a heap on the ice.
"Hurt yourself?" asked Bert, as he started toward them, to help them up.
"No—no—I—I guess not," answered Flossie, who was the first to get up.
"We're all right," replied Freddie. "The ice was soft right there."
"I guess it's because they're so fat, that they're soft, like a feather pillow," laughed Tommy. "They're getting fatter every day."
"That's what they are," agreed Nan with a smile. "But they are pretty good skaters for such small children."
"Everybody ready?" asked Bert, when the two small twins had taken their places, and Tommy Todd was between them and Bert and Nan.
"All right," answered Freddie.
"I am, too," came from Tommy.
"Then go!" cried Bert, suddenly.
The skating race was started. Merrily clicked the runners on the hard ice, leaving long white streaks where the children passed over. Flossie and Freddie were skating as fast and as hard as they could.
"They are very anxious to win," said Nan, who was skating beside her brother.
"Yes, but they can't keep going as fast as that all the way home."
"You're going to let them win, aren't you?" asked Nan.
"Sure I am! But they're so sharp we don't dare lag much behind. We must make a spurt toward the end, and pretend we did our best to beat them. Tommy Todd may come in ahead of them, though."
"We can skate up to him and tell him not to," suggested Nan.
"Good idea!" declared Bert. "We'll do it."
The older twins skated a little faster to overtake Tommy, who was some distance behind Flossie and Freddie, when suddenly Nan gave a cry and clutched Bert by the arm.
"Look!" she exclaimed, pointing with her hand.
"An ice-boat," remarked Bert. "And going fast, too!"
"Yes, but see! It's coming right toward Flossie and Freddie, and they're skating with their heads down, and don't see it! Oh, Bert! Yell at them! Tell them to look out! Yell at the man in the ice-boat!"
It did indeed seem a time of danger, for a swift ice-boat—one with big white sails and runners, like large skates under it, was skimming over the frozen lake straight for the smaller twins.
BUILDING THE "BIRD"
Flossie and Freddie, anxious to win the skating race, were bending over with heads down, as all skaters do who wish to go fast and keep the wind from blowing on them too hard. So they did not see the ice-boat coming toward them, for the craft, blown by the wind, made hardly any noise, and what little it did make was taken up by the clicking of the skates of the smaller twins.
"Oh, Bert! Do something!" cried Nan.
"Yes, yes! I will—of course!"
Bert shook off Nan's hand, for it was still on his arm, and started to skate toward the twins as fast as he could. He hoped to reach them in time to stop them from skating right into the path of the oncoming ice-boat.
But he soon saw that he was not going to be able to do this. The ice-boat was coming toward the small twins faster than Bert could ever hope to skate and reach them.
"Yell at them!" shouted Nan. "That's the only way to stop them! Yell and tell them to look out!"
Bert himself had decided this was the best thing to do. He stopped skating and, making a sort of funnel, or megaphone, of his hands, he cried out:
"Flossie! Freddie! Look out! Danger—the ice-boat!"
Just at this moment, whether it was because of Bert's shouts or because they were tired of going so fast and wanted a rest, the two children leading the skating race stood up straight and looked back. They saw Bert pointing toward them and then they glanced at the ice-boat. It was very close, and Flossie screamed.
At the same time the man who was steering the boat saw the children. With a shout that echoed the one given by Bert, and the screams of Nan and Flossie, the man steered his boat to one side. But he made such a sudden change that, though he steered out of the way of Flossie and Freddie, he nearly ran into Tommy Todd. That small boy, however, was a good skater and stopped just in time, for he had seen the ice-boat coming.
Then with a whizz and a clink of ice, as the runners of the boat scraped big chips from the frozen lake, the skimming boat shot past Nan and Bert, not doing a bit of harm, but scaring all five children very much.
"Sorry! Didn't see you! Next time——"
This was what the man in the ice-boat shouted as he whizzed by. His last words seemed whipped away by the wind and the children did not know what he meant.
"Maybe he meant next time he'd be sure to run into us," said Tommy Todd.
"Oh, he wouldn't do that!" declared Bert "That was Mr. Watson. He buys lumber from my father. I guess he meant that next time he'd give us a ride."
"Oh, my!" exclaimed Nan. "Would you ride in one of those dangerous things, Bert Bobbsey?"
"Would I? Well, just give me the chance! How about you, Tommy?"
"I should say so! They're great!"
"Oh, I can't bear them!" went on Nan. "Please let's stop and rest. My heart is beating so fast I can't skate for a while."
"All right—we'll call the race off," agreed Bert. Flossie and Freddie were a little startled by the closeness of the ice-boat, and they skated back to join their brother and sister.
And while they are taking a little rest on the ice I shall have a chance to let my new readers know something of the past history of the children about whom I am writing.
There were two pairs of Bobbsey twins. They were the children of Mr. Richard Bobbsey and his wife Mary, and the family lived in an Eastern city called Lakeport, which was at the head of Lake Metoka. Mr. Bobbsey was in the lumber business, having a yard and docks on the shore of the lake about a quarter of a mile from his house.
The older Bobbsey twins were Nan and Bert. They had dark hair and eyes, and were rather tall and slim. Flossie and Freddie, the younger twins, were short and fat, with light hair and blue eyes. So it would have been easy to tell the twins apart, even if one pair had not been older than the other. Besides the children and their parents there were in the "family" two other persons—Dinah Johnson, the fat, good-natured colored cook, and Sam, her husband, who looked after the furnace in the Winter and cut the grass in Summer.
Then there was Snoop, and Snap. The first was a fine black cat and the second a big dog, both great pets of the children. Those of you who have read the first book of this series, entitled "The Bobbsey Twins," do not need to read this explanation here, but others may care to. In the second volume I told you of the fun the twins had in the country. After that they went to the seashore, and this subject has a book all to itself, telling of the adventures there.
Later on the Bobbseys went back to school, where they had plenty of fun, and when they were at Snow Lodge there were some strange happenings, as there were also on the houseboat Bluebird. There was a stowaway boy—but there! I had better let you read the book for yourself.
The Bobbsey twins spent some time at Meadow Brook, but there was always a question whether they had better times there or "At Home," which is the name of the book just before this one.
You, who have read that book, will remember that Flossie and Freddie found, in a big snow storm, the lost father of Tommy Todd, a boy who lived with his grandmother in a poor section of Lakeport. And it was still that same Winter, after Tommy's father had come home, that we find the Bobbsey twins skating on the ice, having just missed being run into by the ice-boat.
"My! but that was a narrow escape!" exclaimed Nan, as she skated slowly about. "My heart is beating fast yet."
"So's mine," added Flossie. "Did he do it on purpose?"
"No, indeed!" exclaimed Bert. "I guess Mr. Watson wouldn't do a thing like that! He was looking after the ropes of the sail, or doing something to the steering rudder, and that's why he didn't see you and Freddie."
"What makes an ice-boat go?" asked Freddie.
"The wind blows it, just as the wind blows a sailboat," explained Bert, looking down the lake after the ice-boat.
"But it hasn't any cabin to it like a real boat," went on Freddie. "And it doesn't go in the water. Where do the people sit?"
"An ice-boat is like this," said Bert, and with the sharp heel end of his skate he drew a picture on the ice. "You take two long pieces of wood, and fasten them together like a cross—almost the same as when you start to make a kite," he went on. "On each end of the short cross there are double runners, like skates, only bigger. And at the end of the long stick, at the back, is another runner, and this moves, and has a handle to it like the rudder on a boat. They steer the ice-boat with this handle.
"And where the two big sticks cross they put up the tall mast and make the sail fast to that. Then when the wind blows it sends the ice-boat over the ice as fast as anything."
"It sure does go fast," said Tommy Todd. "Look! He's almost at the end of the lake now."
"Yes, an ice-boat goes almost as fast as the wind," said Bert. "Maybe some day——"
"Oh, come on!" cried Flossie. "I want to go home! I'm cold standing here."
"Yes, we had better go on," said Nan. "I'm all right now."
As the five children skated off, no longer thinking of the race, Nan asked Bert:
"What are you going to do some day?"
"Oh, I don't know. I haven't got it all thought out yet. I'll tell you after a bit."
"Is it a secret?" asked Nan, eagerly.
"Oh, please tell me!"
"Not now. Come on, skate faster!"
Bert and Nan skated on ahead, knowing that Flossie and Freddie would try to keep up with them, and so would get home more quickly. But they did not leave the smaller twins too far behind.
A little later the Bobbseys were safe at home. Tommy Todd went to his grandmother's house, and Flossie and Freddie took turns giving their mother an account of their escape from the ice-boat.
"Was there really any danger?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey of Bert.
"Well, maybe, just a little. But I guess Mr. Watson would have stopped in time. He's a good ice-boat sailor."
"But don't let Flossie and Freddie get so far away from you another time. They might have been hurt."
Bert promised to look well after his little sister and brother, and then, having asked his mother if she wanted anything from the store, he said he was going down to his father's lumberyard.
"What for?" asked Nan, as she saw him leaving. "Is it about the secret?"
"Partly," answered Bert with a laugh.
Two or three days later the Bobbseys were again out skating on the ice, Nan and Bert keeping close to Freddie and Flossie. They had not been long gliding about when Freddie suddenly called:
"Oh, here comes that ice-boat again!"
"Surely enough, it is!" added Nan. "Oh, we must skate toward shore! Come on!"
"No need to do that," replied Bert. "It isn't coming fast, and Mr. Watson sees us."
"He's waving his hand at us!" cried Flossie. "I guess he wants to give us a ride. Come on, Freddie!"
"Here! Wait a minute!" called Bert "Don't get into any more danger. But I believe he is going to stop," he went on, as the ice-boat came slowly up to them. Then, as it swung up into the wind, with the sail loosely flapping, Mr. Watson called:
"Come on, children, don't you want to go for a ride?"
"Oh, let's!" cried Flossie, clapping her hands.
"And I want to steer!" added Freddie.
"No, you can't do that!" exclaimed Nan. "Oh, Bert, do you think it would be all right for us to go?" she asked her older brother.
"I don't see why not," said Bert. "The wind doesn't blow hard, and Mr. Watson knows all about ice-boats. I say let's go!"
"Oh, what fun!" cried Flossie and Freddie.
They took off their skates and walked toward the ice-boat. Mr. Watson smiled at them.
"I'm so sorry I nearly ran into you the other day," he said. "I did not see you until almost the last minute. So I made up my mind the next time I saw you on the lake I'd give you a ride. Come on, now, get aboard!"
"He talks just as if it was a real boat!" laughed Flossie, for, living near the lake as they did, and often seeing boats at their father's lumber dock, the Bobbsey twins knew something about water craft.
"Well, of course, this isn't as big as some boats," said Mr. Watson, "but it will hold all of us, I think."
The children saw where there was a sort of platform, with raised sides, built on the center of the crossed sticks, and on this platform were spread some fur rugs and blankets.
Mr. Watson saw to it that the little children, especially, were well wrapped, and then, telling them all to hold on, he let out the sail and away flew the ice-boat down the frozen lake, fairly whizzing along.
"My! how fa-fa-fast we go!" gasped Nan, for really the wind seemed to take away her breath.
"This sure is sailing!" cried Bert, and then Nan noticed that her brother was looking at different parts of the ice-boat, as if to find out how it was made.
Flossie and Freddie were having lots of fun holding on to one another, and also to the sides of the ice-boat, for the craft slid this way and that so quickly, sometimes seeming to rise up in the air, that it was like being on the back of a horse.
But the Bobbseys liked it, and the ride in the ice-boat came to an end all too soon. With sparkling eyes, and red, glowing cheeks, the twins got out close to their father's lumber dock, calling their thanks to Mr. Watson.
"I'll take you again, some time," he answered, as he sailed off down the lake.
"Ah, ha! And so my little fat fireman had a ride in an ice-boat, did he?" cried Mr. Bobbsey that night, when he came home from the office and heard the story. "And how did my little fat fairy like it?" And he lifted up first Freddie and then Flossie to kiss them. "Fat fireman" and "fat fairy" were Mr. Bobbsey's pet names for the smaller twins. Bert and Nan had had pet names when they were small, but they were too large for them now, growing out of them as they grew out of their clothes.
"Oh, it was glorious!" cried Nan. "Sailing in an ice-boat must be like the way it feels to be in an airship."
"I'm going up in an airship when I get big!" cried Freddie, making a dive after Snoop, the cat, who was hiding under the table.
"Have you heard yet whether you are to go?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, of her husband, when the noisy greetings to the children were over.
"No, not yet," he answered, and he made a motion with his head, as if to tell his wife not to speak of a certain matter before the children.
"Oh, I saw you wink!" cried Nan, clapping her hands. "What does it mean? Is it a secret, Momsey?"
"Well, yes, Nan. You shall be told in plenty of time, if anything comes of it."
"Oh, that's two secrets!" cried Nan. "Bert has one and now there's one here."
"What is Bert's secret?" asked Nan's mother.
"I don't know yet; he won't tell me."
"Yes, I'll tell you to-morrow," said her brother. "But what's this about Father going away, Mother? Are we going too?"
"Supper am ready, chilluns!" exclaimed the voice of Dinah, the cook, and that ended the talk about secrets for the time being.
"But when are you going to tell me yours?" Nan managed to whisper to her brother when the dessert was being served.
"Come down to the lumberyard to-morrow afternoon," he whispered. "It's almost done."
Without telling Flossie or Freddie anything about it, Nan slipped off by herself the next afternoon, and from the watchman in her father's lumberyard learned that Bert and another boy were in one of the sheds. As Nan came closer she could hear the noise of hammering and sawing.
"Oh, Bert, what are you making?" cried Nan, as she saw her brother and Tommy Todd busy with sticks, boards, hammer and nails.
"This is the Bird!" cried Bert, waving a hammer at something that, so far, did not look like much of anything.
"A bird?" cried Nan. "It looks more like a scare-crow!"
"Just wait until it's finished!" said Tommy Todd. "When we get the sail on——"
"Oh, Bert! is it a boat?" cried Nan eagerly.
"Yes, it's going to be an ice-boat, and I've called it the Bird," was the answer. "I got the idea of building it after I'd seen Mr. Watson's. Father said I might, and he gave me the lumber, and let me have a carpenter to help, for Tommy and I couldn't do it all. But now the ice-boat is almost done and in a few days I'll sail it."
"And may I have a ride?" asked Nan.
"Of course. I'll take the whole family," said Bert. "Just you wait," and then he and Tommy went on hammering and sawing.
"Don't forget your baggage!"
"This way for your tickets!"
"The ice-boat Bird makes no stops this side of the lake! All aboard!"
Bert Bobbsey and Tommy Todd thus were calling at the end of one of the lumberyard docks one day about a week after Nan had seen her brother building the ice-boat. Coming down the dock were Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey, with Nan, Flossie and Freddie. Snap, the big dog, was bounding on ahead through the snow, barking joyously. He enjoyed fun as much as any one.
"All aboard! Please hurry up!" cried Bert.
"Why, I thought this was a special trip you were giving us, and we didn't have to hurry," laughed his mother.
"It is," Bert said. "But you see you can't sail an ice-boat if you haven't any wind, and I want you to have a ride before the wind dies away, as it might. So come on, get on board!"
"I want to steer!" cried Freddie.
"No, you must not," said Nan.
"Yes, I must. I know how to steer a motor boat, and I can steer an ice-boat, I guess," and Freddie was very sure about it.
"After a while, maybe," agreed Bert. "But an ice-boat is different to steer from a motor boat. I'll show you how, though."
Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey got on the little platform which Bert had built as a sort of open cabin. It had old carpets and rugs on it, and there were blankets and robes to keep the passengers warm. After some failures Bert and Tommy had finally managed to finish the ice-boat. It was not as easy to build as they had expected, but Mr. Bobbsey's carpenter had helped them.
The boat had been tried out on the ice, and had sailed well. Mr. Bobbsey had Mr. Watson look at it, and that gentleman had said it was safe to ride in. Then Bert had finally gotten his father and mother to promise to take a trip in the boat, bringing Nan, Flossie and Freddie with them. Mr. Bobbsey had, before this, been given a ride with Bert and Tommy, so he knew the two boys could manage the boat fairly well. Tommy and Bert had had several rides by themselves. Now they had company.
"Are you all ready?" asked Bert, after he had seen his father and mother, his sisters and brother, get on board the Bird.
"All ready," answered Mr. Bobbsey. "Don't go too fast at first, and take your mother's breath away."
"I won't!" promised Bert. "Are those two little ones covered up all right?" he asked, nodding toward Flossie and Freddie.
"Yep! We're as warm as—as popcorn!" cried Flossie.
"With butter on!" added Freddie.
"Well, you certainly ought to be good and warm," laughed Mrs. Bobbsey, as she tucked the robes closer around the two smaller twins.
"All aboard!" called Bert, and then, moving slowly at first, the ice-boat glided away from the lumber wharf, skimming over the lake with the entire Bobbsey family, not counting, of course, fat Dinah and her husband, who stayed at home. Nor was Snoop, the black cat, along. Snap, the dog, ran a little way, but when he found the ice-boat was going too fast for him, and when he noticed that he was slipping too much, he gave a sort of good-bye howl and went slowly back to shore.
"Isn't this great?" cried Bert, as he steered the ice-boat out into the middle of the lake.
"Wonderful!" cried Nan, her hair flying in the wind and her cheeks almost as red as roses. "I don't see how you made it, Bert."
"Well, it wasn't easy. How do you like it, Freddie?"
"All right. When can I steer?"
"Oh, maybe after a while," said Bert, with a laugh. "Say, we're going fast, all right."
"Yes," agreed Mr. Bobbsey. "I think the wind is getting stronger instead of dying out, Bert."
"It does seem so. Well, all the better. We won't have to walk back if it keeps on this way. We can sail to the end of the lake and ride back."
"Are you sure you can manage the boat yourself?" asked Bert's father, "She seems pretty big."
"Oh, Tommy and I sailed her in a stronger wind than this. And we have a heavier load on now, which makes it all the safer."
Mr. Bobbsey himself knew how to sail an ice-boat, but he wanted to let Bert do as much alone as he could, for this is a good way for a boy to learn, if there is not too much danger.
"And the worst that can happen," said Mr. Bobbsey, in a whisper to his wife, "is that we may upset and spill out."
"Oh! But do you really think there is any danger of that?"
"Well, there may be. Ice-boats often upset, but we can't fall very far," and he looked down at the ice, which was only a few inches below them. "And we have so many robes and blankets that falling would be like tumbling into bed. There is no danger."
The wind was blowing harder and harder. It was sweeping right across the lake and forcing the boat down. The steel runners clinked on the ice, now and then scraping up a shower of icy splinters that sparkled in the sun. On the other side of the lake were other ice-boats, and Bert wished he could have a race with some of them. But he knew his mother would not like that now.
"Can't you make it go a little slower?" asked Flossie, after a bit. "Every time I open my mouth it gets filled with cold air, and it makes me want to sneeze."
"I can't go any slower than the wind blows," answered Bert. "Turn your back to the bow, or front end of the boat, and you can open your mouth easier then."
Flossie did as she was told and felt better. Meanwhile the Bird was living up to her name, and skimming along swiftly. Bert held to the steering handle, now and then tightening or loosening the rope that was fast to the sail.
"Want any help?" asked his father.
"No, thank you, Dad. I want to manage it all by myself as long as I can."
"Isn't it my turn to steer?" asked Freddie, when they were half-way down the lake, toward the end farthest from the town, where there were deep woods on either side.
"No, not yet!" exclaimed Bert "Don't touch anything, Freddie!" he went on, for his little brother was reaching out toward the sail. "I'll have to wait until the wind doesn't blow so strong before I can let your steer, Freddie."
"But I want to steer when we're going fast!" cried the little fellow. "I know how to do it. You just——"
Freddie never finished what he was saying. Whether he touched anything, or whether Bert was afraid he would, and so pulled on the wrong rope to keep it out of Freddie's way, was never known.
Suddenly the ice-boat gave a quick whirl to one side, like a boy or a girl on roller skates going around a corner. It went around so quickly that it tipped half-way over. Mrs. Bobbsey and Nan screamed. Mr. Bobbsey called to Bert to be careful, but it was too late. Bert had lost his hold of the rudder and the sail rope.
The next second Bert shot out of the ice-boat, and slid along on his back. A moment later his father and mother were also spilled out, followed by Nan. Then the ice-boat, not having such a heavy load aboard, settled down on the ice again, and started to run away, or, rather, blow away.
Right before the wind it flew, and Flossie and Freddie, being well tucked in among the robes and blankets were not spilled out. They stayed on board; and Mr. Bobbsey, sitting up after he had slid some distance across the ice, saw the Bird scooting down the lake, carrying his two smaller twins with it.
"Oh, the ice-boat is running away with Flossie and Freddie!" cried Nan, as she, too, saw what had happened.
THE OLD WOODCHOPPER
While Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey, Bert and Nan picked themselves up from where they had fallen and slid along the ice, the ice-boat, with Flossie and Freddie snugly tucked in among the blankets and robes, was skimming down the lake, blown by a strong wind.
At first the two small twins hardly knew what had happened. They had felt the ice-boat tilt to one side, they remembered that they had nearly fallen out, and then they had sailed on again. It was not until Flossie opened her eyes (she always shut them when anything surprising was happening) that she saw she and Freddie were alone in the Bird.
"Why! Why!" she exclaimed. "Where are Daddy and Mother?"
"Yes, and Bert and Nan?" added Freddie. "Where is everybody?"
Then the two small twins looked back over the icy lake and far behind them saw their father and mother, with Bert and Nan, standing on the ice and waving their hands.
"Oh, they've jumped off and left us to sail the boat alone!" cried Freddie. "Now I can steer! Isn't that good?"
Flossie was not quite sure that this was "good," but, for a few seconds, she believed what Freddie had said—that the others had jumped off the ice-boat. She did not know that they had been spilled out, as Bert said afterward.
"Now watch me steer!" cried Freddie, crawling back toward the tiller, which was the last thing Bert had let go of, as he shot from the boat.
"Oh, can you?" asked Flossie. "Do you think you can steer?"
"Of course I can," was the answer. "You just watch me. I'll make this boat go faster!"
"But you want to be awfully careful, Freddie."
"Oh, I'm always careful, ain't I?"
"Well, I s'pose you are—most times," answered Flossie, somewhat slowly. She did not wish to hurt her twin's feelings.
"Oh, I know what I'm doing," was Freddie's confident reply. "You just watch me! I'll make this boat go just as fast as anything!"
As it had happened, a rope had become caught around the tiller, or handle, of the rudder, thus holding it so that the ice-boat sailed straight before the wind. Otherwise it would have darted from side to side, and perhaps Flossie and Freddie would have been tossed out as the others had been. But it so happened that they sailed along nicely, no one being at the helm.
Straight down the lake sailed the Bird with the two little twins aboard. They had been a bit frightened at first, but now Freddie was thinking only of how he could steer the craft, and Flossie was waiting to see what her brother would do.
"I wonder what they're waving to us for?" asked Flossie, as she looked back and saw the frantic signals of her father and mother, Bert and Nan. "And they're running after us, too!" she added.
"Maybe they want us to come back," suggested Freddie. But as the ice-boat was too far away for the older Bobbseys to make their voices heard by Flossie and Freddie, Mr. Bobbsey and the others could only wave their hands.
"We must catch that boat!" cried Bert. "No telling what it will do to them if it upsets. Come on! Run, everybody!"
He set off as fast as he could go, his father with him, while Mrs. Bobbsey and Nan came along more slowly.
"I guess they want us to come back and get them," said Freddie. "They must be tired. Well, I'll steer the boat back and we'll give them a ride. Won't it be fun, Flossie?"
"Ye-yes, maybe. If you can do it."
"Steer the ice-boat back."
"Of course I can do it!" cried Freddie. "I can squirt water from my fire engine, can't I? And that isn't any harder than this."
Freddie did not know so much about ice-boats as he thought he did, and when he had crawled back to the tiller, still held fast in a loop of the rope, the small boy found it harder to move than he had expected. Flossie stayed among the rugs and robes.
Freddie knew enough about boats to be sure that to steer one the tiller ought to move from side to side. So, finding that the rope, which was fast to the sail, was keeping the rudder handle from moving, he began to loosen the coils.
As soon as he did that the rudder moved from side to side, and this, of course, made the ice-boat do the same thing.
"Oh, dear!" cried Flossie, "don't jiggle it so, Freddie!"
"I—I can't—help it!" chattered Freddie, his words coming jerkily, for he was being "jiggled" himself, as the rudder shook from side to side in his hand. "This—this is the way to—to steer an ice-boat."
"Well, I don't like it," Flossie announced, "It makes me homesick!"
"Do you mean—seasick?" asked Freddie, trying his best to hold the tiller still.
"No, I mean homesick! I want to go home!"
"But we're having a nice ride, Flossie."
"I don't care! I want papa and mamma! I can't see them now!"
The ice-boat, sailing down the lake, had turned around a point of land, and this hid from view the rest of the Bobbsey family.
"I'll turn around and go back and get them," Freddie said. By this time he had taken the rope from the tiller, so the rudder handle moved freely from side to side. And then, all of a sudden, the Bird shot ahead more swiftly than before.
The wind was blowing more strongly, and when Freddie moved the rudder he steered the ice-boat so that the wind sent it straight ahead instead of a little to one side.
"Oh! oh!" cried Flossie, "this is too fast! How can we stop the ice-boat, Freddie?"
"I—I don't know," answered the little boy. "Don't you like to go fast, Flossie?"
"Not so fast as this. I can't make my nose work—I can't get any air!"
Indeed they were sailing even more swiftly than when Bert was steering, and Flossie was frightened. So was Freddie, but he was not so quick to say so.
"Please stop the boat!" cried Flossie again.
"Well, I'll try," promised Freddie. "I guess this is the rope you pull on," and he took hold of the one fast to the end of the sail—the rope that kept the big piece of white canvas from blowing away.
Freddie pulled on this, but it could not have been the right rope, or else he pulled it the wrong way, for, in an instant, the ice-boat seemed to "stand on its ear," as Bert spoke of it afterward. Flossie and Freddie were almost tossed out.
"Oh, don't do that!" cried the little girl.
"I—I didn't mean to," Freddie told her. "I guess I pulled on the wrong rope. Here's another. I'll try that."
By this time the ice-boat was more than two miles down the lake, for the wind was blowing hard and the Bird sailed swiftly. The children could not see their father, mother, Bert or Nan now. They would soon be at the end of the lake, and before them Flossie and Freddie could see big drifts of snow near the edge of the frozen lake and between it and the forest beyond.
"I—I guess we'd better stop pretty soon," faltered Freddie. "If we don't we'll run ashore."
With all his strength, he pulled on another rope, at the same time shoving the tiller over as far from him as it would go. The result was a surprise to him and to Flossie. The ice-boat turned quickly, and then, like a frightened horse, it darted toward shore.
Over the ice it skimmed. Then it turned up on one side, buried the bow, or front part, deep in a big snow drift and with another motion sent Flossie and Freddie, together with the robes and blankets, flying into a pile of soft snow. Down came the Bobbsey twins with a soft thud, not being in the least hurt.
For a moment neither of the children spoke. Then Flossie, brushing the snow from her face, looked around, and seeing Freddie near her, doing the same thing, she asked:
"I guess I steered right up on shore instead of away from it," replied Freddie. "I must have turned the handle the wrong way. Are you hurt, Flossie?"
"Nope. Are you?"
"Nope. I hope the ice-boat isn't broken. Bert wouldn't like that. Let's go and look."
As the children floundered out of the snow, which had been left from a storm that had swept over the country before the lake had frozen, they heard a voice calling to them. Looking in the direction of the woods, they saw coming toward them an old man, wearing a big, ragged overcoat, a fur cap and mittens, while over his shoulder was an axe.
"Oh! oh!" said Flossie in a low voice. "Who—who's that, Freddie?"
"Oh, I know him. That's Uncle Jack, the woodchopper. He'll help us get the boat on the ice again, and I can sail it back home."
"Nope!" cried Flossie, shaking her flaxen curly head. "I'm never going to ride in an ice-boat with you any more. Never! You go too fast, and stop too quick. I'm going to walk home!"
"What's the matter, children?" asked Uncle Jack, and he came plowing his way through the snow. "Ah, your ice-boat is upset, I see! Well, you two are pretty small potatoes to be out sailing alone. 'Most froze, too, I'll warrant ye! Come on to my cabin. It's warm there, whatever else it is!" and he helped Flossie and Freddie from the snowdrift.
"Thank you," said Flossie. "But we're not potatoes, Uncle Jack."
"Well, little peaches, then. Anyhow, your cheeks look like red apples," said the man, laughing.
"How did it all happen?" asked Uncle Jack, a little later, as he led Flossie and Freddie along a path through the snow to his cabin in the woods. "Why are you two out ice-boating alone?"
"The rest of 'em spilled out," answered Freddie; "and I upset Flossie and me when I pulled on the wrong rope. But we're not hurt a bit. It was fun. Wasn't it, Flossie?"
"Ye—yes, I—I guess so."
"Hum! You're part of the Bobbsey twins, aren't you?" asked the old woodchopper, who made a living by cutting firewood and kindling wood in the forest, where he lived by himself in a lonely cabin all the year around.
"Yes, we're the littlest ones," answered Flossie. "Bert and Nan are bigger, but they fell off, too."
"So falling from an ice-boat doesn't go by sizes," laughed the old man.
Then, taking turns, Flossie and Freddie told the story of the runaway ice-boat, and of having left the rest of their family several miles away on the ice.
"We tried to stop, but we couldn't," said Flossie. "And, oh, dear! I wonder where Daddy and Mother are now." Flossie spoke as though it would not take much to make her cry.
"Don't worry," said Uncle Jack, as every one around Lakeport called him. "If your father and mother don't come for you I'll take you home."
"It—it's a long way to walk," said Freddie with a sigh. "And I guess Flossie is hungry. Aren't you?" he asked of his little sister.
"Well—a little," admitted the blue-eyed girl twin.
"How about you, little man?" asked Uncle Jack.
"I—I guess I am, too," Freddie admitted. "Have you got anything to eat?"
"Well, maybe we can find something in my cabin," said the old man. He had left his axe sticking in a tree near where the ice-boat had run into the snow bank, and was leading the children along by either hand. Flossie and Freddie looked up into his kindly, wrinkled face, the cheeks glowing red like two rosy apples, and they knew they would be well taken care of. Uncle Jack was a fine, honest man, and he was always kind to children, who, often in the Summer, would gather flowers near his lonely log cabin.
In a little while Flossie and Freddie were seated in front of a stove, in which crackled a hot fire, eating bread and milk, which was the best the woodchopper could offer them. But they were so hungry that, as Freddie said afterward, it tasted better than chicken and ice-cream.
"Haven't you got any little girl?" asked Flossie after a while.
"No, I haven't a chick or a child, I'm sorry to say."
"My father would give you a chicken if you wanted it," said Freddie. "And some days we could come and stay with you."
"That last part would be all right," said the old man with a smile; "but I haven't any place to keep a chicken. It would get lonesome, I'm afraid, while I'm off in the forest chopping wood. But I thank you just the same."
"Didn't you ever have any children?" asked Flossie, taking a second glass of milk which the kindly old man gave her.
"Never a one. Though when I was a boy I lived in a place where there were two children, I think. But it's all kind of hazy."
"Where was that?" asked Freddie, brushing up the last of the bread crumbs from his plate.
"I don't remember much about my folks. Most of my life has been spent working on farmers' land, until I got so old I could not plow or cut hay. Then the man who owns this forest said I might come here and chop firewood, and I did. I built this cabin myself, and I've lived all alone in it for many years."
This was so, for Jack had been in the woods from the time when Bert and Nan were babies, so Flossie and Freddie had often heard their older brother and sister say.
"Haven't you any folks?" asked Freddie.
"Well, I seem to remember that once I had a brother and a sister. But I lost track of them, and they lost me, I guess; so where they are now, if they're anywhere, I don't know. I'm all alone, I guess," and the woodchopper's face was sad.
"Never mind! We'll come to see you," said Flossie, with a smile. "But now maybe we'd better start home, Freddie. Papa and Mamma may be worried about us."
"I'll take you home, if you've had enough to eat," said Uncle Jack.
"Oh, we've had plenty, thank you," said Freddie. "But it's a long way to go home. If I could sail the ice-boat back——"
"I don't like that boat!" cried Flossie.
"How would you like to ride on a sled?" asked the woodchopper. "In a sled drawn by a horse with jingling bells?"
"That would be fine!" cried Freddie, clapping his hands. "But where is he—the horse, I mean?"
"Oh, out in my little stable. I built a small stable, as well as this cabin, for I have to haul my wood into town to sell it. I'll get my bobsled ready and tuck you in among the blankets that spilled from your ice-boat. Then I'll drive you home."
Flossie and Freddie liked this plan, and were soon snugly tucked in among their own robes, for the ice-boat had upset not far from the woodchopper's cabin.
"Your folks will likely be worried about you," said Uncle Jack, "so I'll get you home as fast as I can, though my horse isn't very speedy. He's getting old, like myself."
"You don't look old," said Flossie kindly.
"Well, I am. I'm old and full of pains and aches."
"Have you got a stomachache?" asked Flossie. "If you have my mother could give you some peppermint."
"My pain is in my bones and back; peppermint isn't much good for that. I guess I need to go to a hospital. But never mind me, I must look after you children now."
Along through the snow jogged the woodcutter's horse, his bells jingling as he hauled the sled over the road that led along the shore of the lake.
"What'll we do about Bert's ice-boat?" asked Flossie.
"I'll look after it until he comes for it," said Uncle Jack. "It isn't damaged any, and it will be all right. Few folks come down to this end of the lake in Winter. I have it all to myself."
"You must be lonesome," remarked Freddie.
"I am, sometimes. Often I wish I had folks, like other men. But it isn't to be, I reckon. G'lang there, Bucksaw."
"Is that the name of your horse?"
"Yes. Bucksaw is his name. Pretty good for a woodchopper's horse, I guess," and the old man smiled.
While Flossie and Freddie were being driven home by the woodchopper, Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey, with Bert and Nan, left far behind on the ice when the Bird upset, were much worried and excited.
"What can we do?" cried Bert.
"We must go after those children!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey.
"That's what I'm going to do," Mr. Bobbsey remarked.
"If I could borrow one of those ice-boats over there," put in Bert, pointing toward some on the other side of the lake, "I could sail down and get them."
"No more ice-boats to-day!" said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Oh, I do hope nothing happens to Flossie and Freddie!"
"I don't believe they'll be hurt," said their father. "Even if they fall out they can't get much of a bump on the ice, and if they run ashore, as they're likely to do, they'll only fall in the snow. Don't worry."
"But we must go after them!" cried his wife.
"Just what I am going to do. Bert and I will go to shore, hire a team and drive down the lake after them. The road runs right along the lake shore and we'll be sure to see them, or hear something of them. They'll be all right."
It did not take Mr. Bobbsey and Bert long to get started on the search for the missing ones, for Flossie and Freddie in the ice-boat had sailed around the point of land, as I told you, and were out of sight of their folks.
Mrs. Bobbsey and Nan were taken home by some friends who happened to pass the lake in their automobile, and half-way to the woodcutter's cabin, though he had no idea the children had been there, Mr. Bobbsey and Bert met them being driven to Lakeport by Uncle Jack.
"Oh, there's Daddy!" cried Freddie.
"And Bert!" added Flossie, as she saw her brother. "Your ice-boat's all right," she added. "We just fell out of it."
"Are you all right?" asked Mr. Bobbsey, stopping his horses.
"Fine!" cried Freddie. "And we had bread and milk."
"Well, I'm sure I'm much obliged to you, Uncle Jack," said the children's father. "It was very kind of you."
Then Flossie and Freddie told their story, and the woodchopper told of having seen them tossed into the snow and of how he helped them out, and then Mr. Bobbsey told what had happened to him, the children's mother, Bert and Nan.
"I just pulled on the wrong rope, that's all, and I guess I steered the boat crooked," said Freddie with a laugh.
"You're lucky it was no worse," remarked Bert, laughing also. "But as long as you two are all right, and the Bird isn't damaged, I'm glad."
Mr. Bobbsey was also, and then he took the children into his sleigh, driving home with them while Uncle Jack turned back.
"I like him," said Flossie, speaking of the old woodchopper to her father. "He hasn't a chick or a child and he lives all alone in the woods."
"Yes, poor Uncle Jack doesn't have a very happy life," said Mr. Bobbsey. "I must see what we can do to help him."
Little was talked of in the Bobbsey home that afternoon and evening but the adventure with the ice-boat, and what had happened to Flossie and Freddie when it ran away with them.
The next day Bert and Tommy Todd got the Bird back and had fine times sailing in it. Flossie and Freddie, as well as some of their friends, were also given rides, but Bert cut the sail smaller so his boat would not go so fast, making it safer.
When the Bobbsey twins were not ice-boating they were skating, or building snow forts or snow men. Once Flossie and Freddie built a little snow house and got inside it with Snoop, the black cat, and Snap, the dog.
Everything was very nice, but the house was so small that, when they were all in it, there was not room for Snap to wag his tail. And as there never was a dog yet, with a tail, who did not want to wag it, you can easily guess what happened.
Either Snap wagged his tail in the faces of Flossie and Freddie or he whacked Snoop with it, and as the cat did not like that she ran out of the snow house.
But Snap kept on wagging his tail, and as Flossie and Freddie made him get to one side when he did it the only other place he had to wag it was against the sides of the snow house.
Now these snow sides were not very thick or strong—they were not made to be wagged against by a big dog's tail, and, all of a sudden, Snap wagged his tail right through the snow house.
Then, with a swish and a swush, down the snow house toppled right on the heads of Flossie, Freddie and Snap. Snap gave a howl and dug his way out. But the two small twins were laughing so hard that it took them a little longer to dig their way out.
They were not hurt in the least, however, and they thought it great fun to have the snow house fall on them when Snap's tail wagged too hard.
It was about a week after the funny ice-boat ride that Mr. Bobbsey came home from his office a little earlier than usual. He was smiling, and when his wife saw him she asked:
"Did it come?"
"Did what come?" asked Nan. "Are we going to have a new automobile, Mother?"
"Not yet, Nan."
"Then what came?"
"Glorious news!" cried her father, catching her up and kissing her. "Glorious news came in a letter. We are all going to a great city!"
"No, just on a visit," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Oh, it is good news! I have been wanting to go for a long while. Come in, Bert—and you too, Flossie and Freddie—and hear the good news!" she called to the other twins. "Daddy has glorious news for us!"
ON TO NEW YORK
"Are we going?" cried Flossie, when she heard that the family was about to make some sort of a journey.
"And can we take the ice-boat?" Freddie asked eagerly.
"Yes, of course you're going," said Mrs. Bobbsey.
"But no ice-boat," added Bert. "There's no chance to sail one in New York City—and if there was we wouldn't have time."
"Oh, are we going to New York?" cried Flossie.
"Yes," her father nodded.
"Then I'm going to take my fire engine!" cried Freddie. "They have fires in New York, don't they, Daddy?"
"Plenty of them, I think. And they have big engines there to put them out—larger ones than we have in Lakeport. But now let's get quiet so I can tell Mother and you the news."
Then, with the smaller twins cuddled up on his lap and Bert and Nan seated near their mother, Mr. Bobbsey told the news. He was going to start a new business, from which he hoped to make a great deal of money, and he had to go to New York to see about it. The trip would take the best part of a day from Lakeport, and Mr. Bobbsey would have to stay in the big city several weeks.
He had long promised his wife that when the time came to go to New York he would take her and the whole family with him, and that time had now come.
"When can we start?" Flossie inquired.
"To-night?" asked Freddie eagerly.
"Oh, indeed not!" laughed his mother. "It will take at least a week to get ready, and perhaps longer. You children have to have some new clothes, and Daddy has to look after his business here. I think we will close this house, and Dinah and Sam can visit their friends."
"What about Snap and Snoop?" asked Flossie.
"Oh, let's take them!" begged Freddie.
"It would be no fun going to New York with pet cats and dogs," said Bert. "They'd only be in the way or get lost."
"I wouldn't want either one of 'em to get lost," put in Flossie.
"Then we'll leave them with Dinah," said Mother Bobbsey, glad that that part was over. Every time they went away it was always hard to get the younger twins to consent to leave Snoop and Snap at Home.
"It will be great, going to New York!" cried Bert. "I want to see some of the flying machines I've read about."
"And I want to see some of the lovely stylish dresses the girls wear as they ride on Fifth Avenue," declared Nan. "Mother, do you think I could have a real dress from New York?" she asked in a whisper. "Not one that's too stylish, of course, but so I could say it came from New York."
"I guess so," and Mrs. Bobbsey smiled. "But let's hear what Flossie and Freddie most want to see in New York," and she looked at the two small twins.
Flossie and Freddie thought for a moment, and then the blue-eyed boy, shaking his flaxen curls, cried:
"I want to see a big fire, and watch the firemen put it out. But I hope nobody gets hurt!"
"That last part is good, anyhow," said Mr. Bobbsey. "And how about my little fat fairy?" and he playfully pinched Flossie's plump leg. "What do you want to see?"
Flossie did not answer at once, but when she did she cried:
"A monkey?" repeated her father.
"Yes, the monkeys in the park. I read about them, and how they do such funny tricks their cages. That's what I want to see—the monkeys in the park."
"Oh, so do I!" cried Freddie. "Can I see the monkeys and a fire too?"
"Well, I guess so," answered his father. "But we will hope no big fires will occur while we are in New York. As for monkeys, I guess there will be plenty of them in the park."
The children were so excited, thinking about the trip to the great city of New York, they could hardly sleep that night, even though they stayed up later than usual.
And the next day a busy time began. Mrs. Bobbsey had to see to getting ready the clothes for herself and the children. At this Nan helped some, but Flossie and Freddie could not, for they were too small. Bert ran on a number of errands for his father, before and after school, for the children had their lessons to do even while getting ready for the trip.
Of course they could not go to school in New York very well, but Mr. Bobbsey arranged with the teachers in Lakeport that the twins could make up, when they came back, any lessons they should miss. And as Nan and Bert were ahead of their class, and as Flossie and Freddie were only in the "baby" grade, where they did not have hard lessons, as yet, staying from school would do not great harm to any of them.
But at last all was ready for the start. The trunks and valises had been packed, the children had said good-bye to their many friends and playmates, Dinah and Sam had gone away and the dog and cat had been sent to board near the cook's home until the Bobbseys should come back.
Mr. Bobbsey had left his business with his partner to look after, and Bert had said Tommy Todd could sail the ice-boat as much as he pleased while Bert was in New York.
"Well, I guess we're ready to start," said Mr. Bobbsey, when the house had been locked and the big automobile that was to take them to the station was puffing out in front. "All aboard!"
"This isn't the train, Daddy!" laughed Nan.
"No, but we'll soon be there," her father answered, "Come along."
Into the automobile they piled, parents, twins, baggage and all, and off they started. On the way to the depot Flossie cried:
"Oh, there's Uncle Jack!" and the sled of the woodchopper was seen moving slowly down the village street, with a load of logs piled high on it.
"Poor old man," murmured Mrs. Bobbsey, "Did you see if you could help him in any way?" she asked her husband.
"Yes, I have arranged it so that Uncle Jack will have plenty of food this Winter. He can keep warm, for he has a stove and can cut all the wood he wants. I sent our doctor to see him. But Dr. Haydon thinks Uncle Jack should go to a hospital."
"Then why don't you send him? He was so good to the children——"
"I know he was, but he won't go to the hospital. He says he knows it costs money and he won't let me spend any on him. But when I come back from New York I'll see what I can do. I think he'll be all right for a while, poor old man."
Uncle Jack, sitting on top of his load of wood, saw the children in the automobile and waved to them. The Bobbsey twins waved back.
"We must bring him something from New York," said Freddie.
"We could get him a little toy chick, and then he wouldn't be lonesome. Maybe he'd like that," added Flossie.
Little did the two small Bobbsey twins think what they would help to bring back from New York for the poor, old woodchopper.
The train for New York was on time, and soon the twins, each pair in one seat, with Father and Mother Bobbsey behind them, were looking out of the car windows, happy and joyous as they started on their journey.
They were on their way to the great city of New York.
I shall not tell you all that happened on the trip. It was not really much, for by this time the twins had traveled so often that a railroad train was an old story to them. But they never tired of looking out of the windows.
On and on clicked the train, rushing through the snow-covered country, now passing some small village, and again hurrying through a city.
Now and then the car would rattle through some big piece of woods, and then Flossie and Freddie would remember how they were tossed out of the ice-boat, and how they had been so kindly cared for by Uncle Jack in his lonely log cabin.
It was late in the afternoon when, after a change of cars, the Bobbsey family got aboard a Pennsylvania railroad train that took them over the New Jersey meadows. They crossed two rivers and then Flossie and Freddie, who were eagerly looking out of the windows, suddenly found themselves in darkness.
"Oh, another tunnel!" cried Freddie.
"Is it, Daddy?" asked Flossie.
"Yes, it's a big tunnel under the Hudson River. In a little while you will be in New York."
And not long afterward the train came to a stop. The children found themselves down in a sort of big hole in the ground, for the Pennsylvania trains come into the great Thirty-third Street station far below the street.
Up the steps walked the Bobbsey family, red-capped porters carrying their hand-baggage, and, a little later, Flossie, Freddie and the others stood under the roof of the great station in New York. They were in the big city, and many things were to happen to them before they saw Lakeport again.
ON THE EXPRESS TRAIN
Mr. Bobbsey wished to ask one of the railroad men in the big station some questions about the trunks, and he also had to send a telegram, so, while he was doing these things, he told his wife and children to sit down and wait for him. Mrs. Bobbsey led Nan and Bert and Flossie and Freddie to one of the many long benches in the large depot, but the two smaller twins were so excited at being in such an immense place that they had not been seated more than a few seconds before they jumped up to gaze all about them. Bert and Nan, too, though older than their brother and sister, were much astonished at what they saw.
"Why—why!" gasped Freddie, "it's bigger than our armory at home!" for in Lakeport there was a big hall where the soldiers drilled.
"It's three times as big," said Flossie.
"Four!" declared Freddie. "Come on!" he called to his sister, "let's see how long it takes to walk around it."
"Don't go too far away," said Mrs. Bobbsey, who, for the moment, did not realize how really large the station was. "Don't get lost!" she went on.
"No'm, we won't!" promised Flossie and Freddie.
They started off to walk around the large depot, which, as you who have seen it know, takes up a whole New York City block, or "square," as you will say if you live near Philadelphia.
Mr. Bobbsey's business took him a little longer than he expected, but as Bert and Nan begged to be allowed to buy a little candy at the newspaper stand near them, and as Mrs. Bobbsey wanted a magazine, the getting of these things took a little time, so the three did not notice how long Mr. Bobbsey was away from them.
When he came back, having sent his message and found out what he wanted to know, the twins' father asked:
"Where are Flossie and Freddie?"
"They're walking around, just seeing how big the station is," said Nan.
"Trying to find out how much larger it is than our armory at home," added Bert with a laugh.
"Well, I hope they don't get lost," said Mr. Bobbsey, "This place is a good deal larger than our armory. I'd better go to look for them," he went on as a glance around, near the news stand, did not show the two little ones anywhere in sight.
"I'll come with you," offered Bert.
"No, you'd better stay here with your mother," said his father. "I don't want you getting lost, too." And he smiled at his son. "Stay right here. I'll not be long."
But if Mr. Bobbsey thought he was going to find Flossie and Freddie soon he was disappointed. He wandered about under the big glass roof, which at first the two younger twins had taken for the sky; but he did not see Flossie or Freddie.
"Has yo'all done lost suffin, boss?" inquired one of the colored porters.
"I'm looking for my two little children," explained Mr. Bobbsey. "They wandered away from their mother."
"Oh, don't yo'all worry 'bout dat, boss! Chilluns gits lost heah ebery day, an' we all easy find 'em ag'in."
"Oh, I'm not worried," answered Mr. Bobbsey, with a smile. "But it is time for us to go, and I want them. Did you see them—two little ones—about so high," and he held his hand a short distance above the stone floor. "They have light hair and blue eyes."
The porter thought for a moment. Then he said:
"Well, to tell yo' de truff, boss, we has about seben hundred blue-eyed an' light-haired chilluns in heah ebery day, and we has de same number ob dark ones, so it's mighty hard t' 'member 'em all."
"Yes, I suppose so. Well, I'll walk about I dare say I shall find them."
"I'll tell some ob de udder men," offered the porter. "We often has t' pick up lost little ones an' take 'em to de waitin' room. Ef yo' doan't find yo' tots yo'se'f, stop in dere."
"I will," said Mr. Bobbsey, and he was about to walk on when the porter called to him:
"Heah comes a light-haired, blue-eyed gal now, an' she's runnin' like she's in a hurry. Maybe she's yo'rs."
Mr. Bobbsey looked up in time to see Flossie running toward him from the front part of the station. She seemed much excited, and when she neared her father she called:
"Oh, Daddy! guess what happened!"
"I'm afraid I haven't time," said Mr. Bobbsey quickly, "We must hurry away. Where is Freddie?"
"That's what I mean! Guess what happened to him," went on Flossie, who was rather out of breath.
"I can't," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Tell me quickly, Flossie. Is he hurt?"
"Oh, no; he's all right. But he's gone off down the street, and he went into a store where there was a lot of bugs in the window, and he says he's going to buy some. I want some bugs, too!"
"What in the world is she talking about?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, who from where she sat had seen her husband and little girl and had hurried on to join them.
"She says Freddie went down the street," explained Mr. Bobbsey, "and that he——"
"Yep! He went in a store with a lot of bugs in the window!" said Flossie again. "They're great big bugs and they walk around and around and around!" and she shook her flaxen head as hard as she could, as she often did when excited.
"What in the world do you mean?" asked Nan, who, with Bert, now joined their father.
"Freddie must have gone outside the depot to go down a street," said Bert. "Maybe she means he went into an animal store, where they sell monkeys and parrots."
"No, they weren't any monkeys—nor parrots, either," said Flossie. "But some of the big bugs were green like a parrot. And we didn't go outdoors, either."
"Then show us where you did go," ordered Mr. Bobbsey quickly. "I think we can find Freddie that way. Did you go into the store with him?" he asked his little girl.
"Nope. I ran back to get the money to buy the bugs that crawl around and around and around, and go in a little door all by theirselves!" said Flossie, who was not breathing so fast now.
"What is it all about?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey. "We seem to have found a queer part of New York as soon as we arrive."
"It's over this way," and Flossie, taking her father's hand, pulled him in the direction from which she had come. Up a flight of broad stone steps she led him, the others following, until, as they approached the main entrance of the station, Flossie pointed and said:
"There's the street with all the stores on it. Freddie went down there, and we stopped in front of a window where the bugs are, that go around and around and——"
"Yes, dear, we know all about how they go around," said her mother, with a smile. "But show us where Freddie is."
"Just down the street," said Flossie. "Come on."
"Oh, I see what she means!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey. "It's the arcade. This is part of the depot—the vestibule, so to speak," he went on. "It's the entrance, and it is so big that there is room for stores on either side. It does look like a street."
And so it did, except that there were no automobiles or wagons in it—just people hurrying along. On either side of the arcade were stores, where fruit, candy, toys, flowers and other things were sold. You can imagine that a station which has room in it for many trains, automobiles and thousands of people easily has room for stores also.
"Come on—right down this way!" called Flossie, hurrying ahead of the others, "I'll show you where the bugs are."
"The bugs that go around and around and around," laughed Bert, in a low tone to Nan.
"Oh, I do hope Freddie hasn't gotten into any trouble," sighed Nan, who, though she was only ten years old, felt much more grown up than either Flossie or Freddie.
"Here are the bugs!" cried Flossie, a little later, and she stopped in front of a station toy store, in the window of which a young man was showing how big tin bugs would move along on a spring roller that was fastened beneath them. There were green, red, yellow and spotted bugs, and they did indeed go "around and around and around," as Flossie had said, and some of them steered themselves, when started by the young man, into the door of a little pasteboard house, where all the toy tin bugs seemed to live.
"There's Freddie now, buying a bug!" cried Flossie, as she saw through the store door her brother talking to a clerk. And the clerk was showing Freddie how the bug "walked" on the wooden roller which answered for legs.
"I want a bug, too!" Flossie cried, and into the store dashed the little girl. "I've brought back Papa and Mamma and Bert and Nan," Flossie explained to her brother. "They all want to see the bugs."
"Well!" exclaimed the man in the store. "This is going to be a busy day for me, I guess," and he smiled at the Bobbsey family.
"Can I have three of these bugs, Daddy?" asked Freddie, just as if he had caused no trouble at all by going off as he had done.
"I want three, too," echoed Flossie.
"Oh, what funny looking things!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey, as the clerk sent the bugs crawling "around and around."
"They are very amusing," said the salesman, "and just the thing for children. They can play many games with them and keep out of mischief."
"They'll have to be pretty good to keep these youngsters out of mischief," said Mr. Bobbsey, with a smile. "Yes, Freddie, you may have some bugs, and Flossie also. How about you, Nan and Bert?"
"I'd rather have that small aeroplane," said Bert, pointing to one that could be wound up with a rubber band and would fly for some distance.
"And I'd like that work basket," said Nan.
"Well, we'll get you all something, and then we must start for our hotel," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Come, Freddie, pick out the bugs you want, and don't run away again. You might get lost, even if you are only in the railroad station."
"I couldn't get lost—Flossie knew where I was," said Freddie. "I sent her back to bring you, so you could pay for my bugs."
Then the two younger Bobbseys looked over about all the toy tin bugs in the station store, and finally picked out those they wanted, though it took some little time. Bert's and Nan's gifts were wrapped up long before Freddie could make up his mind whether to take a blue bug, striped with green, or a purple one, spotted with yellow, finally making up his mind that the last was best.
Then, after all the baggage had been collected, the family was ready to start for the hotel where they were to stay while in New York. Mr. Bobbsey wanted to get a taxicab, but Flossie and Freddie had heard of the elevated trains, which ran "in the air," and they wanted to go in one of them, saying it would be such fun. So, as it was almost as near one way as it was the other, Mr. Bobbsey consented, and they set off for the elevated railroad.
"Oh, there goes a train!" cried Flossie, as they came in sight of the station, which was high above the street, set on iron pillars, some of which also held up the elevated track. "Just think, Freddie, we're going to ride on a high train!" Flossie was quite excited.
"I hope it doesn't fall," said Nan.
"They're made strong on purpose, so they won't fall," said Bert.
Flossie and Freddie ran on ahead up the elevated stairs, and just as their father was buying the tickets, to drop in the little box where the "chopper" stood, working up and down a long handle, a train rumbled into the station.
The iron gates of the car platforms were pulled back, several persons hurried off and others hurried on. Flossie and Freddie, thinking this was the train their parents, Bert and Nan, were going to take, and, being anxious to get seats near the window where they could look out, rushed past the ticket chopper, darted through the open gates and into one of the cars.
A LONG RIDE
Flossie and Freddie, scurrying through the gates of the elevated car just as the guard was about to close them, saw inside two rows of seats on either side, there being very few passengers in that coach. Thinking their father and mother, with Bert and Nan, were right behind them, the two little twins felt no fear, but rushed in, each one anxious to get a seat.
"I'm going to sit by a window!" cried Freddie.
"So'm I!" added Flossie, and both were soon kneeling on the rattan seats, with their noses fairly flattened against the glass of the window. The few passengers in the train smiled, for they knew the children must be from somewhere outside of New York, as the little folk of that city are not so eager to see the sights amid which they live.
It was not until the train had started, and had gone several blocks, that Flossie and Freddie thought of their father and mother. They were greatly interested in looking out of the windows, and watching the train rush past at the level of the upper stories of the houses and stores along the streets. It did seem so queer to them to be riding in a train high up in the air, instead of on the ground.
"It's lots better than a tunnel, and I used to think they were lots of fun!" said Flossie, fairly bubbling over with joy.
"It's great!" cried Freddie, and he flattened his nose out more than ever against the glass, trying to look around a corner. For he had seen in one window of a house a boy dropping from the window of his home a basket on a string, and Freddie wanted to see why he was doing this.
It is no unusual sight in New York, to see children, not much larger than the small Bobbsey twins, traveling about alone, so the other passengers and the trainmen, after the first few smiles, paid no attention to Flossie and Freddie. But the two themselves, after their first wonder at the sights they saw, began to think of their father and mother, as well as of Bert and Nan.
"Where are they?" asked Flossie, after a bit, as she turned around and sat down in her seat.
"Didn't they—didn't they come in after us?" asked Freddie, his chubby face taking on a worried look.
"I—I didn't see them," returned Flossie. "Maybe they're in another car. Let's go to look!"
To say a thing was generally to do it, with the smaller Bobbsey twins, at least, and no sooner did Flossie say this than Freddie was ready to go with her on a hunt for the others. The children slipped from their seats and started for the door while the train was moving swiftly, but a guard, who is a sort of brake-man, stopped them.
"Where are you youngsters going?" he asked good-naturedly.
"We want our father and mother," explained Freddie. "They must be in another car. We hurried on ahead."
"Well, it wouldn't be the first time that has happened," said the guard, with a laugh. "But I guess you're a little too small to go navigating around from car to car when the train's moving. What's your father's name? I'll have him called out for in the other cars."
"He's Mr. Richard Bobbsey, of Lakeport," said Flossie, "and my mother and sister and brother are with him. My sister is Nan and my brother is Bert. This is my brother, Freddie."
"Well, now I guess I know the whole family," laughed the guard, the other passengers joining in a smile. "I'll see if I can find your folks for you, though it's queer they haven't been looking for you themselves. You stay here."
The guard started to go through the other cars of the elevated train, and Freddie called after him:
"If you find my father, please tell him to open the box and take out the yellow bug."
"The yellow bug?" repeated the guard in some surprise. "Is your father an animal trainer?"
"Oh, no," said Flossie, seriously. "Freddie means one of the tin bugs that go around and around and around. And, if you please, I want a green one."
"Say, I wonder what kind of children these are, anyhow," murmured the guard. "Guess they must belong to a theatre or a circus."
"They look nice," said a man sitting near the door.
"Oh, they're all right, that's sure. Well, I'll see if I can find their folks for 'em."
Elevated railroad men in New York get used to doing queer things, and seeing strange sights, so it did not cause much excitement when the guard went into the different cars calling for Mr. Bobbsey. He had to come back to his own car once to call out "Forty-second Street," and to open the gates to let passengers off and others on. Then he closed the gates and called out: "Fiftieth Street next," After that he went again into the cars he had not been in before and called for Mr. Bobbsey, But of course that gentleman did not answer, being a station or two behind by this time.
The guard, not being able to find Mr. or Mrs. Bobbsey, or Nan and Bert, came back to where Flossie and Freddie were now rather anxiously waiting.
"Did you find him?" asked the children eagerly.
"No, I'm sorry to say your father isn't on this train. But don't worry. I'll look out for you, and your father is sure to come for you sooner or later."
"Did you find any of the bugs?" asked Freddie.
"That go around and around and around," added Flossie.
"No," said the guard, laughing, "I didn't. What about them?"
Freddie explained what he meant, and asked if the train could not be stopped while he went into the nearest toy store to buy some more of the tin, crawling toys. But the guard said this could not be done.
"I don't just know what to do with you," he said, scratching his head. "If your father thought, he could telephone to any of the stations where our train will stop—this is an express train and does not make many stops after Sixty-sixth Street till the end of the line. He could have the agent there take you off and keep you until he could come. Or, I might take you to One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Street, which is the end of the line, and have the agent there take charge of you. I don't know what to do."
Just then Flossie thought of something:
"Oh, Freddie!" she cried. "We haven't any tickets or any money, unless you have some, and the conductor will put us off!"
"I've got five cents," said Freddie, taking it out of his small pocket.
"That's only enough for a street-car ride, and this is the elevated railroad," replied his blue-eyed sister. "Oh, what shall we do?" And there was just a little tear in each eye as she looked at the guard.
"What's the matter now?" he asked kindly. "Do you want a bug?"
"No—I mean yes, but not now. We haven't any tickets and the conductor——"
"Didn't you drop your tickets in the chopper's box at the station where you got on?"
"No. We ran on ahead," explained Freddie.
"Ho! I see! You were so small that the ticket chopper didn't see you. Well, don't worry—it will be all right. The road won't lose much by carrying you two."
"You could send the bill to my father," said Flossie. "That's what mother says when she goes to buy things at the store."
"That will be all right," the guard said. "I'll see that you're not put off until the proper time comes. And you save your five cents," he added to Freddie, who was holding up the nickel. "You might want to buy some peanuts."
"Oh, that's so—for the monkeys in the park!" cried Freddie. "I forgot we were going to see them!"
By this time some of the other passengers were interested in the children, asking them many questions and learning the story of their coming to New York on a visit.
"They don't seem worried," said one woman. "And they're quite lost in this big city."
"Oh, we've been lost before," said Flossie easily. "Lots of times!"
"In the woods, too," added Freddie. "And we heard funny noises. But we weren't scared. Were we, Flossie?"
"Nope. We'll just keep on riding now until Daddy comes for us. It's fun, I think."
"And we don't have to pay for it, either," said Freddie, with satisfaction, as he put away his only piece of money. "I'm going to save this for peanuts for the monkeys."
"Will you save some for me?" asked Flossie. "I'm getting hungry."
"Maybe we'll eat these peanuts all ourselves," said Freddie, after thinking about it for a moment. "We can get some for the monkeys later afterward. I'm hungry, too."
"Well, you've got quite a long trip ahead of you," said the guard in whose car they were. "It's quite a ride to One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Street. I'll ask the gateman at the next stop if your father has telephoned about you. Just sit still."
And so Flossie and Freddie, in the elevated express train, were having a long ride all by themselves. They were not frightened now, for they were sure their father or mother would come for them soon, as he had done the day they were spilled out of the ice-boat and were taken in by Uncle Jack.
"I wonder what that nice woodchopper man is doing now?" asked Flossie. "Uncle Jack, I mean."
"I hope his pain is better," said Freddie. "Maybe we could get him work here on the elevated railroad, chopping tickets at the station." When people drop their tickets into the glass boxes at the elevated or subway stations they are "chopped" into fine pieces by the men who pump the handles up and down. "Uncle Jack chops wood," went on Freddie, "and he could easy chop tickets."
So Flossie and Freddie kept on with their long ride, talking and looking out of the train windows.
IN THE STORE
Mr. Bobbsey bought his tickets, put his change in his pocket, and turned to gather his little party together to take them through the gate, past the ticket chopper.
"Why, where are Freddie and Flossie?" he asked.
Mrs. Bobbsey, Nan, Bert, none of them, had seen the little twins rush past the ticket chopper and on to the train. All began to turn here and there excitedly, looking about for the blue-eyed boy and girl.
"Now, now," said Mr. Bobbsey, "don't worry. You, Bert, and your mother and Nan will wait here at the head of the stairs, while I go down to the street and see if the children went down there again. I'll not be gone long. If they are not close at hand, I'll come back to you before making further search. Now, as I said, don't worry. In a city children are always quickly found."
Mr. Bobbsey did as he said, but, of course, saw nothing of Freddie and Flossie, who were now having a very nice ride and a very good time indeed on the elevated express train.
By this time the ticket chopper, the agent who sold tickets, the station porter and several persons who were waiting to take a train, had heard from Nan and Bert what had happened. These people offered all sorts of advice, but Mr. Bobbsey thought it best to listen to that of the ticket agent, who, of course, would know more about the elevated trains than persons who only rode on them two or three times a day.
The ticket chopper had seen the children rush by him and on to the train, but they had gone by so quickly that he had not been able to stop them, and, as there were a good many people on the platform, he did not know to whom they belonged. So he told the ticket seller and Mr. Bobbsey that Flossie and Freddie had taken the last express train that had passed the station.
"It would have been easy enough to stop them if you'd only known it at first," said the ticket seller; "but they've got the start of you now, and after Sixty-sixth Street these express trains make only a few stops before they reach the end of the line. But I can telephone to one of the ticket sellers at one of the uptown stations and have him meet the train and take the children off."
"What will he do with them?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Oh, he'll keep 'em safe till you folks get there. The trains run pretty close together at this hour of the day. Your husband can get uptown after 'em so quick that they won't have to wait long."
"What shall we do?" asked Bert.
"We will all go on together," answered his father. "I wish we had taken an automobile to go to the hotel, and then this would not have happened. But Flossie and Freddie would have been disappointed if they had not had the first ride in an elevated train. However, I'm sure it will all come out right."
The ticket agent went into his little office to telephone on ahead, and have Flossie and Freddie taken from the train and held until their parents could claim them. Meanwhile Mr. Bobbsey and the others waited until this was done before getting on the train that was to take them far uptown in New York.
Something was the matter with the telephone in the first station which the ticket seller called up. He could not get the agent there to talk to him over the wire until the train in which Flossie and Freddie were riding, had whizzed on, after making a short stop.
"Well, I'll catch them at the next station where the train stops," the agent said. This time he managed to get in touch with the agent there, but when the latter understood, and ran out to hail the train, it was already in motion and could not be stopped.
"Well, the third time is always lucky," said the ticket seller who had offered to do what he could to help Mr. Bobbsey. "I'll be sure to catch them now."
He talked over the telephone to another agent and this one answered back that the train was just then pulling out of his station.
"But I'll yell at one of the guards," this agent called into the telephone instrument, "and tell him to put the children off at the next stop. I'll do that," and he rushed out to try to call to one of the trainmen.
"That will be One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street," said the first agent, as he came out of his little office. "That's the best I can do. Your two little children will be put off the train when it makes the stop there, and the ticket agent will look after them until you get there. You can wait for the next express, or you can take a local train here and change to the express at Sixty-sixth Street."
When the next train came along, they got on, eager and anxious to catch up to the missing children. In order not to be bothered with the hand-baggage, Mr. Bobbsey had called a taxicab and had had the chauffeur take it to the hotel were they were to stop, which was an uptown hotel, near enough to Central Park for Flossie and Freddie to walk over to see the monkeys as often as they wished.
Meanwhile the two runaway children—who really did not mean to run away—were in the express train speeding along. After their first surprise at finding themselves alone, they were not frightened, but continued to look out of the windows and to wonder at the many sights they saw.
"Well, we'll be at the end of this run some time," said the guard, who had been talking with Flossie and Freddie.
"What will you do with us then?" the little boy asked.
"Turn you over to the agent, unless we have some other word about you," the trainman answered. "Wait, we're going to stop here, and there may be a message." He hurried out on the platform.
As the train was leaving that station Flossie and Freddie saw the ticket agent run out, waving his hand, and they heard him shout something to their guard. When the latter came into their car again he said to Flossie and Freddie:
"That message was about you two. The agent said two lost children were on this train and that they were to be put off at the next station and left until their father came for them. You're the only lost children I know of."
"And we're not lost so very much," said Flossie slowly. "'Cause we are here. It's Daddy and the rest who are lost."
"Well, they'll soon be along—coming on the next train," said the guard. "I'll turn you over to the agent at One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street and you'll be all right."
This was done. The train came to a stop; many passengers got off and a kind woman took Flossie and Freddie in charge and saw that they got inside the elevated station, where the agent, who had been telephoned to, knew about them and was expecting them.
"Now, just sit right down here and be comfortable," the agent said to the Bobbsey twins. "You'll be all right, and your folks will soon come for you. I have to sit in the office and sell tickets."
The kind woman called a good-bye to the children and went away; so Flossie and Freddie were left by themselves in the elevated railroad station at One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street.
For a while they sat quietly, watching the people come in to buy tickets or get off trains. The agent did not pay much attention to them, being very busy, for it was toward the close of day when the rush was like the morning, greater than at other times.
"Say! What's that?" suddenly asked Flossie, holding up her chubby hand to tell Freddie to stop whistling, which he was trying to do.
"What's what?" he asked, looking at his sister.
"I hear music," went on Flossie.
"So do I!" exclaimed Freddie.
They both listened, and from somewhere outside they heard the sound again.
"It's a hand organ!" cried Flossie.
"No, it's a hand piano!" said Freddie. "Hear how jiggily the tune is."
"Well, it's the same thing," Flossie insisted, "I wonder if there's a monkey with it."
"Let's go downstairs and see," proposed Freddie.
Once Flossie or Freddie made up their minds to do a thing it was almost as good as done—that is, if it were not too hard. This time It seemed easy to do. They looked toward the little office in which the ticket seller had shut himself. He was busy selling tickets.
"He'll not see us," whispered Freddie. "Besides, we're coming right back as soon as we see the monkey."
"And we'll give him some peanuts," added Flossie. "You can buy some with your five cents, Freddie. And we won't give them all to the monkey. I want some."
"So do I. Come on, we'll go down."
The agent seemed to have forgotten them. At any rate his door was closed and he could not see them. None of the passengers, hurrying in to buy tickets, paid any attention to the Bobbsey twins. So, hand in hand, Flossie and Freddie went out of the station, and down the long stairs to where they could hear the music of the hand piano.
It was being played by an Italian man in the street, almost under the elevated station, and, as Flossie leaned over the stair railing to look down, she cried out:
"Oh, there is a monkey, Freddie! The man has it on a string!"
"That's good. Do you see peanuts anywhere?"
"Yes, there are some at that stand near the bottom of the stairs. Don't lose your five cents!"
Freddie hurried down with Flossie. He bought a bag of peanuts, and the children hastened across the street to where a little crowd of boys and girls stood in front of the hurdy-gurdy, or hand piano, listening to the music and watching the monkey. This will draw a crowd, even in New York, where there are many more and stranger sights to be seen.
"Oh, isn't he cute!" cried Flossie, tapping her feet on the sidewalk in time to the music.
"He's coming over this way," said Freddie. "I'm going to give him a peanut."
"But don't let him get the whole bag."
"I won't. Here, Jacko! Have a peanut!" and Freddie held out one to the hurdy-gurdy monkey.
The long-tailed animal lost no time in making a grab for it, and soon he was chewing it hungrily. The man grinding out the music shook the cord which was fast to a collar around the monkey's neck. What the street piano man wanted was pennies and five-cent pieces put in the monkey's red cap. Peanuts were good for Jacko, but money was better for his master.