"I don't know how to say good-by to you," Nellie told Dorothy and Nan next morning. "To think how kind you have been to me, and how splendidly it has all turned out! Now father is home again, I can hardly believe it! Mother told me last night she was going to put back what money she had to use out of my prize, the fifty dollars you know, and I am to make it a gift to the Fresh Air Fund."
"Oh, that will be splendid!" declared Nan. "Perhaps they will buy another tent with it, for they need more room out at Meadow Brook."
"You are quite rich now, aren't you?" remarked Dorothy. "I suppose your father will buy a big house, and maybe next time we meet you, you will put on airs and walk like this?" and Dorothy went up and down the room like the pictures of Cinderella's proud sisters.
"No danger," replied Nellie, whose possible tears at parting had been quickly chased away by the merry Dorothy. "But I hope we will have a nice home, for mother deserves it, besides I am just proud enough to want to entertain a few young ladies, among them Miss Nan Bobbsey and Miss Dorothy Minturn."
"And we will be on hand, thank you," replied the joking Dorothy. "Be sure to have ice cream and chocolates--I want some good fresh chocolates. Those we get down here always seem soft and salty, like the spray."
"Come, Nellie," called Mrs. McLaughlin, "I am ready. Where is your hat?"
"Oh, yes, mother, I'm coming!" replied Nellie.
Bert had the donkey cart hitched and there was now no time to spare. Nellie kissed Freddie and Flossie affectionately, and promised to bring the little boy all through a big city, real fire-engine house when he came to see her.
"And can I ring the bell and make the horses jump?" he asked.
"We might be able to manage that, too," Nellie told him. "My uncle is a fireman and he can take us through his engine house."
Nan went to the station with her friends, and when the last good-bys were said and the train steamed out, the twins turned back again to the Minturn Cottage.
"Our turn next," remarked Bert, as he pulled the donkeys into the drive.
"Yes, it seems it is nothing but going and coming all the time. I wonder if all the other girls will be home at Lakeport in time for the first day of school?" said Nan.
"Most of them, I guess," answered Bert. "Well, we have had a good vacation, and I am willing to go to work again."
"So am I!" declared Nan. "Vacation was just long enough, I think."
Mr. Bobbsey was down from the city, of course, to take the family home, and now all hands, even Freddie and Flossie, were busy packing up. There were the shells to be looked after, the fish nets, besides Downy, the duck, and Snoop, the cat.
"And just to add one more animal to your menagerie," said Uncle William, "I have brought you a little goldfinch. It will sing beautifully for you, and be easy to carry in its little wooden cage. Then, I have ordered, sent directly to your house, a large cage for him to live in, so he will have plenty of freedom, and perhaps Christmas you may get some more birds to put in the big house, to keep Dick company."
Of course Freddie was delighted with the gift, for it was really a beautiful little bird, with golden wings, and a much prettier pet than a duck or a cat, although he still loved his old friends.
The day passed very quickly with all that was crowded into it: the last ocean bath taking up the best part of two hours, while a sail in Hal's canoe did away with almost as much, more time. Dorothy gave Nan a beautiful little gold locket with her picture in it, and Flossie received the dearest little real shell pocketbook ever seen. Hal Bingham gave Bert a magnifying glass, to use at school in chemistry or physics, so that every one of the Bobbseys received a suitable souvenir of Sunset Beach.
"You-uns must be to bed early and not go sleep in de train," insisted Dinah, when Freddie and Flossie pleaded for a little more time on the veranda that evening. "Come along now; Dinah hab lots to do too," and with her little charges the good-natured colored girl hobbled off, promising to tell Freddie how Nellie's father and Hal's uncle were to get into port again when they set out to sea, instead of trying to get the big boat into land at Sunset Beach.
And so our little friends had spent all their vacation.
The last night at the seashore was passed, and the early morning found them once more traveling away--this time for dear old home, sweet home.
"If we only didn't have to leave our friends," complained Nan, brushing back a tear, as the very last glint of Cousin Dorothy's yellow head passed by the train window.
"I hope we will meet them all soon again," said Nan's mother. "It is not long until Thanksgiving. Then, perhaps, we can give a real harvest party out at Lakeport and try to repay our friends for some of their hospitality to us."
"Well, I like Hal Bingham first-rate," declared Bert, thinking of the friend from whom he had just parted.
"There goes the last of the ocean. Look!" called Flossie, as the train made a turn, and whistled a good-by to the Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore.
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