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HAPPY DAYS COMING
When Dinah called in this fashion, with worry making itself heard in her voice, Mrs. Bobbsey always hurried to see what the matter was. Generally it was something the smaller Bobbsey twins had done. And as she knew Flossie and Freddie were now in the kitchen, Mother Bobbsey feared one of the smaller children had been hurt.
"What is it, Dinah?" asked the mother, as she hurried back toward the house. Bert and Nan, with their father, waiting only a moment, followed Mrs. Bobbsey.
"I should think Freddie and Flossie would have had enough fun at the picnic not to want to do any more cutting up," remarked Nan.
"You never can tell what those tykes will do," observed Bert. "I don't hear either of 'em yelling, and that's a good sign."
But just as he spoke there came a wail from the kitchen, which, by this time, Mrs. Bobbsey had reached, disappearing within.
"That's Flossie," said Nan.
Again came the voice of a little child, crying either in fear or in delight at some funny happening, it could not be told which.
"There goes Freddie, letting off steam," said Bert. "I guess it isn't anything very much. Freddie always laughs in that squealing way when something tickles him."
Mr. Bobbsey, with the two older twins, entered the kitchen soon after Mrs. Bobbsey. There stood Flossie and Freddie before a low kitchen table, one leaf of which was down, so that whatever was under could not be seen very well, on account of the shadow cast by the electric light. And beside Flossie and Freddie stood Dinah.
"What's the matter?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.
"Dinah says Snoop, our cat, has caught some sort of animal and has it under the table," said Mrs. Bobbsey.
"It's a big animal and it's got fur on," declared Flossie, greatly excited.
"An' it's got yellow eyes and four legs an' it's long--it's as long as my arm!" added Freddie, his eyes big with wonder. "Oh, it was awful funny!" he went on, squealing with delight. "I saw Snoop drag it under the table and I called Dinah. Didn't I, Dinah?"
"Dat's whut yo' done, honey lamb! Ah don't know whut it is Snoop has, Mis' Bobbsey," went on the colored cook, "but it's some sort o' animile!"
"And Snoop growled, he did, when he dragged it under the table!" exclaimed Flossie. "I heard Snoop growl, I did! Listen!"
Surely enough the cat growled again, just as a lion or a tiger in the jungle would growl after catching its dinner--only not so loud, of course.
"Oh!" murmured Flossie, making a dive for her mother's skirts.
"There! Look! I saw its tail!" cried Freddie.
As he spoke just a flash of some furry animal was seen under the table where Snoop had gone to hide.
"I hope it isn't a little skunk!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Don't worry!" advised her husband. "If it was a young skunk that Snoop had, you'd have known it long before this. And Snoop never would try to catch a skunk--Snoop would know better."
"But what is it? He has something!" insisted Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Maybe I can coax Snoop out," put in Nan. "He minds me better than he does any one else. Here, Snoop! Come on out, nice Snoop!" she called in a gentle voice.
But Snoop only growled in answer, and seemed to be shaking, beneath the table, the unknown animal he had caught and dragged there.
"Shall I get the rake and pull him out?" asked Bert.
"No, you might hurt him," replied Mr. Bobbsey. "Go out to the garage and get the big flash lamp from Sam. I can shine that under the table and we can see what it is before we do anything. Evidently Snoop isn't going to come out until he gets ready. And it may be he has a large rat or----"
Dinah gave a scream.
"Oh--a rat!" she cried.
"Maybe it's only a little mouse--I like a funny little mouse," said Flossie.
"Well, I don't," said Dinah. "They eats mah food."
"Maybe it's only a little mole from the garden," went on Mr. Bobbsey.
"It's bigger'n a ground mole!" declared Freddie. "I saw it, an' it's long and brown and has legs an' brown eyes that shine."
"Well, whatever it is it can't be very dangerous," said Mr. Bobbsey. "If it was, Snoop never would have dared to get it. But I don't want to reach under there in the dark and perhaps get bitten and scratched by Snoop, or whatever he has. We'll wait for the flash light."
Bert now came running in with this, Sam following when he heard that the cat had something strange under the table in the kitchen.
"Dey suah am lots ob t'ings happenin' dis day," observed Sam.
Mr. Bobbsey flashed the light under the table. The four twins had stooped down to get a better view, and Freddie cried:
"I see its eyes shining!"
"I can see its tail! Oh, no, that's Snoop's tail!" added Flossie.
"Snoop, what have you there? Stop growling and give it to me!" demanded Mr. Bobbsey, thrusting his hand under the table.
"Be careful," advised his wife. "It may bite."
Mr. Bobbsey laughed and thrust his hand farther under the table. There was a little scuffle as Snoop tried to hold fast to what he had. He clung so hard to it with teeth and claws that he was dragged over the smooth linoleum on the floor.
"Here's your wild beast!" cried Mr. Bobbsey, as he arose, and held something covered with brown fur dangling from one hand.
"What is it?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey. "That's not a rat."
"No, it's your fur neck piece," her husband said, with a laugh.
"Oh, I wore it to the picnic, for I thought it would be cool coming home," said Mrs. Bobbsey, as she took the piece of fur. "And I laid it on the hall table. I forgot about Snoop. He must have seen it, thought it was a strange animal, and carried it away with him. Oh, Snoop!" and she shook her finger at the cat which, now that it had nothing to play with, came out from beneath the table.
"It does look like an animal," said Nan.
And indeed the fur piece did. For it was fashioned with an imitation of an animal's head, with yellow glass eyes. The fur piece was quite long and four little legs were fastened to it. So that it is no wonder a cat, or even a boy or a girl, at first look, would take it for something real.
"Well, Snoop had a good time with it, while it lasted," said Mr. Bobbsey, with a laugh.
"And my fur wouldn't have lasted much longer with him, if he'd started to claw and bite it," remarked Mrs. Bobbsey. "I'm glad you called me in, Dinah."
"Yessum, Ah thought maybe yo'd better see what the cat had, 'cause Ah couldn't make out what 'twas," the cook answered.
"Well, now that the excitement is over, we'd better have supper," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Or did you youngsters have enough at the picnic to last until morning?"
"We want to eat now!" decided Bert. "That wasn't so much we had at the picnic."
"I guess you were extra hungry, from being out of doors all day," his mother said. "Well, supper will soon be ready."
As they ate they talked over the fun they had had at Pine Grove, and Flossie remarked:
"I'm going to ride on a wooden lion, I am--on the merry-go-round. I'm going to ride on the lion."
"So'm I," declared Freddie. "There are two lions, an' I'm going to ride on one an' Flossie on the other one."
"Where's your merry-go-round?" asked Nan.
"At the fair--the Bolton County Fair," said Freddie. "I heard that funny red-faced man say so."
"But the Bolton Fair is a long way off," went on Nan.
"Daddy will take us; won't you?" asked Flossie. "Can't we go to the fair and ride on the merry-go-round?" she teased.
"Well, I don't know," answered Mr. Bobbsey slowly. "I suppose it would be a good thing to visit a big county fair, and this is one of the largest."
"But we'd have to go and stay for some time," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Bolton is a long way off. We couldn't go and come the same day."
"One ought to spend more than a day at a big fair if he wants to see everything," went on Mr. Bobbsey. "I never could stay as long as I wanted to when I was a boy. Now, I was thinking perhaps we could all go to Meadow Brook Farm for a little visit. From Meadow Brook it isn't far to the Bolton County Fair."
"Oh, let's go!" cried Bert and Nan.
"What about school?" asked their mother.
"School doesn't open until later this fall than usual," explained Mr. Bobbsey. "They are repairing the school house and the work will not be finished in time for the regular fall opening. I know, for the school board buys lumber of me.
"So, as long as the children don't have to be back until the middle of October, we could all go to Meadow Brook, and from there visit the fair. Would you like that?" he asked his wife.
"I think it would be lovely!"
"So do I!" echoed the Bobbsey twins.
"Well, then, we'll think about it," promised their father. "You will have some happy days to think about until it is time to go. And now I think it is time for my little Fairy and my brave Fireman to go to bed." Daddy Bobbsey sometimes called the small twins by these pet names. "Come on! Up to bed!" he called. "We'll talk more about the Bolton County Fair another day!"
As he was carrying the smaller children up to bed, a style of travel the little twins loved, there came a ring at the front door bell. Dinah, who answered, came back to say:
"Dere's a p'liceman outside whut wants to see yo', Mr. Bobbsey."
"A policeman for me?"
"Dear me!" Mr. Bobbsey murmured. "What can be the matter now!"
"Oh, Daddy!" squealed Flossie, at once filled with excitement.
"What do you suppose----" began Bert, and then stopped in the midst of his speech.
"Maybe he has found your lost coat," suggested Nan, as her father put Flossie and Freddie down in an easy chair.
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