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All of the Bobbsey twins - Nan, Bert, Flossie and Freddie - looked so serious over the prospect of losing Snap that Mr. Bobbsey had to laugh. He just couldn't help it.
"Well, I don't see anything to make fun over," said Nan, with a little pout.
"Why, you all act as though you had lost your best friend - or were going to."
"Well, Snap is one of our best friends, aren't you Snap?" said Freddie.
"Still, if he belongs to the circus I don't see but what I'll have to send him back," went on Mr. Bobbsey, slowly.
At this Flossie burst into tears, and Mrs. Bobbsey, putting her arms about the little girl, said to her husband:
"Are you in earnest Richard? Don't tease the child."
"I'm not, Mary. The fat lady wrote just that. I believe the dog we have does belong to the circus."
"Then we'll have to give him up I suppose," and Mrs. Bobbsey sighed, for she had grown very much attached to the fine animal.
"Well, we won't have to send him back right away," said Mr. Bobbsey. "I will have to get more particulars. But I did not finish the fat lady's letter."
"What! Is there more news in it?" asked Nan.
"Listen," said Mr. Bobbsey, as he went on reading:
"We are sorry about losing our trick dog," the fat lady wrote, "but I picked up a big black cat when I walked out of the train. I brought him to Cuba with me, and I am teaching him tricks. He may be as valuable as our dog was."
"A black cat!" cried Nan.
"It's our Snoop!" shouted Freddie, "yes, that's it! The fat lady has our cat as well as our cup. Oh, papa, make her give back our Snoop!"
Mr. Bobbsey laughed.
"You see how it is," he said. "She has our cat, and we have their dog. We'll have to give up our dog to get our cat."
The Bobbsey twins had not thought of this before. They looked strangely at one another.
"Papa!" cried Freddie, jumping up and down in his excitement, "can't we keep both - the circus dog and our cat? Oh, do please, let us."
"But maybe Snap would fight Snoop," said Flossie. "We wouldn't want that."
Freddie thought for a moment.
"I don't believe he would," he said at last.
"Well," said Papa Bobbsey, after a bit, "I'11 see what I can do. I'll write to the fat lady, telling her how to ship your silver cup, and also how to send Snoop. And I'll ask if we can buy Snap. How will that do?"
"Fine!" cried all the Bobbsey twins at once, and they made a rush for Mr. Bobbsey, hugging and kissing him.
The letter was sent to the fat lady, and then came a time of anxious waiting. Never before had the children seemed to care so much for Snap.
One day a letter came, saying that the silver cup had been sent, and also Snoop, the cat.
"But what about Snap, papa? " asked Nan.
"Does she say the circus will sell him?"
"No, the man who owns him is away for a few days. When he comes back he will let me know. But, anyhow, you will have your cup and cat back."
"But we want Snap, too!" said Flossie.
Several more days passed. They lengthened into a week, and still no news came from where the circus was: All the Bobbsey twins could hope was that their cat and cup were on the way, and that the man who owned Snap would consent to sell him.
The twins did not feel much like having fun. There was a warm spell, and all the snow had melted.
One day an express wagon stopped in front of the Bobbsey house.
It was a Saturday, and there was no school, and, as it happened, all four of the twins were in.
"Two boxes for you, Mrs. Bobbsey," said the driver, as he opened his receipt book. "I'll bring them in while you sign."
The man came up the walk with two boxes. One was small, and the other larger, with slats on one end. And from this box came a peculiar noise.
"Listen!" cried Bert.
"It's a cat!" shouted Freddie.
"It's Snoop - our Snoop!" cried Flossie.
Quickly the boxes were carried into the house. Bert got a hammer and screw driver and soon had opened the one containing the black cat. Snap, the dog, walked slowly into the room.
"Oh dear!" cried Flossie as she saw him, "now maybe they'll fight!"
"I'll hold Snap," volunteered Freddie.
"Come on, Snoop! Come out!" cried Bert, as he pried off the last slat.
"Meouw!" cried Snoop, as he came slowly out of the box in which he had ridden from Cuba.
Out walked the black cat. He looked about him strangely for a moment, and then began to purr, and rubbed up against Flossie's legs.
They all looked anxiously at Snap. The dog glanced at the cat, stretched lazily and wagged his tail. Snoop came over to him, and the two animals sniffed at each other, Mrs. Bobbsey holding Snap by the collar. Then, to the surprise of all, Snoop rubbed against the legs of the dog, and, on his part, Snap, wagging his tail in friendly, welcoming fashion, put out his red tongue and licked Snoop's fur.
"He's kissing Snoop! He's kissing Snoop!" cried Freddie.
"Yes, they love each other!" exclaimed Flossie. "They are not going to fight! Oh, how glad I am!" and she danced in delight.
"Oh, if only we can keep Snap now," said Nan, while Mrs. Bobbsey, satisfied that the two animals would be friends, had opened the other express box. It contained the twins' silver cup, so long missing.
Mr. Bobbsey came home soon after that his face was smiling.
"Oh, papa!" Flossie greeted him, "Snoop came, and Snap kissed him!"
"May we keep Snap, papa?" asked Freddie.
"Yes," was Mr. Bobbsey's answer. "I have a letter from the circus man, and he will sell Snap to me. I have already sent the money. And there is another letter from the fat lady, telling about some of the new tricks she taught Snoop, so you can make him do them."
"Oh! Oh! Oh!" cried the Bobbsey twins in firelight, as they looked at their two pets.
"What lots of things have happened since we came back from the seashore," said Nan, little later. "I wonder if the rest of the Winter will be as lively as this first part has been?"
"Maybe," said Bert with a smile.
And whether it was or not you may learn by reading the next volume of this series, to be called: "The Bobbsey Twins at Snow Lodge," in which we will once more hear of the doings of Flossie, Freddie Nan and Bert.
After reading the fat lady's second letter the twins got Snoop to do some of the tricks the cat had learned. He was not as smart at them as Snap was at his, but then cats never do learn to do tricks as well as do dogs.
Still everyone agreed that the fat lady had done her training well. As for Snap, he and Snoop became firmer friends every day, and often the cat went to sleep on Snap's back, or between his forepaws as he lay stretched out in front of the fire.
And the silver cup, which, with Snoop, had gone on such a long journey, was put back in its place on the mantle, to be admired by all.
Now my little story has come to an end, but I hope you children who have read it will care to hear more of the Bobbsey twins and the things they did. So I will say goodbye for a while, trusting to meet you all again.
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