Infomotions, Inc.The Bobbsey Twins at the County Fair / Hope, Laura Lee



Author: Hope, Laura Lee
Title: The Bobbsey Twins at the County Fair
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): bobbsey; freddie; flossie; blipper; bert; bobbsey twins; balloon; bob; twins; bob guess; captain craig; bolton county; merry; lap robe; guess; hemlock island; asked bert; uncle daniel; county fair; meadow brook; coat; aunt sarah; ice cream; balloon basket
Contributor(s): Arthur, J. P. [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 38,180 words (really short) Grade range: 5-6 (grade school) Readability score: 81 (very easy)
Identifier: etext16756
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.

Project Gutenberg's The Bobbsey Twins at the County Fair, by Laura Lee Hope

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net


Title: The Bobbsey Twins at the County Fair

Author: Laura Lee Hope

Release Date: September 26, 2005 [EBook #16756]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE ***




Produced by Marilynda Fraser-Cunliffe, Emmy and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net











The Bobbsey Twins at
the County Fair

BY
LAURA LEE HOPE

AUTHOR OF "THE BOBBSEY TWINS SERIES,"

    =This book, while produced under wartime conditions, in full
    compliance with government regulations for the conservation
    of paper and other essential materials, is COMPLETE AND
    UNABRIDGED=

NEW YORK
GROSSET & DUNLAP
PUBLISHERS

Made in the United States of America

COPYRIGHT, 1922, by
GROSSET & DUNLAP

_The Bobbsey Twins at the County Fair_


[Illustration: "OH, LOOK! FREDDIE'S IN A RACE!" CRIED FLOSSIE.

_The Bobbsey Twins at the County Fair_

_Frontispiece_ (_Page 133_)]




CONTENTS

CHAPTER                          PAGE

    I. THE BROKEN BRIDGE           1

   II. "THERE'S A SNAKE!"         14

  III. THE MERRY-GO-ROUND         25

   IV. A MISSING COAT             34

    V. SAM IS WORRIED             48

   VI. HAPPY DAYS COMING          57

  VII. THE CRYING BOY             68

 VIII. ANGRY MR. BLIPPER          79

   IX. THE BIG SWING              89

    X. DOWN A BIG HOLE            99

   XI. THE COUNTY FAIR           108

  XII. ON THE TRACK              121

 XIII. IN THE CORNFIELD          129

  XIV. FREDDIE AND THE PUMPKIN   139

   XV. UP IN A BALLOON           148

  XVI. ON THE ISLAND             158

 XVII. THE SEARCHING PARTY       167

XVIII. ON THE ROCKS              173

  XIX. TWO LITTLE SAILORS        182

   XX. A HAPPY MEETING           194

  XXI. BERT, NAN AND BOB         199

 XXII. JOYOUS TIMES              207




THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE COUNTY FAIR




CHAPTER I

THE BROKEN BRIDGE


"Aren't you glad, Nan? Aren't you terrible glad?"

"Why, of course I am, Flossie!"

"And aren't you glad, too, Bert?" Flossie Bobbsey, who had first asked
this question of her sister, now paused in front of her older brother.
She looked up at him smiling as he cut away with his knife at a soft
piece of wood he was shaping into a boat for Freddie. "Aren't you
terrible glad, Bert?"

"I sure am, Flossie!" Bert answered, with a laugh. "What makes you ask
such funny questions?"

"Well, if you're glad why doesn't you wiggle like I do?" asked Flossie,
without answering Bert. "I feel just like wigglin' and squigglin' inside
and outside!" she added.

"Well, wiggle as much as you please, dear, but don't get your dress
dirty, whatever you do," advised Nan, with the air of a little mother,
for she felt that she must look after her smaller sister, since Mrs.
Bobbsey was not there to do it.

"Oh, I won't get my dress dirty!" laughed Flossie. "'Cause if I do----"

"'Cause if you do you can't go to the picnic!" finished Freddie, who was
so interested in watching brother Bert make the little wooden ship that
he forgot all about talking.

"I'm just goin' to wiggle standin' up," Flossie said, and she did so,
squirming about in delight at the fun which was soon to come.

"Don't forget your 'g' letters!" called Nan, shaking her finger at her
sister. "You must say 'going' and 'standing' not 'goin',' my dear, or
'standin',' you know."

"Yes, I know. But when you feel like wigglin'--I mean wigglING," and
Flossie said the last syllable very loudly, "why, then you don't think
about 'g' letters; do you, Freddie?"

"I don't guess so," he answered, not taking his eyes off the knife that
was flashing in Bert's hand, making the white slivers of wood scatter
over the green grass.

"Oh, I just can hardly wait till the auto truck comes; can you, Nan?"
asked Flossie, dancing over the lawn like a fairy in a play. "Oh, I'm so
glad it doesn't rain!" and she looked anxiously up at the sky as if some
cloud might float across the wonderful blue and spoil the day of
pleasure.

"Yes, the weather is lovely," agreed Nan. "And if you don't think so
much about it, Flossie, the truck will get here all the sooner."

"But I _like_ to think about it!" cried Flossie. "It's the same as
Christmas! The more you think about it the more fun it is! Oh, I'm going
to look down the road and see if the truck is coming!"

Down toward the front gate she skipped, the big bow of ribbon on her
hair flapping up and down like the wings of some great blue butterfly.

"Be careful about climbing on the gate!" warned Nan. "If you get rusty
spots on your white dress they won't come out!"

"I'll be careful," Flossie promised, calling back over her shoulder,
and, as she tripped along she sang: "We're going to a picnic! We're
going to a picnic!"

"I think I'd better watch her so she won't soil her clothes," said Nan,
getting up from a bench, where she had been sitting beside the boxes and
baskets of lunch. "It would be too bad if she should get her dress dirty
and couldn't go."

"I'm not going to get my clothes dirty, am I, Nan?" asked Freddie, as he
looked at his white blouse.

"I hope not," Nan answered.

Suddenly there was an exclamation from Bert, as Nan started down the
path toward Flossie.

"Ouch!" cried Bert.

"What's the matter?" Nan asked quickly.

"Cut myself!"

"Oh! Oh, dear!" screamed Freddie, who did not like the sight of the red
blood which oozed from the end of his brother's finger.

"Oh, don't get any on my clean blouse, else I can't go to the picnic!"

Bert, who had popped the cut finger into his mouth as soon as he felt
the hurt, now took it out to laugh.

"That's all you care about me, Freddie!" he joked. "I cut my finger,
while making you a little boat, and all you care about is that I mustn't
dirty your white blouse! I'll make you a lot more ships--I guess not!"

"Oh, but I am sorry for you!" Freddie declared. "Only I do so want to go
to the picnic!"

"Yes, I know," Bert went on, seeing that Freddie was taking his talk too
seriously. "I won't get any blood on you!"

"Is it much of a cut?" asked Nan "Do you want me to get the iodine?"
Their Mother had taught the Bobbsey twins not to neglect hurts of this
kind, and iodine, they knew, was good to "kill the germs," whatever that
meant. Iodine smarted when put into a cut, but it was better to stand a
little smart at first than a big pain afterward, so Daddy Bobbsey had
said.

"Oh, it isn't much of a cut," Bert said. "I guess I don't need any
iodine. You'd better go look after Flossie. The trucks may be along any
time now, and we don't want to keep them waiting."

"All right. But you'd better not whittle any more on that boat or you
may cut yourself so bad you can't go to the picnic."

"Let the boat go!" advised Freddie. "It's good enough, anyhow, and I
want you to go to the picnic, Bert."

"All right. The little ship is almost finished, anyhow. I just have to
make about three more cuts and then I'm done."

His finger had stopped bleeding--indeed the cut was a very small
one--and Bert was soon putting the last touches to the tiny craft which
Freddie wanted to sail in the little lake at the picnic grounds.

Just as Bert handed the homemade toy to his brother, and when Nan
reached Flossie, in time to stop her from climbing on the gate, a noise
of honking horns was heard down the street.

"Oh, here they come! Here come the trucks!" cried Flossie, dancing up
and down.

"Get the lunch!" called Freddie, to make sure they would not go hungry
on the picnic.

"I'll go in and tell mother we're going," called Nan to Bert, who shut
up his knife, brushed the whittlings off his clothes, and began to
gather up the boxes and baskets of lunch. "Watch Flossie!" Nan added,
for there was no telling what the excitable little "fairy" might do at
the last moment.

"All right," Bert answered. "Here, Freddie!" he called. "Don't run with
that sharp-pointed boat in your hand. If you fall on it you'll get
hurt."

"But I'm not going to fall!" said Freddie.

"You can't tell what you're going to do! Go easy!" Bert advised, and
Freddie walked as slowly as he could to the gate where Flossie was
eagerly gazing down the road.

The noise of the auto horns sounded more loudly, and soon two big
trucks, filled with children and gay with flags, came into view. Boxes
had been placed in the trucks for seats, and on these boxes, laughing,
shouting, waving their hands and flags, were scores of happy, smiling
boys and girls.

One of the trucks drew up at the gate of the house where lived the
Bobbsey twins, the other auto keeping on, as it was well filled. But
room had been saved in this one for Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie.

"Come on, Nan! Come on!" cried Flossie, still jumping up and down.

"Tell Nan to hurry!" added Freddie to his brother.

"She's coming," Bert said, as he walked down to the gate with the
packages of lunch.

"Hello, Bert!" called Charlie Mason, from the truck. "Got enough to
eat?"

"I guess so," Bert answered his chum, holding up the boxes and baskets.
"Enough for two picnics I should say!"

"You can eat a lot when you're off in the woods," added Dannie Rugg.
"It's like camping out."

"Here comes Nan!" exclaimed Grace Lavine, a particular chum of the older
Bobbsey girl.

Nan, having hurried in to tell her mother the trucks had arrived, now
hastened down the path, her hair flying in the wind.

"Have you everything? Take good care of Flossie and Freddie! Have a good
time, and don't fall into the water!" Mrs. Bobbsey said, as she waved
good-by to her twins while they clambered up into the truck.

"We will!" they answered.

"Good-by, Mother! Good-by!"

"Good-by, children!"

"Honk! Honk!" tooted the auto horn.

"All aboard!" called Nellie Parks. "All aboard!"

"I want to sit on the end!" declared Freddie, struggling to get in this
position.

"You might fall out going up hill," said Bert. "I'll sit there, Freddie,
and you can sit next me." The little fellow had to be content with this.

With children laughing, children singing, children shouting and children
smiling, with flags flying and the horn tooting, the big auto started
off, having taken aboard the Bobbsey twins; and soon the two trucks were
out of sight around a turn in the road, bound for Pine Grove, on the
outskirts of the town of Lakeport. It was the yearly picnic of one of
the Lakeport Sunday schools.

"Isn't it a wonderful day?" asked Grace of Nan. The two friends and
Nellie were sitting together.

"Yes, beautiful. We nearly always have a good day for the picnic."

"Did you bring any olives in your lunch. Nan?"

"Yes, and some dill pickles, too!"

"Oh, I just love dill pickles!" exclaimed Grace, "and we didn't have one
in the house."

"I'll give you some of mine," offered Nan.

Flossie and Freddie were too excited, looking at sights along the road,
to talk much, but they were as happy as if they had been chattering away
like the others.

"Did your dog Snap bite your finger, Bert?" asked Dannie Rugg.

"No, my knife slipped when I was making Freddie a boat. Say, Freddie,"
he asked the little fellow, "did you lose your boat?"

"Nope, I have it here," and he held it up.

"Oh, all right."

On rumbled the trucks, raising clouds of dust. On each big auto were
several grown folks, officers of the Sunday school, who were looking
after the children. Some were fathers and mothers of the boys and girls.

Pine Grove was several miles outside the town of Lakeport, on the shores
of a little lake. It was there the yearly picnics of the Sunday schools
were always held, and the Bobbsey twins, as well as the other young
people of the town, looked forward with pleasure to the outings.

"What you say we get up a ball game?" asked Dannie of Bert, when they
were all settled in their places.

"Sure we will," Bert agreed. "Have we got enough fellows?"

"If you haven't, some of us girls will play," offered Nan.

"Pooh! Girls can't play ball!" sneered Charlie Mason.

"I can! I can bat a ball as far as you!" declared Nellie Parks.

"Maybe you can--if you can hit it!" admitted Charlie.

"I want to play ball!" chimed in Freddie. "I know how!"

"I guess if you sail your boat it will be all you want to do," said
Bert, looking at his cut finger to see if it would hinder him from
taking part in a game. He decided that it would not.

"We'll have lots of fun," said Dannie. "If we haven't enough for two
nines we'll play a scrub game."

"Sure!" agreed Bert.

They were well out in the country now, and almost at the Grove. To reach
it the trucks had to cross a bridge over a creek that flowed into Pine
Lake, as the body of water was called.

The first truck passed over this bridge with a rumble like thunder. As
it reached the other side Bert saw the driver of it lean from his seat,
look back, and shout something to the driver of the truck on which the
Bobbsey twins rode. What the man said Bert could not hear, and as he
was wondering about it the second truck started over the bridge.

Suddenly there was a cracking of wood, a splintering, breaking sound,
and the heavy truck, loaded with children, the Bobbsey twins among them,
seemed to be sinking down.

"Oh, the bridge is breaking!" screamed Grace.

"We'll fall in the creek!" added Nellie.

There was a thundering sound as the auto driver turned on full power,
and then, with another loud cracking noise, the truck came to a stop,
and seemed to be sinking down through the breaking bridge!




CHAPTER II

"THERE'S A SNAKE!"


With the first cries of alarm, Bert Bobbsey had jumped to his feet, one
arm had gone out toward his sister Nan, and the other toward Flossie and
Freddie. But no boy has arms long enough to reach for three relatives at
once, especially when two of them, as Flossie and Freddie happened to
be, were some distance away.

Bert did, however, manage to put one arm around Nan, and he pulled her
toward him, though just why he hardly knew. As he did so there was a
frightened movement on the part of all the other children aboard the
truck, for they seemed to be sliding down toward the front of it.

"Oh, Bert! what has happened?" cried Nan. "Get hold of Flossie and
Freddie, can't you?"

"I'm trying to," he answered.

"What's the matter?" Flossie called to Nan and Bert. "We're all slipping
down!"

And this was just what was happening. The bridge over the stream seemed
to have broken in the middle, just as the heavy truck got to that spot,
and the auto's front wheels being lower than the rear ones, had slid the
load of picnic merrymakers into a heap.

"Oh! Oh!" screamed Grace Lavine. "What is going to happen?"

"You'll be all right if you just keep quiet!" called the driver of the
auto in a loud voice. "The bridge has only sagged a little! It isn't
going to fall!"

This was good news provided it was true.

"All of you get off, and do it quietly," advised the driver. "You'll be
all right."

"Are you sure?" asked Mrs. Simpson, one of the ladies in charge of the
children.

"Oh, yes, ma'am. There's no danger," declared the man. He had jumped
from his seat and was looking at the floor of the bridge under the front
wheels of the truck.

"Keep quiet, every one!" ordered Mr. Blake, one of the gentlemen who had
agreed to help the ladies look after the children. "Don't scream or
cry, and move as quietly as you can. The easier you move the less danger
there will be. The bridge hasn't quite broken in two yet."

But it was in grave danger of doing that, as Mr. Blake saw, and he was
fearful that a bad accident would soon happen.

However, the thing to do now was to get all the children off the truck,
over the bridge, and safe on solid ground. After that it might be
possible to get the truck over and keep on to the picnic.

One by one the children, including the Bobbsey twins, started to get off
the truck. They moved as carefully as they could, for they felt that
they were like skaters on thin ice. The least quick movement might break
something.

The truck that had gotten safely over the bridge had come to a stop, and
children and grown folks were piling off it to see what they could do to
save those in danger on the broken bridge.

And while the work of rescue is going on I will take a moment or two to
tell my new readers something about the Bobbsey twins. Those of you who
have read the other books in this series do not need to be introduced to
Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie.

Those were the names of the four children. Bert and Nan were the older
twins, and Flossie and Freddie the younger. You are first told about
them in the book called "The Bobbsey Twins," and in that you learn that
the Bobbsey family, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Bobbsey and their
four children, lived in Lakeport, an eastern city on the shore of Lake
Metoka, where Mr. Bobbsey had a lumber business.

In the family, though not exactly members of it, were Dinah, the jolly,
fat, colored cook, and Sam Johnson, her husband. Then we must not forget
Snap, the dog, and Snoop, the big cat.

Following the first book are a number of volumes telling of the
adventures of the Bobbsey twins. They went to the country to visit Uncle
Daniel, and at the seashore they had fun at the home of Uncle William.
After that the Bobbseys enjoyed a trip in a houseboat, they journeyed
to a great city, camped on Blueberry Island, saw the sights of
Washington and even sailed to sea.

As if this was not enough Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey took their children on a
western trip among the cowboys, and just before the present story opens
Bert and Nan, with Flossie and Freddie, had come back from Cedar Camp,
where they had had some exciting adventures.

Now it was summer again, and one of the first delights of that season
was the Sunday school picnic which had started off so well but which
seemed likely now to end in an accident.

It was too bad that one truck should have gotten safely over the bridge,
and that the other had to break through. The second truck was heavier
than the first. The first may have cracked the bridge beams and the
second one broken them.

"Careful now, children, careful!" warned Mr. Blake. "Don't jump down!
Come to the end of the truck and I'll lift you down!"

"And as soon as you are down walk to the other side of the bridge;
don't run--walk!" ordered the driver.

Bert remembered that it said this on the programs of the moving picture
theaters, and he decided it was good advice.

One by one the children made their way up the sloping floor of the truck
to the tailboard, and there Mr. Blake, Mrs. Simpson, and other men and
women helped the little ones down.

"Oh, I feel like fainting!" sighed Grace.

"Don't be silly!" exclaimed Nan. "Nothing is going to happen!"

It was a good thing Nan felt this way, though, as a matter of fact,
something dreadful might happen at any moment. If the cracked beams of
the bridge should break all the way through, the auto would slide down
into the water. And, though the creek was not very deep, still many
would be hurt in the crash.

The Bobbsey twins, being nearest the rear of the auto, were among the
first off. They did what the driver told them--walked quietly off the
bridge.

At the farther end they joined the picnic party that had gotten off the
first truck. And there, almost breathless, they watched the work of
rescue going on.

One by one little boys and girls were lifted down off the truck, and
then, when the last had reached safely the far shore, Mr. Blake, Mrs.
Simpson, and the other men and women made their way carefully to land.

"Aren't you coming?" asked Mr. Blake of the truck driver, for the man
was still close to his big car, looking at it and the sagging floor of
the bridge.

"I want to see if I can get this truck off," he answered. "The machine
isn't damaged any--it's only the bridge. I guess the load was too heavy
for it."

"I heard it cracking as I went over," called the driver of the first
truck. "I shouted a warning to you, but it was too late."

"Yes, it was too late to save the bridge, but maybe I can get my truck
off," the other driver went on. "Anyhow, none of the children is hurt."

And this was so--something for which the Sunday school officers were
very glad, indeed.

"If we had some pieces of wood to put under the bridge, to brace it up,
maybe you could get the truck over," said the driver of the big auto
that was safe on the far shore.

"Why don't you take fence rails?" asked Bert, who felt better, now that
his sisters and brother were all right.

"Yes, we could do that," agreed the driver of the second auto. "Come
on--give me a hand!" he called to his companion.

The two men worked away for a time, and braced up the bridge so that the
auto could be driven carefully over it, though it was not easy to get it
up the hill made when the bridge had sunk into the shape of the letter
V.

But finally the empty second truck was safe on the other side of the
stream, near the first one, and rails were put across the road to warn
other vehicles not to try to cross the bridge. It was safe enough for a
person to walk across, but it would not hold up an auto or a horse and
wagon.

"We may as well go on to the picnic grounds," said Mr. Blake, when the
smaller, frightened children had gotten over their crying.

"How we going to get home again if we can't cross the bridge?" asked
Flossie, looking at the sagging structure.

"Oh, there's another bridge over the creek, about two miles down," the
driver of the second truck said. "That will be all right."

Soon the children and grown folks were on the autos again, and moving
toward the picnic grounds. This time there was not so much merry
laughter and singing, for all felt that there had been a narrow escape
from a terrible accident.

But gloom does not long remain with a party of jolly boys and girls, and
by the time they alighted at Pine Grove each one was in high spirits
again.

There were plenty of amusements at the picnic grounds. Little rustic
pavilions here and there formed places where one could sit in the shade
and eat lunch. There were swings for those who liked them, and boats for
the older ones.

A green meadow, not far away, made a fine baseball field, and Bert,
Charlie, and Dannie, with some of the older boys, at once made a rush
for the field to start a baseball game.

"You take care of the lunch, Nan," Bert begged his older sister. "I'll
come back when it's time to eat."

"Oh, I know that all right!" laughed Nan.

"Can't I play ball?" Freddie called, starting to follow Bert.

"You stay and sail your boat," Bert advised. "I made it for you to sail
on the lake."

"That means I'll have to stay and watch him so he doesn't fall in,"
sighed Nan. "Well, you can't sail it all day, Freddie. I want to have
some fun, too."

"You can sail it when I get tired," Freddie offered.

"I want to go in a big boat--a rowboat!" declared Flossie.

"I'll take you all for a row after the ball game," Bert promised, and
Nan held this pleasure out to them to get them to do what she wanted.

The fun was now in full sway at the picnic grounds. Over in the meadow
the boys were playing ball and shouting, and out on the little lake
were many rowboats containing jolly parties. Some of the picnic folks
had already started to eat their lunches.

"I'm hungry!" declared Freddie, seeing some children with sandwiches.

"So'm I!" added Flossie.

"Well, we can eat a little," decided Nan. She opened one of the smaller
boxes, and took out a few sandwiches. "Let's go over under that tree and
eat," she suggested, and soon they were sitting beneath a big pine tree,
where the ground was covered with the smooth, brown needles.

Flossie had taken only a few bites of her sandwich when she suddenly
jumped up and ran to Nan.

"Oh!" cried the little girl. "There's a snake! A snake!"




CHAPTER III

THE MERRY-GO-ROUND


Nan, though several years older than Flossie, was at first as much
frightened by the cry of "a snake!" as was her little sister. Though
Bert had often said only harmless snakes were in the woods around
Lakeport, Nan could not help jumping up with a scream and pulling
Flossie toward her.

"What's the matter?" asked Freddie, who had taken his sandwich a little
distance away to eat.

"A snake! I saw a big snake!" cried Flossie again.

"Where is it?" asked Nan, for, as yet, she had caught no sight of any
serpent.

"I--I almost sat on it," explained Flossie, clinging to Nan, and looking
down over her shoulder.

Nan glanced toward where her sister had been sitting just before the
alarm. She saw no wiggling snake crawling over the ground.

"Are you sure, Flossie?" Nan asked. "Are you sure you saw a snake?"

"Course I did. He almost put his head in my lap."

"Maybe he was hungry and wanted your sandwich," suggested Freddie. As he
spoke he stepped forward to look at the place Flossie had pointed to as
being the spot where she had seen the snake. And no sooner did Freddie
take a step than Flossie cried:

"There it is again! Oh, the snake! The snake! Don't let him get me,
Nan!"

Nan, too, saw something round and black moving near the place where
Flossie had been sitting, and, fearing for the safety of her sister, the
older Bobbsey girl lifted Flossie in her arms.

But no snake glided across the brown pine needles, and there was no
hissing sound nor any forked tongue playing rapidly in and out, as Nan
had once seen in a little snake Bert and Charlie Mason had caught.

"I don't believe there is a snake," Nan said, as Flossie slipped to the
ground. "If there was one it has gone away."

"I'll hit him with a stone!" cried Freddie, turning to look for a rock.
And as he moved Flossie cried again:

"There it is! I saw it move! That black thing!"

This time she pointed so carefully that Nan, letting her eye follow
along Flossie's finger, saw what the little girl meant. And Nan laughed.

"Why, that isn't a snake!" she cried. "It's only a crooked, black tree
branch! It does look a little like a snake, but it isn't really one,
Flossie."

"But what made it move?" the little girl asked.

"I think it was Freddie, though he didn't do it on purpose," went on
Nan. "Take another step, Freddie, as you did when you were looking for a
stone."

Freddie moved a little and then they all saw what it was that had caused
Flossie's fright. A long, dead branch of a tree lay on the ground. The
larger end of it was close to where Flossie had been sitting with Nan,
and this end did look somewhat like a snake, with a mouth and eyes. The
middle of the stick was covered with pine needles, and the lower end
stuck out beyond the needles and dried leaves close to where Freddie
stood.

When the little boy took a step his foot touched the thin end of the
branch, and made the thick end, near Flossie, move. Flossie took this
for the swaying of a snake's head, and so she had screamed in fright.

"There's your snake--only a tree branch!" laughed Nan, as she lifted the
dead limb and held it up.

"Ho! Ho!" laughed Freddie.

"Was that it--for sure?" asked Flossie.

"Of course!" answered Nan. "Come sit down and finish your sandwich. Then
we'll play until it's time to eat our regular lunch."

"Well, I'm glad it wasn't a real snake," sighed Flossie, as she took her
place with her sister beneath the tree.

"If it had been a real snake I'd 'a' pegged a rock at it!" boasted
Freddie.

This was not the only fright at the picnic, for a little girl about
Flossie's age cried when she saw a big frog in a pool, and a little boy
ran screaming to his mother because a grasshopper perched on his
shoulder.

But things like these always happen at picnics, and when the little
frights were over even the children themselves laughed at their
short-lived terror.

After the ball game Bert and Nan took the smaller Bobbsey twins for a
row in a boat. Everything went well except that Freddie, in trying to
sail his tiny ship over the side of the rowboat, nearly fell in himself.
But Bert caught him just in time and pulled him back.

Then it was time for lunch, and what a good time all the children had,
sitting at tables in the little rustic houses, or on the ground, eating
from boxes and baskets. The Bobbsey twins, with a group of their
friends, sat in a little pavilion by themselves.

Besides the lunch which each child or group of children brought, there
was to be ice cream and cake, given by the Sunday school. The big
freezers had been arranged in a sort of shed, and the cake and cream
treat was to be given after the picnic lunches had been eaten. Just
before the time for this part of the program, Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey
arrived at the grounds, driving over in the auto, as they had promised
to do.

"Well, children, having fun?" asked the father of the Bobbsey twins.

"A dandy time!" exclaimed Bert. "My team won the ball game."

"And I 'most fell out of a boat!" boasted Freddie.

"Pooh! That's nothing! I 'most saw a snake!" exclaimed Flossie.

"A snake!" cried her mother.

"It wasn't real," Nan hastened to add, and Mrs. Bobbsey seemed to
breathe easier.

"Well, you have had some excitement as well as fun," observed Mr.
Bobbsey.

"Excitement!" cried Bert. "Say, Daddy, you ought to have been there when
the truck almost smashed through the bridge!"

"Oh, did that happen?" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey.

"No, but almost," Bert went on.

"Well, it seems to me that everything 'almost' happened," said Mrs.
Bobbsey. "Flossie _almost_ saw a snake, Freddie _almost_ fell overboard
and the truck _almost_ broke the bridge."

"Oh, the bridge really _is_ broken," Nan said. And she told about that
accident. Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey had come to the picnic grounds by another
road, and so had not seen the bridge that sagged in the middle.

"Well, all's well that ends well, so they say," remarked Mr. Bobbsey,
"and we're glad you are having a good time. Yes, Mr. Blake, what is it?"
he asked, for Mr. Blake, had come to where Mr. Bobbsey was talking to
the children, and had called aloud.

"Do you want to help the ladies dish out the ice cream?" asked Mr.
Blake.

"Surely!" answered the twins' father. "Wait until I take off my coat.
Dishing out ice cream is rather messy work."

He removed his coat, hanging it on the limb of a tree near the shed
where the ice cream freezers had been placed. Mrs. Bobbsey also offered
to help, and when it became known that it was time for the ice cream and
cake treat the picnic children began gathering at the rustic shed.

Before the dainties could be served, however, there came from down the
road, in the opposite direction from the broken bridge, a low, rumbling
sound.

"I hope it isn't going to rain," said Mrs. Morris, as she held a plate
of ice cream in one hand.

"What makes you think it is?" Mrs. Bobbsey asked.

"Didn't you hear that thunder? I can't see the sky, on account of the
trees, but I'm afraid it's clouding over."

"No, the sun is shining," said the twins' mother.

"But I'm sure that is thunder," went on Mrs. Morris.

There was a rumbling sound down the road, and there seemed to be some
excitement there, for a number of children who had started toward the
ice cream pavilion turned back.

"I wonder what it is," mused Mrs. Bobbsey. "I hope no 'almost' accidents
are going to happen."

"I'll go see what it is," offered Bert.

He ran down the road, was gone a little while, and came back, his eyes
shining with eagerness.

"Oh, it's a big merry-go-round!" he cried.

"A merry-go-round?" repeated his mother, busy at the ice cream.

"Yes, a man has a big merry-go-round in pieces on three or four big
wagons," Bert reported. "Something's the matter with the engine--it runs
by a steam engine, and something's the matter!"

"Bert, go call your father," said Mrs. Bobbsey, for her husband had gone
to the far side of the grove to get another ice cream tub from the truck
on which they were brought to the picnic. "We don't want any strange men
setting up a merry-go-round here. Call your father!"




CHAPTER IV

A MISSING COAT


Mr. Bobbsey came hurrying over to the ice cream pavilion, with Bert
almost running beside him to keep up with his father.

"What's all this, Mother?" asked Mr. Bobbsey, who, with his coat off and
his sleeves rolled up, was working hard to help the ladies at the Sunday
school picnic. "What's all this about a merry-go-round coming here?"

"I don't know that it is coming here," answered Mrs. Bobbsey, with a
smile. "But some sort of affair is thundering along the road. You can
see the crowd of children near it. A merry-go-round some one said. I
thought perhaps some men owning one of those traveling affairs had heard
about our picnic and had come here to set up a machine. We don't want
anything like that."

"No," agreed Mr. Bobbsey with a smile. "We don't. I'll go see about it,"
and off he went, followed by Bert. Nan, with Flossie and Freddie, had
already joined the group of children down near the road that extended
along one edge of the picnic grove.

As Bert and his father neared the place, a loud, hissing sound was heard
and a white cloud of steam shot into the air, while the little ones
screamed and scattered.

"What's that?" cried Bert.

"I hope those youngsters don't go too near!" murmured Mr. Bobbsey. "The
safety valve of his steam engine is blowing off. He's got too much
pressure on. It may be dangerous," and Mr. Bobbsey broke into a run,
which Bert imitated as well as he could with his shorter legs.

However, there was no great danger. As Mr. Bobbsey had said, the safety
valve of a steam engine, on one of the trucks which carried the
merry-go-round outfit, was blowing off, and a short, stout man, with a
very red face, and a lanky boy, wearing ragged clothes, were working
about the engine.

"Keep back, children! Keep back!" called Mr. Bobbsey, as he reached the
road. "This merry-go-round isn't going to be set up here. Keep back out
of danger!"

"That's what I wish they'd do, mister!" said the red-faced man in no
very friendly voice. "They're under foot, and some of 'em may get
stepped on. I've got trouble enough without a bunch of kids getting in
the way."

He did not speak very nicely of children, Bert thought, and Nan was
evidently of the same opinion from the way in which she looked at her
brother. Flossie and Freddie thought nothing of this. They were too
excited in looking at the merry-go-round outfit.

This fun-making machine was loaded on four large trucks, hauled by four
sturdy horses each. On one truck was an engine, with a fire in it and
smoke and steam coming from it. It was this that seemed to be causing
the trouble which the red-faced man and the lanky boy were trying to
make better.

Behind the engine truck, which was in the lead, were three other trucks,
and the drivers of the horses kept to their seats, not offering to help
the red-faced man.

The three trucks were piled high with the frame and roof of the
merry-go-round. There were posts, boards, long iron rods, greasy cog
wheels and all sorts of queer things. But what interested the children
most were the wooden animals that made up the more showy part of the
merry-go-round. There were horses, lions, tigers, camels, elephants,
zebras, an ostrich and a cow.

"Oh, I want to ride on the cow!" cried Freddie.

"I'm going to get on the lion's back!" exclaimed Flossie.

"No, I want the lion, you can have the cow!" yelled Freddie. "I want the
lion!"

"I had him first! I choosed him first an' he's mine! Daddy, can't I have
the lion?" begged Flossie.

"Hush, children!" said Mr. Bobbsey, as Freddie opened his mouth to wail
that he wanted the king of beasts. "The merry-go-round isn't going to be
set up here. No one is going to get a ride."

"That's what, mister!" exclaimed the red-faced man. "I'm not going to
stop here. I'm on my way to the Bolton County Fair with this
merry-go-round outfit. I'm going to be there for a week or more. Just
had a little trouble with this engine. I got steam up on it while on the
road to see what the matter was."

"Is it fixed now?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.

"Yes, seems to be. Here, Bob," he called to the lanky boy, "haul the
fire now, and we'll let her cool down. I guess she'll work now. Got up a
good steam pressure, anyhow."

The ragged boy did something to the engine, when suddenly a burst of
melody struck on the ears of all, and from an organ there was ground out
a gay dancing tune.

"Oh, music!" cried Flossie.

"Where's the hand organ monkey?" Freddie wanted to know.

"I'm going to get Grace and we can dance!" exclaimed Nan, for she and
her chums did simple little dances at school.

"I want to see the monkey!" wailed Freddie again.

"There isn't any monkey," Bert said. "It isn't exactly a hand organ.
It's one that works by steam, I imagine," he said. "It's part of the
merry-go-round."

"That's right. It's a good organ, too," said the ragged, lanky boy, who
was working away at the engine, while the red-faced man had started for
the front of the truck. Hearing the melody the red-faced man turned to
the boy and angrily cried:

"Here! I didn't tell you to turn that music on! Shut it off, do you
hear!"

"My, what a cross man!" said Flossie, in what she meant to be a whisper.

"Hush!" her father said.

"Shut that organ off! What'd you turn it on for, Bob?" grumbled the man.

"I didn't turn it on, Mr. Blipper. It turned itself on--too much steam,
I guess."

"Well, shut it off, do you hear! I don't want to play music when I don't
get any money for it. Shut it off!"

The boy did something to the engine and the organ music died away in a
sad wail.

"Oh, dear!" sighed Flossie.

"Now we can't have any dance," lamented Nan.

"How long are you going to stop here, Mr.--er--did I understand your
name was Blipper?" asked Mr. Bobbsey, thinking he might arrange to have
the organ played a little while for the children.

"Blipper is my name--Aaron Blipper," answered the man. "Sole owner and
proprietor of Blipper's Merry-Go-Round which will exhibit for a week,
and maybe more, at the Bolton County Fair."

"My name is Bobbsey," went on the father of the twins. "Your name and
mine have the same first letter, anyhow. I was going to say that if you
were going to remain here a while I'd give you a dollar to let the organ
play for the children. This is a Sunday school picnic."

"I guessed it was," said Mr. Blipper. "Well, if you was to give me a
dollar I'd have Bob turn the music on again. I think a dollar will pay
for what coal I burn in the engine. The organ is worked by the engine. I
can't turn it by hand, or I'd let Bob do that. But I'll play for a
dollar."

"Here you are then," said Mr. Bobbsey, and he passed over a bill.

"Turn the organ on, Bob!" ordered Mr. Blipper. "And while we're waiting
here get a pail and water the horses. Might as well make yourself useful
as well as ornamental."

To the Bobbsey twins it seemed that Bob had been making himself busy, if
not useful, ever since the merry-go-round had halted near the picnic
grounds.

The boy turned a handle and once more the organ began grinding out music
of one kind or another. It was not very good, of course, but it pleased
the children. Soon Flossie and Freddie were dancing on the green grass
beside the road, and Nan and many of the other children were also
enjoying themselves in this way. Though it was a Sunday school picnic,
such simple dances as the children did could not be found fault with by
any one.

Bert and his especial chums did not dance. They walked about the trucks
of the merry-go-round, looking at the wooden animals. Mainly, however,
they were interested in the steam engine which not only turned the
machine around, once it was set up, but also played the organ.

"I'd like to see this thing going," said Charlie Mason.

"So would I," agreed Dannie Rugg.

"Maybe my father will take me to the Bolton County Fair," remarked Bert.
"If he does I'll have a ride."

Then the ragged boy, who had been watering the horses, while the drivers
dozed on their high seats, came up with an empty pail. He looked at the
engine, changed the organ so that it played a different tune and let
some hot water run out of a little faucet.

"Do you know how to run the engine?" asked Bert.

"Sure I do!"

"What's your name?" asked Charlie.

"Bob."

"Bob what?" Dannie wanted to know.

"Bob Guess."

"Bob Guess! That's a queer name," remarked Bert.

"Well, it isn't exactly my real name," the ragged lad went on. "I'm an
orphan. I haven't had any real folks in a long time. I was taken out of
the asylum by this man, so he says. He adopted me, I reckon, and he
said he gave me that name 'cause he had to _guess_ what my real name
was. So I'm called Bob Guess."

"A queer name," murmured Bert. "But I'd like to know how to work a steam
engine."

"So'd I!" agreed the other boys.

"Pooh! It's easy," said Bob Guess, who seemed to like to show off. For
he turned another little faucet, thereby sending out a cloud of steam,
and causing Charlie Mason to jump back.

"Don't be skeered! It won't hurt you!" laughed Bob.

"Isn't it hot?"

"Not after it comes from the boiler. Look, I can hold my hand right in
it," which Bob Guess did, letting a cloud of steam envelop both his
rather dirty hands.

"Whew!" whistled Dannie, in amazement.

"I'm going to try it!" said Bert, rightly guessing that at a short
distance from the faucet the steam cooled off; which was true, as you
know if you have ever "felt" of the steam coming from a house radiator
on a cold day.

But as Bert stretched out his hand to test the steam as Bob had done,
Mr. Blipper called from where he stood talking to the driver of the last
truck.

"Stop monkeying with that engine, Bob!" yelled the red-faced man. "You
want to get it all out of kilter again!"

"I was only testin' the steam gauge," the boy answered.

"Well, you let it alone, do you hear, and water the horses."

"I have watered 'em!"

"Well, water 'em some more! I'm not going to stop again till I get to
the Bolton County Fair if I can help it."

"He's sort of cross, isn't he?" asked Charlie, as Bob moved off.

"More than that--he's mean!" declared the ragged lad.

Bert and his chums stood looking at the steam engine and listening to
the organ, while Nan and the smaller children danced. Then up came Mr.
Blipper.

"I guess this is a dollar's worth of music," he announced.

"I believe so," agreed Mr. Bobbsey, with a smile. "The children have
enjoyed it. Thank you!"

"Um!" grunted Mr. Blipper. "Here you, Bob!" he roared. "Come and shut
off this steam. We're going to travel!"

He climbed up on the seat, and Bob, after hanging the water pail on a
hook beneath the truck, shut off the engine. The organ ceased playing,
and the trucks containing the merry-go-round lumbered off.

"Good-by!" called the Bobbsey twins.

"Good-by!" echoed Bob Guess.

"I wonder if we'll ever see him again," murmured Bert.

And he was to see the strange lad again, under queer circumstances.

"Come, children, your ice cream will get cold!" called Mrs. Bobbsey, who
had come from the pavilion to summon the little guests.

"Ice cream get cold! Ha! Ha!" laughed Grace Lavine.

"I like mine cold," chuckled Dannie Rugg.

Back across the fields ran the merry, laughing children. The Sunday
school picnic, in spite of the danger at the bridge, had turned out most
wonderfully.

Soon the caravan of the merry-go-round was but a series of faint specks
down the dusty road. It was taking a route that would not take it across
the broken bridge.

The Bobbsey twins and their friends sat about eating ice cream and cake,
and some of them talked about the strange boy and the organ that was
played by steam.

"I'm going to have an organ like that when I grow up," said Freddie.

"An' I'm goin' to help you play it, an' ride on a lion," added Flossie,
and the others laughed.

Picnics, however delightful, cannot go on forever, and this one came to
an end as the afternoon shadows were falling. Mr. Bobbsey had been very
busy helping his wife and the other ladies, and now, as the time came
for him to go home in the small auto in which he and his wife had ridden
to the grove, he rolled down his sleeves, and looked about him.

"What are you after?" his wife asked.

"My coat. I hung it on a tree limb right here, I thought."

"Yes, I saw you," said Nan.

"But it isn't here now!" her father went on.

"Here's some sort of coat," announced Bert, picking up one from the
ground under a tree near the ice cream pavilion.

"That's where I hung my coat," said Mr. Bobbsey. "And this coat isn't
mine. Mine was a good, new one. This is an old, ragged one. Dear me! I
hope my coat hasn't been stolen! It had some money in one pocket, and
also some papers I need at the lumber office! Where is my coat?"




CHAPTER V

SAM IS WORRIED


While fathers, mothers, and other relatives were gathering up their own
children, or children of whom they had charge, to see that they were
safely loaded into the two big trucks to go home from the picnic, the
Bobbsey twins--at least Bert and Nan--were searching for their father's
coat. Flossie and Freddie were too small to pay much attention to
anything of this sort. The smaller twins were talking about the
merry-go-round and starting over again the dispute as to who should ride
on the wooden lion.

"Are you sure you left your coat hanging on the tree limb?" asked Mrs.
Bobbsey.

"I'm certain of it," her husband answered. "And this old coat never was
mine--I wouldn't own it!"

He dropped to the ground the ragged garment that had been found lying
beneath the tree.

"I thought maybe you had hung your coat over by the ice cream shed,"
went on Mrs. Bobbsey. "You may have done that and have forgotten about
it."

"No, I didn't do that," said the father of the Bobbsey twins. "I
remember hanging my coat on the tree, for I recall noticing what a
regular hook, like one on our rack at home, a broken piece of the branch
made. My coat was here. But it's gone now, and this old one is left in
place of it."

There was no question about that. Search as Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey and the
children did, over the picnic grounds, the lumberman's coat, with money
in one pocket and papers in another, was gone.

"Who do you s'pose could have taken it?" asked Nan, as her father looked
about him with a puzzled air.

"I don't know," he answered, "unless----"

"Maybe it was tramps!" interrupted Bert.

"There weren't any tramps here on our picnic grounds," said Mrs.
Bobbsey. "Some of the drivers of the merry-go-round trucks looked like
tramps, but they didn't get off their seats, did they?"

"Not that I noticed," her husband answered. "Well, there's no use
looking farther. My coat is gone--stolen I'm afraid. This old one is
left in its place. I haven't any use for this," and he kicked it to one
side. "Never mind. It isn't cold. I can ride home without a coat."

"There's a lap robe in the auto," Mrs. Bobbsey said. "You can wrap that
about you if you get chilly on the way home."

"Yes," agreed Mr. Bobbsey, "I can do that. Trot along, Bobbsey twins.
Get into your picnic truck, and we'll see who gets home first."

"Like Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf," laughed Flossie.

While Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey walked over to where Mr. Bobbsey had left the
runabout auto in which he and his wife had come to the picnic grounds,
Bert, Nan, and the other children took their places in the big truck.

     "Merrily we roll along--roll along--roll along!"

Some one started that song as the trucks rumbled out of the picnic
grove. On account of the broken bridge a different road home had to be
taken; a longer one. Having a lighter car than the trucks, Mr. Bobbsey
and his wife could go faster than the loads of merry-makers, and the
twins waved good-by to their parents, who were soon lost to sight.

"I guess they'll get home first," said Nan to Bert.

"I guess so--I Bob Guess so!" he added, making a joke on the name of the
strange lad who had worked the steam organ of the merry-go-round.

"I feel sorry for that boy," said Nan. "Mr. Blipper was so cross and
mean to him."

"Yes, he was cross," agreed Bert. "I hope daddy finds his coat," he
added. "It's funny to have a coat stolen at a Sunday school picnic."

"Maybe somebody took it by mistake," suggested his sister.

"I don't believe they would, and leave an old ragged coat in place of a
good one," Bert remarked.

"Maybe not," said Nan.

The picnic party was rather more quiet on the journey home than it had
been on the way to Pine Grove. The reason was that the children were
tired, and some of them sleepy. They sang for a while after leaving the
grove, Bert and Nan starting many melodies in which the others joined.

But finally the songs died away, and about the only noise that was heard
was the rumble of the big trucks.

"Do we have to cross any bridges?" asked Mrs. Morris, of the driver of
the auto in which she rode with the Bobbsey twins.

"One bridge--yes, lady," was the answer.

"Dear me! I hope it doesn't break down as the white one did to-day,"
exclaimed the nervous little lady.

"No danger. It's a big iron one," said the driver.

"I'm glad of that," went on Mrs. Morris. "I'm always worried when I
cross a bridge."

But there were no more accidents. The trucks took a little longer
returning to Lakeport than they had making the trip earlier in the day,
for they had to go a roundabout way. But finally the outskirts of the
town were reached, and the children began getting off as they neared
their homes.

"Good-by! Good-by!" they called one to another.

Finally the home of the Bobbsey twins came in sight in the early summer
evening.

"Good-by, Bert and Nan!" called their chums.

"Good-by, Flossie and Freddie!"

"Good-by! Good-by!" echoed the Bobbsey twins.

"Dad is home ahead of us," remarked Bert to Nan, as they went up the
steps.

"How do you know?" asked Nan.

"Because I see the runabout there," and Bert pointed toward the garage.
"Seems to be something wrong," Bert went on. "Mother is there and so is
Sam."

"Let's go see what it is," suggested Nan, as Dinah came to the door,
calling:

"Am mah honey lambs safe an' sound?"

"Yes, Dinah!" said Freddie. "And I'm hungry, too!"

"Ah spects yo' is, honey! Ah spects yo' is!" laughed the jolly, fat
cook. "Come right in yeah an' hab some cake!"

"I'm going to ride on a lion, I am!" stated Flossie.

"Good lan', chile! A lion!" exclaimed Dinah, raising her hands in
surprise.

"Yep! A lion!"

"Oh, mah honey lamb! Don't yo' do no sich a thing!" cried Dinah. "A lion
done eat yo' laigs off!"

"'Tisn't a real lion. I mean a wooden lion on a merry-go-round like we
saw to-day," Flossie explained.

"Oh, a wooden lion!" and Dinah laughed. "Well, come in yeah, honey
lambs, an' I'll feed yo'. Ah'll make beliebe yo' all is hungry lions,
an' Ah'll feed yo'!"

And while Flossie and Freddie went into the house with Dinah, Bert and
Nan hurried toward the garage, where they saw their father and mother
talking with Sam Johnson.

"I's done suah I put dat lap robe in de auto," said Dinah's husband.

"I thought you did, Sam," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Yet when Mr. Bobbsey
looked for it, to put around him, as he had no coat, the robe was gone."

"Are you sure it isn't in the garage, Sam?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.

"Sartin suah, sah! I done put it in de little auto when yo' all started
off, 'case I reckoned it'd be dusty."

"Well, the lap robe is gone like my coat," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Too bad,
for it was a new one."

"It suah am too bad!" declared Sam. "Yo' all has me worried!"

"Well, you don't need to worry, Sam," said Mrs. Bobbsey kindly. "It
isn't your fault. I know you put the robe in the auto, for I saw it when
we started. But when I wanted it to wrap around Mr. Bobbsey, after his
coat was taken, and it was cool riding home, the robe was gone."

"Stolen, Mother, do you think?" asked Nan.

"I wouldn't say that. It may have fallen out on the way."

"Well, that's two things gone the same day," said Mr. Bobbsey, who was
still in his shirt sleeves, as he had come from the picnic. "My coat and
the lap robe. I guess that Blipper's merry-go-round, which is to show at
the Bolton County Fair, didn't bring me any good luck."

Bert and Nan were wondering if Bob Guess or the red-faced man knew
anything of their father's coat and the missing lap robe when from the
kitchen Dinah's voice excitedly called:

"Come heah! Come heah if yo' please, Mr. Bobbsey! Suffin's done gone an'
happened!"

"Oh, dear!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey. "What's the matter now?"




CHAPTER VI

HAPPY DAYS COMING


When Dinah called in this fashion, with worry making itself heard in her
voice, Mrs. Bobbsey always hurried to see what the matter was. Generally
it was something the smaller Bobbsey twins had done. And as she knew
Flossie and Freddie were now in the kitchen, Mother Bobbsey feared one
of the smaller children had been hurt.

"What is it, Dinah?" asked the mother, as she hurried back toward the
house. Bert and Nan, with their father, waiting only a moment, followed
Mrs. Bobbsey.

"I should think Freddie and Flossie would have had enough fun at the
picnic not to want to do any more cutting up," remarked Nan.

"You never can tell what those tykes will do," observed Bert. "I don't
hear either of 'em yelling, and that's a good sign."

But just as he spoke there came a wail from the kitchen, which, by this
time, Mrs. Bobbsey had reached, disappearing within.

"That's Flossie," said Nan.

Again came the voice of a little child, crying either in fear or in
delight at some funny happening, it could not be told which.

"There goes Freddie, letting off steam," said Bert. "I guess it isn't
anything very much. Freddie always laughs in that squealing way when
something tickles him."

Mr. Bobbsey, with the two older twins, entered the kitchen soon after
Mrs. Bobbsey. There stood Flossie and Freddie before a low kitchen
table, one leaf of which was down, so that whatever was under could not
be seen very well, on account of the shadow cast by the electric light.
And beside Flossie and Freddie stood Dinah.

"What's the matter?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.

"Dinah says Snoop, our cat, has caught some sort of animal and has it
under the table," said Mrs. Bobbsey.

"It's a big animal and it's got fur on," declared Flossie, greatly
excited.

"An' it's got yellow eyes and four legs an' it's long--it's as long as
my arm!" added Freddie, his eyes big with wonder. "Oh, it was awful
funny!" he went on, squealing with delight. "I saw Snoop drag it under
the table and I called Dinah. Didn't I, Dinah?"

"Dat's whut yo' done, honey lamb! Ah don't know whut it is Snoop has,
Mis' Bobbsey," went on the colored cook, "but it's some sort o'
animile!"

"And Snoop growled, he did, when he dragged it under the table!"
exclaimed Flossie. "I heard Snoop growl, I did! Listen!"

Surely enough the cat growled again, just as a lion or a tiger in the
jungle would growl after catching its dinner--only not so loud, of
course.

"Oh!" murmured Flossie, making a dive for her mother's skirts.

"There! Look! I saw its tail!" cried Freddie.

As he spoke just a flash of some furry animal was seen under the table
where Snoop had gone to hide.

"I hope it isn't a little skunk!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Don't worry!" advised her husband. "If it was a young skunk that Snoop
had, you'd have known it long before this. And Snoop never would try to
catch a skunk--Snoop would know better."

"But what is it? He has something!" insisted Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Maybe I can coax Snoop out," put in Nan. "He minds me better than he
does any one else. Here, Snoop! Come on out, nice Snoop!" she called in
a gentle voice.

But Snoop only growled in answer, and seemed to be shaking, beneath the
table, the unknown animal he had caught and dragged there.

"Shall I get the rake and pull him out?" asked Bert.

"No, you might hurt him," replied Mr. Bobbsey. "Go out to the garage and
get the big flash lamp from Sam. I can shine that under the table and we
can see what it is before we do anything. Evidently Snoop isn't going to
come out until he gets ready. And it may be he has a large rat or----"

Dinah gave a scream.

"Oh--a rat!" she cried.

"Maybe it's only a little mouse--I like a funny little mouse," said
Flossie.

"Well, I don't," said Dinah. "They eats mah food."

"Maybe it's only a little mole from the garden," went on Mr. Bobbsey.

"It's bigger'n a ground mole!" declared Freddie. "I saw it, an' it's
long and brown and has legs an' brown eyes that shine."

"Well, whatever it is it can't be very dangerous," said Mr. Bobbsey. "If
it was, Snoop never would have dared to get it. But I don't want to
reach under there in the dark and perhaps get bitten and scratched by
Snoop, or whatever he has. We'll wait for the flash light."

Bert now came running in with this, Sam following when he heard that the
cat had something strange under the table in the kitchen.

"Dey suah am lots ob t'ings happenin' dis day," observed Sam.

Mr. Bobbsey flashed the light under the table. The four twins had
stooped down to get a better view, and Freddie cried:

"I see its eyes shining!"

"I can see its tail! Oh, no, that's Snoop's tail!" added Flossie.

"Snoop, what have you there? Stop growling and give it to me!" demanded
Mr. Bobbsey, thrusting his hand under the table.

"Be careful," advised his wife. "It may bite."

Mr. Bobbsey laughed and thrust his hand farther under the table. There
was a little scuffle as Snoop tried to hold fast to what he had. He
clung so hard to it with teeth and claws that he was dragged over the
smooth linoleum on the floor.

"Here's your wild beast!" cried Mr. Bobbsey, as he arose, and held
something covered with brown fur dangling from one hand.

"What is it?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey. "That's not a rat."

"No, it's your fur neck piece," her husband said, with a laugh.

"Oh, I wore it to the picnic, for I thought it would be cool coming
home," said Mrs. Bobbsey, as she took the piece of fur. "And I laid it
on the hall table. I forgot about Snoop. He must have seen it, thought
it was a strange animal, and carried it away with him. Oh, Snoop!" and
she shook her finger at the cat which, now that it had nothing to play
with, came out from beneath the table.

"It does look like an animal," said Nan.

And indeed the fur piece did. For it was fashioned with an imitation of
an animal's head, with yellow glass eyes. The fur piece was quite long
and four little legs were fastened to it. So that it is no wonder a cat,
or even a boy or a girl, at first look, would take it for something
real.

"Well, Snoop had a good time with it, while it lasted," said Mr.
Bobbsey, with a laugh.

"And my fur wouldn't have lasted much longer with him, if he'd started
to claw and bite it," remarked Mrs. Bobbsey. "I'm glad you called me in,
Dinah."

"Yessum, Ah thought maybe yo'd better see what the cat had, 'cause Ah
couldn't make out what 'twas," the cook answered.

"Well, now that the excitement is over, we'd better have supper," said
Mr. Bobbsey. "Or did you youngsters have enough at the picnic to last
until morning?"

"We want to eat now!" decided Bert. "That wasn't so much we had at the
picnic."

"I guess you were extra hungry, from being out of doors all day," his
mother said. "Well, supper will soon be ready."

As they ate they talked over the fun they had had at Pine Grove, and
Flossie remarked:

"I'm going to ride on a wooden lion, I am--on the merry-go-round. I'm
going to ride on the lion."

"So'm I," declared Freddie. "There are two lions, an' I'm going to ride
on one an' Flossie on the other one."

"Where's your merry-go-round?" asked Nan.

"At the fair--the Bolton County Fair," said Freddie. "I heard that funny
red-faced man say so."

"But the Bolton Fair is a long way off," went on Nan.

"Daddy will take us; won't you?" asked Flossie. "Can't we go to the
fair and ride on the merry-go-round?" she teased.

"Well, I don't know," answered Mr. Bobbsey slowly. "I suppose it would
be a good thing to visit a big county fair, and this is one of the
largest."

"But we'd have to go and stay for some time," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Bolton
is a long way off. We couldn't go and come the same day."

"One ought to spend more than a day at a big fair if he wants to see
everything," went on Mr. Bobbsey. "I never could stay as long as I
wanted to when I was a boy. Now, I was thinking perhaps we could all go
to Meadow Brook Farm for a little visit. From Meadow Brook it isn't far
to the Bolton County Fair."

"Oh, let's go!" cried Bert and Nan.

"What about school?" asked their mother.

"School doesn't open until later this fall than usual," explained Mr.
Bobbsey. "They are repairing the school house and the work will not be
finished in time for the regular fall opening. I know, for the school
board buys lumber of me.

"So, as long as the children don't have to be back until the middle of
October, we could all go to Meadow Brook, and from there visit the fair.
Would you like that?" he asked his wife.

"I think it would be lovely!"

"So do I!" echoed the Bobbsey twins.

"Well, then, we'll think about it," promised their father. "You will
have some happy days to think about until it is time to go. And now I
think it is time for my little Fairy and my brave Fireman to go to bed."
Daddy Bobbsey sometimes called the small twins by these pet names. "Come
on! Up to bed!" he called. "We'll talk more about the Bolton County Fair
another day!"

As he was carrying the smaller children up to bed, a style of travel the
little twins loved, there came a ring at the front door bell. Dinah, who
answered, came back to say:

"Dere's a p'liceman outside whut wants to see yo', Mr. Bobbsey."

"A policeman?"

"Yas, sah!"

"A policeman for me?"

"Yas, sah!"

"Dear me!" Mr. Bobbsey murmured. "What can be the matter now!"

"Oh, Daddy!" squealed Flossie, at once filled with excitement.

"What do you suppose----" began Bert, and then stopped in the midst of
his speech.

"Maybe he has found your lost coat," suggested Nan, as her father put
Flossie and Freddie down in an easy chair.




CHAPTER VII

THE CRYING BOY


There had been so much excitement over the strange "animal" which Snoop
had under the table that, for a time, the Bobbsey twins had forgotten
about their father's coat having been taken at the picnic. Nor had they
remembered about the missing lap robe. But now, as Nan said this, every
one--except perhaps the smaller twins--thought about the things that
were gone.

"Oh, that's so!" exclaimed Bert, following what his sister said. "Maybe
the policeman has come to bring back your lost coat, Daddy!"

"I hope he has," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Not only do I not want to lose the
coat, for a suit of clothes isn't of much use without a coat, but I
don't like to lose the money and papers."

"No, sah, Mr. Bobbsey, de p'liceman didn't hab no coat," said Dinah.

"He didn't?" remarked Mr. Bobbsey.

"No, sah. He didn't."

"Well then, I can't imagine what he wants," went on the father of the
Bobbsey twins. "Ask him to come in, Dinah."

In came the policeman. He was one the children knew, from having often
seen him pass the house.

"Good evening, Mr. Bobbsey," said the officer, the light flashing on his
brass buttons. "I came up to see about a lap robe stolen from your
auto."

"Did you find it?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey. "I'm so glad! And did you find
Mr. Bobbsey's coat, also?"

"Why, no, Mrs. Bobbsey, I didn't," answered Policeman Murphy. "I didn't
know about any lost coat. I was just sent up from the police station to
inquire about the robbery of a lap robe. Somebody telephoned down that a
policeman was wanted because a lap robe had been stolen. That's why I
came up--because of the telephone message."

"Telephone!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey. "I didn't telephone for you, Mr.
Murphy."

"Neither did I," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Perhaps it was one of the
children," and she looked at Bert and Nan.

The older Bobbsey twins shook their heads. Flossie and Freddie, though
they knew how to telephone, would hardly have thought of calling up the
police. But they were asked about it.

"Nope, we didn't do it," Flossie said. "Though we likes p'licemans;
don't we, Freddie?"

"Yeppie," he answered sleepily. "When I grows up I'm goin' be a
p'licemans or a firesmans--I forget which."

"He's sleepy," laughed the officer. "But what about this, Mr. Bobbsey?
Some one must have telephoned."

"Yes, of course. I wonder if it could have been Mr. Blipper or that lad
who called himself Bob Guess?"

"Who are they?" the officer asked.

"Mr. Blipper is a man who owns a merry-go-round he takes to fairs and
circuses. He passed the picnic grounds where we were to-day. He's on his
way to the Bolton County Fair. He had with him a boy named Bob
Guess--called that because the lad is an orphan and they had to 'guess'
at his name. Soon after this Blipper and his outfit left, I missed my
coat, and, coming home, we found the lap robe gone. I was going to ride
after him, but we had a little excitement here, and I haven't had a
chance. Then you came along and----"

The sound of steps was heard on the side porch, and in came Sam, quite
excited.

"'Scuse me!" he murmured, as he entered. "Oh, de p'liceman done come!"
he exclaimed. "He's heah! I'm glad!"

"Did you expect him?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.

"Yes, sah, Mr. Bobbsey, I did! When de lap robe was gone I t'ought maybe
you t'ink I might 'a' been careless like, an' let some chicken t'ieves
in. So I telephoned fo' a p'liceman to come an' see if he could cotch de
burglar!"

"Oh, Sam, you didn't need to do that!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey. "We know
it wasn't your fault that the lap robe was taken, any more than it was
that Mr. Bobbsey's coat was stolen."

"Of course not!" echoed her husband.

"Well, I t'ought better we have a p'liceman," murmured Sam.

"I don't know what there is for him to do," said Mr. Bobbsey. "As nearly
as I can figure it out, my coat was stolen at the picnic grounds and the
lap robe was taken about the same time."

"It was," agreed Mrs. Bobbsey. "And I think that Blipper--or perhaps Bob
Guess--had something to do with both thefts."

"It might be," replied the officer. "Those traveling show people aren't
very careful, sometimes. I'll report back to the chief and see what he
says. If we get sight of this merry-go-round crowd, Mr. Bobbsey, we'll
stop them and ask them about your coat and the robe."

"Thank you, I wish you would. But I don't imagine you'll see them. They
are on their way to Bolton, and we shall be there ourselves next week,
so we can make some inquiries."

Officer Murphy left, finding there was nothing he could do. Flossie and
Freddie were carried up to bed, and Nan danced about the room, singing:

"We're going to the fair! We're going to the fair! We're going to the
Bolton County Fair!"

And Bert echoed:

"Maybe we'll find daddy's coat when we get there!"

Then, tired but happy over their fun at the picnic and too sleepy to
worry much over the lost articles, the Bobbsey twins at last went to
bed.

As their parents had said, school would not open as early that fall as
in other years, because some rebuilding work was being done in a few of
the rooms. So there was time to go to Meadow Brook, and from there to
visit Bolton, a few miles away, where the big fair was being held.

"Do you really think we can go, Mother?" asked Nan, the next day.

"I don't see why not. Your father seems to have made up his mind to it."

"Well, I hope he doesn't change it, as he does sometimes," said Bert,
with a laugh. "They're going to have airships and a balloon at the
fair, Charlie Mason says, and maybe I can go up in the balloon. Wouldn't
that be great, Nan?"

"I'm not going up in any balloon!"

"I am!" decided Bert, as if that was all there was to it.

"An' I'm going to ride on a lion!" cried Flossie.

"So'm I!" chimed in her brother Freddie.

Uncle Daniel Bobbsey and his wife Sarah, with their son Harry, lived at
Meadow Brook Farm. The Bobbsey twins had been there more than once, as
those who have read the other books of this series will remember. And
now it was proposed to go there again.

"But we'll be at the fair more than we will be at Meadow Brook, sha'n't
we?" asked Nan of her father.

"Well, sort of betwixt and between," he answered, with a laugh.

Uncle Daniel having been written to, said he would be delighted to have
his brother and his brother's family come out for the remainder of the
summer and early fall. And in about a week all preparations were made.

The trip was to be made in the Bobbsey's big auto, and would take about
a day. By starting early in the morning Meadow Brook Farm could be
reached by night. From there it was only a short distance to Bolton
where, each year, a big fair was held.

"And if I see that Bob Guess I'll make him tell where daddy's coat is!"
declared Bert.

"And the lap robe, too!" added Nan.

It was a fine, sunny day when the start was made. Into the auto piled
the Bobbsey twins, with boxes and baskets of lunch.

"It's like another picnic!" laughed Nan, as she saw Bert piling away the
good things to eat.

"Hab a good time, honey lambs!" called fat Dinah, as she and her husband
stood on the steps, waving good-by.

"Take good care of Snoop and Snap!" begged Nan.

"We will!" promised Sam.

Snap, the dog, wanted to come along, but as he could not very well be
looked after on this trip he had to be left behind, much to his sorrow.
He howled dismally as the auto went down the road.

Not very much happened on the way to Meadow Brook. Once a tire was
punctured and Mr. Bobbsey had to stop to put on a spare one. But this
happened near a garage, so he had a man from there do the work, while he
and his wife, with the twins, went into a little grove of trees and ate
lunch.

"Be careful of your coat!" warned Mrs. Bobbsey, as her husband took it
off and hung it on a tree while he built a fire to heat the water for
tea.

"Oh, no one is going to steal this one!" he said. "Anyhow, it's an old
one. But there's no one here to take it. No Mr. Blipper or Bob Guess
around now."

"Well, don't forget, and go off, leaving it hang on the tree," warned
his wife.

"I won't," said Mr. Bobbsey.

A fire was made, and as Mrs. Bobbsey was sitting with her back against a
stump, comfortably sipping her tea, she heard the sound of crying. As
Bert and Nan, with Flossie and Freddie, were gathering flowers not far
away, Mrs. Bobbsey could see that it was none of her twins who was
sobbing.

But the crying kept up, and she looked around to see whence it came. Mr.
Bobbsey was busy packing up the lunch things, for there was enough food
left to serve a little tea around five o'clock, since Meadow Brook Farm
would not be reached before seven o'clock that evening, on account of
the delay over the tire.

"Who is that crying, Dick?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Crying? Why, I don't hear--yes, I do, too!" her husband added, as the
sound of sobs came to his ears. He looked to make sure his own children
were all right and then glanced about.

As he did so there came from a little clump of trees, not far from the
grove where the Bobbseys had eaten lunch, a ragged boy, who seemed in
pain or distress, for he was crying very hard.

"Oh, the poor lad!" said Mrs. Bobbsey in a kind voice. "Go see what the
matter is, Dick! He is in trouble of some sort! I wonder who he is?"

"Yes, without doubt, the lad's in trouble. We'll see what we can do,"
answered the father of the twins.

The crying boy walked slowly toward the Bobbsey family, and now the
twins, hearing his sobs, looked up in wonder from their
flower-gathering.




CHAPTER VIII

ANGRY MR. BLIPPER


"Why, it's Bob Guess!" cried Bert, dropping his bunch of flowers, so
excited was he. "It's Bob Guess!"

"So it is!" agreed Nan. "And he's crying."

There was no doubt of that: It was Bob Guess, the lad the Bobbsey twins
had seen working at the merry-go-round engine the day of the Sunday
school picnic. Bob came slowly along, sobbing hard.

"What's the matter, Bob?" asked Bert, who had taken a liking to the
ragged chap. For the time being Mr. Bobbsey's missing coat and the lap
robe were forgotten. "Why are you crying?"

"Can we help you?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.

Bob Guess ceased sobbing and looked up. He seemed surprised to see the
children and their parents.

"Oh, I--I didn't know anybody was here," he stammered.

"That's all right," said Mr. Bobbsey. "If there's anything we can do to
help you---- Where's Mr. Blipper, by the way? There is something I
should like to ask him. Or perhaps you can tell me."

"Not now, Dick, not now," said Mrs. Bobbsey in a whisper, with a shake
of her head at her husband. She knew what he wanted to ask--about his
coat and the robe. "Not now; he is too miserable," she went on.

"Has anything happened?" asked Mr. Bobbsey, changing his first line of
questions.

"Ye--yes," stammered Bob, not sobbing so hard now. "I--I've run away
from Mr. Blipper!"

"You've run away!" echoed Nan.

Bob nodded his head vigorously to show that he meant "yes," and he went
on:

"He treated me mean! There was a lot of hard work setting up the
merry-go-round at the Bolton Fair, and I had more than my share. He
wouldn't give me any money--he hardly gave me enough to eat. And I ran
away. I'm not done running yet, only I'm so hungry I can't go very fast
any more."

"You poor boy!" murmured Mrs. Bobbsey. "Is that why you cried--because
you were hungry?"

"Yes--yes'm," murmured Bob Guess.

"Well, we have plenty to eat," said Mr. Bobbsey, with a kindly pat on
the shoulder of the ragged boy. "Here, we'll give you a lunch, and then
maybe you can tell me what I want to know. Where is Mr. Blipper?"

"He's back there at the merry-go-round. We had some trouble with the
engine. But I guess he has it fixed by now. He's back at the fair
grounds. It opens to-morrow. That is, he's there unless he has come
chasing after me."

"Do you think he'd do that?" asked Bert. It was quite an exciting
adventure, Bert thought, to run away and be chased by Mr. Blipper.

"Well, he said if I ever ran away he'd run after me and bring me back,"
answered Bob. "Anyhow, I've run away, but it isn't as much fun as I
thought it'd be. Only I can't stand Mr. Blipper! He's too cross!"

"Poor boy!" murmured Mrs. Bobbsey again. "Get him something to eat,
Dick. He must be very hungry!"

And Bob was, to judge by the manner in which he ate some of the
Bobbsey's lunch. It was a good thing there was plenty. Having eaten all
he seemed to care for and drinking two glasses of milk, Bob leaned back
against a tree stump and said:

"Now can't I do something to pay you for my meal?"

"Do something to pay for it?" repeated Mrs. Bobbsey, wonderingly.

"Yes, Mr. Blipper says I've always got to work for my board. Sometimes
he says I'm not worth my salt."

"Well, this time there is no need of doing anything for us," said Mr.
Bobbsey. "You are welcome to what you have had to eat. But now what are
you going to do?"

"I'm going to run away farther if I can," Bob Guess answered.

"Hum! I'm not so sure that we ought to let you, now that we know about
you," went on the father of the Bobbsey twins. "Has this Mr. Blipper any
claim on you?"

"He says he adopted me and can keep me until I'm twenty-one years old."

"He may be right. I don't know about that. It must be looked into.
Anyhow, I don't feel like letting you run away, Bob," went on Mr.
Bobbsey kindly. "I'd like to have a talk with Blipper on my own account,
and I could ask him about you. Did you happen to see----"

But before Mr. Bobbsey could ask what he intended to--about his missing
coat and the lap robe--a man from the garage where the automobile had
been left to have the tire changed came across the field.

"It's a good thing you stopped when you did, Mr. Bobbsey," said the
garage man.

"Why so?"

"Because if you had gone on a little farther one of the wheels of your
car would have come off, and if you had been going fast, or down-hill,
you might have had a bad accident. I found the break when I was putting
on the tire, and I came over to ask if you wanted me to fix it."

"Yes, I suppose so. I'll come and have a look. We don't want to go on if
there is any danger."

"There is danger. And it will take half a day to mend the break."

"Half a day!" said Mr. Bobbsey, as he followed the man, forgetting for
the time all about Bob and Mr. Blipper. "That means we'll not get to
Meadow Brook to-night. Is there a good hotel in town?"

"Yes, a very good one not far from my garage."

"Well then, in case we have to remain, we can stay at the hotel. But
wait until I take a look at the broken wheel."

Mr. Bobbsey found that the garage man was right. The automobile was in
need of repairs, and had the party gone on, without noticing the break,
a bad accident might have happened.

"Oh, dear!" sighed Mrs. Bobbsey, when told of the news, "must we stay
here all night?"

"Unless I hire another auto, or you and the children go on by train,"
said her husband. "I shall have to stay here to bring our car on."

"Oh, I don't want that! No, we'll stay at the hotel. But what about
him?" she asked in a low voice, pointing to Bob Guess, who was talking
to the twins.

"That's so. We can't turn him adrift," Mr. Bobbsey agreed. "Well, I'll
get a room for him at the hotel. In the morning I can decide what to do.
I don't like to send him back to Blipper. But if the man has adopted him
he has a claim on the boy. We'll see what happens by morning."

Mrs. Bobbsey may have disliked to break the journey and stay at a
strange hotel, but the Bobbsey twins thought it great fun. The hotel was
a small country one, clean and neat, and the Bobbseys and Bob Guess were
about the only guests there.

"I'm not fit to stop at a hotel," said the ragged boy.

"Oh, you're all right," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Perhaps I can get you some
clothes here. If there isn't a store that sells them I may be able to
get you a second-hand suit from the hotel keeper."

As it happened, there was no clothing store in the village of Montville,
where the stop was made. But the hotel proprietor had some clothes of
one of his sons who had gone to the city to work. Bob was given a partly
worn but very good coat and trousers.

"He's a nice looking boy when he's dressed well," said Mrs. Bobbsey, as
the lad discarded his old clothes.

"Yes," agreed her husband. "He has a good, honest face. And yet, when I
think of my coat and the lap robe---- But I'll wait until I see
Blipper."

"Do you think you will see him?"

"Yes, I imagine he'll follow this boy. He's a hard worker, Bob is, and
Blipper won't want to lose him. I shouldn't wonder but what he came on
after Bob."

"How will he know where to find him?" asked Bert, who heard what his
father and mother said.

"Oh, he can make inquiries along the way. But I'll do what I can for
Bob."

Bert and Nan, with Flossie and Freddie, had good times at the country
hotel. Their rooms were on a long corridor, and the twins raced up and
down this, playing tag and other games. No one seemed to mind.

At supper Bob ate a good meal, but did not talk much. And every time the
dining room door opened he looked around quickly, as if fearing to see
Mr. Blipper come in.

In the evening Mr. Bobbsey went down to the garage to see how the men
were progressing with the repairs to his car, for they had promised to
work all night. Bert went with his father.

"I guess you'll be able to go on in the morning, Mr. Bobbsey," the
garage man said.

"I hope so. My youngsters are anxious to get to Meadow Brook, and from
there go to the Bolton County Fair."

"That's quite a fair. Lots of attractions I hear. A merry-go-round, a
balloon, airships, and auto races. I'd go myself if I had time."

As Bert and his father reached the hotel a little later they heard loud
talking coming from the sitting room where they had left Mrs. Bobbsey
and the children. The voice of an angry man was saying:

"Well, I tell you I'm going to have that boy back! He ran away from me!
I'm his legally appointed guardian, and I want him back! You come along
with me, Bob Guess!"

Then Mrs. Bobbsey said firmly:

"Mr. Blipper, you shall not take this boy away until my husband comes
back. Mr. Bobbsey wants to see you. You can't take Bob away like this. I
won't let you. If necessary I'll call a policeman. You must wait until
my husband comes back!"

"I'm not going to wait! I'm going to take that boy now!" cried the angry
man, as Bert and his father hurried in.




CHAPTER IX

THE BIG SWING


Mr. Bobbsey and Bert now looked on a rather sad scene in the hotel
sitting room. On one side of the apartment stood Mr. Blipper, having
hold of the coat collar of Bob Guess. And Bob was crying again.

On the other side of the room stood Mrs. Bobbsey with Nan, Flossie, and
Freddie close to her. At one end of the room, looking in through the
door, was the good-natured but easy-going proprietor of the hotel and
some of the servants.

"What is going on here?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.

"I'm going away, if that's what you mean!" snapped out Mr. Blipper in
angry tones. "I traced this runaway adopted son of mine here, and I'm
taking him back with me. This lady says I can't!"

"I told him to wait until you came back," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "I didn't
want him to take poor Bob away. I don't believe he has any right to take
him."

"I don't know who you are!" spluttered the angry Mr. Blipper. "But you
haven't any right to stop me."

"This lady is my wife," said Mr. Bobbsey, and he spoke in such a way
that Mr. Blipper at once lost some of his bluster. "She has the same
right that any one has to inquire into something he thinks is wrong."

"But this isn't wrong!" cried Mr. Blipper. "I have a right to this boy.
I adopted him legally, I did! I gave him a name when he didn't have any
before. Bob Guess I call him, 'cause I had to guess at his name. I took
him out of an orphan asylum and give him a good home!"

"Home!" cried Bob Guess. "You didn't give me any _home_! You keep
dragging me all over the country with that merry-go-round! I haven't any
home except sleepin' in a truck."

"You were glad enough to come with me!" sneered Mr. Blipper.

"Anyway, I'm sick of it. That's why I ran away."

"Well, you're going to run back again!" said Mr. Blipper, grimly, as he
gave the boy a shake.

"Wait a minute," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Have you a legal right to this boy?"

"That's what I have. I expected some such question would be asked of me,
and I brought along my papers. There they are. You can look 'em over for
yourself."

He tossed a long envelope containing papers to Mr. Bobbsey, and the
latter looked at the documents.

"Don't let him take me back!" pleaded Bob Guess. "I don't like him!"

"I don't like you, when it comes to that!" sneered the angry man. "But
I'm going to have you back! I have a right to you, and you've got to
work for me."

"These papers seem to be all right," said Mr. Bobbsey, slowly. "He is
your legal guardian, Bob. You had better go with him, and do as he says.
But if he treats you cruelly let me know. I am going to the Bolton
County Fair, and when I get there I'll keep my eye on you."

"Say, who are you, anyhow?" sneered Mr. Blipper.

"My name is Bobbsey," answered the children's father. "I live in
Lakeport. I thought perhaps you might know my name."

"How should I know your name?"

"It was on some papers in my coat that disappeared from the Sunday
school picnic grounds the day you had trouble with your engine near the
grove."

Mr. Blipper looked first at Bob and then at Mr. Bobbsey.

"Say!" cried the merry-go-round owner, "maybe you think I know something
about your coat."

"Maybe you do," answered Mr. Bobbsey, easily.

"And the lap robe!" whispered Bert.

"Hush, Bert!" warned his mother. "Leave this to Daddy!"

"Well, I don't know anything about your coat or a lap robe, either!"
declared Mr. Blipper. "All I know is that Bob ran away from me, and now
I'm going to run him back!"

There seemed no help for it. Mr. Bobbsey sadly shook his head when the
twins and his wife pleaded with him to do something to save Bob.

"Those papers show the boy is adopted," he said. "I can do nothing. But
we'll keep our eyes on him. We are going to the fair, and if Bob is not
kindly treated I'll complain to the Children's Aid Society."

"You don't need to worry!" gruffly said Mr. Blipper. "I'll treat him as
well as he deserves."

"Am I to keep these clothes?" asked Bob, as Mr. Blipper led him away.

"Of course," said Mr. Bobbsey. "I bought them for you."

"What's that? Who's been giving you clothes?" demanded Mr. Blipper.

"Don't you think he needed them?" inquired Mrs. Bobbsey, gently.

"Well--er--I was going to buy him a new suit after we took in some money
at the Bolton Fair," sheepishly said Mr. Blipper. "I--I'm much obliged
to you folks, though. Bob isn't a bad boy when he wants to be good. Come
on now. I've a rig outside and we can get back to the fair grounds
to-night if we hurry."

With a sad look at the friends who had been so kind to him, Bob followed
his adopted father out of the room. He did not cry, but he seemed to
want to.

"Good-by!" called the Bobbsey twins. "We'll see you at the fair!"

"Good-by!" echoed Bob Guess.

The Bobbsey twins wondered when they would see him again.

It might be thought that the excitement of the runaway boy who was
caught again would keep Bert and Nan awake. Flossie and Freddie were too
young to give the matter much attention. But though the older Bobbsey
twins felt sorry for the lad, they had the idea that their father would
make matters all right concerning him, and so they did not lie awake
vainly worrying.

They slept soundly, the night passed quietly, and in the morning after
an early breakfast the family were on their way again in the automobile
which had been mended during the night.

"We'll soon be at Meadow Brook Farm, sha'n't we?" asked Freddie over and
over again.

"Yes," his mother told him.

"And I'm going to milk a cow, I am!" announced Flossie.

"So'm I!" echoed Freddie. "I'm goin' milk two cows, I am!"

"I guess you mean you're going to see them milked!" laughed Nan.
"Milking cows would be hard work even for Bert."

"Maybe I could milk a little teeny weeny cow," suggested Freddie.

"Well, we'll have some fun, anyhow!" said Nan.

And fun they did have! It started almost as soon as they reached the
farm of their Uncle Daniel and Aunt Sarah.

"Say, I'm glad you came!" exclaimed Harry, as he greeted his four
cousins while the older folks were talking among themselves. "I have
something fine to show you."

"What?" asked Bert.

"A big swing! You ought to see it! It's out under the apple tree down by
the brook!"

"Oh, I'm going to sail my boat in the brook!" cried Freddie, as soon as
he heard the mention of water.

"An' I'll get Rosamond an' give her a ride on your boat!" cried Flossie.
Rosamond was a small doll Flossie had brought along.

"All right," agreed Bert, seeing a chance for the smaller twins to play
by themselves while he and Nan experimented with the swing. "You get
your boat, Freddie, and you get your doll, Flossie, and we'll all go
down to the brook and apple tree together."

"Be careful, now!" called Mrs. Bobbsey, as the children ran off.

"We will," they promised. And really they meant to, but you know how it
often is--things happen that you can't help.

"There's the swing!" cried Harry, pointing to it dangling from the
sturdy limb of the big apple tree. "Daddy put it up for me last week.
I'm glad you came. We can have lots of fun in it."

"We want some swings!" cried Freddie.

"After a bit," promised Nan. "Sail your boat now, and give Rosamond a
ride, Flossie, and you shall have some swings after that."

The water was more of an attraction for the smaller twins than was the
swing, and thus Nan, Bert and Harry had it to themselves. While Flossie
and Freddie played with the doll and the boat, the older children took
turns seeing how high they could go. Then they would let the "old cat
die," that is, stay in the swing, without trying to make it sway, until
it came to a dead stop.

"I know what we can do!" cried Bert, when they were tired of swinging.

"What?" asked Harry.

"We can shinny up the rope like sailors. I can go 'way up to the limb."

Bert was a sturdy chap, and soon he was "shinnying," or climbing, up the
rope like a human monkey. Then Harry did it, managing to reach the big
limb, to which the rope was fastened, more quickly than had Bert.

"Now it's my turn!" exclaimed Nan, when the two boys were on the ground
again.

"Pooh! Girls can't climb ropes!" declared Harry.

"Yes, I can, too! You watch!"

Nan was almost as strong as her brother. She caught hold of the rope,
and managed to scramble up, though it was hard work.

"You can't do it!" laughed Harry, when, almost at the top, she paused
for a moment.

"Yes, I can! I can! You just watch!"

Nan gave a wiggle, another scramble, and then, just as she managed to
get one leg over the limb, she slipped.

"Oh! Oh!" she screamed. "I'm going to fall!"

But she did not fall. Instead, one foot caught in a loop of the rope,
and there poor Nan hung, half way over the limb, one leg dangling down,
and her hands clutching the rope. She could neither get up nor down! She
was caught on the limb of the tree!




CHAPTER X

DOWN A BIG HOLE


For a few seconds Bert and Harry were so surprised at what had happened
to Nan that they could do nothing but stand and stare up at her.

As for Nan, she also was surprised at the suddenness of her tumble when
she was almost perched safely astride the limb to which the rope of the
swing was tied. As she felt herself slipping she had clung with all her
might, one hand and part of her arm over the branch, another hand
grasping the rope, one leg partly up over the limb, and the other leg
tangled in the rope.

This was what had caused the trouble--the leg getting caught and tangled
in a loop of the rope. But for that, Nan could have swung this leg up
over the limb and so have perched there in safety.

"Come on down!" cried Harry.

"Don't fall!" begged Bert. "Oh, Nan, be careful! Mother'll think I
oughtn't to have let you climb up there!"

"You didn't--you didn't let--me!" panted Nan. "I did it myself!"

"Well, come on down!" begged Harry again.

"I--I can't!" half sobbed Nan, with a catch in her voice. "I--I'm stuck!
Go get a ladder--get something to help me. I can't hold on much longer!"

"Shall we get the tennis net and let you fall into that?" asked Bert,
starting toward the swing with half an idea that he could climb up the
rope and loosen Nan.

"No, I don't want to fall!" cried his sister. "Get a ladder so I can
climb down. Call daddy!"

"I'll call my father!" offered Harry. "He's got a long ladder!"

"Do something! Quick!" begged Nan desperately.

As Bert and Harry started to run toward the house to summon their
fathers and mothers, Flossie and Freddie, tired of playing with the
little boat in the brook, came up to the apple tree. Freddie saw Nan
hanging there, some distance above the ground.

"Oh, Nan's doing circus tricks! Nan's doing circus tricks!" cried
Freddie. "Look at her, Flossie. Nan's doing circus tricks an' I want to
do 'em, too!"

"No, no, Freddie!" screamed Nan, as her little brother ran under the
limb to which she was desperately clinging. "Go away! Don't stand under
me this way! I might fall on you!"

"Oh, I'm going to get mother!" exclaimed Flossie. "She won't want you to
fall, Nan!"

"Well, I--I can't hold on much longer!" sobbed Nan.

Though if she had let go her grasp on the tree limb she would probably
not have fallen, for one foot was tangled in the swing rope. However,
hanging by one leg high in the air would not have been very pleasant.
Nan was not enough of a circus performer for that, though she and Bert
had often done "stunts" on a trapeze in the back yard at home when they
gave "shows."

However, help was on its way to Nan. The excited story told by Harry and
Bert to the two Mr. Bobbseys started both men into action. They got a
long ladder and, having run with it to the tree, placed it up against
the limb. Then Mr. Richard Bobbsey climbed up, while his brother held
steady the foot of the ladder on the ground.

"Why, Nan!" exclaimed her father, as he climbed up to set her free,
"what in the world made you do this?"

"I--I don't know, Daddy! But Bert and Harry climbed up, and they did it
all right. But when I went up something slipped, and I nearly fell, and
I grabbed the rope and the branch, and there I was!"

"Well, it's a good thing you stuck here instead of falling down there,"
and Mr. Bobbsey looked to the ground below. "You're all right now. Don't
cry."

But Nan could not help crying a little, though she was glad she could
feel her father's arms about her. Mr. Bobbsey soon loosened the little
girl's leg from the loop of the rope, and then he carried her down the
ladder.

"You're just like a fireman, aren't you, Daddy?" cried Freddie, as his
father set Nan on the ground.

"Well, a little, yes," admitted Mr. Bobbsey, with a laugh. "But better
not any more of you try those firemen tricks," he warned the children as
the ladder was taken down.

"I'll have to put the swing away if you climb the rope any more,"
threatened Uncle Daniel.

"We won't shinny up it any more," promised Bert and Harry, and their
fathers knew that if the boys did not do it Nan would not.

"I guess we've had enough swinging," said Bert. "Let's play something
else, Harry. Got any new games?"

"We can go down to the pond and fish."

"Oh, I love to fish!" exclaimed Nan. "What kind of fish can you catch in
the pond, Harry?"

"Bullfrogs, mostly."

"They aren't fish," laughed Nan.

"Well, it's just as much fun," went on the country boy.

"I guess I'd better go help mother unpack the trunks," Nan said, for she
saw the expressman drive up with two trunks that had been sent on
ahead. "Mother will want me to help her get the things out so we can go
to the Bolton County Fair to-morrow. You're coming, aren't you, Harry?"

"Sure! It'll be great. But now we'll go fishing for bullfrogs. Come on,
Bert!"

"I want to fish!" begged Freddie, hearing this magic word.

"No, you and Flossie come with me," directed Nan, knowing that the two
boys would not have much fun if they had to watch the small children and
keep them from tumbling into the pond.

"Don't want to come with you!" pouted Flossie. "We wants to go fishing!"

"How would you and Freddie like to go after eggs?" asked Nan, as she saw
her brother and Harry making signals to her for her to do her best to
keep Flossie and Freddie from following. "Wouldn't you like to gather
eggs?"

"Where do you get the eggs?" asked Freddie, who had forgotten.

"In the barn. We'll take the eggs out of the nests, and you and Flossie
can carry the eggs in a little basket to Aunt Bobbsey."

"Oh, yes!" cried Flossie. "I want to do that!"

"So do I!" added Freddie. Anything Flossie wanted to do he generally did
also.

"All right," said Nan, waving to Bert and Harry to hurry away before the
small twins changed their minds. "Come with me, and after I help mother
unpack the trunk we'll go and get the eggs."

As it happened, however, Mrs. Bobbsey did not need Nan's help. Aunt
Sarah said she would aid in getting the things out of the trunks, so Nan
was allowed to go with Flossie and Freddie to the barn to gather eggs.

What fun it was to climb over the sweet hay, sliding down little hills
of it and landing on the barn floor, where more hay made a place like a
cushion! What fun it was to look in at the horses chewing their fodder!
And when the children poked their heads in the horses stopped eating, to
turn around and look to see who was watching them.

"Oh, I've found some eggs!" suddenly cried Flossie, as she spied some of
the white objects in a nest in the hay.

"Pick them up carefully," advised Nan. "Eggs break very easily."

"I want to help pick up the eggs!" cried Freddie, hurrying over to his
little sister's side.

"No, you go find a nest of your own!" exclaimed Flossie. "These are my
eggs!"

"There are plenty of nests," said Nan. "You ought each to find two or
three. Come on, Freddie, we'll look for a nest for you. Be careful of
those eggs, Flossie! I guess I'd better help you pick them up and put
them in a basket while Freddie looks for another nest."

So while Nan stayed with Flossie, Freddie started off by himself to look
for another nest. And as Nan discovered a second nest not far from where
Flossie had found the first one, it took the sisters some time to pick
up all the eggs.

This gave Freddie more time to himself, and he saw a ladder leading into
the upper part of the barn where most of the hay was stored.

"I guess maybe I'll find eggs up there," he said.

He climbed the ladder, going slowly and carefully, and soon found
himself up in the haymow. It was rather dark there, but when he had been
in the place a little while Freddie could see better.

"I guess hens come up here to lay 'cause it's nice and quiet. Now I must
find some nests and eggs."

He walked about over the slippery hay, peering here and there for a
cluster of white eggs. Suddenly Freddie felt himself sliding down.
Faster and faster he went, feet first, and before he knew it he had slid
down into a big hole together with a lot of hay.

"Nan! Nan!" he cried. "Come an' get me! I'm down in a hole!"




CHAPTER XI

THE COUNTY FAIR


Just as Nan and Flossie finished putting the last of the eggs into their
basket they heard Freddie's cries for help. Surprised and a little
frightened, they ran out of that part of the barn where Flossie had
found the first nest and Nan the second.

"Freddie! Freddie!" cried Nan. "Where are you, Freddie?"

"Down in a hole!" came the muffled answer.

"What hole?" Nan wanted to know. "Tell me where the hole is so I can
come and get you out. What hole, Freddie?"

"Maybe it's a dark hole," suggested Flossie. "You 'member the verse:
'Charcoal! Charcoal! Put me in a dark hole.' Maybe Freddie is in a dark
hole."

"Yes, it is dark!" again sounded the muffled voice of the little boy.
"I can hear you, Nan, but I can't see you. Get me out of the dark hole!"

Nan was puzzled. She, too, could hear Freddie calling, but she could not
see him. There were so many nooks and corners in the old barn that it
was not strange Freddie was not easily found. It was a great place for
playing hide and go seek, so many dark spots were there in which to
crouch, and the seeker might be right alongside of you and not spy you.

"How did you get in the hole, Freddie?" asked Nan, knowing that talking
and listening to Freddie's answers was the best way to find out where he
was.

"I was looking for a nest," he said, his voice still muffled and far
away, "and I slipped on some hay and went down the hole. There's a lot
of hay in the hole with me now, and I'm stuck. I'm about half way down
in the hole, Nan."

Then Nan began to understand what had taken place. She remembered that
once something like this had happened to her.

"Are you sliding down or standing still, Freddie?" she called to her
brother.

"I was sliding, but I'm standing still now," he answered. "I'm stuck
fast in a lot of hay."

"Well, wiggle as hard as you can," advised Nan. "I know where you are.
You're in one of the chutes, or wooden tubes, that Uncle Daniel shoves
hay down from the top floor of the barn to the lower floor. You stepped
into a hay chute and you're stuck half way down. Wiggle, and you'll
slide down the rest of the way and you'll be out."

So Freddie wiggled as hard as he could and, surely enough, he felt
himself again sliding down. He was not hurt, for there was soft hay on
all sides of him. But it tickled, and it scratched the back of his neck,
as well as his hands and face.

Some of the hay dust got up his nose, too, and made him want to sneeze.
He gave one little sneeze--making a queer sound cooped up as he was--and
then he cried:

"Oh, I'm stuck again, Nan! I started sliding and now I'm stuck again!"

"Wiggle some more," advised his sister.

She had set down the basket of eggs and was looking toward a dark side
of the barn where she could see the lower ends of several wooden chutes.
Some were for oats and others for hay. She did not know just which
wooden chute Freddie would slide down. The chutes did not come all the
way to the floor, there being room under each one to set a box or bushel
basket.

"Wiggle some more, Freddie!" again advised Nan.

"I will!" came the answer. "I'll wiggle hard and I'll--Oh--kerchoo!"

That was Freddie sneezing, and he sneezed so hard that it did more good
than his wiggling, for it sent him sliding down with a mass of hay to
the bottom of the chute.

"Here I am!" he cried, and with a thump he landed on the barn floor, so
wrapped and tangled in a clump of hay that he was not in the least hurt.
"I'm all--kerchoo--right--kerchoo--Nan!" he said, talking and sneezing
at the same time.

"Well, I'm glad we found you, anyhow!" laughed his sister. "How did it
happen?"

"Oh, it just happened," was all Freddie could say. "I was looking for
eggs, and I slipped. I'm glad I didn't slip in a hen's nest, else I'd
'a' broken a lot of eggs."

"I'm glad of that, too," agreed Nan. "Well, Flossie and I are 'way ahead
of you. We have found two nests!"

"I'm going to find one myself!" declared Freddie, and a little later he
did. This nest had many eggs in it, for it was used by several hens in
turn, so that now the basket was half filled.

Then, by searching about, the children found more nests and eggs until
the basket was quite full. Now arose a dispute between Flossie and
Freddie, for each one wanted to carry the basket. Nan was afraid either
of the little twins might stumble and fall, thereby breaking the eggs.

"I know what we'll do," Nan said, making up a little plan, as she often
had to do to get Freddie and Flossie into a new way of thinking. "We'll
play hide and go seek. I'll go on ahead and hide, and whoever finds me
can carry the basket a little way."

"Oh, that'll be fun!" cried Freddie. "Come on, Flossie! Blind your
eyes."

"Don't come until I get ready!" said Nan.

The children promised they would not. Carefully they closed their eyes,
covering them with their hands. Nan hurried away, walking softly so the
twins could not guess which way she was going. And she picked out a
hiding place close to the house, right at the foot of the steps, in
fact.

"Whichever one finds me won't have very far to carry the eggs, and they
won't be so likely to drop them," thought Nan, as she crouched down
behind the rain-water barrel.

"Coop!" cried Nan, this being a signal that she was hidden.

"Ready or not we're coming!" shouted Freddie. He and his sister opened
their eyes and began running about, eagerly searching. It was some
little time before they found Nan behind the barrel, and Flossie spied
her first.

"I see you! I see you!" laughed the delighted little girl, and she was
so excited over finding Nan that she never realized she had only a few
steps to carry the basket of eggs.

Flossie covered those few steps safely, and the eggs were put away in
the closet by Aunt Sarah, later to be made into puddings and cakes for
the Bobbsey twins.

"When are we going to the Bolton County Fair?" asked Bert that evening
after supper, when he and Harry were resting after their sport in
catching bullfrogs.

"And I'm going to ride on a lion!" declared Freddie.

"We might go over to the fair to-morrow," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Do you
folks want to go?" he asked his brother and Aunt Sarah.

"I don't believe I'll have time," answered Mr. Bobbsey's brother.

"Nor I," said Aunt Sarah. "I have a lot of cooking to do."

"Then I'm going to stay at home and help you," offered the mother of the
Bobbsey twins.

"Oh, can't we go to the fair?" wailed Flossie and Freddie, almost ready
to cry.

"Of course you may go!" replied Mother Bobbsey. "I was going to say that
daddy could take you children--Harry may go, may he not?" she asked his
mother.

"Oh, yes."

"Hurray!" cried Harry, and Bert and Nan echoed his cry of joy.

So it was arranged that Mr. Bobbsey would take the children to the
Bolton County Fair, there to see the many wonderful things of which they
had dreamed for days and nights.

The Bolton County Fair was one of the largest in that part of the state.
Every year it was held, and farmers from many miles away brought their
largest pumpkins and squashes, and their longest ears of corn, hoping to
win prizes with them. The farmers' wives brought samples of their
needlework, such as bedquilts, lace or embroidery, and samples of their
cooking and preserving. The farm boys and girls made things or raised
something to exhibit at the fair.

Besides this there were new kinds of machinery for the farmers to look
at, such as windmills and plows and electrical appliances to be used on
the farms. Men who raised horses and cattle took their best specimens to
the fair to show them for prizes.

Then there were to be automobile races and horse races, and there were
many amusements from the big merry-go-round to the little tents and
booths where one could throw baseballs at dolls or toss rings over
canes. There were also booths and tents where candy, ice-cream, lemonade
and cider were sold, as well as places to eat.

"Oh, it's wonderful!" cried Nan, as she and her brothers, her sister,
Harry and her father got out of their automobile and walked through the
big gates into the fair grounds. "Don't you like it, Bert?"

"Sure! It's fine!"

"Let's go over and look at the airship," proposed Harry.

"And the balloon," added Bert. "Do you s'pose I could go up in the
balloon?" he asked his father.

"No, I don't suppose you could--I wouldn't like you to," said Mr.
Bobbsey.

"But why, Dad? The balloon is fast to the ground. It can't get away!"

"I'm not so sure about that. I don't want you to go up. You'll have
plenty of other fun."

"I wanted to go up in the balloon," and Bert sighed in disappointment.

"We'll go look at it, anyhow," suggested Harry.

"I want a ride on a lion!" insisted Freddie.

"So do I!" added Flossie.

"All right, I'll take you children to the merry-go-round," said Mr.
Bobbsey. "You come there and meet us after you finish looking at the
balloon and the airship," he said to Bert and Harry.

"I'll stay with you, Daddy," said Nan. "I want a ride on the
merry-go-round, too," and she laughed.

They could hear the music of the "carrousel," as a merry-go-round is
sometimes called.

"Come on!" urged Flossie and Freddie, tugging at their father's hands.

He led them over to the crowd that surrounded the machine on which a
whirling ride could be had for five cents.

"This way! This way for the merry-go-round!" cried a boy's voice. "Only
five cents a ride! Get your tickets and take a ride! On an elephant or a
tiger!"

"I want a lion!" cried Freddie.

"All right! This way for your lions!" cried the voice.

Mr. Bobbsey, pushing his way through the crowd with the children, saw
Bob Guess on the merry-go-round. The boy was helping children to their
seats on the wooden animals, strapping them safely so they would be
ready when the machinery started. The organ kept on playing all the
while.

"Hello, Bob!" called Nan, as she climbed up on a wooden horse, while
Flossie and Freddie, with their father, looked for lions.

The strange boy glanced up in some surprise. But when he saw Nan a smile
came over his rather sad face.

"Oh, hello!" he said. "How did you get here?"

"We came just now in my father's auto. Do you run the merry-go-round?"

"I help when Mr. Blipper isn't here. I take up the tickets after she
starts. Have you got your tickets?"

"Yes, daddy bought them. My little brother and sister want to ride on
lions."

"There's a pair right behind you," said Bob Guess.

Nan turned and saw her father just finishing the strapping up of Flossie
and Freddie each on a big wooden lion. The small twins were smiling with
delight.

"Gid-dap!" called Flossie to her lion.

"You shouldn't say 'gid-dap' to a lion," objected Freddie.

"What should you say?" asked Flossie, turning to look at her brother.

"You ought to say--now--er--'Scat!'"

"That's what you say to a cat!" declared Flossie.

"Well, then say 'Boo!' I guess that's what you say to a lion," went on
Freddie. "Say 'Boo!'"

The little girl looked doubtful.

"All right. Boo!" cried Flossie, after a moment.

It was not quite time, however, for the merry-go-round to start. Mr.
Bobbsey made his way along the platform to Bob, who stood near Nan.

"Where is Mr. Blipper?" asked Mr. Bobbsey. "I want to see him."

"He's away to-day, Mr. Bobbsey," was the answer.

"Away! Oh, I am sorry," was the reply of the Bobbsey twins' father.

"This is his day off," went on the lad.

"Will he be here to-morrow?"

"Yes, sir. But look out now, she's going to start!"




CHAPTER XII

ON THE TRACK


Creaking and squeaking as it slowly started, the merry-go-round began to
go faster and faster until it was whirling rapidly, the music of the
organ mingling with the shouts of the delighted children.

Seeing that Flossie and Freddie were all right, being strapped to their
wooden lions, and that Nan could look after herself, Mr. Bobbsey took a
seat in one of the gilded cars that were provided for older persons who
did not like to sit astride a wooden animal. He watched Bob Guess making
his way around the carrousel collecting the tickets. The boy seemed
bright and very business like.

"He's a good lad," thought Mr. Bobbsey. "I wish a better man than Mr.
Blipper had charge of him. I must look into this matter."

At one place on the outside of the merry-go-round was a post with an
arm extending down from it. Into this arm, which was hollow, a boy
dropped iron rings, with, now and then, a brass one among them. Those
whirling about on the carrousel could reach up and pull a ring from the
arm, if they were quick and skillful enough.

"Get the brass ring and have a free ride!" sang out the boy dropping the
black, iron rings into the hollow arm. There were, a great many iron
rings, but only a few brass ones. Of course, every one wanted to get the
brass ring, but this went by luck as much as by skill.

Flossie and Freddie were too small to reach over and try for any of the
rings. But Nan, like the older boys and girls and some of the grown
folks, had no trouble in catching rings.

"Get the brass ring, and have an extra ride!" cried the boy in charge.

"I wish I could!" thought Nan.

Once she almost got it. She saw the brass ring gleaming at the end of
the arm. A boy two horses ahead of her made a grab for it and missed. So
did the girl directly in front of Nan. When Nan reached for the ring
she did not put out her arm far enough, and she, too, missed it. A girl
riding on a camel behind Nan got it.

"Oh, dear!" sighed Nan.

"Never mind," said a voice at her side, and she saw Bob Guess. "Here's a
brass ring for you. Take it and have the next ride free!"

"Oh, will that be right?" asked Nan.

"Sure it will! I'm in charge of taking the tickets when Blipper is away.
Some one grabbed this ring and dropped it. I picked it up. It's good for
a ride. Take it. I don't know who dropped it or I'd give it to 'em. You
take it!"

And Nan did. It was not to be dreamed of that Flossie and Freddie would
be content with one ride. They had to stay on for the second. Mr.
Bobbsey got off to buy more tickets.

"I don't need a ticket!" Nan called to him. "I have the brass ring,
Daddy!"

"Oh, you were very lucky!"

"Bob gave it to me," she explained, telling how it came about.

"Well, I suppose it is all right to take it," her father said. "Bob
knows what he is doing."

"But I want to get a brass ring my own self," Nan said. And she did,
though not on the next trip. Her father had to buy her a ticket for
that.

Then came the final ride, for though Flossie and Freddie would have
remained and ridden all day, their father knew this was not good for
them. And it was on the last ride that Nan got her brass ring.

"Oh, now I can ride again!" she gayly cried.

"Not now," her father told her. "If you ride, Flossie and Freddie will
want to, and I'm afraid they'll be ill."

"But what shall I do with the ring?" asked Nan, slipping down off the
wooden horse and holding up the brass ring.

"It'll be good to-morrow," said Bob Guess. "You can keep it, or I'll
save it here for you."

"I guess you'd better keep it, Bob," said Nan, with a laugh. "I might
lose it."

"I'll save it for you," promised Bob. "I'll look for you to-morrow. Get
your tickets--your tickets for the merry-go-round!" he cried, as a new
crowd surged up to get on.

"May we have some pop corn?" asked Freddie, when told there were to be
no more rides that day.

"And ice-cream?" added Flossie.

"Dear me!" laughed Mr. Bobbsey, "I don't know which will be worse for
you. Let's look about a bit."

"I'm thirsty!" announced Flossie.

"Well, we'll have some lemonade--that will be good for all of us, I
think," suggested Mr. Bobbsey. Bert and Harry, coming back just then
from having been to look at the balloon, were taken to the lemonade
stand with the others.

If I were to tell you all the things the Bobbsey twins saw at the County
Fair and all they did, it would take a larger book than this to hold it
all. So I can only tell you a few of the many things that happened.

After drinking the lemonade the children hardly knew at what to look
next, there were so many things to see. Presently Mr. Bobbsey said:

"You have been among a lot of wooden animals on the merry-go-round,
suppose we go see some real, live animals?"

"Oh, yes!" cried Nan.

"Let's go to see the race horses," suggested Bert.

"And I want to see cows and pigs!" announced Freddie.

"And sheeps! I want to see sheeps!" exclaimed Flossie.

"They're on the way to the racing horse stables," explained Harry. "All
the live stock is together."

There was a race track at the fair grounds and some races had been run
off before the Bobbseys arrived. More were to take place soon.

Mr. Bobbsey and the other children were so interested in looking at the
prize cattle, at great hogs, some weighing nearly a thousand pounds, and
at bulls weighing more than this, that they did not notice the absence
of Freddie Bobbsey. That little chap, however, had slipped away and,
before he knew it, he was in the stable with the race horses.

As many of the stablemen were outside with their animals, some bringing
their steeds back from the track and others taking racers over to have a
part in the next contest, there were not many persons in the stable when
Freddie wandered there.

"Oh, what a nice lot of horses!" he exclaimed, and indeed the racers
were among the best of their kind. "I like horses!" went on Freddie.

One beautiful animal leaned out of its stall and rubbed a velvet nose on
Freddie's shoulder.

"You like me, don't you, horsie?" asked the little chap. The horse
whinnied, which might mean anything, but Freddie took it for "yes."

"I guess maybe you'd like to have me get on your back," he said. "I got
on one of Uncle Dan's horses once. I know how to ride."

The horse was in a large box stall, and the door was not hard to open.
In walked Freddie, and, by standing up on a keg which was in the stall,
he managed to scramble up on the back of the horse. To keep from sliding
off, though, Freddie had to clasp his arms around the neck of the
animal.

Whether the horse took this for a signal to move along, or whether it
just "happened," I don't know. But the horse walked out of the stall,
across the grass of the paddock, and, as the big gate happened to be
open, he walked right out on the race track with Freddie clinging to his
neck.




CHAPTER XIII

IN THE CORNFIELD


Just about this time a race was going to be run. There were a number of
horses, with jockey lads on their backs, waiting for the signal to begin
their fast pace around the track. Up in the booth, where the judges and
the starter were standing to give the signal, everything was in
readiness. The people around the race track were all excited, for they
wanted to see which horse would win.

And then, just as the starter gave the word, and the jockey boys on
their horses' backs called to their steeds to run fast, out on the track
walked the horse to whose neck Freddie was clinging!

At first the little fellow had been so startled when the animal to whose
back he had scrambled walked out of the barn with him that he had not
known what to do. He just clung there.

But, finding that the horse was very gentle and did not try to reach
back and bite his legs, Freddie began rather to like it.

"Go 'long, nice horsie! Go 'long!" called Freddie, and he clapped his
heels against the sides of the animal.

The horse went along all right--fairly out on to the race track, and
just as the race was starting!

"Here! Where you going?"

"Come back with that horse!"

"Look out! Stop him, somebody! That boy will be hurt!"

These were only a few of the many cries that rose from the grandstand
and the space in front of it when the people saw Freddie right in the
path of the rushing horses.

"Ring that bell!" cried one of the judges to the starter.

The starter pulled the cord of the big gong which is rung to bring the
horses back if they have not made an even start, as very often happens.

Clang! went the gong. The jockeys on the backs of the horses knew what
the ringing of the bell meant. Some of them had begun to guide their
horses so as not to run into Freddie and his mount, but there were so
many racers that one or two of them might have bumped into the little
fellow. But when the jockeys heard the ringing of the bell they knew it
was a false start and they pulled in their steeds and some turned back.

But now something else happened. While the horse Freddie had climbed up
on was kind and gentle, yet he was a race horse. And as soon as he found
himself out on the track he must have thought he had been ridden there
to take part in a race.

At any rate, before Freddie could stop him, even if the little Bobbsey
lad had been able to do this, the horse began to trot around the track.
Perhaps he thought the ringing of the bell meant for him to start.

So away he ran, going faster and faster with poor Freddie bobbing up
and down, but still clinging to the animal's neck. It was all Freddie
could do, as there was no saddle horn to grasp.

"Whoa! Whoa!" begged the little chap. "Nice horsie! Whoa now!"

It was not so much fun as Freddie had at first thought to take a ride in
this way. At the beginning he had an idea that he might some day be a
jockey and wear a gayly colored silk blouse. But he never imagined race
horses went so fast.

"Whoa! Whoa!" cried Freddie again. But his horse did not stop. Indeed,
it only went faster.

"Somebody get after that boy!" yelled the starter, leaning from the
judges' stand. "He'll be hurt if you don't get him!"

"I'll get him!" offered one of the jockeys. He called to his horse and
was soon speeding around the track after Freddie. And now the horse on
whose back the little Bobbsey boy was seated, hearing another steed
coming after him, began to think it was a race in real earnest, and he
commenced to go faster. All the "whoa" shouts Freddie uttered were of
no use.

"Go on, Tomato! Go on!" cried the jockey to his horse. "Go on, Tomato!"
Tomato was the name of his animal.

The shouts and the screams of the crowd attracted the attention of Mr.
Bobbsey and the other children as they came from the animal tent. And as
Mr. Bobbsey neared the race track he had a glimpse of his little son
clinging to a horse and riding very fast, while a jockey on another
horse chased him.

"Oh, look! Freddie's in a race!" cried Flossie! "Oh, maybe Freddie will
win!"

"My goodness! how did this happen?" cried Mr. Bobbsey.

"Will he be hurt?" gasped Nan.

But just then, to the great relief of the Bobbsey family, the jockey
managed to come up alongside of Freddie's galloping horse. The jockey
reached over with one hand, caught Freddie by the seat of his little
trousers, and fairly lifted him off the back of the now excited horse.

Then, placing Freddie on the saddle in front of him, the jockey turned
his horse about and rode slowly back to the stand. Some of the
stablemen then ran out and caught the other horse.

"Why, Freddie! what in the world were you trying to do?" asked his
father, when the little boy was placed in his arms.


"I--I just wanted a ride," Freddie explained. "I got tired of ridin' on
wooden lions. I wanted a live horse."

"Well, he picked a lively one all right!" laughed a man in the crowd.
"That horse he rode has won every race, so far."

"You must never do such a thing again, Freddie," his father told him,
when the excitement had died down and the racing was once more started.
"Never again."

"No, I won't," Freddie promised. "But when I grow up I'm goin' to ride
horses, I am!"

"That will be a good while yet," laughed Bert.

"I'm glad your mother wasn't here," said Mr. Bobbsey. "She would have
almost fainted, I'm sure, if she had seen you out on the race track like
a regular jockey."

"Did I look like a jockey?" Freddie asked, eagerly.

"Well, not exactly," Bert said. "You didn't have any silk blouse on."

"I'll get Dinah to make me one when I go home," Freddie declared. "I'll
have a red one, I guess, and then if I get tired of ridin' horses I can
be a fireman."

"Well, I think we've had excitement enough for one day," remarked Mr.
Bobbsey. "We'll have something to eat, look around a little more, and
then go home."

"But we can come back again, can't we?" asked Bert. "I haven't seen the
balloon go up yet."

"Yes, we want to see that," added Harry.

"I'll bring you to the fair again to-morrow or next day," promised Mr.
Bobbsey. "I want to come back myself. I've met a number of men to-day
I'd like to talk with further. Then I'd like to have a talk with that
Mr. Blipper."

That night, at Meadow Brook Farm, Mr. Bobbsey and his wife, after the
children had gone to bed, talked over the strange disappearance of Mr.
Bobbsey's coat and the auto lap robe.

"I'm sure that Blipper knows something about them," said Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Or perhaps that strange Bob Guess--what an odd name."

"It is an odd name," agreed Mr. Bobbsey, "But it fits, for they don't
know what his real name is--at least he says he doesn't. But I don't
believe Bob had anything to do with the taking of my coat and the robe.
I'd like to find out more about the boy. He seems bright, and I feel
sorry for him. I must see that man, Blipper, and have a talk with him."

"Wasn't he at his merry-go-round to-day?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.

"No, he had gone off somewhere. But I am going to the fair again with
the children, and I'll get at Blipper sooner or later."

"Well, if you go to the fair again, please keep an eye on Freddie!"
begged the mother of the Bobbsey twins. "He's a little tyke when it
comes to slipping away and doing strange things."

"Yes, he is," agreed her husband. But the next day was to prove that
Flossie could also "slip away," when there was a chance.

The Bobbsey twins, with Harry, were out in the cornfield gathering ears
of corn to feed to the hogs and chickens. The corn had been cut and
stacked into piles called "shocks," and it was from the stalks in these
shocks that the ears of yellow corn were broken off and placed in
baskets to be taken to the house.

"Let's play hide and go seek for a while," suggested Nan to her brother
and Harry. "Flossie and Freddie are over there by themselves, shelling
corn." The smaller twins had been given a little basket, and they were
now busy breaking off kernels of corn from some small ears, and dropping
the corn into their basket.

"For the chickies," Flossie had explained.

So while the smaller twins were thus "kept out of mischief," as Nan
said, she, with Bert and Harry, began a game of hide and go seek. It was
lots of fun, dodging in and out among the tall corn shocks, which rose
above the children's heads. The game went on for some time, until even
Bert and Harry said they were tired.

"Well, we'll take the corn up to the house," announced Nan. "Come,
Flossie and Freddie," she called. Freddie came up, carrying the basket
of shelled corn, but Flossie was not with him.

"Where's your sister?" asked Harry.

"Who, Flossie? Oh, she went away. She said she was going home," Freddie
answered. "She went home a good while ago!"

"Went home!" echoed Nan, with a gasping breath. "Why, she never could
find the way all by herself. Oh, maybe she's lost!"




CHAPTER XIV

FREDDIE AND THE PUMPKIN


The cornfield where the Bobbsey twins and Harry had gone to work and
play was a long distance from the farmhouse. Nan knew this, and that is
why she was frightened when Freddie said that Flossie had "gone home."

"Maybe she could find her way," said Bert.

"She's a smart little girl," added Harry. "I wish I had a sister like
her."

"How long ago did she leave you, Freddie?" asked Nan.

"Oh, 'bout maybe three four hours," answered the little boy.

"We haven't been here an hour!" exclaimed Bert.

"Well, maybe it was minutes, then," admitted Freddie. He did not have a
very good idea of time, you see.

"If it was only a little while ago she can't have gone very far," said
Nan. "Flossie! Flossie!" she called. "Where are you?"

But there was no answer. Bert and Harry then took up the call, as they
had louder voices than had Nan, and even Freddie added his shout, but it
was of no use. Flossie did not answer.

"I guess she's too far away," Harry stated.

"We'd better hurry after her!" said Bert.

"Oh, come on!" cried Nan, half sobbing. "Mother told me to keep good
watch over her, and I didn't! I shouldn't have played hide and go seek!"

"It wasn't your fault!" her brother consoled her. "It was as much mine
as yours. But we'll find Flossie all right. I guess she's home by this
time."

But when they had hurried to the farmhouse there was no sign of the
little girl. Mrs. Bobbsey became much frightened when told what had
happened.

"Is there any water she could fall into?" she asked Aunt Sarah.

"No, not even a duck pond near the cornfield. She's all right, I'm
sure," said the other Mrs. Bobbsey. "We'll go back to the cornfield and
find her hiding, I feel certain."

"But she wasn't playing hide and go seek," declared Nan. "She wouldn't
hide from us."

"You can't tell," said Aunt Sarah, so cheerfully that the others took
heart. Back they hurried to the field where the big shocks of dried
cornstalks stood. The two Mr. Bobbseys also went along to help in the
search.

"Now show us where you and Flossie were playing at shell the corn," said
the mother of the twins.

"Right here," Freddie stated, and he pointed to some of the yellow
kernels on the ground.

The father of the Bobbsey twins stooped down and looked at the soft
earth. He soon found what he was looking for--the tiny footprints of his
little girl.

"She went over this way," he said. "Come on, we'll pretend we are
hunters on the trail. We'll soon find Flossie."

"Oh, this is fun!" laughed Freddie. But it was not exactly fun for the
others. Even Nan and Bert were worried.

The footprints of Flossie wandered off among the shocks of corn, and in
a few moments they stopped at a place where two or three shocks had been
piled together, making a large heap.

And then, before any one could say a word, from behind this pile of
cornstalks a sleepy voice called, asking:

"Where are you, Freddie?"

"There she is! That's Flossie!" cried Bert.

He and his mother made a dash around the big shock and there, lying with
her little cloak wrapped around her, was Flossie, nestled amid the corn
husks, curled up and just awakening from a nap.

"Oh, Flossie! why did you run away?" asked her mother, clasping her
little daughter in her arms.

"I didn't runned away, I walked!" declared Flossie, rubbing her eyes.
"What you all lookin' at me for?" she wanted to know. "Was I a bad girl,
Mother?"

"Not exactly bad, but you frightened us," her father said. "However,
we're glad we have found you."

Flossie had just wandered away by herself, unnoticed by Bert, Nan, or
Harry, and, growing tired and sleepy, had nestled in the corn to take a
nap. Freddie had been so busy shelling corn that he did not notice which
way his little sister went.

But everything was all right now, and the happy families went back to
the farmhouse, the smaller twins being allowed to feed some of their
corn to the chickens.

True to his promise, Mr. Richard Bobbsey took his children to the Bolton
County Fair the next day, his wife going with him this time. Of course
Harry also went along, for it would not have been polite to leave him at
home. As for Uncle Daniel and Aunt Sarah, they said they would go to the
fair another day.

"Will you ask Mr. Blipper about your coat and the missing robe?" asked
Mrs. Bobbsey, on the way to the fair grounds.

"Yes. And I'll ask him about Bob Guess, also," her husband answered.
"There is something strange about that boy."

The Bobbsey twins and Harry were talking among themselves, while Nan
also looked after Flossie and Freddie.

"They're going to put the big balloon up to-day," said Harry.

"They are if the wind doesn't blow too much," Bert agreed. "And I'm
afraid it's blowing too hard. Do you think the wind is blowing too much
for them to send the big balloon up?" he anxiously asked his father.

Mr. Bobbsey looked at the sky.

"To my mind," he said, "I think there is going to be a storm. I'm afraid
the wind will keep on blowing harder all day. Of course I don't know how
strong a wind it takes to keep a balloon man from going up, but I should
say there would be danger in going up to-day."

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Bert. "I wanted to see the man go up in the
balloon!"

"So did I!" added Harry. "But maybe the wind will die out."

However, it did not, and it was still blowing rather hard when the fair
grounds were reached.

"Never mind," said Mrs. Bobbsey, when she saw how disappointed Harry
and Bert seemed to feel. "If the balloon doesn't go up to-day it will
to-morrow, and we can come again. There are plenty of other things to
look at besides balloons."

"I'd like to go to see some of the big vegetables and the fruits, and
look at the patchwork quilts and the lace," said Nan.

"Very well," agreed her father. "We'll go there first, and maybe by that
time the wind will have died down. But I hardly think so."

Truth to tell Bert and Harry did not care much for the big pumpkins,
squashes, and other vegetables. And they hardly looked at the fancy work
in which Nan and her mother took an interest.

"Oh, wouldn't this make a dandy jack-o'-lantern!" cried Freddie, as he
crawled under a railing around a platform, on which were many large
vegetables. "Look what a big pumpkin!"

"Freddie, you mustn't go in there," called his mother. "Come out. Don't
touch that big pumpkin."

But it was too late! Freddie was already on the wooden platform, and he
was rolling the pumpkin. It was almost perfectly round, and the little
fellow could easily move it.

"Come away!" called Mr. Bobbsey, adding his voice to that of his wife.

"I want to see if I can lift this pumpkin!" exclaimed Freddie.

And then, suddenly, the big pumpkin rolled off the platform, toward the
back of the tent.

"Get it, Freddie! Get it!" cried Bert, for he knew the pumpkin was on
exhibition in order to take a prize, if possible. It would be too bad if
anything happened to it.

Freddie made a dive for the big, yellow vegetable, but, as it happened,
the tent stood on the top of a hill. And as the pumpkin rolled off the
platform it slipped under the tent and began going down the grassy hill
outside.

"Whoa! Whoa!" called Freddie, as he had called to the race horse that
had walked out on the track with him. "Whoa, pumpkin!"

But the pumpkin kept on rolling! The little chap made a dive for it,
missed it by a few inches, and then, falling over, he, too, rolled out
under the tent and down the hill.

Freddie was not quite so round as a pumpkin, but he managed to get a
good start, and rolled over and over. And as his father, mother, and the
others hurried out of the tent they saw Freddie and the big yellow
vegetable tumbling down the hill together.

"Oh, look! Look!" cried a little girl. "A boy and a pumpkin are having a
race! Oh, look! How funny! A boy and a pumpkin are having a race!"




CHAPTER XV

UP IN A BALLOON


The pumpkin won the race. I suppose you had already guessed that it
would. For the pumpkin, being almost perfectly round, could roll down
the hill faster than Freddie could.

So the pumpkin was the first to reach the bottom of the little grassy
hill on which stood the tent where the prize fruits and vegetables were
on exhibition. And Freddie came tumbling after, like Jack and Jill, you
know.

And I believe it is a good thing the pumpkin reached the bottom of the
hill first, for if Freddie had been first the big, heavy pumpkin would
have rolled up against him with a bump, and might have hurt him. But
Freddie, bumping into the pumpkin, as he did, was not hurt at all.

"Oh, you funny little boy!" cried the little girl who had laughed, as
she ran up to Freddie, who was now sitting on the grass. "The pumpkin
beat you in the rolling race down hill. But maybe you'll win next time."

"There isn't going to be any next time," laughed Mother Bobbsey, as she
ran to pick Freddie up. "He didn't do that on purpose, little girl."

"Oh, I thought he did. Anyhow, it was funny!" and she laughed again.

"Yes, it was funny," agreed Bert. "And here comes a man after the
pumpkin, I guess."

"Be careful that he doesn't take you and put you on exhibition in the
tent," said Nan to her little brother.

"Will he, Mother?" asked Flossie.

"No, of course not. Nan is only joking."

"The pumpkin isn't hurt any," said Harry, helping the man lift it up on
his shoulder.

"I'm glad of it," the man said. "It has won the prize, and the farmer
who owns it wouldn't like it if it should be broken."

"Let's go over to the merry-go-round," suggested Freddie, who did not
like so many people looking at him, for quite a crowd had gathered when
word of the funny pumpkin race spread. "I want a ride on the
merry-go-round."

"So do I," added Flossie.

"And then it will be time for the balloon to go up," added Bert. "Do you
think the wind is too strong?" he asked his father.

"Well, it is blowing pretty hard, and it's getting worse. I think there
is going to be a storm. But I see men working around the balloon, and I
think they are going to send it up. Perhaps they think they can send it
up and let it come down again before the storm."

"Oh, let's hurry and see it!" cried Nan, who was as much interested in
the big gas bag as were the boys.

"First we'll give Flossie and Freddie a ride on the merry-go-round, I
think," suggested Mrs. Bobbsey. So they all voted to have a ride, as Mr.
Bobbsey wanted a chance to speak to Mr. Blipper.

But, just as had happened the other time, Mr. Blipper was not there. Bob
Guess was taking tickets, and when he saw Nan he smiled.

"I'll get you the brass ring," he promised, and he did.

The children liked the lively music, and also the whirling ride on the
backs of the wooden animals. Even Mrs. Bobbsey took one ride, but she
said that was enough. Nan had a special ride, because Bob Guess had
saved for her the brass ring, and when the other children learned that
Nan was to ride for nothing, of course they wanted an extra ride, for
which Mr. Bobbsey had to pay.

"When do you think Mr. Blipper will be here?" Mr. Bobbsey asked of Bob,
as the party was leaving. "I want to talk to him."

"I don't know," was the boy's answer. "He doesn't stay at the
merry-go-round as much as he used to. He lets me and one of his men run
it. He's away a lot."

"Well, you tell him I want to see him," went on Mr. Bobbsey. "I shall be
here to-morrow and the next day."

"I'll tell him," promised Bob Guess.

"Now let's go see the balloon," suggested Bert.

"They're getting ready to send it up!" exclaimed Harry, as they neared
the place where the big bag, already partly filled with gas, was swaying
to and fro. Over the bag was a net work of strong cords, and the cords
were fastened to the rim of a large square basket. To the basket were
tied ropes, and to the ends of these ropes were bags of sand, thus
holding the balloon to the ground.

"What makes it go up?" asked Flossie, as she watched the swaying bag.

"Gas," explained Mr. Bobbsey. "They put in the big bag some gas,
sometimes one kind and sometimes another, just like the gas in your toy
balloons. This gas is so very light--it's not even so heavy as air--that
it wants to go up into the air, all by itself. And when it is inside a
bag the gas takes the bag up into the air with it."

"And the basket too? Doesn't it take the basket?" Freddie asked.

"Yes, the basket goes up with the balloon," said Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Who goes in the basket?" asked Freddie.

"Oh, the man," his father answered.

"Do any children go in the balloon?" called out Flossie. "Any boys or
girls?"

"Oh, no!" quickly said Nan, for she did not want her little sister and
brother to tease for a ride in a balloon basket.

"I'd like a ride in a balloon," murmured Freddie.

Just then the wind began to blow more strongly, and the big gas bag
swayed to one side, toward a crowd of people who ran to get out of the
way.

"Get more ropes!" cried one of the balloon men. "Get more ropes and sand
bags!"

"That's right!" shouted another man. "There's going to be a storm. I
don't know whether we ought to send the balloon up!"

"Oh, let her go!" cried several in the crowd. They did not want to be
disappointed. Bert and Harry added their voices to the cries for an
ascension.

"Well, we'll have to tie the balloon down until we get more gas in it,"
said the first man. "Come on now, more ropes and sand bags!"

While these were being brought the Bobbsey twins and their relatives
drew as near to the balloon as they could get, closely looking at it. At
times the big bag, partly filled with gas, swayed until it swept the
ground. The basket, too, pulled and tugged at the ropes that held it
down.

"What does the man do when he's in the basket?" Freddie asked.

"Oh, he sits there and rides along up in the clouds," said Bert. "I wish
I could go up."

"Does he have anything to eat?" Flossie wanted to know.

"Oh, yes," said Nan. "There are things to eat in the basket. See!" And
she held Flossie up so she could look over the edge and down into the
basket. Of course Freddie had to be lifted up, also.

The basket seemed a cosy place. There were blankets in it, for it is
often very cold high up in the air where balloons go, though it may be
very warm on the earth. And there were boxes and packages containing
food and many strange things at which the Bobbsey twins wondered.

The wind kept blowing harder and harder, and the crowd grew larger as
word went around the fair grounds that the balloon was soon to go up.

"What about those ropes?" cried the man who was in charge of the
balloon.

"They're coming," another man told him. "Be here right away!"

"Well, those lads want to hurry if this balloon isn't to go sailing off
by itself! My, but the wind is blowing hard! I've a good notion to call
this off. I'm afraid we're in for a bad storm."

"We can't stop it now," said the second man. "The crowd expects us to go
up, and we'll have to go."

"Well, we'll try it. But we must tie the balloon down and put in more
gas. It won't go up very far only half filled as it is."

Suddenly some voices cried:

"One side! One side if you please!"

It was the men coming up with ropes to tie the balloon down.

Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey tried to gather the children close to them, to get
them out of the way of the men. But, in some manner, Flossie and
Freddie turned to one side, and before they knew it they were separated
from their friends. And then Flossie and Freddie found themselves pushed
close up against the balloon basket.

"Oh, let's get in!" cried Freddie.

"We'll just sit down for a minute and then get out," agreed Flossie.

The crowd was so excited, trying to get out of the way of the men with
the coils of rope, that no one noticed what the small Bobbsey twins did.
And so Freddie and Flossie climbed into the balloon basket and snuggled
down in the blankets.

"Quick now with those ropes!" cried the head man. "She's going to tear
loose! Feel that wind!"

There came a heavy blow, causing the balloon to sway back and forth.

"Look out!" cried another voice. "There she goes!"

Almost as he spoke there was a further scramble on the part of the
crowd, and the balloon tore loose from the holding ropes before the men
had time to put on the new ones.

"There she goes!" echoed the crowd. "Up goes the balloon!"

And up it went, taking Flossie and Freddie with it! Up and up it rose,
shooting above the heads of the crowd.

"Oh, Freddie!" cried Flossie, "what's going to happen?"

"We're going up in a balloon!" shouted Freddie, and then he laughed. He
thought it was fun.

"Oh, I want to get down!" screamed Flossie. She looked over the edge of
the basket, as did her brother, and just then Mrs. Bobbsey glanced up.

"Oh, my children! Flossie and Freddie!" she gasped, pointing. "They're
in the balloon!"




CHAPTER XVI

ON THE ISLAND


There was great excitement down on the ground when the cry of Mrs.
Bobbsey told her husband, the other children, and the big crowd that
Flossie and Freddie had been carried away in the balloon. At first some
did not believe it, and even Mr. Bobbsey found it hard to imagine that
such a thing could happen.

But one look up at the swaying basket dangling from the runaway balloon
showed him the faces of Flossie and Freddie looking down at the earth
which seemed to be dropping away from them.

"Oh, my children! My children! Flossie! Freddie!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey,
tears streaming down her cheeks, as she raised her hands toward the
swiftly rising balloon.

"Get them down!"

"We'll catch 'em if they jump!"

"Get a ladder!"

"Have the man in the aeroplane go after them!"

These were some of the cries--foolish cries in some cases--that sounded
on all sides as Flossie and Freddie were carried away. For how could any
ladder be long enough to reach up to the balloon?

"Oh, can't we do something?" wailed Mrs. Bobbsey, holding to her
husband.

"We'll save them! We'll save Flossie and Freddie," said Mr. Bobbsey. Nan
was crying also, and Harry and Bert looked at each other with strange
faces. They didn't know what to do or say.

Mr. Bobbsey felt the wind blowing stronger and stronger and saw the
gathering storm. As he saw how fast the balloon was moving upward and
onward, away from the fair grounds, he, too, was much frightened.

"How did those children get in there?" asked one of the balloon men.

"They must have crawled in the basket when we weren't looking," answered
Mr. Bobbsey.

"Is there any way of saving my little children?" cried Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Now don't you worry," said the balloon man kindly. "They'll be all
right if they stay in the basket. The balloon hasn't all its gas in, and
it won't blow very far. It will soon come down to the ground."

"But won't they be killed?"

"No, a balloon comes down very gently when the gas gives out." said the
man. "It's almost like a parachute. Your children will come down like
feathers. We'll get up a searching party and go after them." He knew
there was great danger but he did not want to add to Mrs. Bobbsey's
fears.

"Oh, yes! Do something!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey. "We must save them!"

While down below there was all excitement and while a searching party
was getting ready to start out to rescue Flossie and Freddie, the two
little children themselves were safe enough in the balloon basket. That
is they were safe for the time being, for they could not fall unless
they climbed over the side of the basket, and they would hardly do this.
They were also safe from banging into anything, for they were now high
in the air, well above all trees and buildings, and there were no other
balloons or any aeroplanes in sight.

At the fair grounds was an aeroplane, but it had not gone up yet, and
could not, for the engine was broken, and the man had to mend it before
he could make a flight. So as long as Flossie and Freddie remained in
the basket they were safe.

They did not even feel the wind blow, for as they were being carried
right along in the gale, being a part of it, so to speak, they did not
feel it as they had when standing on the ground.

But, in spite of all this, Flossie's little heart was beating very fast
and tears came into her eyes.

"Oh, Freddie!" she half sobbed, "what you s'pose's goin' to happen to
us?"

"I don't know," he answered. "But anyhow we're up in a balloon and we're
having a fine sail. I like a balloon, don't you, Flossie?"

Flossie thought it over for a moment. Now that the first fright was
passed she rather enjoyed the quiet, easy motion. For there were no
bumps as in an automobile, and there was no swaying as on the
merry-go-round. It was like flying with the birds, and Flossie had
always wanted to be a bird.

"It is--yes, I guess it is nice," she said. "Are we high up?"

"Not very," Freddie answered. "Don't look over the edge or you might
fall out of the basket," he told his sister, as he saw her getting ready
to stand on her tiptoes and peer down. Freddie had looked down once, as
had Flossie, when they first felt themselves going up, and it had made
him a little dizzy. He did not want Flossie to fall out.

"Let's see if we can find something to eat," suggested the little boy.
"I'm hungry."

"So'm I," agreed Flossie. This was something new to think about.

They poked among the things in the balloon basket. There were funny
objects, the uses of which they could only guess at, but there were also
some crackers and sandwiches, as well as a bottle of milk, and some
water.

"Oh, we can have a regular camp-out!" laughed Flossie. "We'll make
believe we're on a steamer."

"It'll be lots of fun," agreed Freddie. So they ate and were quite
happy, while those they had left behind were very much worried and
miserable.

The wind blew harder and harder, but, as I have said, Flossie and
Freddie did not notice it. Soon, however, they began to notice something
else, and this was some drops of water.

"Oh, the balloon's leaking!" cried Flossie, as she felt a damp spot on
her red cheek.

Freddie also felt some wet splashes, but he saw at once what they were.

"It's raining!" he cried. And so it was. The storm had broken.

"Raining!" cried Flossie. "And we hasn't got any umbrella!"

"We don't need one," said the little boy. "The balloon's so big it will
be like an umbrella over us."

This was partly true. The bag of the balloon bulged out over the heads
of the children, keeping off most of the rain. But some blew in sideways
over the top of the basket, and the children would have been quite wet
had they not wrapped themselves in blankets. These kept them warm and
dry, for one of the blankets was of rubber.

Thus the little Bobbsey twins sailed on in a balloon, the first ride of
this kind they had ever taken. Their first fright was over, but they
began wondering what would happen next.

Suddenly Flossie discovered a hole in the bottom of the basket, through
which she could look down to the earth. And as she looked she cried:

"Oh, Freddie, we're going down into a lake!"

Freddie looked and saw what his sister had seen. The balloon was now
going down. Probably the gas had leaked out, or there may not have been
more than enough to carry the balloon a short distance. At any rate it
was now falling, and, as the children saw, straight toward a body of
water.

"Shall we fall into the water?" asked Flossie.

"No--no, I don't guess so," Freddie answered. He hoped that was not
going to happen. But as he looked down and saw the water seemingly
coming nearer and nearer, though of course it was the balloon going
down, the little boy did not feel at all sure but they would drop right
into the lake.

"We'd better hold on hard to the basket," said Freddie, after thinking
over the best thing to do. "When we get in the lake we can hold on to
the basket until somebody comes."

This idea made Flossie feel a little better. She was glad she had
Freddie with her, and Freddie was glad Flossie was with him.

Down, down the balloon gently dropped. The rain was pouring hard now,
splashing into the lake, which was covered in some places with a blanket
of fog.

Then, just when it seemed that Flossie and Freddie and the balloon would
splash into the water, an island loomed in sight.

"Oh, if we could only land on the island!" cried Freddie.

And that's just what happened! Through the branches of trees the balloon
crashed, this helping to stop it more gently. Down to the island it
fell, the basket banging on the ground. The basket tipped over sideways,
spilling Flossie and Freddie out, but not hurting them as they fell in a
pile of dried leaves. Some of the things in the basket fell out with
them.

Once the children were out of the balloon it rose a little, was blown
along a short distance by the wind, and then, getting tangled in the
tree branches, came to a stop.

"Well, we're all right now," said Freddie, as he arose and brushed the
leaves from him.

"But I'm getting all wet!" sobbed Flossie. "I'm soaked!"

And so she was, as well as Freddie, for it was raining hard.




CHAPTER XVII

THE SEARCHING PARTY


Every one at the fair grounds was anxious to help Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey
get back Flossie and Freddie, who had been carried off in the runaway
balloon. The men who owned the big gas bag were the first to make the
right sort of plans.

"The balloon is being blown over the lake," said Mr. Trench, the owner
of the big bag. "We must go in that direction."

"Over the lake!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey. "Oh, if they should fall in!"

"The balloon will float on the water," her husband told her. "The
children will be all right, I'm sure."

"Yes, indeed," agreed Mr. Trench. "Don't worry, lady. We'll get your
children back. The first thing to do is to go to the lake, and then we
can hire a motor-boat there."

"I'm going with you!" declared Mrs. Bobbsey, as she saw the preparations
being made for the searching party.

"I think you had better stay with Bert and Nan," said Mr. Bobbsey.

"Oh, we'll be all right!" Nan hastened to tell her father.

"Can't Harry and I come on the searching party?" asked Bert.

"No, I would rather not," his father answered. "You stay with your
mother and Nan."

"I simply am coming with you, Dick!" said Mrs. Bobbsey, and when she
spoke in that tone her husband knew there was no use trying to get her
to change her mind.

"Very well," agreed Mr. Bobbsey. "We will go to the lake in my auto. Mr.
Trench knows where we can hire a motor-boat."

The lake, a large one, came within a few miles of the fair grounds. The
balloon man knew in which direction the water lay, and he had seen the
wind carrying the big gas bag toward the water.

"Bert, you and Nan and Harry must go back to Meadow Brook Farm,"
directed Mr. Bobbsey. "I'll see if I can't hire an auto to take you
there, as it is going to storm soon. It's sprinkling now."

"We'll take them back," offered a gentleman who had come to the fair
with his wife in their auto. "I know where Meadow Brook Farm is. We'll
take these children there."

"Thank you, very much," said Mr. Bobbsey. "And tell your uncle and aunt
what has happened, Bert. Tell them we expect to be home before night
with Flossie and Freddie."

"Oh, if we only can be!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey.

"We'll find the little ones all right--never fear!" said Mr. Trench. "If
you're ready now, we'll start."

So while Nan, Bert and Harry remained behind in charge of Mr. Blackford,
who had offered to take them home in his automobile, Mr. and Mrs.
Bobbsey, with some men who had charge of the balloon, started off to go
to the lake, there to hire a boat and search for Flossie and Freddie.

"They're out of sight. How far away they must be!" sighed Mrs. Bobbsey,
as she entered the automobile. She looked up, but could not see the
balloon, so fast had it been blown away.

"They aren't so far as it seems," declared Mr. Trench. "It's getting
foggy, and it's going to rain hard soon."

As Bert, Nan, and Harry were getting in Mr. Blackford's automobile to go
to Meadow Brook Farm, Bob Guess came hurrying up through the rain. The
merry-go-round, as well as other amusements at the fair, had shut down
on account of the storm.

"Where's your father?" asked Bob of Bert. "I've something to tell him.
Where is he?"

"He's gone off after the balloon. Flossie and Freddie are in it," Nan
answered.

"Whew! Those little children taking a balloon ride!" cried Bob. "How did
they dare?"

"It was an accident," Harry explained. "They didn't mean to."

"Well, tell your father I want to see him when he gets back," said Bob,
as he hurried back to the merry-go-round. "I have something to tell him
about Mr. Blipper."

However, Bert and Nan had other things to think about then than about
Mr. Blipper. They were worried over what might happen to Flossie and
Freddie.

Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey were hastening toward the lake. Mr.
Bobbsey drove his car as fast as he dared through the storm. It was now
raining hard.

"How long would the balloon stay up in the air?" asked Mr. Bobbsey of
Mr. Trench.

"It all depends. On a hot day, when the sun warms the gas, it would stay
up a long time. But when it is cool, like this, and rains, it will not
stay up so long. It will come down gently, and I am sure the children
will not be hurt."

As they drove along they stopped now and then to ask people if they had
seen the runaway balloon. Many had, and all said it was sailing toward
the lake.

When the lake was reached and a motor-boat had been found which would
take them out on the water, several men said they had seen the big gas
bag beginning to go down near Hemlock Island, the largest island in the
lake.

"If they have only landed there they may be all right," Mrs. Bobbsey
said. "Oh, hurry and get there, Dick!"

"We'll hurry all we can," her husband told her, as they got into the
boat to continue the search. "But this is a bad storm. We must be
careful."




CHAPTER XVIII

ON THE ROCKS


The whole world seemed a very dreary and unhappy place to Mr. and Mrs.
Bobbsey as they started off in the motor-boat to look for Flossie and
Freddie. In the first place, if one of the little Bobbsey twins had just
been lost--plain lost--as Flossie was in the cornfield, it would have
been sad enough. But when both tots were missing, and when the last seen
of them had been a sight of them shooting away in a balloon through a
gathering storm, well, it was enough to make any father and mother feel
very unhappy.

Besides this, there was the rain, and as the motor-boat, in charge of
Captain Craig, swung out into the lake, the big, pelting drops came down
harder than ever.

"Oh, what a sad, sad day!" sighed Mrs. Bobbsey. "And it started off so
happily, too!"

"Perhaps it will end happily," said Mr. Bobbsey, hopefully. "It will not
be night for several hours yet, and before then we may find Flossie and
Freddie. In fact I'm sure we shall!"

"I think so, too," declared Mr. Trench, the owner of the balloon. "That
craft of mine wasn't filled with enough gas to go far, and it had to
come down soon."

"But where would it come down? That's the point!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey.
"If it came down in the lake----"

"It's on Hemlock Island, take my word for it!" growled out Captain
Craig, in whose motor-boat the searching party was riding. It was not
because he was cross that his voice had a growling sound. It was just
naturally hoarse. He was out on the water so much, often in the cold and
rain, that he seemed to have an everlasting cold. "We'll find the
balloon and the children, too, on Hemlock Island," he went on. "Half a
dozen men I talked to, just before you came, said they saw something big
and black, like an airship, swooping down on the island. We'll find 'em
there, never fear!"

"How far are we from Hemlock Island?" asked Mr. Bobbsey of Captain
Craig, when they had been in the motor-boat about fifteen minutes.

"Oh, a few miles--just a few miles," was the answer.

"And how long will it take to get there?" Mrs. Bobbsey asked.

"Well, that's hard to say," was the answer. "It might take us a long
while, and again it might not take us so long."

"Why is that?" asked Mr. Bobbsey, wondering whether Bert and Nan would
be all right, left to themselves as they were. But then they would have
their uncle, aunt, and cousin to look after them.

"Well," went on Captain Craig, as he steered the boat to one side, "you
see it's getting thicker and thicker--I mean the weather. The rain is
coming down harder and it's getting foggy, too. I can't very well see
where to steer, and I have to run at slow speed. So it will take me
longer to get to Hemlock Island than if it was a clear day and I could
run as fast as my boat would go."

"Well, get there as soon as you can," begged Mrs. Bobbsey. "I'm sure if
Flossie and Freddie are on the island in all this rain they will be
terribly frightened!"

"Well, they may be--a little," admitted Mr. Bobbsey. "But Flossie and
Freddie are brave children. They'll make the best of things I'm sure!"

The motor-boat went chug-chugging its way across the big lake, not
running as fast as it could have done on a fair day. The rain poured
down, making a hissing sound in the water. Those in the boat wore rubber
coats, for Captain Craig had supplied them at his boathouse before
starting out. He owned a boat dock, and also a fishing pier, and
supplied pleasure parties with nearly everything they needed for fair
weather or stormy.

Suddenly Mrs. Bobbsey, who was straining her eyes to peer through the
mist and rain, uttered a cry.

"There's something!" she called out.

"Where?" asked her husband, and Captain Craig leaned forward, his hands
gripping the spokes of the steering wheel.

"Right straight ahead," went on Mrs. Bobbsey. "Something black is
looming up in the fog. Maybe it's the balloon!"

"We can't be anywhere near the island yet," said the captain. "That is
unless I'm away off my course. But we'll soon find out what it is."

They could all see the black object now, though it looked dim and
uncertain, for a fog was settling down over the lake and the mist and
vapor, together with the rain, made it hard to see more than a few feet
ahead.

"It's a boat!" suddenly cried Mr. Bobbsey. "A large boat."

And that is what it was.

"Ahoy there!" called Captain Craig in his deep voice. "Ahoy there!"

"Ahoy!" answered the men in the boat.

"Have you seen anything of a runaway balloon?" asked Mr. Trench. "Mine
got away from the Bolton County Fair, and it had two little children in
the balloon basket. Have you seen them?"

Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey and all in the motor boat waited anxiously for the
answer. Captain Craig had shut off his engine so its noise would not
drown the words of those in the other boat.

"We saw something big and black sailing through the air over our heads
about an hour ago," was the answer. "We thought it was the aeroplane
from the fair grounds."

"That was my balloon!" declared Mr. Trench.

"Did you see anything of my children?" Mrs. Bobbsey begged to know.

"No. But we couldn't see very well on account of the fog and because the
balloon--if that's what it was--kept up pretty high," came the answer.

"Which way was she heading?" Captain Craig wanted to know, this being
his sailor way of asking which way the balloon was going.

"Due north," answered one of the men in the other boat, which was a
craft containing a number of fishermen.

"Towards Hemlock Island," stated another.

"Well, we're going in the right direction," went on Captain Craig. "Much
obliged," he called to the fishermen, as the motor-boat again started
off through the fog.

Soon the vessel that had been hailed was lost to sight in the mist, and
again all eyes, including those of Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey, were strained
in looking for a first sight of Hemlock Island.

"Are you warm enough?" asked Mr. Bobbsey of his wife, wrapping the
rubber coat more closely about her.

"Oh, yes. I'm not thinking of myself," she answered, with a sigh. "I am
worried about my darlings!"

"I think they'll come out of it all right," said her husband. "Flossie
and Freddie, as well as Bert and Nan, have been in many a scrape, but
the Bobbsey luck seems to hold good. They always get out all right."

"Yes. And I hope they will this time," answered Mrs. Bobbsey, trying to
appear more cheerful.

For a while they ran along in silence, every one peering out into the
rain and the mist striving to catch sight, if not of the balloon, at
least of the shore of Hemlock Island.

"My, but this fog is getting thicker and thicker!" exclaimed Captain
Craig. "I'll have to go a bit slower yet."

He cut down the speed of the engine until the boat was moving at less
than half speed. But even this did not save her from an accident which
came a short time later.

Suddenly, as they were cruising along, every eye on the lookout for a
sight of the island, there came a violent crash. All in the boat were
thrown forward.

"Gracious!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey, as she struggled to regain her seat.

"What have we struck?" Mr. Bobbsey asked.

"We've struck Hemlock Island," said Captain Craig grimly. "We've fairly
bumped into it. I ought to have known I was somewhere near it. We've
fairly rammed it, and we're on the rocks!"

"'On the rocks!'" repeated Mrs. Bobbsey. "Are we in danger?"

"That's what I'm going to find out," said the captain. "At least we
can't sink, for we're right on shore," and as he spoke the fog blew away
for a moment, showing a bleak shore of rocks with hemlock trees a little
way up from the beach. "Yes, sir, we ran plumb on the rocks!" muttered
Captain Craig, as he stood up and tried to peer through the fog that was
now closing in again.




CHAPTER XIX

TWO LITTLE SAILORS


Now it is time for us to inquire what was happening to Freddie and
Flossie, the two smaller Bobbsey twins. They had fallen out of the
balloon basket when the big gas bag was blown down on Hemlock Island in
the storm. But Flossie and Freddie had toppled out on piles of soft,
dried leaves, so they were not hurt. But, as Flossie had said, she was
soaking wet.

"We ought to have umbrellas," said Freddie, as he felt the drops of rain
pelting down. "If we had umbrellas this would be fun, 'cause we aren't
hurt from our balloon ride."

"No, we aren't hurt," agreed Flossie, "'ceptin' I'm jiggled up a lot."

"So'm I," Freddie stated. "I'm jiggled, too!"

"And we hasn't got any umbrella, and I'm gettin' wetter'n wetter!" half
sobbed Flossie.

Indeed it was raining harder, and as the fog was closing in on the
children they could not see very far on any side of them.

It was not the first time the small Bobbsey twins had been lost
together, nor the first time they had been in trouble. And, as he had
done more than once, Freddie began to think of some way by which he
could comfort Flossie.

The little boy was hungry, and he felt that if he could get something to
eat it would make him feel better. And surely what made him feel better
ought to make Flossie happier if she had some of the same.

"Are you hungry, Flossie?" he asked.

"Yes, I am," answered the little girl.

"Well, let's eat some more of the things that were in the balloon
basket," proposed her brother. "They tumbled out when we did. I can see
some of 'em mixed up with the blankets and other things."

When the bumping of the balloon basket had spilled out Flossie and
Freddie it had also toppled out the supply of food and the tools and
instruments the balloon men had intended using on their sail through the
air.

"Let's get 'em before the rain soaks 'em all up," suggested Flossie, for
the rain was now pouring down on everything.

"I guess that balloon won't be any good any more," said Freddie, as he
looked at the big gas bag, now almost empty and tangled in the trees and
bushes.

"No, I guess we won't ever get another ride in it," agreed Flossie.

That part was true enough; but, later, the balloon men took the bag from
the island, mended the holes in it, and went up in many a flight from
other fair grounds.

Gathering up some of the spilled food gave Flossie and Freddie something
to do, and, for a time, they forgot about the rain pouring down. But it
was the kind of rain one could not easily forget for very long, and
after putting some tin boxes of crackers under an overhanging stump,
to keep the food dry, and after eating some, Flossie exclaimed:

"Oh, I don't like it to be so wet!" Then she wept a little.

Freddie did not like it, either, but he made up his mind he must be
brave and not cry. Not that Flossie could not be brave, too, but she
didn't just then happen to think of it.

"I know what we can do!" Freddie exclaimed. "We can wrap the rubber
blanket around us, and that will be like an umbrella--almost!"

"Oh, yes!" cried Flossie! "That will keep us from getting wet!"

And the rubber blanket turned out to be a fairly good umbrella. It was
large enough for Flossie and Freddie to put over their shoulders and
walk under. And it was while they were thus walking through the woods,
wondering what would happen next and if their father and mother would
ever find them, that Freddie saw something.

"Oh, Flossie! There's a house!" he shouted.

"Where?" demanded the little girl.

"Right over there! Among the trees! Down near the shore!"

Freddie pointed and Flossie, looking, saw dimly through the fog the
outlines of some sort of building.

"Let's go there and they can telephone to daddy that we're here," said
Flossie. "I guess we're all right now. And maybe Bert and Nan will wish
they'd come on a balloon ride with us."

"Maybe," agreed Freddie, as he tramped along with his sister under the
rubber blanket toward the building on the shore of the lake.

But alas for the hopes of the children! When they reached the place they
found that what Freddie had thought was a house was only an old empty
cabin. It had once been used by campers or by fishermen, and at one time
may have been a cosy place. But now the glass in the windows was broken,
the door hung sagging by one hinge, and inside there was a rusty stove
which showed no signs of a warm, cheerful fire.

"There's nobody here," said Flossie sadly, after they had looked inside
and had seen that the shack was deserted.

"Well, but it doesn't rain so hard inside as it does outside," remarked
Freddie. "Let's go in. This blanket makes me tired."

The rubber covering was rather heavy for the little children, and they
were glad to step inside the cabin. Even though the roof leaked in
places, there were spots where it did not. Picking out one of these
spaces, Freddie moved some boxes over to it, and he and his sister sat
down, tired and wet, but feeling better now that they were within some
sort of shelter.

"This isn't a very nice place," Flossie observed, looking around.

"No. But it's better'n being outside," stated Freddie. "And maybe
there's a bed in the next room." The cabin consisted of two rooms, the
door between them being shut. "I'm going to look," Freddie went on.

"No, don't!" begged Flossie, clutching Freddie by the sleeve.

"Why not?" he asked. "Don't you want me to look in that room and see if
there's a bed? 'Cause maybe we'll have to stay all night."

"Don't look!" begged Flossie "Maybe--maybe Mr. Blipper is in there!"

"Mr. Blipper?" echoed Freddie. "What would he be doing here? He's at his
merry-go-round."

"No, he isn't at his merry-go-round," insisted Flossie. "'Cause we was
there and he wasn't there when daddy wanted to ask him about the coat
and the lap robe. Maybe Mr. Blipper's in that room, and I don't like
him--he's so cross!"

"Yes, he's cross," agreed Freddie. "And he was mean to Bob Guess. But
maybe Mr. Blipper isn't in that room. I'm going to look!"

But Freddie never did. He got down off the old box he was using for a
seat, under a part of the roof that didn't leak, when Flossie gave a
cry, and pointed out-of-doors.

"Look!" she exclaimed.

"Is somebody coming?" Freddie wanted to know.

"No, but I see a boat," Flossie went on. "We can get in the boat and row
back on the fair grounds and we'll be all right."

Freddie looked to where she pointed and saw a rowboat drawn up on the
shore.

"If it's got oars in we could row," he said, for both he and his little
sister knew something of handling boats, their father having taught
them.

"Let's go down and look," proposed Flossie. "It isn't raining so hard
now."

The big drops were not, indeed, pelting down quite so fast, but it was
still far from dry.

Getting under the rubber blanket again, the children ran out of the
cabin and toward the boat. They were delighted to find oars in it, and,
seeing that the rowboat was in good shape, Freddie got in.

"Ouch!" he exclaimed as he sat down on a wet seat. "Here, wait a minute
before you sit there, Flossie. I'll put the rubber blanket down to sit
on."

The inside of the rubber blanket was dry, and Freddie put the wet side
down on the wooden seat. This gave the children something more
comfortable to sit on than a wet piece of wood.

"We'll each take an oar and row," proposed Freddie, for he and Flossie
were sitting on the same seat. This was the only way to use the same
rubber blanket.

Loosening the rope by which the boat was made fast to a stump on shore,
Freddie pushed out into the lake. The rain had almost stopped now, and
the children were feeling happier.

"Now we'll row home," announced Freddie.

"Had we better go back and get some of the crackers we left under the
stump?" asked Flossie. "Maybe it's a long way to the fair grounds or to
Meadow Brook Farm, and we might get hungry."

"Oh, I guess we'll soon be home," said Freddie, hopefully. "Come on and
row, Flossie."

Together they rowed the boat out from shore. But they could not make the
heavy craft go very fast. There was water in the bottom, probably from
the rain and perhaps because the boat leaked. But Freddie and Flossie
did not think about this, even though their feet were getting wet. Or,
at least, wetter. Their feet were already wet from having tramped about
in the heavy rain.

"We'll soon be home now," said Freddie again.

They were some little distance out from the shore, two brave but tired
and miserable little sailors, when, all at once, it began to rain again.

"Oh, dear!" cried Flossie, letting go her oar, "I'm getting all soaked
again!"

"Don't you care," advised her brother. "Keep on rowing!"

But Flossie cried, shook her head, and would not pick up the oar.
Freddie could not row the boat alone, and he did not know what to do.
Down pelted the rain, harder than before.

"I want to go back where we were!" sobbed Flossie. "Back to the cabin.
Maybe we can build a fire in the stove and get warm! I'm cold!"

"All right; we'll go back!" agreed Freddie. He was beginning to fear it
was not so easy to row home as he had hoped.

Down came the rain, and with it came a fog. Soon the children were
enveloped in the white mist, and they could see only a little distance
from the boat in which they sat.

"Come on! Row!" called Freddie to his sister. "We'll row back to the
cabin."

"How do you know where it is?" Flossie asked, as she took up the oar
again.

"Oh, I guess I can find it," said her brother. "You hold your oar still
in the water and I'll pull on mine and turn us around." He knew how to
do this quite well, and soon the boat was turned, and the children were
again pulling as hard as they could pull.

It was by good luck and not by any skill of theirs that they soon
reached land again. They might, for all they knew about it, have rowed
out into the middle of the lake.

But soon a bumping sound told them they had reached shore, and Freddie
scrambled out and held the boat while Flossie made her way to land.

"Is it the same place?" she asked, as Freddie reached for the rubber
blanket.

"Yes, I can see the old cabin. We'll go up there and get warm."

Up the little hill, through the rain, trudged the children, getting
what shelter they could under the blanket. Even Freddie was beginning to
lose heart now, for he could see that darkness was coming on, and they
were far from home. The rain, too, was pouring down harder than ever.

"Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" sighed Flossie.

"Don't cry!" begged her brother. "I'll make a fire and we'll eat some
more crackers. I'll go get them from under the stump."

"I'll go with you," declared Flossie, firmly, "I'm not going to stay
alone."

Together they pulled out some of the lunch they had found in the balloon
basket. Back to the shack they went, and Freddie was looking about for
some matches in the old cabin when Flossie suddenly called out:

"Hark! I hear something!"




CHAPTER XX

A HAPPY MEETING


Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey and the friends who had gone with them in Captain
Craig's motor-boat to search for the runaway balloon, waited anxiously
after they had run on the rocks for what was to happen next.

"Is there any danger?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.

"No, lady, there doesn't seem to be--that is, if you mean danger of
sinking," said Captain Craig. "As I remarked at first, we're plumb fast
on the rocks. But maybe if we were to get out and thus lighten the boat,
she would float off the rocks and we could keep on."

"That's a good idea!" declared Mr. Bobbsey. "We must keep on, no matter
what happens, and find those children!"

"I think we'll find them!" declared Mr. Trench, and he seemed so much in
earnest that Mrs. Bobbsey asked:

"When?"

"Very soon now," answered the balloon man. "If my gas bag came down here
on Hemlock Island--that's where we are now--it won't take long to search
all over it and find your Flossie and Freddie. That's what I think."

"But first let me see how badly the boat is damaged," went on the
captain. "I'm afraid it's in bad shape."

"Can't we get away from here?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey. "That is, I mean,
after we find the children? I wouldn't go until we have found them!" she
exclaimed.

"It all depends on what shape my boat is in," went on the captain. "As
soon as you are all out I'll take a look."

The searching party stood about in the rain on the shore of Hemlock
Island under the dripping trees, the drops splashing on their rubber
coats, while Captain Craig looked over his boat. He took some little
time to do this, and at last he shook his head in gloomy fashion.

"Well?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.

"Not well--bad!" answered the captain. "We can't go on until the boat is
mended. She isn't as badly smashed as I thought, and it doesn't leak
much, which is a good thing. But I can't use the engine to drive her
along until it's fixed. We'll have to stay on the island until I get
help, I guess."

"How are we going to get help in all this rain and fog?" Mr. Bobbsey
wanted to know.

"There used to be some campers' huts here," said the captain. "Maybe
some of those fellows left a rowboat. I could go over to the mainland in
that and get help. Some of you can come with me if you like."

"I'm not going to!" announced Mrs. Bobbsey. "I'm going to stay here and
find Flossie and Freddie!"

"So am I, my dear!" added Mr. Bobbsey.

"Well, then, let's look around for a boat. If I find one I'll go for
help in it, and you can stay here," said Captain Craig.

He made his own damaged craft fast close to the shore, and then the
searching party set off through the woods to look for a cabin, a
rowboat, and for the missing children.

"It ought to be easy to see that balloon, it's so big," said Captain
Craig.

"I can spot that balloon of mine as soon as any one, I guess," said Mr.
Trench. "This isn't the first time I've hunted for it. You never can
tell exactly where a balloon will come down."

Through the underbrush, between trees, and in the dripping rain and
swirling fog, the searching party tramped on. Suddenly one of the men
gave a cry.

"I see something!" he shouted.

"Is it my children?" Mrs. Bobbsey asked, her voice trembling with
eagerness.

"No, I think it's the balloon," was the answer.

And the balloon it was. Draped over bushes and trees was the big gas
bag, now almost emptied of the vapor that had lifted it and carried it
away from the fair grounds with Flossie and Freddie in the basket.

"Oh, but where are my little ones--my Bobbsey twins?" cried the mother.

"They must be somewhere around here," said Captain Craig.

And then, thrilling the hearts of all, came two young voices, calling:

"Daddy! Mother! Here we are! Oh, we're so glad you came! Here we are!"

Out of the woods rushed Flossie and Freddie, to be caught up in the arms
of Mother and Daddy Bobbsey.

"We--we were in the hut!" breathlessly explained Flossie. "And I heard a
noise, and I said for Freddie to hark, and he harked, and then we heard
talking and we ran out and--and here we are!"

"Yes, darlings, here you are!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey, tears running down
her cheeks. "But, oh, why did you ever do it? Why did you get into the
balloon?"

"Oh, jest 'cause," answered Freddie. And they all laughed at his
answer.




CHAPTER XXI

BERT, NAN, AND BOB


While this happy meeting and reunion was taking place on Hemlock Island
and while the smaller Bobbsey twins were thus made happy by finding
their father and mother again, Bert and Nan were very unhappy back at
Meadow Brook Farm. They had safely reached the home of their uncle and
aunt, being taken there in Mr. Blackford's automobile.

"Oh, dear me, what dreadful news!" exclaimed Aunt Sarah, when told about
Flossie and Freddie having been carried away in the balloon. "Shall we
ever see those dear children again?"

"Of course we shall, Mother!" said Uncle Daniel, with a laugh. "Don't
worry, Flossie and Freddie will be all right."

And of course Flossie and Freddie were, in the end, only Bert and Nan
and their uncle, aunt, and cousin did not know that then, so of course
they worried.

The storm which had been only threatening when Bert and his sister had
been sent home from the fair grounds now broke, and it rained hard. At
Meadow Brook, as on most farms, little could be done when it rained, and
the children saw Uncle Daniel and Aunt Sarah sitting around talking in
low tones.

"I just wish I could do something!" gloomily remarked Bert, as he stood
with his face pressed against the window, down which the rain drops were
chasing each other.

"So do I," echoed Nan. "I think they might have let us help them look
for Flossie and Freddie."

"I guess your father and mother knew best," said Harry. "And I think the
balloon will come down soon in all this rain. It sure is pouring!"

And it was. The storm kept up all day, and in the afternoon, when Nan
was on the verge of tears and Bert had almost made up his mind to go
back alone to the fair grounds and see if he could hear any news, there
came a knock at the back door.

"There's some one!" cried Nan, jumping from her chair.

"Maybe it's Flossie and Freddie come back!" added Bert.

"They wouldn't knock at the back door," observed his aunt. "Harry, go
and see who it is. Maybe it's good news."

Harry returned in a few moments to say:

"It's that boy from the merry-go-round, Bob Guess. He wants to see your
father, Bert."

"Well, dad isn't here, and----"

"I told him, and then he said he wants to see some of us--my father I
think he means. He has something to tell."

"Bring him in here," advised Uncle Daniel, who was trying to read the
paper, though half the time he had it upside down, for he was thinking
too much about poor Flossie and Freddie to pay attention to anything
else.

Bob Guess came in, dripping wet, though not as ragged as when Bert and
Nan had first seen him.

"What's the matter?" asked Uncle Daniel in his jolly voice. "Can't you
do any business at the fair on account of the rain?"

"No. And I don't want ever to do any more business at the fair,"
answered Bob, in such strange tones that they all looked at him.

"Don't you like the merry-go-round any more?" Bert asked.

"Oh, it isn't that," said Bob. "It's that man Blipper. I can't stand him
any longer! He blamed me for poor business to-day, and it wasn't my
fault at all. In the first place, all the people went over to see the
balloon go up. Hardly anybody took rides on our machine. Then the
children--I mean your little brother and sister," he said to Nan, "got
carried off, and everybody got scared for fear something would happen to
their children, and they wouldn't even let 'em ride on the
merry-go-round. And then the rain came down, and Blipper seemed to blame
me for that."

"He isn't a very fair sort of man, even if he has his machine at a
county fair," joked Uncle Daniel.

"He's terribly ugly," blurted out Bob Guess. "And I think he's worse
than that!"

"What do you mean?" asked Bert.

"Well, I think he takes things that don't belong to him," went on Bob.
"Your father lost a coat some time ago, didn't he?" the strange boy
asked the older Bobbsey twins.

"Yes, at our Sunday school picnic," answered Nan.

"And a lap robe was taken from our auto about the same time," added
Bert.

"That's what I thought," said Bob. "Well, would you know any of your
father's papers if you saw them?" he asked, as he began to fumble in his
pocket. "I mean would you know his writing on a letter, or something
like that?"

"Of course I know my father's writing!" declared Bert.

"Well, look at this!" said Bob Guess suddenly. He held out an envelope,
torn open at one end as if the letter had been taken out.

"That's father's writing!" exclaimed Bert. "This is a letter he wrote to
Mr. Clarkson who buys lumber from dad. I know, for I've been in the
office when he called. I guess my father must have been in a hurry and
he addressed this letter himself with a pen, and didn't wait for his
typewriter to do it. That's my father's writing!"

"Well," said Bob slowly, "I found that letter in the tent where Mr.
Blipper and I live. We sort of camp out at the different fair grounds
where we set up the merry-go-round," he added. "I have to live with Mr.
Blipper. He claims I'm his adopted son, but I don't like him for an
adopted father. Anyhow, I saw this letter drop out of his coat. He
didn't see it, and I picked it up."

"Was it my father's coat?" asked Nan.

"That I don't know," Bob answered. "I never saw your father wearing his
coat. But Mr. Blipper used to have an old ragged coat, and right after
we had that breakdown at the Sunday school picnic grounds he had a new
coat.

"I asked him where he got it, 'cause I thought maybe he'd get me one, I
was so ragged, and he said it wasn't any of my affair where he got his
coats. Then the next day I noticed he had a new robe as a blanket for
his bed. I asked him about that, too, 'cause I had only a ragged quilt,
and he told me to keep still.

"So when you folks asked me if I had seen your father's coat and the lap
robe I didn't know for sure, and, anyhow, I was afraid to say anything.
But I'm not afraid any more."

"Why not?" asked Uncle Daniel.

"'Cause," answered Bob, "I heard Mr. Blipper and his partner, a man
named Hardy, quarreling to-day. First it started over bad business on
account of the rain and nobody riding on the merry-go-round because the
balloon was going up. Then I heard my name mentioned and the quarrel
grew worse. Mr. Hardy said Mr. Blipper didn't have any right to treat me
as mean as he does. Mr. Blipper said he'd do as he pleased, and then Mr.
Hardy said if he did he'd tell on Mr. Blipper."

"What did he mean--tell on him?" asked Bert.

"I don't know, exactly," answered Bob Guess. "It was all sort of queer.
Maybe Mr. Hardy meant he was going to tell about Mr. Blipper taking your
father's coat and the lap robe."

"I'm sure Mr. Blipper must have daddy's coat," declared Nan. "This
letter dropped from the pocket, and there was money and there were other
papers, too."

"I don't know anything about them," murmured Bob.

"Well, I know something!" cried Bert. "And that is this! What Mr. Hardy
said he was going to tell on Blipper about was you, Bob Guess!"

"Me?" cried the strange boy.

"Yes, you! I don't believe you belong to Mr. Blipper at all!"




CHAPTER XXII

JOYOUS TIMES


Bob Guess could, for a moment, only stare at Bert after this strange
remark.

"What do you mean?" asked the boy from the merry-go-round. "Don't I have
to stay with Mr. Blipper if I don't want to?"

"I don't believe you do," went on Bert. "I heard my father and mother
talking about it," he explained to the others. "My father said he was
going to find out if Mr. Blipper had really adopted you. And if you stay
here until my father comes back he'll have this Mr. Blipper arrested for
taking his coat. Just you stay here, Bob!"

"I'd like to," sighed the unhappy lad. "I don't like Blipper. And if I
go back now, after having run away again, he'll beat me!"

"We won't let him!" exclaimed Aunt Sarah. "Here, I'll get you some dry
clothes. Harry has a suit you can wear. And then we'll see about this
Blipper man!"

As she started to leave the room to get some dry clothing for Bob Guess,
who was soaking wet, there was a noise and some excitement out in the
yard. Then Nan caught the sound of a voice she well knew.

"Oh, it's Flossie!" she cried. "It's Flossie! They've found them!"

Instantly there was a mad rush for the door, and a little later into the
warm, comfortable farmhouse came Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey with the missing
twins--poor little wet twins, but happy for all that.

"Oh, hurray!" cried Bert, grabbing hold of Harry and dancing around the
room with him. "Now everything's all right!"

"Oh, what happened to you?" asked Nan through her tears, as she kissed
first Freddie and then Flossie and then both the twins at the same time.

"Well, we found them!" said Mr. Bobbsey to Uncle Daniel.

"Where?"

"On Hemlock Island, where the balloon came down. The motor-boat we got
to go across the lake was also wrecked on the same island. And Flossie
and Freddie started out in a rowboat to come to shore, but they got
lost in the fog and had to turn back. And they heard us on the island
and came to us."

"How did you get off if your motor-boat was wrecked?" asked Bert.

"Oh, Captain Craig managed to patch it up, and it got us back to the
mainland. We went back to where we had started from--Captain Craig's
dock--and then we came on here in my auto. Oh, what a day this has
been!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey, sinking wearily into a chair.

"But it all ends happily," said his wife. "Oh, here's Bob Guess!" she
exclaimed, as she noticed the strange boy.

"Yes, and he knows where your missing coat is, and the lap robe, too!"
exclaimed Bert. "Blipper has 'em!"

"My, everything is happening at once!" laughed Mother Bobbsey. "But we
must get Flossie and Freddie to bed. They have had a hard day!"

"Don't want to go to bed!" declared Freddie. "Want to see Bob. Did you
bring the merry-go-round?" he asked.

"As if he hadn't troubles enough!" exclaimed Nan.

Finally the smaller Bobbsey twins were induced to take off their damp
clothes and go to bed, where they fell asleep almost as soon as their
heads touched the pillows. They were very weary, for they had had an
exciting trip, though they did not really think so at the time.

When all the stories had been told of how the children had been found on
the island, how the motor-boat had been repaired, and of the trip back
to the mainland safely made, Mr. Bobbsey turned to Bob Guess.

"Now we can give you a little attention," he said. "What's your
trouble?"

So Bob told the same story he had related to Bert and Nan.

"I always thought there was something wrong about Blipper!" declared the
father of the Bobbsey twins. "Now I know it! We'll get after Blipper in
the morning. You stay here to-night, Bob. We'll call you Bob Guess for
the present, but I think we can find a better name for you soon. I think
we shall all feel better for a little rest."

"And something to eat," added Aunt Sarah. "I'm sure you must be
starved!"

"I am!" admitted Mother Bobbsey. "I couldn't eat when I was worrying
about Flossie and Freddie, but now that they are safe I could eat two
meals at once!"

There was a merry party around the farmhouse supper table, while the
little Bobbsey twins slept peacefully upstairs, probably dreaming about
their trip in the balloon.

The storm was over the next day, and after talking to several newspaper
reporters who came to Meadow Brook Farm to get the story of the
wonderful trip of Flossie and Freddie, Daddy Bobbsey started for the
fair grounds with Bert and Bob Guess. They stopped in the village to get
a policeman and also a lawyer.

"If Blipper wants to put up a fight we'll be ready for him," said Mr.
Bobbsey.

But when the fair grounds were reached there was no Blipper to be found.
In the night he had packed up his merry-go-round and had traveled on,
leaving no word as to where he was going.

"I don't care where he's gone!" said the partner, Mr. Hardy. "I'm
through with him. We've broken up the partnership. I sold my share to
him. I don't care to have anything to do with such a man. He's a thief!"

"Perhaps you can tell us about this boy--Bob Guess," suggested Mr.
Bobbsey.

"Yes, I can. I told Blipper I'd tell, after I found out he'd taken a
coat and a robe that didn't belong to him. He carted them away with him
too, so if they're yours there's no use looking for them," he added to
Mr. Bobbsey.

"Oh, well, I gave them up for lost some time ago," said the lumber
dealer. "I managed to get copies of the papers that were in my pockets,
and I wouldn't wear the coat again, anyhow. But what about Bob?"

Then Mr. Hardy told the story. Mr. Blipper had found Bob, a little chap,
wandering about the streets of a big city. The boy, it seemed, lived
with an Italian who said he had once known Bob's father and mother who
had been dead some time.

"I don't know how Blipper managed it, but he got the boy away from the
Italian," said Mr. Hardy, "and gave out that he had adopted Bob Guess as
his son. But I knew better, though I didn't see much use in telling
about it. In fact, I didn't know who to tell. I didn't know who would
look after Bob if Blipper didn't, in his own rough way. So I kept still,
though after Blipper and I quarreled, I threatened to tell. And now I
have."

"I'll see if we can find Bob's relatives," said Mr. Bobbsey. "If we
can't, why, I think he will be provided for."

"Oh, I'm so glad!" exclaimed Bob. "I'd rather belong to anybody but
Blipper!"

And, a few days later, inquiries having been made, it was found that
Bob's father and mother had died in a distant city and that, there being
no one to look after the poor boy, the Italian had taken him in. Then,
in some manner, Blipper got him and treated him harshly.

Bob was only a small boy when Mr. Blipper got control of him, and the
merry-go-round man told a wrong story about having taken the lad from an
orphan asylum. If Bob had been in an asylum he would have been well
treated, and no person would have been allowed to take him away until
they had been looked up, to make sure the boy would be well cared for.

Mr. Blipper forged, or made out himself, the papers showing that Bob was
his adopted son, and Bob was too small to know any better when Mr.
Blipper told him this and also told how he had been taken from an
asylum. Bob had only a dim remembrance of the Italian who looked after
him for a time, following the death of the boy's father and mother. The
Italian was much kinder than Mr. Blipper had been.

"How would you like to come and live on this farm with me?" asked Uncle
Daniel, when it became evident that Bob had no folks living.

"Do you mean forever?" asked the boy, delight showing in his eyes.

"Yes, forever. Come here as my son. I'll adopt you properly. Harry
always wanted a brother, and now he can have one. Will you come?"

"Will I come?" cried Bob. "I'll come--_twice_!" he laughed.

"Then it's settled," said Uncle Daniel. "And from now on your name will
be Bob Bobbsey!"

And so it was.

"And daddy never found his coat after all!" said Nan, when, several days
later, they were talking over the wonderful things that had happened.

"No, but I found a brother!" laughed Harry, who was very happy to have
Bob live with him.

The whole adventure had been a lot of fun, but more good times awaited
them which will be related in "The Bobbsey Twins Camping Out."

And then came happy days and joyous times for all. Though Blipper's
merry-go-round had been taken away from the fair grounds, there were
enough other amusements.

Mr. Trench even got his balloon back, had it mended, and the regular man
went up in it several times to the great delight of the crowds. But you
may be sure Mrs. Bobbsey watched Flossie and Freddie very closely, to
see that they did not get near the big basket. The little brother and
sister were objects of curiosity wherever they went on the fair
grounds, for the newspapers had published stories of their strange
trip, all alone, in a balloon to Hemlock Island.

"When I grow up," declared Freddie, "I'm going to run an airship."

"Well, I'm never going to run a merry-go-round; I've had enough of
them!" declared Bob Guess--or, to give him the name he was to have from
then on, Bob Bobbsey.

"Well, we certainly had plenty of adventures at the Bolton County Fair,"
remarked Bert, when the exhibition came to a close.

"Yes, indeed!" cried all of the others.

And here let us say good-by.


THE END






End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Bobbsey Twins at the County Fair
by Laura Lee Hope

*** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE ***

***** This file should be named 16756.txt or 16756.zip *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:
        http://www.gutenberg.org/1/6/7/5/16756/

Produced by Marilynda Fraser-Cunliffe, Emmy and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net


Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions
will be renamed.

Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no
one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation
(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without
permission and without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules,
set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply to
copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to
protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark.  Project
Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you
charge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission.  If you
do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the
rules is very easy.  You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose
such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and
research.  They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do
practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks.  Redistribution is
subject to the trademark license, especially commercial
redistribution.



*** START: FULL LICENSE ***

THE FULL PROJECT GUTENBERG LICENSE
PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORK

To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project
Gutenberg-tm License (available with this file or online at
http://gutenberg.net/license).


Section 1.  General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works

1.A.  By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement.  If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.

1.B.  "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark.  It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement.  There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement.  See
paragraph 1.C below.  There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement
and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.  See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C.  The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the Foundation"
or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works.  Nearly all the individual works in the
collection are in the public domain in the United States.  If an
individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are
located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from
copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative
works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg
are removed.  Of course, we hope that you will support the Project
Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by
freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of
this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with
the work.  You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by
keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project
Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.

1.D.  The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work.  Copyright laws in most countries are in
a constant state of change.  If you are outside the United States, check
the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement
before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or
creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project
Gutenberg-tm work.  The Foundation makes no representations concerning
the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United
States.

1.E.  Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1.  The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate
access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominently
whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,
copied or distributed:

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

1.E.2.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derived
from the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it is
posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied
and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees
or charges.  If you are redistributing or providing access to a work
with the phrase "Project Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the
work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1
through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the
Project Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or
1.E.9.

1.E.3.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional
terms imposed by the copyright holder.  Additional terms will be linked
to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with the
permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.

1.E.4.  Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5.  Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6.  You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any
word processing or hypertext form.  However, if you provide access to or
distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than
"Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official version
posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (www.gutenberg.net),
you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a
copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon
request, of the work in its original "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other
form.  Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7.  Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8.  You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works provided
that

- You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
     the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
     you already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  The fee is
     owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he
     has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the
     Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.  Royalty payments
     must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you
     prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax
     returns.  Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and
     sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the
     address specified in Section 4, "Information about donations to
     the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

- You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
     you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
     does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
     License.  You must require such a user to return or
     destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium
     and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of
     Project Gutenberg-tm works.

- You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any
     money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
     electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days
     of receipt of the work.

- You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
     distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9.  If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set
forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from
both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and Michael
Hart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark.  Contact the
Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.

1.F.

1.F.1.  Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm
collection.  Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain
"Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual
property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a
computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by
your equipment.

1.F.2.  LIMITED WARRANTY, DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES - Except for the "Right
of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal
fees.  YOU AGREE THAT YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE, STRICT
LIABILITY, BREACH OF WARRANTY OR BREACH OF CONTRACT EXCEPT THOSE
PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH F3.  YOU AGREE THAT THE FOUNDATION, THE
TRADEMARK OWNER, AND ANY DISTRIBUTOR UNDER THIS AGREEMENT WILL NOT BE
LIABLE TO YOU FOR ACTUAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE OR
INCIDENTAL DAMAGES EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH
DAMAGE.

1.F.3.  LIMITED RIGHT OF REPLACEMENT OR REFUND - If you discover a
defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from.  If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with
your written explanation.  The person or entity that provided you with
the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a
refund.  If you received the work electronically, the person or entity
providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to
receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund.  If the second copy
is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further
opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4.  Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS', WITH NO OTHER
WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO
WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTIBILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PURPOSE.

1.F.5.  Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.
If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the
law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be
interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by
the applicable state law.  The invalidity or unenforceability of any
provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.

1.F.6.  INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordance
with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,
promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,
harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,
that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do
or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tm
work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any
Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.


Section  2.  Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers
including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers.  It exists
because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from
people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need, is critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come.  In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.
To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4
and the Foundation web page at http://www.pglaf.org.


Section 3.  Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive
Foundation

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service.  The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541.  Its 501(c)(3) letter is posted at
http://pglaf.org/fundraising.  Contributions to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent
permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.
Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered
throughout numerous locations.  Its business office is located at
809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887, email
business@pglaf.org.  Email contact links and up to date contact
information can be found at the Foundation's web site and official
page at http://pglaf.org

For additional contact information:
     Dr. Gregory B. Newby
     Chief Executive and Director
     gbnewby@pglaf.org

Section 4.  Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment.  Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States.  Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements.  We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance.  To
SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any
particular state visit http://pglaf.org

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States.  U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses.  Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including including checks, online payments and credit card
donations.  To donate, please visit: http://pglaf.org/donate


Section 5.  General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.

Professor Michael S. Hart is the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm
concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared
with anyone.  For thirty years, he produced and distributed Project
Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.

Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we do not necessarily
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:

     http://www.gutenberg.net

This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.

*** END: FULL LICENSE ***


Colophon

This file was acquired from Project Gutenberg, and it is in the public domain. It is re-distributed here as a part of the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts (http://infomotions.com/alex/) by Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.) for the purpose of freely sharing, distributing, and making available works of great literature. Its Infomotions unique identifier is etext16756, and it should be available from the following URL:

http://infomotions.com/etexts/id/etext16756



Infomotions, Inc.

Infomotions Man says, "Give back to the 'Net."