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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.
"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!"
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