THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE GREAT WEST
LAURA LEE HOPE
Author of "The Bobbsey Twins Series," "The Bunny Brown Series," "The Outdoor Girls Series," "The Six Little Bunkers Series," Etc.
NEW YORK 1920
BOOKS BY LAURA LEE HOPE izmo. Cloth, Illustrated.
THE BOBBSEY TWINS SERIES
THE BOBBSEY TWINS
THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE COUNTRY
THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE SEASHORE
THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SCHOOL
THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SNOW LODGE
THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON A HOUSEBOAT
THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT MEADOW BROOK
THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT HOME
THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN A GREAT CITY
THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON BLUEBERRY ISLAND
THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON THE DEEP BLUE SEA
THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN WASHINGTON
THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE GREAT WEST
THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON GRANDPA'S FARM
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER. SUE PLAYING CIRCUS
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT AUNT LU'S CITY HOME
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CAMP REST-A-WHILE
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE IN THE BIG WOODS
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON AN AUTO TOUR
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AND THEIR SHETLAND PONY
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE GIVING A SHOW
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CHRISTMAS TREE COVE
THE SIX LITTLE BUNKERS SERIES
SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT GRANDMA BELL'S
SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT AUNT JO'S
SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT COUSIN TOM'S
SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT GRANDPA FORD'S
SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT UNCLE FRED'S
SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT CAPTAIN BEN'S
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES
I. THE TRAIN WRECK
II. THE QUEER OLD MAN
III. MR. BOBBSEY REMEMBERS
IV. THE OLD MAN'S STORY
V. NEWS FROM THE WEST
VI. AUNT EMELINE
VII. HAPPY DAYS
VIII. OFF FOR THE WEST
IX. DINNER FOR TWO
X. FREDDIE, AS USUAL
XI. IN CHICAGO
XII. NEARING LUMBERVILLE
XIII. THE SAWMILL
XIV. THE BIG TREE
XV. BILL DAYTON
XVI. THE TRAIN CRASH
XVII. AT THE RANCH
XVIII. A RUNAWAY PONY
XIX. THE WILD STEER
XX. THE ROUND-UP
XXI. IN THE STORM
XXII. NEW NAMES
THE TRAIN WRECK
"Come on, let's make a snow man!" cried Bert Bobbsey, as he ran about in the white drifts of snow that were piled high in the yard in front of the house.
"That'll be lots of fun!" chimed in Freddie Bobbsey, who was Bert's small brother. "We can make a man, and then throw snowballs at him, and he won't care a bit; will he, Bert?"
"No, I guess a snow man doesn't care how many times you hit him with snowballs," laughed the older boy, as he tried to catch a dog that was leaping about in the drifts, barking for joy. "The more snowballs you throw at a snow man the bigger he gets," said Bert.
"Oh, Bert Bobbsey, he does not!" cried a girl with dark hair and sparkling brown eyes, as she ran along with a smaller girl holding her red-mittened hand. "A snow man can't grow any bigger! What makes you tell Freddie so?"
"Course a snow man can grow bigger!" declared Bert. "A snowball grows bigger the more you roll it in the snow, doesn't it?"
"Yes," admitted Nan—Nan being the name of the brown-eyed girl, Bert's twin sister. "I know a snowball grows bigger the more you roll it, but you don't roll a snow man!" went on the brown-eyed girl.
"Ho, ho! wouldn't that be funny?" laughed the little girl, whose hand Nan held.
"What would be funny, Flossie?" asked Freddie, and one look at the two smaller Bobbsey children would have told you that they, too, were twins. In fact the four Bobbseys were twins—that is there were two sets of them—Bert and Nan, and Flossie and Freddie. "What would be funny?" Freddie wanted to know. "Tell me! I want to laugh."
"Yes, you generally do want to laugh, little fireman!" and Bert Bobbsey laughed himself as he gave his small brother the pet name that Daddy Bobbsey had thought up some time ago. "But, as Flossie says, it would be funny to see a snow man rolling around in the drifts to make himself bigger," went on Bert.
"But you said he'd get bigger if we threw snowballs at him," insisted Nan.
"And he will," went on Bert. "You see, a snowball gets bigger when you roll it around the yard, because more snow keeps sticking to it all the while. And if we make a snow man and then throw little snowballs at him, these snowballs will stick to him and he'll grow bigger, won't he?"
"Oh, I didn't know you meant that way!" and now Nan, herself, began to laugh. Of course Flossie and Freddie joined in, though I am not sure that they knew what the joke was all about, but they were having fun in the snow and that was all they cared for.
It was a fine snow storm, at least for the Bobbsey twins and the other children of Lakeport. It was not too cold, and the white flakes had come down so fast that there was now enough snow to make many snow men and snowballs, and leave plenty for coasting down hill.
The Bobbsey twins had hurried out to play in the snow as soon as they got home from school, and now they were having fine fun. Snap, their dog, was playing with them, leaping about in the drifts, diving through them, as the Bobbsey twins had seen swimmers dive through waves down at the seashore and Snap would come out on the other side of the drift all covered with white flakes, as though he were a snow dog.
Dear old Dinah, the fat, jolly, good-natured colored cook, who had been with the Bobbseys many years, stood at the window looking at the children having fun in the snow.
"Why doesn't yo' go out an' jine 'em?" she asked, as she looked at a sleek cat that was curled up asleep near the stove. "Why doesn't yo' go out in de snow? Dat's whut I asks yo', Snoop," went on Dinah. "Dar dey is—Flossie an' Freddie an' Nan an' Bert. An' Snap's out wif 'em, too. Why don't yo' go out an' jine de party?"
But Snoop seemed to like it better by the warm fire. He didn't want to "jine" any party, as Dinah called it. Snoop didn't like snow or water.
"Well, shall we make a snow man?" asked Bert, as he raced about with Snap, making the dog chase after sticks which would become buried deep under the snow, where Snap had to dig them out. But the dog liked this.
"Let's make a snow house. I think that would be more fun," said Nan.
"Oh, yes, and I can get my doll, and we can have a play party in the snow house," cried Flossie.
"Can't we take the snow man into the snow house?" Freddie wanted to know. "That'll be more fun than dolls. And we can make believe the snow house gets on fire, and I'll be a fireman and put it out. Oh, let's play that!" he cried, his eyes shining in fun.
"Yes, anything like playing fireman suits you," returned Bert. "But it would be pretty hard even to pretend a snow house was burning. Snow can't catch fire, Freddie!"
"Well, we could make believe!" said the little fellow. "Anyhow, I'm going to start to make a snow man, and you can make the snow house."
"And I'll get my doll!" added Flossie, starting toward the house, her little fat legs and feet making holes in the snow drifts as she tried to hurry along.
"Wait, I'll carry you," offered Nan. "You're getting so fat, little fairy, that you'll look like a snow man yourself, if you keep on."
"Are snow mans always fat?" asked Flossie.
"They always seem to be," Nan said, as she lifted up her little sister in her arms. Snap, the dog, came flurrying through the snow after them. "My, I can hardly carry you!" panted Nan, for Flossie was indeed growing fast, and was heavy.
However, Nan managed to carry Flossie over to a path Mr. Bobbsey had told Sam, who was Dinah's husband, to shovel through the snow that morning. It was easier for Flossie to walk on the shoveled path, so Nan put her down.
The two girls went into the house, Flossie to get her doll, while Nan went to the kitchen and said something to Dinah, the fat, jolly cook.
"Suah, I gibs 'em to yo'!" exclaimed Dinah, laughing all over at Nan's question. "I'll put 'em in a bag, so's yo'all won't spill 'em!"
And when Flossie was ready to go out again with her doll, Nan went with her, carrying a bag, at which Snap sniffed hungrily.
"What you got?" asked the little girl.
"Oh, you'll see pretty soon," Nan answered,
"Is it a secret?" Flossie kept on teasing.
"Sort of secret," Nan answered.
When the two girls reached the place where they had left the two boys, Bert was beginning to make a snow house and Freddie was rolling a snowball as the start of a snow man. You know how they are made; a small snowball for the man's head, and a larger one for his body, with legs underneath. Freddie hoped Bert would help him when it came to the big snowball part of it.
"Is the snow house ready?" asked Flossie, who had gone in especially to get her doll, so she might have a "play party."
"Oh, no, it takes a good while to make a snow house," Bert said. "I don't believe I'll get it done before night if you don't help me."
"I'll help," offered Flossie. "Can I make the chimbley?"
"They don't have chimbleys on a snow house!" declared Freddie, pausing in his rolling of the snowball. "They don't have chimbleys on snow houses, 'cause they don't have fires in 'em; do they Bert?"
"That's right, Freddie," agreed the older boy. "But maybe, if Flossie wants it, we could put a make-believe chimney on the snow house."
"Oh, I do want it—awful much!" cried Flossie. "Come on, Nan, you help Bert make the snow house, and then we can all play in it.
"And you've got to let my snow man come in!" cried Freddie.
"Yes, we'll let him come in if you don't make him too big," agreed Bert, with a laugh.
Bert and Nan, the older Bobbsey twins, generally did what they could to please Flossie and Freddie, who sometimes wanted their own way too much.
"I guess I'll help make the snow house first," went on Freddie, walking away from the snowball he had partly rolled. "After that I'll make the man. It's better to make the house first, and then I'll know how big I can make the man."
"Yes, that would be a good idea, little fireman!" returned Bert, with a laugh and a look at Nan. And then Bert caught sight of the bag in his sister's hand—the bag around which Snap was sniffing so hungrily.
"What have you, Nan?" asked Bert, pausing in the midst of shoveling snow in a heap for the start of the snow house.
"Oh—something!" and Nan smiled.
"Something good?" Bert went on.
"I guess they're good," Nan said, smiling. "I haven't tasted 'em yet, but Dinah nearly always makes good cookies!"
"Oh, have you got some of Dinah's cookies?" cried Bert, dropping the shovel, and running toward Nan. "Give me some! Please!"
"I want some, too!" cried Flossie.
"So do I!" chimed in Freddie.
Snap didn't say anything, but from the way he barked and leaped about I am sure he, too, wanted some of the cookies.
"Dinah gave me enough for all of us," said Nan, as she opened the bag. "Yes, and there's a broken piece off one that you can have," she went on to Snap, the dog.
Beginning with Flossie, then handing one to Freddie, next passing a cookie to Bert and helping herself last, as was polite, Nan gave out the cookies. Forgotten, now, were snow houses, snow men, snowballs, and even Flossie's doll. The Bobbsey twins were eating Dinah's cookies.
They had each begun on the second helping, when suddenly a loud crash sounded, which seemed to come from the direction of the railroad tracks which ran not far from the Bobbsey home. The crash was followed by loud shouting.
"I wonder what that was?" cried Bert.
"Sounded like thunder," returned Nan.
"Let's go and see," said Bert.
Just as they were starting from the yard, Charley Mason, a boy who lived farther up the street, on the hill, came running along.
"Oh, you ought to see it!" he cried, his eyes big with wonder.
"See what?" asked Bert.
"Smash-up on the railroad, down in the rocky cut!" answered Charlie. "Two engines smashed together, and the cars are all busted! I saw it from the top of the hill! I'm going down! Come on!"
THE QUEER OLD MAN
The first impulse of Bert and Nan Bobbsey was, of course, to rush out of the yard and go with Charley Mason to see the train wreck. And, naturally, as soon as Bert and Nan began to run, Flossie and Freddie, forgetting snow men, snow houses, and even Dinah's cookies, started after their older brother and sister.
"Go on back!" cried Bert to the two smaller children. "You can't come with us!"
"We want to see the wreck!" declared Freddie. "Maybe it's on fire, an' if I'm goin' to be a fireman I must see fires!"
He always declared he was going to be a fireman when he grew up, and he was eager to see the engines every time they went out in answer to an alarm of fire.
"Come on, Bert, if you're coming!" called Charley Mason, from the street in front of the Bobbsey home. "It's a terrible wreck—cars off the track—engines all smashed up—everything!"
"Here, Nan, you take Flossie and Freddie into the house! I'm going with Charley!" said Bert.
"I want to see the wreck, too!" objected Nan. "You go into the house, Freddie, and I'll bring you a lollypop when I come back," she added. "Don't want a lollypop! I want to see the busted engines!" declared Freddie almost ready to cry.
"So do I!" chimed in Flossie. She generally did want to see the same things Freddie saw.
"Oh, dear! what shall we do?" exclaimed Nan.
Just then, from the door, Mrs. Bobbsey called:
"Children, children, what's the matter? What was that loud noise that seemed to shake the house?"
"It's a train wreck and I want to go down with Charley Mason to see it!" answered Bert. "But Flossie and Freddie want to come, and they're too little and—and—"
Then Flossie and Freddie began to talk, and so did Nan and so did Charley, and there was so much talking that I will wait a few minutes for every one to get quiet, and then go on with the story. And, while I am waiting, I will tell my new readers something about the Bobbsey twins as they have been written about in the books that come before this one in the series.
The four children lived in the eastern city of Lakeport, at the head of Lake Metoka. Mr. Bobbsey was in the lumber business, and boats on the lake in summer and trains on the railroad in winter brought piles of boards to his yard.
"The Bobbsey Twins" is the name of the first book of this series, and in it you may read of the fun Bert and Nan and Flossie and Freddie had together, playing with Charley Mason, Danny Rugg, Nellie Parks and other children of the neighborhood. Sometimes the children had little quarrels, as all boys and girls do, and, once in a while, Bert and Nan would be "mad at" Charley Mason or Danny Rugg. But they soon became friends again, and had jolly times together. Just at present Charley and Bert were on good terms.
The second book is called "The Bobbsey Twins in the Country," and those who have read it remember the summer spent on the farm of Uncle Daniel Bobbsey and his wife Sarah, who lived at Meadow Brook.
Another uncle, named William Minturn, a brother-in-law of Mrs. Bobbsey's, lived at Ocean Cliff; and in the third book, called "The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore," you may learn of the good times Bert and the others had playing on the beach and having adventures.
After that the Bobbsey twins went to school, and they spent part of a winter at Snow Lodge. Some time later they made a trip on a houseboat, and stopped again at Meadow Brook. The next adventures of the children took place at home, and from there they went to a great city where many wonderful things happened. Blueberry Island was as nice a place as the name sounds, and Bert, Nan, Flossie, and Freddie never forgot the fun they had there. It was almost as exciting as when they traveled on the deep, blue sea. But you can imagine how happy the Bobbsey twins were when their father told them he was going to take them to Washington!
The book about the Washington trip, telling of the mystery of Miss Pompret's china, comes just before the one you are now reading, and it was on their return from that capital city that the children were having fun in the snow.
Christmas had come and gone, bringing much happiness, and it was because they had discovered some of Miss Pompret's missing china in a very strange way that the Bobbsey twins had a much nicer Christmas than usual.
After the holidays winter set in hard and fast, but of course it could not last forever, and there were some who said this snow storm, which gave the Bobbsey twins such a fine chance to have fun, would be the last of the season.
It was, as I have told you, while Bert, Nan, Flossie, and Freddie were making a snow house and a snow man that they had heard the loud crash and Charley Mason had called out about the wreck.
"Has there really been an accident?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, when the talk had somewhat quieted down.
"Oh, yes'm!" exclaimed Charley. "From my house up on the hill I can look right down into the railroad cut. I was out feeding my dog, and I heard the noise and I looked and I saw the two engines all smashed together and cars off the track and a lot of people running around and—and—everything!"
Charley had to stop to catch his breath.
Mrs. Bobbsey looked down the street and saw a number of men and women and some girls and boys hurrying to the railroad tracks.
"We want to go to see it!" begged Bert.
"And we want to go, too!" pleaded Freddie.
Sam Johnson, the husband of Dinah, the cook, came around the corner of the house.
"There's somethin' must 'a' happened down by the railroad," he said to Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Yes, it's a wreck," she answered. "The children want to go, but I can't have them going alone. You may take them down, Sam, but if it is too bad—you know what I mean, too many people hurt—bring them right back."
"Yassum, I'll do that there!" agreed Sam, glad himself to get the chance to see what all the excitement was about. "Come along, chilluns!" he added, with a smile.
"Oh, now we can go!" cried Flossie, as she raced over and took one of Sam's hands. "Now we can go!"
"Yep! Sam'll take care of us. Won't you, Sam?" asked Freddie as he took the other hand. "And if there's a fire I can go near tie firemen, can't I?" he begged.
"We'll see," said the colored man, with a nod to Mrs. Bobbsey to show that he understood how to look after the smaller twins.
"Come on!" cried Charley. "I want to see that wreck!"
"So do I!" added Bert, as he hurried on ahead with Nan and Charley. Sam, leading Flossie and Freddie by the hands, followed more slowly out into the street, where the sidewalks had been cleared of snow so the walking was easier. Snap, the dog, tried to follow, but fearing that he might get hurt, Bert drove him back.
The railroad ran at the foot of the street on which the Bobbsey house stood. The street went downhill to the tracks, and the railroad passed through what Charley had called a "cut."
That is, a cut had been made through the side of the hill so the tracks would be as nearly level as possible. Sometimes, when a hill is too high the railroad has to go through it in a tunnel. And a "cut" is a tunnel with the top taken off.
As Bert, Nan, and the others hurried along the street they saw many other persons hastening in the direction of the wreck. In a cutter, drawn by a horse that had a string of jingling bells on, Dr. Brown passed, waving to the Bobbsey twins.
"I guess there must be somebody hurt, or Dr. Brown wouldn't be going," said Charley Mason.
"I guess so," agreed Bert. "I never saw a big wreck."
"Well, this is a big one!" cried Charley. "I saw the two engines all smashed up."
A little later the Bobbsey twins, in charge of Sam, came to the edge of the cut. They could look down to the railroad tracks and see the wreck. Surely enough, two trains had come together, one engine smashing into the other. Both trains were on the same track, and had been going in opposite directions. There was a curve in the cut, and neither engineer had seen the other train coming until it was too late to stop.
"Why—why, they just bunketed right together, didn't they?" cried Freddie. "They just bunketed right together, like my express wagon when it ran into Henry Watson's push-o-mobile the other day."
"That's just what happened," said Bert.
For a moment the Bobbsey twins stood and looked down at the wreck. Just as Charley had said, the two engines were smashed and there were some cars knocked off the track. But the wreck was not as bad as it had seemed at first, and I am glad to say no one was killed, though a number of people were hurt.
The Bobbsey twins could see these persons, who had been passengers on one or the other of the trains, moving about down in the railroad cut. Some of them did not seem to know just what had happened. The accident had so frightened them that they were in a daze.
Trainmen, policemen, and even some firemen, were helping the injured persons away from the wreck. There had been no fire, and, much as Freddie liked to see the engines, he was glad there was no blaze to make matters worse for the poor people who were hurt.
"Dat suah is a smash!" declared Sam, as he stood on the bank, holding the hands of Freddie and Flossie. "Dey suah did bump togedder lickity- smash!"
"Let's go down closer!" suggested Charley Mason.
Bert looked at Sam, as if asking if this might be done.
"No, indeedy!" exclaimed the faithful colored man. "Yo'all jest stay right yeah! Yo'all's ma tole me to look after yo', an' I'se gwine to do it! Yo'all kin see whut dey is to see right yeah! If you goes any closter one ob dem bullgines might blow up!"
"I don't want to be blowed up; do I, Sam?" put in Flossie.
"No, indeedy!" he answered.
"Well, I'm going down!" declared Charley.
And, not having any one with him to make him mind, he slid down the snow-covered bank to the tracks, where there was quite a large crowd now gathered.
The railroad men were starting to work to get the wreck off the tracks, so other trains might pass. The injured persons were being cared for by Dr. Brown and others, and the worst of the wreck seemed over. Still there was much for the Bobbsey twins to look at.
Flossie and Freddie kept tight hold of Sam's hand, and Bert and Nan stood a little way off, gazing down into the cut. As the Bobbsey twins stood there they saw, climbing up a narrow foot-path on the side of the railroad hill, a queer old man. He was dressed somewhat as the children had seen Uncle Daniel Bobbsey dress on a cold day at the farm, with a red scarf about his neck. And this man was carrying his hat in one hand while in the other he held a banana half-pealed and eaten.
The queer man seemed very much frightened, and he was hurrying up the hill path as though trying to run away from something. Bert had just time to see that there was a cut on the man's head, which was bleeding, when, all at once, the queer character cried:
"There! I forgot my satchel! I thought this was it!" and he looked at the banana he was carrying. He turned, as though to hurry back down toward the wreck, and then he slipped and fell in the snow.
"Mah goodness!" cried Sam, as he dropped the hands of the smaller Bobbsey twins and sprang toward the man. "You's gwine to slide right down on de tracks ag'in ef you don't be keerful!" And Sam caught the queer man just in time.
MR. BOBBSEY REMEMBERS
The Bobbsey twins at first did not know what to think of the queer man who had fallen down in the snow just as he reached the top of the hill, at the bottom of which was the train wreck. But when Bert noticed the bleeding cut on the head he guessed what had happened.
"I guess he was one of the passengers, and got hurt," said the boy to Nan.
"I guess so, too." she said.
Flossie and Freddie, not having Sam's hand to take hold of now, were holding each other's and watching the colored man help the stranger.
"Hold on now! Jest take it easy!" advised Sam, in, a soothing voice. "Yo's gwine to feel better soon. Is you much hurted?"
The man seemed more dazed than ever. He put his hand to his head, letting go of the banana he had been holding, and when he saw that his fingers were red, because they had touched the bloody cut, he exclaimed:
"Oh, now I remember what happened! I was in the train wreck!"
"That's right! I guess you was," said Sam, "You come up de hill from down by de railroad tracks, an' you done slipped back down ag'in almost! I jest caught you in time!"
"Thank you," said the man. "I really didn't know what I was doing. All I wanted to do was to get away from the wreck, and I took the first path I saw. I must have got out of breath, for when I reached the top of the hill I couldn't go any more, and I just slipped down."
"I saw you!" exclaimed Sam. "Maybe dat whack you got on top ob yo' haid makes you feel funny."
"I rather think it does," said the man. "But I'm feeling better now. When the crash came I jumped out of my seat—as soon as I could get up after being knocked down—and rushed out of the car. I must have been wandering around for some time. Then I saw this path leading up the hill and I took it."
"Why didn't you put your hat on?" asked Bert, who, with the other Bobbsey twins, had been looking closely at the stranger.
"My hat? That's so, I did forget to put it on," he said, and, for the first time, he seemed to remember that he was carrying his hat in his hand.
"You might catch cold," remarked Nan.
"That's right, little girl—so I might," he said, and he smiled at her. He had a kind smile, had the man, though his face looked weary and sad.
"Did you get much hurt in the wreck?" asked Bert.
"No, I think not," was the answer, and again he put his hand to his head. "It's only a cut, I'm thankful to say. I'll be all right in a little while. I'll hold a little snow to it. That will wash the blood off, as well as water would."
With Sam's help, he now managed to stand up. The colored man took up a handful of snow and gave it to the stranger, who held it to the cut on his head. The cold snow seemed to make him feel better, and when he had wiped away the blood he put on his hat, shook the snow from his overcoat, and looked at the banana which he had dropped in a drift.
"Well, I do declare!" cried the stranger.
"What's de mattah?" asked Sam.
"Why, all the while I thought that banana was my satchel," was the answer. "I was eating it when the crash came—eating the banana I mean, not my satchel," and he smiled at Bert and Nan, who smiled back at this little joke. Flossie and Freddie stood there looking on.
"I was sitting in my seat, eating this banana," went on the man, "when, all of a sudden, there was a terrible crash, and I was so shaken up, together with a lot of other passengers, that I fell out of my seat. That's how my head was cut, I suppose. I thought I was grabbing up my satchel, so I could run out and be safe, but I must have kept hold of the banana instead.
"I know I got my hat down from the rack overhead, where I had put it, and then out I rushed. My! it was a terrible sight, though I heard it said that nobody was killed, and I'm glad of that. But it was a terrific crash, and it made me feel dizzy. I evidently didn't know what I was doing."
"I should think so, sah!" exclaimed Sam with a smile. "When a body takes a banana for a satchel he's jest natchully out ob his mind I say!"
"I didn't seem to come to myself until I got up here on top of the hill," went on the man "But I'm feeling better now. I'm not really hurt at all, except this cut on my head, and that's only a scratch. I'm going down and get my satchel. I can see the car I was in. It isn't smashed at all. I'll go for my valise."
"I'll go with you," offered Sam. "You chilluns stay heah till I come back," he went on. "Don't move away. I got to he'p dis gen'man find his baggage."
"It will be a great help to me," said the man.
"I might get dizzy again and fall. It's rather steep going down that hill. Will the children be all right if you leave them?"
"Yes, we'll stay right here," promised Nan.
"And we'll look after Flossie and Freddie," added Bert
With this promise, Sam thought it would be all right to go down to the wreck and help the stranger look for the valise he had left near his seat in the car. While the two men were gone, the colored servant helping the other, the Bobbsey twins watched the railroad men starting to clear away the wreck. A big derrick had been brought up on another train, and with this the engines and cars that had left the tracks could be lifted back on to them.
In a short time Sam came back with the man, and the colored helper at the Bobbsey home was carrying a large valise.
"We found it all right," said the stranger. "It was right near my seat. I might have stayed there, but I was so excited I didn't know what I was doing. What place is this, anyhow?"
"This is Lakeport," answered Bert. "The station's down the track a little way. Your train hadn't got to it yet."
"No, the other train got in the way," said the man with a smile. "Well, accidents will happen, I suppose. So this is Lakeport! Well, this is the very place I was coming to, but I didn't expect to reach it amid so much excitement."
"You were coming here?" repeated Nan.
"To Lakeport, yes. I want to find a Mr. Richard Bobbsey. Maybe you children can tell me where he lives."
The Bobbsey twins looked so surprised on hearing this that the man gazed at them in astonishment.
"Do you know Mr. Bobbsey?" he asked. "I hope he hasn't moved away from here. I want to see him most particularly. Do you know him?"
"Does dey know him!" exclaimed Sam, his eyes opening wide. "Does dey know him? Well I should say dey does!"
"He's our father!" exclaimed Nan and Bert together.
"Mr. Bobbsey your father! Well, I do declare!" cried the strange man, and he smiled at the children. They were beginning to like him very much. "Just think of that now!" he went on. "My railroad train gets in a wreck right near Lakeport, where I want to get off, and first I know I run into Mr. Bobbsey's children! Well, well! To think of that!"
"Here comes daddy now!" cried Flossie, pointing to a figure walking over the snow toward them.
"Oh, Daddy, I saw the train wreck!" yelled Freddie. "And I saw the firemans, I did, but they didn't have any engines, and I—I—I saw—" But Freddie was too much out of breath from running to meet his father to tell any more just then.
It was indeed Mr. Bobbsey who had come along just then. He had come home earlier than usual from the lumberyard office, and his wife had told him that the children had gone down the street with Sam to look at the railroad wreck.
"I'll go down and bring them back," said Mr. Bobbsey, "I heard about the wreck. It isn't as bad as at first they thought it was. No one was killed."
"I'm glad of that," replied his wife. "I told Sam to bring the children back if it was too bad."
So it had come about that Mr. Bobbsey reached the top of the cut, down in which the railroad wreck was, just as the strange man was asking the Bobbsey children about their father.
"Well, little fireman and little fat fairy," asked Mr. Bobbsey of Flossie and Freddie, "did you see all there was to see?"
"I saw the engines all smashed together," answered Flossie.
"And I saw a fireman help get a lady out of a car," added Freddie.
"Is this Mr. Bobbsey?" asked the voice of the man, as he stepped forward and stood near the children's father.
"Yes, that is my name," was the answer. "Did you wish to see me?"
"I came all the way to Lakeport for that," the stranger went on; "but I didn't mean to come in just this exciting way."
"Were you in the wreck?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.
"Oh, yes, he was in it, and he thought a banana was his satchel!" exclaimed Flossie, "Wasn't that funny, Daddy?"
Mr. Bobbsey did not quite know what to make of this.
"Your little girl is quite right," said the man. "I was so excited, from being in the wreck, where I got a cut on the head, that I rushed from the car carrying a banana instead of my valise.
"However, I'm all right now, and Sam here, as the children call him, was good enough to help me get back my satchel," went on the man. "I was just telling the children that I came here to find Mr. Bobbsey, when, to my great surprise, they let me know that he is their father, and along you came."
"Yes, these are my youngsters," said Mr. Bobbsey, smiling at Bert and Nan and Flossie and Freddie. "Sam Johnson helps us look after them, and his wife, Dinah, cooks for us. But what did you want to see me about?" and he looked at the man.
"Don't you remember me?" came the question.
Mr. Bobbsey looked more closely at the stranger. He did not recognize him.
"Hickson is my name," said the man.
"Hiram Hickson. I used to know you when—"
"Oh, now I remember! Now I know you!" cried Mr. Bobbsey. "Hiram Hickson! Of course! I remember you well now! Well, well! This is a surprise! How did you come—"
But just then a loud shouting in the railroad cut below caused Mr. Bobbsey to stop speaking.
"Look out! Look out!" came the cry, and people began rushing away from the cars, some of which were almost overturned, while others were completely on their side. "Look out!" cried the warning voice again.
THE OLD MAN'S STORY
Mr. Bobbsey caught Flossie and Freddie up in his arms and started to run with them. At the same time Sam Johnson pulled Nan to one side, catching hold of her hand, and the strange man, who had said he was Hiram Hickson, took hold of Bert.
"We'd better get out of harm's way!" said Mr. Hickson.
As the Bobbsey twins were thus hurried out of any possible danger the two older children looked back over their shoulders, down to where the railroad wreck was strewed about along the tracks. They saw the railroad men and other persons running away after the warning shout had been given, and Bert and Nan wondered what was going to happen.
They saw a big puff of steam shoot out from one of the engines that was partly overturned, and then came a loud noise, as of an explosion.
A few moments later, however, the cloud of steam was blown away by the wind, the noise stopped, and the people no longer ran away.
"I guess the danger is over," said Mr. Bobbsey, as he stopped and set Flossie and Freddie down on the ground a little way back from the edge of the cliff, from which they had been looking at the train wreck. "In fact," went on Mr. Bobbsey, "I don't believe we would have been hurt if we had stayed where we were. But when I heard that shouting I didn't know what was going to happen."
"That's right," returned Mr. Hickson, who had let go of Bert. "You never know what is going to happen in a railroad wreck. I didn't have any idea, when I was riding so easily in my seat, that, a minute later, I'd be thrown out with my head cut and a banana in my hand."
"What happened down there, Daddy?" asked Nan.
"There must have been a blow-out, or an explosion, in the locomotive," answered Mr. Bobbsey. "The fire got too hot after the wreck, and the steam burst out at one side of the boiler. But no one seems to be hurt, and I'm glad of that. The wreck was bad enough."
The railroad men and others who had run out of danger when some one, who saw the boiler about to explode, had given the warning, now came back. They started again to clear the tracks so that waiting trains could pass.
"Well, I don't believe there's much more to see," said Mr. Bobbsey. "We'd better be getting back home, children, or your mother will worry about you."
"Can't I stay and see the firemen just a little longer?" begged Freddie.
"I don't believe they are going to do much more," answered his father. "Their work is nearly done. All the people who were hurt have been taken away."
This was true. The scene of the wreck was now being cleared, and in a little while the damaged engine and cars would be hauled away to the shops to be mended.
"Did you get everything belonging to you, Mr. Hickson?" asked Mr. Bobbsey of the man who had been slightly hurt in the wreck.
"Yes, I have my satchel," he answered. "And as I was going to get out at the Lakeport station I'm right at the place where I was going, even if there had been no wreck." "And so you were coming to see me, were you?" asked Mr. Bobbsey. "Well, I don't know what your plans are, but I would be very glad to have you come to supper with me."
"Maybe your wife mightn't like it," said Mr. Hickson. "She might not be ready for company, and I'd better tell you that I'm quite hungry."
"So'm I!" exclaimed Freddie. "I'm hungry, and I eat a lot. But Dinah— she's our cook—has lots to eat in her kitchen!"
"Well, then maybe she'd have enough for me," replied Mr. Hickson, with a laugh. "If you're sure it won't put your wife out I'll come," he said to Mr. Bobbsey. "I want to see you, anyhow, and have a talk with you. I want to ask your advice."
"Very well, come along, then," returned the children's father.
"We can talk after supper," went on Mr. Bobbsey, as the little party walked along the Lakeport street away from the railroad wreck. "That is, if you feel able, Mr. Hickson."
"Oh, I'm beginning to feel all right again," said Mr. Hickson. "I was pretty well shaken up and knocked around when the cars stopped so suddenly, and I was a bit dazed, so I didn't know what I was doing— taking a banana for my satchel, for instance!" And he smiled at Flossie and Freddie, who laughed as they remembered how queer this had seemed to them.
"Yes, I'm all right now, Dick," went on the old man, and Bert and Nan wondered how it was that this stranger called their father by the name their mother used in speaking to her husband.
Mr. Bobbsey saw that Bert and Nan were wondering about this, and he explained by saying that he and Mr. Hickson had known each other for many years.
"We used to know one another," said Mr. Bobbsey to his children. "But it's been a good many years since I have seen him."
"Yes, it has been a good many years," said Mr. Hickson, in rather a sad voice. "And they haven't been altogether happy years for me, either; I can tell you that, Dick."
"I'm sorry to hear you say so," replied Mr. Bobbsey.
"Were you in lots of railroad wrecks, and did the firemans have to come and get you out?" asked Freddie. To him railroad wrecks seemed very bad things, indeed, though having the firemen come was something he always liked to watch.
"No, this is the only railroad wreck I have ever been in," said Mr. Hickson. "I don't want to be in another, either. No, my bad luck didn't have anything to do with wrecks or firemen. I'll tell you my story after supper," he said to Mr. Bobbsey.
"Will you tell us a story, too?" begged Flossie.
"I'm afraid my kind of story isn't the kind you want to hear," said the man, smiling rather sadly.
"Daddy will tell you a story, little fat fairy!" said Mr. Bobbsey as he gently pinched the chubby cheek of his little girl. "I'll tell you and my little fireman a story after supper."
Flossie and Freddie clapped their hands and danced along the sidewalk in glee at hearing this.
The little party was soon at the Bobbsey home, and you can imagine how surprised Mrs. Bobbsey was when she saw, not only her husband, the children, and Sam coming in the gate, but a strange man. She must have shown the surprise she felt, for Mr. Bobbsey said:
"Mary, you remember Hiram Hickson, don't you? He and I used to know each other when I was a boy in Cedarville."
"Why, of course I remember you!" said the children's mother. "Though I don't know that I should have known you if I had met you in the street."
"No, I've changed a lot, I suppose," said the old man.
"And you have been in the wreck! You are hurt!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey. "Shall I get a doctor?"
"Oh, I'm not hurt anything to speak of," said the man. "Just shaken up a bit and scratched. I'll be all right once I get a cup of tea."
After supper Flossie and Freddie, as had been promised, were taken up on their father's lap, and they listened to one of daddy's wonderful make-believe stories.
"Please put a fairy in it!" Flossie had begged.
"And I want a fireman in it!" exclaimed Freddie.
"Very well then, I'll tell about a fairy fireman who used to put out fires by squirting magical water on them from a morning glory flower," said Mr. Bobbsey.
This pleased both the little children, and when they had listened to the very end, with eyes that were almost closed in sleep, they were taken off to bed.
"Now, if you'll come with me to the library I'll let you tell me your story," said Mr. Bobbsey to Hiram Hickson.
Bert and Nan, who did not have to go to bed as early as did Flossie and Freddie, rather hoped they might sit up and hear the queer man's story. But in this they were disappointed.
However, Mr. Bobbsey let them hear, the next morning, the reason why Mr. Hickson had traveled to Lakeport.
"He really was coming to see me," said Mr. Bobbsey. "He wants work, he says, and, as he knows something of the lumber trade and as he knew I had a lumberyard, he came to me."
"But hasn't he any folks of his own?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey who, like the children, was listening to her husband.
"He has two sons, but he doesn't know where they are," answered Mr. Bobbsey.
"Did they get hurt in railroad wrecks?" asked Freddie.
"No, I don't believe so," replied his father. "It is rather a sad story. Hiram Hickson is a strange man. He is kind, but he is queer, and once, many years ago, while his two boys were living with him, there was a quarrel. Mr. Hickson says, now, that it was his fault. Anyhow, his two boys ran away, and he has never seen them since."
"Doesn't he know where they are?" asked Bert.
"No, he hasn't the least idea. At first he didn't try to find them, for he was angry with them, and he thinks they were angry with him. But, as the years passed, and he felt that he had not done exactly right toward his boys, he began to wish he could find them.
"But he could not, though he wrote to many places. His wife was dead, and he was left all alone in the world. He has a little money, but not much, and, as he is strong and healthy, he felt that he wanted to go to work. He has about given up, now, trying to find his two boys, William—or Bill, as he usually called him—and Charles, and what he wants is a home and some work by which he can make a living."
"Where is he going to work?" asked Nan
"He is going to work in my lumberyard," answered her father. "I need a good, honest man, and though Hiram Hickson is a bit queer, I know he is good and honest. I am going to give him work."
"And where is he going to live?" asked Bert.
"Here, with us, for a while," answered Mr. Bobbsey. "We have room for him, and, as he is an old friend, and as he was once very kind to me, I want to do all I can for him.
"I said he could have a room in the house but he says he is used to living alone of late and so he is going to take one of the rooms over the stable, or what used to be the stable, before we got the automobile. Dinah and Sam have their rooms there, but there is another room for Mr. Hickson. So he will be like part of the family, and I want you children to be kind to him, as he has had trouble."
"I like him!" declared Bert.
"So do I," said Nan.
"Come, children," said their mother, "it is time to go to school; and there goes Mr. Hickson to work in daddy's lumberyard!"
NEWS FROM THE WEST
The Bobbsey twins looked from the window and saw Hiram Hickson walking through the yard on his way from the garage. He had slept all night in the comfortable room in the former stable, where Dinah and Sam also lived.
As the old man passed he saw Flossie and Freddie and Bert and Nan looking from the window at him. He smiled up at the children, and waved his hand to them.
"He looks a little like Uncle Daniel, doesn't he?" remarked Bert.
"Yes," agreed Nan. "Only his hair is whiter. I guess he's had lots of troubles."
"Maybe about his two sons," Bert went on, as the old man passed from sight toward the lumberyard. "I wish we could help him find them."
"I don't see how we could ever do that," returned Nan.
Flossie and Freddie stood with their noses pressed against the window glass, looking at Mr. Hickson until he was out of sight down the street. Then they got down off the chairs on which they had been kneeling, and Freddie asked:
"May I have an apple dumpling to take to school, Mother?"
"An apple dumpling to take to school!" she exclaimed. "Why, what in the world do you want to do that for?"
"I want it to eat at recess," explained the little fellow. "All the boys bring something to eat."
"And so do the girls," added Flossie. "I want something to eat, too. And Dinah is baking apple dumplings this morning—I smelled 'em when she opened the oven door."
"Well, I'm afraid apple dumplings are too big to take to school for a recess lunch," said Mrs. Bobbsey with a laugh. "I'll get Dinah to give you some cookies, though."
And Dinah not only gave some to Flossie and Freddie, but to Bert and Nan. Then, happy and laughing, the Bobbsey twins started for school.
"Did you go down and see the big railroad wreck yesterday?" asked Danny Rugg of Bert at the school-yard gate.
"Sure I saw it," was the answer.
"And we got a man out of it, too," said Nan.
"You got a man out of the wreck! What do you mean?" exclaimed Danny. "Did you go down and pull him out?"
"No," Nan went on. "But we saw him, and he's at our house now."
"He works for my father," said Bert, and he told the story of Hiram Hickson, not speaking, however, about the two sons of the old man who had run away from him because of a quarrel. Bert did not think his father would like to have him tell this outside the family.
"I was right close to the engine when it puffed out a lot of steam," said Danny Rugg. "And I ran away like anything!"
"So did we!" said Bert.
All the boys and girls were talking about the wreck that morning, and because they had had such a curious part in it—having at their home one of the passengers who had been hurt—Bert and Nan were the center of a little throng that wanted to hear, over and over again, about it. So the older Bobbsey twins told all they knew concerning it from the time of having first heard about the wreck from Charley Mason until they came home accompanied by Hiram Hickson, who had been slightly hurt in the accident.
"Is he all right now?" Danny Rugg wanted to know.
"Oh, yes. He's gone to work in my father's lumberyard," explained Bert. "I'm going to stop in to see him this afternoon."
"Can't we go, too?" asked Danny, as he and Charley Mason walked back into the school with Bert, some of the talk having taken place at recess.
"Yes, I guess so," was the answer.
Bert often stopped at the lumberyard on his way home from school. He liked to play among the piles of logs and sawed boards, as did the other boys. Flossie and Freddie liked this, too, but they were not allowed to climb around on the lumber piles unless their father or some other older person was with them. Often Bert and Nan made "sea- saws" on a lumber pile, but to-day Nan wanted to hurry home with Grace Lavine and Nellie Parks, for they had a new story book they were reading together, and over which they were very much excited, each pretending she was one of the principal characters.
So, after school was out, and the cookies which Dinah had given the children had been eaten down to the last crumbs, Nan took Flossie and Freddie home with her, and Bert and some of his boy chums went to the lumberyard. On the way they made snowballs and threw them at trees and fences.
"There he is!" said Bert to Charley and Danny, as they saw Mr. Hickson measuring a pile of boards and marking the lengths down in a book. "There's the man that came out of the railroad wreck!"
"Pooh, he isn't hurt a bit!" exclaimed Danny Rugg. "I thought you said his head was cut, Bert Bobbsey!"
"'Tis cut!" declared Bert. "Isn't your head cut, and weren't you hurt in the railroad wreck?" cried Bert, as Mr. Hickson waved his hand in greeting.
"Well, it isn't cut much—you can see where it is," and, taking off his hat, the old man showed the boys a piece of sticking plaster which had been put over the cut.
"There! What'd I tell you?" cried Bert.
Danny and Charley said nothing. They were satisfied now that they had actually seen the man himself and the cut he had got in the wreck.
The three boys played about on the lumber piles until it was time for them to go home, and Bert promised to bring his chums next day to have more fun on the masses of lumber. Some of the boards were so stacked up that there were spaces between, and these the boys played were "robber-caves."
It was nearing the end of winter when the railroad wreck had taken place. There was still plenty of snow and ice, but the sun was slowly working his way back from the south, where he had stayed so long, and each day brought spring nearer.
Mr. Hickson continued to live in his room over the Bobbsey garage. He liked it there, and he liked his work in the lumberyard. Mr. Bobbsey said the former Cedarville man was a good helper, and he was glad he had been able to hire him.
"And do you think he'll ever find his two boys?" asked Bert one day, when he and Nan had been talking to their father about Mr. Hickson.
"I'm afraid he'll never find them now, it has been so many years since they went away," explained Mr. Bobbsey. "They were boys then, sixteen or seventeen years old, and now they would be grown men. No, I don't believe Mr. Hickson will ever find his sons, though I wish he might, for I think it would make him much happier."
Bert and Nan wished they might help their father's friend to find his sons, but they did not see how it could be done. They even talked about it to Miss Pompret, the woman whose rare china they had so strangely discovered.
"Well, you Bobbsey twins are very lucky," said Miss Pompret, when Nan and Bert were at her house one early spring day. "You were very lucky about my china, and maybe you will be lucky about Mr. Hickson's sons. I hope he finds them. It is very sad to be old and to have no one in the world who really belongs to you. I hope you may be able to help him."
As has been said, the spring had come. The Bobbsey twins and the other children of Lakeport had made the most of winter while it lasted. They had built snow houses, snow men and had had snowball battles—at least—Bert, Charley Mason and Danny Rugg and the bigger boys, as well as Nan and her particular girl friends, had. The smaller ones, like Freddie, had coasted downhill on their sleds. This was fun in which Flossie also shared.
April came with plenty of showers, but the showers brought the May flowers, just as it says in the little verse. And then came June, which seemed the best month of all.
"Aren't you glad?" asked Bert of Nan, as four Bobbsey twins were on their way to school one beautiful June morning, when the birds were singing and the flowers in the yards along the way were all in blossom.
"Glad? What for?" asked Nan.
"'Cause school will soon be over and we'll have a long vacation," answered Bert.
"Oh, that's so!" agreed Nan. "We have only a few more weeks of school. I hope I pass my examinations."
"I hope so, too," agreed Bert. "I'm going to study real hard."
"So'm I!" murmured Nan. "Oh, look! There goes Mr. Hickson on a pile of daddy's lumber!" she cried. "Maybe he'll give us a ride to school."
They shouted to the old man, who was now one of the best of Mr. Bobbsey's helpers in the lumberyard.
"Whoa, Esmeralda!" called Mr. Hickson to the horse he was driving. "What is it?" he asked of the Bobbsey twins, who were on the sidewalk. "Did you want me?" he asked. "The boards rattle so I couldn't hear what you said. There hasn't been another railroad wreck, has there?" and he smiled.
"No," answered Bert. "But could you give us a ride to school, if you're going down that way?"
"I am and I will," answered Mr. Hickson. "Wait a minute, Flossie and Freddie," he called to the smaller children. "I'll help you up. Now don't run away, Esmeralda!" he called to the horse.
"Oh, she won't run! She's the slowest horse daddy has!" laughed Nan.
"She's a good horse, though," said Mr. Hickson, as he carefully put Flossie and Freddie up on the boards on the wagon. "Yes, she's a good horse, but she's getting old like me. Now are you up, Bert and Nan?" he asked, as he saw Bert helping his sister to her place.
"All ready!" Bert answered.
"Get along, Esmeralda!" called the man to the horse, and so the Bobbsey twins had a ride to school.
"Let's go down and play on your father's lumber piles to-day," said Danny Rugg to Bert, when school was out in the afternoon.
"Yes, we had a dandy time the other day!" chimed in Charley Mason. "Let's go again."
"All right, we'll go!" agreed Bert.
But when he and the two boys reached the yard where the sweet-smelling boards were piled in great heaps, Bert saw his father coming from the office.
"May we play on the lumber?" asked Bert.
"Yes, but come home early," Mr. Bobbsey answered. "I'm going home now, Bert, and I think you'd better come soon."
"Is anything the matter?" asked the boy, for he knew it was early for his father to leave his office unless something had happened.
"Nothing serious," was the answer. "But I have just had some strange news from the West, and I want to tell your mother about it. The news came in a letter, and it may make a big change in our plans for the summer."
When Bert Bobbsey reached home that afternoon, having stopped his play on the lumber piles with Charley and Danny earlier than usual, the small boy saw his father and mother talking together on the side porch. Nan, Nellie Parks, and Grace Lavine were down in the yard under the shady grapevine playing.
"Well, I don't see anything for us to do except to go out West," Bert heard his father saying.
"Oh, do you really mean that?" cried the boy. "Are we going out West where there are Indians and cowboys and ponies and mountains and—and everything?"
His eyes were wide open with excitement.
"I didn't think you were around, or I wouldn't have spoken so loudly," said Mr. Bobbsey, with a laugh.
"But, tell me, Daddy! Are we really going out West?" asked Bert. "I've always wanted to go there, and I guess Nan has, too."
"Oh, you can depend upon it, Nan will always want to go where you go, and so will Flossie and Freddie, for that matter!" said Mrs. Bobbsey, with a laugh.
Bert had passed his small brother and sister as he entered the yard. They were playing with a little cart of Freddie's, and, as you can easily guess, Freddie was pretending he was a fireman.
"When are we going?" asked Bert. "Can't we go right away? School is almost over, and I know I'm going to pass 'cause the teacher said so. Nan is, too!"
"My, but you are getting in a hurry!" said Mr. Bobbsey. "We have only just begun to talk of the West and here you are stopping school to go."
"But what is it all about?" Bert went on. "Why do you have to go out West, Daddy? Aren't you going to have the lumberyard any more?"
"Oh, indeed I am, and perhaps a larger one than before if things turn out the way I expect," answered Mr. Bobbsey. "But here comes Nan," he went on. "I think we might as well tell her and Bert all about it," he said to his wife. "If we go out West Bert and Nan will have to make believe they are almost grown up."
"What's it all about?" asked Nan, as she sat down on the steps beside her brother. Grace and Nellie had gone home to help their mothers get supper.
"Well, to begin at the beginning," said Mr. Bobbsey, "I had a letter to-day from some lawyers out West. Children, your mother has been left a cattle ranch and a lumber tract by a relative who died and made his will in your mother's favor."
"A cattle ranch?" cried Nan. "Oh, I know what that is! We have a picture of one in our geography! There's a lot of cattle in the picture, and cowboys are catching them with lassos."
"Yes, that's one of the things that happen on a ranch," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Well, your mother now owns one of those."
"She does?" cried Nan with wide-open eyes. "Oh, what are you going to do with it?"
"I'm going to be a cowboy on it!" decided Bert, as quickly as that. "I've always wanted to be a cowboy, and now I'm going to. When can I go on your ranch, Mother?" and jumping up eagerly he stood beside her, waiting for her answer.
"Oh, but, dear boy! I don't know anything about it yet," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "The letter has just come, and your father and I were talking over the news when you came. Poor Uncle Watson! I never knew him very well, though I had heard he was quite rich. But I never expected he would leave me his fine ranch, to say nothing of a lumber tract."
"What's a lumber tract?" Nan asked. "Is it a lumberyard like yours, Daddy?"
"No, my dear," answered Mr. Bobbsey. "A lumber tract is what you children would call big woods. It is a place where trees grow that may be cut down and made into lumber. All the boards and planks in my lumberyard were once big trees, growing out West, or up North, or down South. Now it seems that your mother's uncle owned a big forest of trees where lumber is cut, as well as owning a cattle ranch."
"And has he left them both to you?" asked Bert.
"Yes," his mother answered. "And the letter from the lawyers who made Uncle Watson's will tells me that I had better come out to look after the property that has been left to me."
"Are you going?" Nan wanted to know.
"I think I must," Mrs. Bobbsey replied. "It isn't every day I have so much property given me. I must go out West to look after it. But daddy is coming with me, so I'll be all right."
"Hurray!" cried Bert, tossing his hat into the air.
"What are you 'hurrahing' about?" asked his father.
"'Cause I'm going to be a cowboy on mother's ranch!" answered Bert. "Whoop-la! I'll be a lumberman, too, part of the time!"
"Now wait a minute, Son," said Mr. Bobbsey gently. "I don't want to spoil your fun, but we can't take you out West with us."
"You can't?" cried Bert. "Why, I thought we could all go—Nan, Flossie, Freddie, everybody!"
"No, I don't see how we can take you children," said Mr. Bobbsey, while his wife also shook her head. "You see we have to leave in a hurry, and it would not do to take you youngsters out of school. We will not be gone longer than we can help."
"And have we got to stay here all alone?" asked Nan, and there was a suspicion of tears in her voice.
"You won't mind staying here," said her mother. "There will be Dinah to cook for you and to look after Freddie and Flossie. Sam will be around the house all the while, and there will be Mr. Hickson, too. Besides this we have a surprise for you."
"What is it?" cried Bert. "Are you going to take us after all? Oh, say you are! Tell me you were only fooling when you said we would have to stay here all alone!"
"No, I wasn't fooling," replied his mother. "I don't really see how we can take you children West with us. But the surprise is this. I am going to ask Aunt Emeline to come and stay with you, to keep house for you while your father and I are away. Aunt Emeline will come."
"Oh, Aunt Emeline!" gasped Nan.
"Aunt Emeline!" cried Bert. "Why she—she—"
Then he stopped short. He knew what he had been going to say was not polite.
"Aunt Emeline will be very kind to you," went on Mrs. Bobbsey. "I will go in and write to her now, asking her to come."
"And I must go in and telephone," said Mr. Bobbsey. "If I am to go West I shall have a lot of work to do to get ready."
Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey entered the house, leaving Nan and Bert sitting out on the steps. For a moment or two the Bobbsey twins said nothing. They could hear Flossie and Freddie in the front yard laughing together as they played their games. Then Bert looked at Nan.
"Aunt Emeline!" he said, in a strange voice.
"Aunt Emeline!" responded Nan, and she sighed.
"I'll have to wipe my feet three times every time I come into the house once!" went on Bert, in a grumbly voice. "She'll always be looking at my hands to see if they're clean and—and—Oh, I don't want Aunt Emeline to come!" he exclaimed.
"She never likes to have me run," said Nan, and her voice was gloomy. "She won't want me to have the other girls in here to play up in the attic, and she doesn't believe in eating cookies between meals!"
"It's going to be awful—terrible!" exclaimed Bert. "I know what I'm going to do!" he declared desperately.
"What?" asked Nan, in a frightened sort of voice.
"I'm going to run away, like Mr. Hickson's boys did!" Bert went on. "You can run away with me if you want to, Nan!" he added. "I'm going to be a cowboy and you can be the cook at the ranch."
"What ranch?" asked Nan.
"The one mother is going to get by Uncle Watson's will," explained her brother. "That's where I'm going to run to. I wouldn't run away to just any old place, but mother and father won't mind if I run off to our own ranch. They'll be glad to see me. Will you come, Nan?"
His sister shook her head.
"No," she answered. "Aunt Emeline is terrible, but she isn't bad enough to run away from, and maybe she'll be different now."
"She can't ever be any different," declared Bert. "I guess she means to be kind and good, but, say, a fellow can't be always washing his hands and wiping his feet!"
"And a girl's got to run and romp sometimes," added Nan. "But we'll have to do as father and mother want us to, I guess."
"Oh, I s'pose so!" agreed Bert. "Well, maybe I won't run away if you aren't coming with me. But I'd like to!" he said.
Flossie and Freddie heard something of the plans. They did not remember Aunt Emeline very well, though Bert and Nan easily recalled the queer old lady, who really was very particular when it came to children. She never had had any of her own, and perhaps this made a difference.
At first Flossie and Freddie had clamored to be taken out West with their father and mother, as Bert and Nan had done. But when told they must stay at home and help Bert and Nan keep house, they seemed to be satisfied. They were some years younger than the older Bobbsey twins.
"I'll put out the fire if our house starts to burn while you're away," Freddie promised.
"There'll not be much danger of fire with Aunt Emeline here to look after things," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "I wouldn't leave my children with every one, but I know they'll be safe with Aunt Emeline," she said to Dinah.
"Yassum, dey's suah gwine to be safe!" declared the fat, jolly colored cook. "She suah will look after 'em! But will dey gets enough to eat? Dat's whut I'se askin' yo'!" and she looked earnestly at Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Well, you'll be doing the cooking as usual. Dinah," said the children's mother. "I depend on you to feed them well."
"Dat's all right, den!" exclaimed Dinah, with a satisfied air. "I knows she won't starve 'em at de table, even ef she suah has terrible 'tickler manners. But ef she says dey shan't eat 'tween meals, den I'll says to her as how dey can. I ain't gwine to hab mah honey lambs starvin', dat's whut I ain't!" and Dinah shook her woolly head.
"Oh, Aunt Emeline isn't as bad as all that," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "She is strict, I know, but it is for the children's good. I expect a letter from her very soon, saying when she can come. As soon as she can Mr. Bobbsey and I will start for the West."
Bert and Nan tried to be cheerful as the days passed, and they thought more and more of their father and mother going away from them. Flossie and Freddie had fretted a little at first, but, being younger, they were over it more quickly.
At last the letter came from Aunt Emeline. Bert and Nan were home when their mother read it to their father. A look of surprise came over Mrs. Bobbsey's face as she read.
"Dear me," she exclaimed, "this is quite surprising!"
"What is it?" asked her husband.
"Aunt Emeline can't come to stay with the children while we go West," was the answer. "She says she is too old to take charge of a house and four children now, and she begs to be excused. Aunt Emeline isn't coming after all!"
Bert and Nan had hard work not to shout: Hurrah!
Mr. Bobbsey took the letter to read for himself.
"Then I'm sure I don't know what we're going to do," he said. "All our plans are made for going out West to look after the lumber tract and the cattle ranch. If Aunt Emeline can't come to stay with the children, what are we going to do?"
Mr. Bobbsey sat looking at Aunt Emeline's letter, reading parts of it over again. Mrs. Bobbsey watched her husband. The Bobbsey twins looked at their father and mother. A great hope was beginning to come into the hearts of Bert and Nan.
As for Flossie and Freddie, they were rather too small to know what it was all about, but they realized that something had happened that did not happen every day.
"What's the matter, Mommie?" asked Freddie, slipping down out of his chair and going over to her. He saw that she was worried. "Have you got the toothache?" he wanted to know. Once Freddie's tooth had ached and he knew how it hurt.
"No, dear," answered Mrs. Bobbsey. "I haven't the toothache. But I have a letter from Aunt Emeline and she can't come to stay with you children while daddy and I go out West."
"Aunt Emeline not come?" repeated Freddie.
"No, dear. She thinks she is too old to look after you four lively youngsters. And perhaps she is right. I wouldn't want to make too much work for her."
"Aunt Emeline not coming!" said Freddie again in a thoughtful voice. "Ho! Then I go and get a cookie!"
Nan and Bert burst out laughing.
"What's the matter?" asked their father and mother, as Freddie slipped down out of his mother's lap, into which he had climbed, and started for the kitchen to find Dinah. "What made you laugh, Bert?" asked his mother.
"Oh, I guess Freddie must have heard Nan and me talking about Aunt Emeline not letting us have anything to eat except at meal time," replied Bert. "And, now she isn't coming, he thinks he can have a cookie whenever he wants it."
"Oh, I see!" and Mr. Bobbsey smiled. "Well, Aunt Emeline may be strict, but she is a very good housekeeper. I am sorry she can not come to stay while we are in the West. I really don't know what we are going to do."
"Nor I," sighed Mrs. Bobbsey. "We counted on Aunt Emeline all the while, and now I don't know whom else I can get on such short notice. Can't we wait a while about going West?" she asked her husband.
"I don't very well see how we can wait," answered Mr. Bobbsey. "The tickets are bought, and all my plans are made. I have hired a man to come to the lumber office while I am away. I have written the men at the timber tract and at the cattle ranch that we are coming. Now, what are we to do?"
"We can't leave the children here alone," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "That is certain."
"No, we couldn't do that," agreed Mr. Bobbsey. "As good a cook as Dinah is, and careful as Sam is, we couldn't leave the children with them."
"Dinah gave me a cookie, an' she says she'll give you one, too, if you want it, Flossie," announced Freddie, coming into the room then, munching a sweet cake.
"Course I want it!" exclaimed the little "fat fairy," as her father called her, and she slipped out of her mother's lap, where she had climbed after Freddie got down, and, like her brother, hurried to the kitchen.
"Well, since we can't leave the children here at home by themselves, or only with Dinah and Sam," said Mr. Bobbsey, after a pause, "there is only one thing to do."
"You mean we must stay at home?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, and the hearts of Bert and Nan felt very sad indeed.
"Stay at home? No, indeed!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey. "We must take the children with us!"
"Out West?" cried Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Yes, out West!" her husband said. "We'll take the children with us since Aunt Emeline can't come to stay with them."
"Hurray!" cried Bert.
"Oh, I'm so glad!" echoed Nan.
"Yes, that will be the best way out of it," went on Mr. Bobbsey to his wife, after Bert and Nan had stopped dancing around the room, hands joined, with Flossie and Freddie in the ring they made, the two younger twins each eating one of Dinah's cookies. "We'll take the Bobbsey twins out West."
"But what about school?" asked his wife, who just happened to think that the summer term would not end for about three weeks.
"Oh we don't need to go to school!" said Bert.
"We can take our books with us and study on the train," suggested Nan.
"I fear there wouldn't be much studying done," laughed Mrs. Bobbsey. "But do you really think we might take the children out of school?" she asked.
"That is something we will have to find out about," her husband answered. "Of course it will not be much loss to Flossie and Freddie, as they are not as far along in their studies as are Nan and Bert. But I wouldn't like to have them lose much of their lessons."
"Teacher said I was at the head of my class, and I'd pass easy!" declared Bert.
"And my teacher said I was one of her best students," added Nan. She and Bert were in the same grade but in different classes.
"Well, since we really have to go out West to look after the lumber and cattle properties that are to be your mother's," said Mr. Bobbsey, "and since we must take you children with us, I'll see your teachers, Bert and Nan, and ask them if it will put you back much to lose the last two weeks of the term."
"Oh, goodie! Goodie!" shrieked Nan, jumping up and down.
"Hurray!" cried Bert. "Now I'm going to be a cowboy. Whoop!"
"Mercy me!" exclaimed their mother, covering her ears with her hands as Bert and Nan shouted loudly.
"Come on, Flossie!" called Freddie to his small sister. "Let's go and ask Dinah for more cookies."
That was Freddie's way of celebrating the good news.
Then came happy days.
Mr. Bobbsey, once he had made up his mind that the children were to go out West with him and his wife, went to the school and saw the teachers who had charge of Bert and Nan. He found that the older Bobbsey twins were so well along in their studies that it would not hold them back in the fall to stop now. So they were given permission to leave school before the regular time.
There was no trouble at all about Flossie and Freddie. They had simple lessons, and they could easily be taught at home to make up for the time they would lose.
It was arranged that Dinah and Sam should stay at home in the Bobbsey house to look after it during the summer, while Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey and the twins went out West.
"And be sure to feed Snap!" said Bert to Sam, as the colored man was cutting the grass on the lawn one day, while the dog frisked about chasing sticks that Bert and Freddie tossed here and there for him.
"Oh, I won't forget Snap!" promised Sam.
"And you must give Snoop a saucer of milk every day, Dinah!" said Nan, as she rubbed the black cat which was purring around her legs.
"Oh, indeedy Snoop and I am mighty good friends!" declared Dinah. "I suah won't forget to feed Snoop!"
Mr. Bobbsey bought other tickets, so he could take the children on the Western trip. He made all the arrangements, trunks were packed, and finally, one day, Bert and Nan and Flossie and Freddie said good-bye to their school chums.
"I'm going out West to learn to be a cowboy!" said Bert.
"I wish I was going!" exclaimed Danny Rugg.
"So do I," said Charley Mason.
"I'll see some Indians, too," Bert went on.
"And will you see those darling little papooses they carry on their backs?" asked Nellie Parks.
"I guess I'll see them," Nan said. "I don't like Indian men and women, but the babies must be cute."
"Wouldn't it be great if you could get an Indian doll?" asked Grace.
"Indians don't have dolls!" declared Danny.
"Indian girls do!" exclaimed Nellie. "I saw a picture in one of my books of an Indian girl, and she had a doll made of corn silk and a corncob and some tree bark."
"What a funny doll!" exclaimed Grace. "Do try and bring one home, Nan!"
"I will," she promised.
Bert and Nan were so excited at the prospect of going West that if their father and mother had expected the children to pack the trunks and valises it never would have been done. But Mrs. Bobbsey knew better than to expect this. She and Dinah looked after the packing.
Flossie and Freddie, of course, were too small to do any of this, though one day Mrs. Bobbsey saw the little boy stuffing something into an old stocking.
"Freddie Bobbsey, what are you doing?" asked his mother.
"Dinah gave me some cookies," was the answer, "and I'm goin' to take 'em out West with me. Maybe I'll get hungry, an' maybe I'll get lost, or carried off by the Indians, an' then I'll have cookies to eat!"
"Oh, dear me! you can't take a lot of cookies in a stocking," laughed Mrs. Bobbsey.
"There'll be plenty to eat out West. As for getting lost, I suppose you will do that; you always have, but we manage to find you. However, I hope you won't get lost too often. And I don't think you'll be carried off by the Indians. Or, if so, they'd return you quickly."
The happy days seemed to grow happier as the time came nearer to take the train for the great West. One afternoon, the day before the Bobbsey twins were to start, Bert and Nan went down to their father's lumberyard office with a message sent by their mother.
"What's all this I hear about you?" asked Mr. Hickson, the old man who had been in the railroad wreck. He was out loading a wagon with boards. "What are you children going to do out West?" he asked them.
"I'm going to learn to be a cowboy," declared Bert.
"And I'm going to get an Indian doll!" said Nan.
"My goodness!" exclaimed the old man, smiling at the Bobbsey twins, for he liked them very much. "I hope you have a good time. That's what makes children happy—to have a good time. I wish I could find my children. I haven't seen my boys, Charley and Bill, for a long while. They must be grown-up men now. Yes, I certainly wish I could find Charley and Bill. It was all a mistake when they ran away from home. I wish I had them back," and slowly and sadly shaking his head he went on loading the lumber wagon.
Bert and Nan felt sorry for Mr. Hickson, and they wished they might help him find his "boys," as he called Bill and Charley, though, as he said, they must be grown men now. But Bert and Nan had too many things to think about in getting ready to go out West to feel sorry very long. They took the message to their father and then hurried home.
OFF FOR THE WEST
Monday morning was the day set for the start of the Bobbsey twins for the great West. They had said good-bye to their school friends the Friday before, and now, while the bells were ringing to call the other boys and girls to their classes, Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie stood on their front porch and watched their friends go past. "Oh, but you are lucky!" called Danny Rugg to Bert, as the Bobbseys waved their hands to him.
"I wish I could be you!" added Charley Mason, as he swung his strap of books over his head. "I'm going out West to be a cowboy when I grow up."
"I'll tell you all about it when I come back," promised Bert.
Nan's girl friends, as they went past on their way to school, blew kisses to her from their hands, and wished her all sorts of good luck.
Flossie and Freddie were too busy running around and playing hide-and- go-seek among the trunks to pay much attention to their little school friends who went past the house.
The trunks and valises had been stacked on the front porch, and in a little while Mr. Hickson was to come with his lumber wagon to take them to the station. Later the Bobbseys would go down in the automobile, one of the men from Mr. Bobbsey's office bringing it back. Sam Johnson, though he used to drive the Bobbsey horse when they had one, never could get used to an automobile, he said.
Snap, the jolly dog, seemed to know that something out of the ordinary was going on. He did not run about and play as he nearly always did, but stayed close to Bert and Nan. He seemed to know they were going away from him.
"You'll have to watch Snap," said Mrs. Bobbsey to Sam. "He may try to sneak after us and get on the train, as he did once before. Mr. Bobbsey had to get off at the next station and bring him back."
"Yassum, I'll watch Snap," promised Sam. "But he suah does want to go wif yo' all pow'ful bad!"
"I wish we could take Snap and Snoop!" said Bert.
"Oh, dear boy, we couldn't think of it!" exclaimed his mother. "We have a long way to travel to get to the West, and we couldn't look after a cat and a dog. They'll be much better off here at home."
"Snoop maybe will," argued Bert, "'cause he doesn't like to have rough fun the way Snap does. But I guess my dog would like to see an Indian and some cowboys!"
However, the older Bobbsey twins knew it was out of the question to take their pets with them, so they made the best of it, Bert petting Snap and talking kindly to him. Snoop had gone out to the barn where he knew he might catch a mouse.
In a little while Mr. Hickson drove up for the trunks which were loaded on the lumber wagon.
"You're going to have a fine day to start for the West," said the old man, who had entirely got over his hurt got in the railroad wreck. "A very fine day!"
The June sun was shining, there was just enough wind to stir the leaves of the trees, and, as Mr. Hickson said, it was indeed a fine day for going out West, or anywhere else. Very happy were the Bobbsey twins.
With rattles and bangs, the trunks were piled on the lumber wagon, such valises as were not to be carried by Mr. or Mrs. Bobbsey, or Bert or Nan, were put in among the trunks. Flossie and Freddie were each to carry a basket which contained some things their mother thought might be needed on the trip.
"All aboard!" called Mr. Hickson, as he took his seat and gathered up the reins.
"That's what the conductor on the train says!" laughed Freddie, as he and Flossie had to stop playing hide-and-go-seek among the trunks.
"Well, I'm making believe this lumber wagon is a train," went on the old man. "I wish it was a train, and that I was going out West to find my two boys, Charley and Bill." Then he drove off with his head bowed.
"When do we start?" asked Bert. It was about the tenth time he had asked that same question that morning.
"We're going to leave soon now," his mother told him. "Don't go away, any of you. Nan, you look after Flossie and Freddie. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if Freddie were to get lost at the last minute."
Just then Freddie and his little sister were running around in the yard, playing tag, and neither of the smaller Bobbsey twins showed any signs of getting lost. But one never could tell what would happen to them—never!
Finally everything seemed to be in readiness for the start. The last words about looking after the house while the Bobbseys were in the West had been said to Sam and Dinah, and Mr. Bobbsey had telephoned his final message to his office to say that he was about to start. The automobile had been brought around, and Harry Truesdell, who was to drive it back from the station, was waiting.
"Come, children, we'll start now!" called Mother Bobbsey. "Get the satchels you are to carry, Nan and Bert. Where are Flossie and Freddie?" she asked. "I want them to take their baskets."
"They were here a minute ago," replied Nan, looking around the yard for her smaller brother and Flossie.
"But they're not here now!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey. "See if you can find them, Nan. Tell them we must leave now."
Nan set down the valise she had taken up and was about to go around to the back yard when some excited cries were heard. Dinah's voice sounded above the others.
"Heah, now, you stop dat, Freddie Bobbsey!" called the colored cook. "Whut are yo' doin'? Heah, Freddie, yo' let mah clothes line alone!"
There was a moment of silence, and then Dinah's voice went on.
"Oh, land o' massy! Oh, I 'clare to goodness, yo' suah has gone an' done it now! Oh, mah po' li'l honey lamb! Oh, Freddie, look what you has gone an' done!"
At this moment the crying voice of Flossie was heard. The little girl seemed to be in trouble.
"I didn't mean to! I didn't mean to!" shouted Freddie.
"Something has happened!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey. "I knew it would, just at the last minute!"
"It does seem so," said Mr. Bobbsey, coming out on the porch. "I'll go and see what it is!" he added, as he ran around the side path.
"I'll come, too," said Mrs. Bobbsey. And Nan and Bert thought they had better follow.
They could hear Flossie crying, while Dinah was saying:
"Oh, mah po' li'l honey lamb! Freddie Bobbsey, look whut you gone an' done!"
And Freddie kept saying:
"I didn't mean to! I didn't mean to! I didn't know it was going to come down!"
"I wonder what it was that came down," thought Mrs. Bobbsey, as she hurried after her husband, with Bert and Nan bringing up the rear and Snap barking as hard as he could bark.
When Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey got around to the back yard they saw at a glance what had happened. One of the clothes lines, on which Dinah had hung the sheets she had just washed, had come down. And two or three sheets had fallen right over Flossie.
Of course the little girl was not hurt, for the sheets were not heavy. But they were damp from the tub, and Flossie was all tangled up in them and in the line. In fact, Flossie could not be seen, for she was between the two sides of a sheet, and only that Dinah was there, trying to get her out, told Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey what had happened to their little girl. Oh, yes! I forgot! Flossie was crying, and that was a sign she was there, even though she could not be seen.
Freddie was standing near a clothes post with the kitchen bread knife in his hand.
"What happened, Dinah?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, as she helped the fat, colored cook get Flossie out from under the sheets. "What is it all about?"
"Oh, dat Freddie boy he done cut mah clothes line an' let mah clean wash down on da ground!" exclaimed Dinah. "I didn't minded DAT so much!" she said, as she wiped away the tears from the face of the frightened Flossie. "I kin wash de sheets ober ag'in. But I'm so s'prised dat Freddie done scared his li'l sister, dat's whut I am. Freddie done scared honey lamb mos' to pieces!"
"I—I didn't mean to," repeated Freddie.
"But did you really cut down Dinah's wash line?" his mother asked him, when it had been found that Flossie was only frightened and not hurt.
"I—I cut off a little piece," said Freddie, showing a dangling end in his hand. "I didn't think it would fall down. I didn't mean to make it."
"But what made you cut any of it?" asked his father, tying the cut ends together while Dinah took up the sheets which had fallen to the ground and had some black spots on them. "Why did you cut the clothes line, Freddie?"
Mr. Bobbsey did not call his little boy "fireman" now. That was a pet name, and used only when Freddie had been good, and he had been a little bad now, though perhaps he did not mean to.
"I—I cut the line to get a piece of rope," said Freddie.
"What did you want a piece of rope for?" asked his father.
"I wanted to make a lasso to lasso Indians as Bert's going to do," Freddie answered. "I wanted a piece of clothes line for a lasso. But I didn't mean to make the clothes come down."
"No, I don't guess you did," said Dinah, as she came out of the laundry with the sheets which she had rinsed clean. "Ole Dinah done gwine to forgib her honey lamb 'cause he's gwine away far off from her. An' Dinah's other honey lamb didn't get hurted any. It was only two sheets an' Dinah's done washed 'em clean again. But don't you go lassoin' any Injuns, Freddie! Dey mightn't like it."
"No, I won't!" promised the little fellow.
"And don't cut any more clothes lines," added his father.
"No, sir, I won't!"
Freddie was ready to promise anything, now that he found nothing serious had happened. At first, after he had cut the rope and let the sheets down on Flossie's head as she was running through the yard, Freddie had been very much frightened.
"Well, I'm glad it was no worse," said Mrs. Bobbsey, as she straightened Flossie's hat, which had been knocked to one side. "Now we must hurry, or we'll be late for the train."
"Yes, come along!" called Mr. Bobbsey.
Freddie gave up the bread knife to Dinah, the last good-byes were said, and the children started for the automobile. Snap leaped around Bert, barking and whining.
"Better tie up the dog, Sam, or he'll follow us," said Mr. Bobbsey.
"Yes, sah. I'll do dat."
Poor Snap was led away whining. He did not want to be left behind, but it had to be.
"Good-bye!" called Bert to his pet. "Good-bye, Snap!"
Flossie took up her basket, and Freddie had his. Each one had something to carry. Into the automobile they hurried and soon they were on the way to the station to take the train for the West.
They did not have many minutes to wait. Harry Truesdell sat in the automobile, until Mr. Bobbsey and the family should be aboard the train before he went back to the garage.
The Bobbsey twins were standing on the station platform. Mr. Bobbsey was talking to a man he knew, and Mrs. Bobbsey was speaking to two friends. Bert and Nan were putting pennies in a weighing machine to see how heavy they had grown, and Freddie was looking at the pictures on the magazine covers at the news stand.
Suddenly Flossie, who had set her basket down on one of the outside seats, gave a cry,
"What's the matter?" asked her mother, turning quickly. "What is it, Flossie?"
"Oh, my basket! My basket!" cried the little girl. "There's something in it! Something alive! Look, it's wriggling!"
And, surely enough, the basket she had carried, was "wriggling." It was swaying from side to side on the station seat.
DINNER FOR TWO
Freddie Bobbsey, called away from looking at the magazine pictures on the news stand, came running over when he heard Flossie shout.
"What's the matter?" asked the little boy. "Did something else fall on you, Flossie, like the sheets flopping over your head?"
"No, nothing falled on me!" exclaimed Flossie. "But look! Look at my basket! It's wriggling!"
"There's something in it!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey, while her husband quickly hurried away from the man to whom he was talking, and prepared to see what the matter was. "There's something in your basket, Flossie! Did you put anything in?"
"No, Mother!" answered the little girl. "I Just put in the things you gave me. And just before I came away I took off the cover to put in some cookies Dinah handed me."
"I think I can guess what happened," said Mr. Bobbsey. "While the cover was off the basket something jumped in, Flossie."
"Oh, I see what it is! A little black squirrel!" cried Nan.
"Squirrels aren't black!" Bert said. There were some squirrels in the trees near the Bobbsey house, but all Bert had ever seen were gray or reddish brown.
"It's something furry, anyhow," Nan went on. "I can see it through the cracks in the basket."
And just then, to the surprise of every one looking on, including the Bobbsey twins, of course, the cover of the basket was raised by whatever was wriggling inside, and something larger than a squirrel, but black and furry, looked out.
"Gee!" exclaimed Bert.
"Oh, it's Snoop!" cried Nan.
"It's our cat!" added Freddie.
"In my basket!" exclaimed Flossie. "How did you get there, Snoop?" she asked, as Bert took the cat up in his arms, while the other passengers at the station laughed.
"Perhaps Snoop felt lonesome when he knew you were going to leave him," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "And when you took off the cover of your basket, Flossie, to put in the cookies Dinah gave you, Snoop must have seen his chance and crawled in."
"He kept still all the way in the auto, so we wouldn't know he was there," added Nan.
"Maybe he thought we'd take him with us," said Bert. "Did you, Snoop?" he asked. But the big black cat, who must have found it rather hard work to curl up in the basket, snuggled close to Bert, who was always kind to animals.
Just then the whistle of the train was heard down the track.
"Dear me! what shall we do?" cried Mrs. Bobbsey. "We can't possibly take Snoop with us, and we can't leave him here at the depot."
"Harry will take Snoop back home in the auto," said Mr. Bobbsey.
"Yes, give him to me—I'll be careful of him," promised the young man from the lumberyard office, and Bert carried his pet over to the waiting automobile.
Snoop mewed a little as Bert put the big, black cat into Harry's arms.
"Good-bye, Snoop!" Bert said, patting his pet on the head.
"Come, Bert, hurry!" called his father.
Then, as the train pulled into the station, Bert ran back and caught up his valise. The other Bobbsey twins took up their things, Flossie put back on her basket the cover the cat had knocked off in getting out, and soon they were all on the train.
"All aboard!" called the conductor, and, as the engine whistled and the cars began to move, Bert and Nan looked from the windows of their seats and had a last glimpse of Snoop being held in Harry's arms, as he sat in the automobile.
Flossie and Freddie forgot all about their cat, dog, and nearly everything in Lakeport in their joy at going out West. For they were really started on their way now, after several little upsets and troubles, such as the clothes line coming down on Flossie, and the cat hiding himself away in the basket.
"Well, now I can sit back and rest," said Mrs. Bobbsey, with a sigh of relief. "I know the children are all here, and they can't get lost for a while, at least, and I don't see what mischief they can get into here."
Now, indeed, the children were all right for a time. Freddie sat with his father, next to the window, and Flossie was in the seat with her mother pressing her little nose close against the glass, so she would not miss seeing anything, as the train flew along.
Bert and Nan were sitting together, Nan being next to the window. Bert had, very politely, let his sister have that place, though he wanted it himself. However, before the first part of the journey was over there was a seat vacant on the other side of the car, and Bert took that. Then he, too, had a window.
Bert and Nan noticed, as the train passed Mr. Bobbsey's lumberyard, Mr. Hickson standing amid a pile of boards. The old man did not see the children, of course, for the train was going rather swiftly, but they saw him.
"I wish we could help him find his two sons," said Nan to Bert.
"Yes, I wish we could," Bert answered. "But it's so long ago maybe Mr. Hickson wouldn't know his boys even if he saw them again."
"He'd know their names, wouldn't he?" Nan asked.
"Yes, I s'pose he would," Bert replied.
Then the older Bobbsey twins forgot about Mr. Hickson in the joys and novelty of traveling.
The Bobbseys were going to travel in this train only as far as a junction station. There they would change to a through train for Chicago, and in that big western city they would again make a change. On this through train Mr. Bobbsey had had reserved for him a drawing room. That is part of the sleeping car built off from the rest at one end.
On arriving at the junction the Bobbseys left the train they had been on since leaving Lakeport and got on the through train, which drew into the junction almost as soon as they did. They went into the little room at the end of the sleeping coach which Mr. Bobbsey had had reserved for them. In there the twins had plenty of room to look from the windows, as no other passengers were in with them.
"It's just like being in our own big automobile," said Nan, and so it was. The children liked it very much.
The trip to Chicago would take a day and a night, and Flossie and Freddie, as well as Bert and Nan, were interested in going to sleep on a train in the queer little beds the porter makes up from what are seats in the daytime.
It was not the first time the children had traveled in a sleeping car, but they were always interested. It did seem queer to them to be traveling along in their sleep.
"Almost like a dream," Nan said, and I think she was quite right.
"Where's my basket?" Flossie asked, after they had ridden on for about an hour.
"Do you want to see if Snap is in it this time?" her father jokingly inquired.
"Snap's too big to get in my basket," Flossie answered. "He's a big dog. But I want to get some of the cookies Dinah gave me. I'm hungry."
"So'm I!" cried Freddie, who had been looking from the window. "I want a cookie too!"
"Dinah gave me some for you," Flossie said, and, when her basket had been handed down from the brass rack over the seat, she searched around in it until she had found what she was looking for—a bag of molasses and sugar cookies.
"Oh, Dinah does make such good cookies!" said Flossie, with her mouth half full, though, really, to be polite, I suppose, she should not have talked that way.
"Shall we get any cookies out on the cattle ranch?" asked Nan. "If we don't, Flossie and Freddie will miss them."
"Oh, they have cooks on ranches, same as they do in lumber camps," Bert declared. "I saw a picture once of a Chinese cook on a cattle ranch."
"Can a Chinaman cook?" asked Nan, in surprise. "I thought they could only iron shirts and collars."
"Some Chinese are very good cooks," explained Mr. Bobbsey. "And Bert is right when he says that on some ranches in the West a Chinese man does the cooking. I don't know whether we shall find one where we are going or not."
"Are we going to the lumber tract first, or to the ranch?" asked Bert.
"To where the big trees grow," answered his father. "The tract your mother is going to own is near a place called Lumberville. It is several hundred miles north and west of Chicago. We will stop off there, and go on later to the ranch. That is near a place called Cowdon."
"What funny names," laughed Bert. "Lumberville and Cowdon. You would think they were named after the trees and the cows."
"I think they were," his father said. "Out West they take names that mean something, and Lumberville and Cowdon just describe the places they are named after."
While Flossie and Freddie were looking from the window of the coach in which they were riding, while Bert and Nan were telling one another what good times they would have on the ranch and in the lumber camp, and while Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey were discussing matters about the trip, there came a knock on the door.