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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:
"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.
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