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"Papa, do you think a tiger would come in here?" asked Freddie, remembering all the stories of wild animals he had heard in his four years.
"Or a lion?" asked Flossie.
"Of course not!" exclaimed Nan. "Can't you see that all the wild animals are still in their cages?"
"Maybe some of 'em are loose," suggested Freddie, and he almost hoped so, as long as his father was there to protect him.
"I guess the circus men can look after them," said Bert. "May I get off, father, and look around?"
"I'd rather you wouldn't, son. You can't tell what may happen."
"Oh, look at that man after the monkey!" cried Nan.
"Yes, and the monkey's gone up on top of the tiger's cage," added Bert.
"Say, this is as good as a circus, anyhow!"
Some of the big, flaring lights, used in the tents at night, had been set going so the circus and railroad men could see to work, and this glare gave the Bobbseys and other passengers on the train a chance to see what was going on.
"There's a big elephant!" cried Freddie. "See him push the lion's cage around. Elephants are awful strong!"
"They couldn't push a railroad train," said Flossie.
"They could too!" cried her little brother, quickly.
"They could not. Could they, papa?"
"What?" asked Mr. Bobbsey, absentmindedly.
"Could an elephant push a railroad train?" asked Flossie.
"I know they could," declared Freddie. "Couldn't they, papa?"
"Now, children, don't argue. Look out of the windows," adivsed their mother.
And while the circus men are trying to catch the escaped animals I will tell you something more about the Bobbseys, and about the other books, before this one, relating to their doings.
Mr. Richard Bobbsey, and his wife Mary, the parents of the Bobbsey twins, lived in an Eastern city called Lakeport, on Lake Metoka. Mr. Bobbsey was in the lumber business, and the yard, with its great piles of logs and boards, was near the lake, on which the twins often went in boats. There was also a river running into the lake, not far from the saw mill.
Their house was about a quarter of a mile away from the lumber yard, on a fashionable street, and about it was a large lawn, while in the back Sam Johnson, the colored man of all work, and the husband of Dinah, had a fine garden. The Bobbseys had many vegetables from this garden.
There was also a barn near the house, and in this the children had many good times. Flossie and Freddie played there more than did Nan and Bert, who were growing too old for games of that sort.
As I have said, Bert and Nan were rather tall and thin, while Flossie and Freddie were short and fat. Mr. Bobbsey used often to call Flossie his "Fat Fairy," which always made her laugh. And Freddie had a pet name, too. It was "Fat Fireman," for he often played that he was a fireman; putting out makebelieve fires, and pretending he was a fire engine. Once or twice his father had taken him to see a real one, and this pleased Freddie very much.
In the first book of this series, called "The Bobbsey Twins," I told you something of the fun the four children had in their home town. They had troubles, too, and Danny Rugg, one of the few bad boys in Lakeport, was the cause of some. Also about a certain broken window; what happened when the twins went coasting, how they had a good time in an ice boat, and how they did many other things.
Snoop, the fat, black kitten, played a part in the story also. The Bobbsey twins were very fond of Snoop, and had kept him so many years that I suppose he ought to be called cat, instead of a kitten, now.
After the first winter's fun, told of in the book that began an account of the doings of the Bobbseys, the twins and their parents went to the home of Uncle Daniel Bobbsey, and his wife, Aunt Sarah, in Meadow Brook.
In the book called "The Bobbsey Twins in the Country," I wrote down many of the things that happened during the summer.
If they had fun going off to the country, taking Snoop with them, of course, they had many more good times on arriving at the farm. There was a picnic, jolly times in the woods, a Fourth of July celebration, and though a midnight scare alarmed them for a time, still they did not mind that.
But, though the twins liked the country very much, they soon had a chance to see something of the ocean, and in the third book of the series, called "The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore," my readers will find out what happened there.
There was fun on the sand, and more fun in the water, and once the little ones got lost on an island. A great storm came up, and a ship was wrecked, and this gave the twins a chance to see the life savers, those brave men who risk their lives to help others.
Then came closing days at Ocean Cliff, the home of Uncle William and Aunt Emily Minturn at Sunset Beach. School was soon to open, and Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey were anxious to get back to their town home, for Flossie and Freddie were to start regular lessons now, even though it was but in the kindergarten class.
So goodbyes were said to the ocean, and though Dorothy Minturn cried a little when her cousins Nan and Flossie, and Bert and Freddie, had to leave, still she said she hoped they would come again. And so the Bobbseys were on their way home in the train when the circus accident happened that brought them to a stop.
"And so we nearly ran into an elephant, eh?" said Mr. Bobbsey to the brakeman, who had brought in the news.
"Yes, sir. Our engineer stopped just in time."
"If we had hit him we'd gone off the track," said Freddy.
"No, we wouldn't," declared Flossie, who seemed bound to start a dispute. Perhaps she was so tired that she was fretful.
"Say, can't you two stop disputing all the while?" asked Bert, in a low voice. "You make papa and mamma nervous."
"Well, an elephant is big, anyhow," said Freddie.
"So he is, little Fat Fireman," said Nan, "Come and sit with me, and we can see the men catch the monkeys."
The work of getting the escaped animals back into their cages was going on rapidly. Some of the passengers went out to watch, but the Bobbseys stayed in their seats, Mr. Bobbsey thinking this best. The catching of the monkeys was the hardest work, but soon even this was accomplished.
The wait seemed very tiresome when there was nothing more to watch, and Mr. Bobbsey looked about for some railroad man of whom he could inquire how much longer delay there would be. The conductor came through the car.
"When will we start?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.
"Not for some time, I'm afraid," spoke the tickettaker. "The wreck is a worse one than I thought at first, and some of the cars of the circus train are across the track so we can't get by. We may be here two hours yet."
"That's too bad. Where are we?"
"Just outside of Whitewood."
"Oh, that's near home!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey. "Why can't we get out, Richard, walk across the fields to the trolley line, and take that home? It won't be far, and we'll be there ever so much quicker."
"Well, we could do that, I suppose," said her husband, slowly.
"That's what a number of passengers did," said the conductor. "There's no danger in going out now - all the animals are back in their cages."
"Then that's what we'll do, children," said their father. "Gather up your things, and we'll take the trolley home. The moon is coming up, and it will soon be light."
"I'm hungry," said Freddie, fretfully.
"So am I," added his twin sister.
"Well, I have some crackers and cookies in my bag," replied Mrs. Bobbsey." You can eat those on the way. Nan, go tell Dinah that we're going to take a trolley. We can each carry something."
"I'll carry Snoop," exclaimed Freddie. He hurried down the aisle to where the cook was now standing, intending to get the box containing his pet cat."
"Where's Snoop, Dinah? " he asked.
"Heah he am!" she said, lifting up the slatbox. "He ain't made a sound in all dis confusion, nuther."
The next moment Freddie gave a cry of dismay:
"Snoop's gone!" he wailed. "He broke open the box and he's gone! Oh, where is Snoop?"
"Ma sakes alive!" cried Dinah. The box was empty!
A hurried search of the car did not bring forth the black pet. Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey, and some of the passengers, joined in the hunt. But there was no Snoop, and a slat that had pulled loose from one side of the box showed how he had gotten out.
"Most likely Snoop got frightened when the train stopped so suddenly, and broke loose," said Mr. Bobbsey. "We may find him outside."
"I - I hope an elephant didn't step on him" said Flossie, with a catch in her breath.
"Ohooo! Maybe a tiger or a lion has him!" wailed Freddie. "Oh, Snoop!"
"Be quiet, dear, we'll find him for you," said Mrs. Bobbsey, as she opened her satchel to get out some cookies. Then she remembered something.
"Freddie, where is that silver cup?" she asked. "You had it to get a drink. Did you give it back to me?"
"No, mamma, I - I"
"He gave the fat lady a drink from it," spoke Flossie, "and she didn't give it back."
"The train stopped just as she was drinking," went on Freddie. "I sat down on the floor - hard, and I saw the water spill on her. The fat lady has our silver cup! Oh, dear!"
"And she's gone - and Snoop is gone!" cried Flossie. "Oh! oh!"
"Is that so - did you let her take your cup, Freddie?" asked his papa.
Freddie only nodded. He could not speak.
"That fat lady was with the circus," said one of the men passengers. "Maybe you can see her outside."
"I'll look," said Mr. Bobbsey, quickly. "That cup is too valuable to lose. Come, children, we'll see if we can't find Snoop also, and then we'll take a trolley car for home."
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