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A LONG RIDE
Flossie and Freddie, scurrying through the gates of the elevated car just as the guard was about to close them, saw inside two rows of seats on either side, there being very few passengers in that coach. Thinking their father and mother, with Bert and Nan, were right behind them, the two little twins felt no fear, but rushed in, each one anxious to get a seat.
"I'm going to sit by a window!" cried Freddie.
"So'm I!" added Flossie, and both were soon kneeling on the rattan seats, with their noses fairly flattened against the glass of the window. The few passengers in the train smiled, for they knew the children must be from somewhere outside of New York, as the little folk of that city are not so eager to see the sights amid which they live.
It was not until the train had started, and had gone several blocks, that Flossie and Freddie thought of their father and mother. They were greatly interested in looking out of the windows, and watching the train rush past at the level of the upper stories of the houses and stores along the streets. It did seem so queer to them to be riding in a train high up in the air, instead of on the ground.
"It's lots better than a tunnel, and I used to think they were lots of fun!" said Flossie, fairly bubbling over with joy.
"It's great!" cried Freddie, and he flattened his nose out more than ever against the glass, trying to look around a corner. For he had seen in one window of a house a boy dropping from the window of his home a basket on a string, and Freddie wanted to see why he was doing this.
It is no unusual sight in New York, to see children, not much larger than the small Bobbsey twins, traveling about alone, so the other passengers and the trainmen, after the first few smiles, paid no attention to Flossie and Freddie. But the two themselves, after their first wonder at the sights they saw, began to think of their father and mother, as well as of Bert and Nan.
"Where are they?" asked Flossie, after a bit, as she turned around and sat down in her seat.
"Didn't they--didn't they come in after us?" asked Freddie, his chubby face taking on a worried look.
"I--I didn't see them," returned Flossie. "Maybe they're in another car. Let's go to look!"
To say a thing was generally to do it, with the smaller Bobbsey twins, at least, and no sooner did Flossie say this than Freddie was ready to go with her on a hunt for the others. The children slipped from their seats and started for the door while the train was moving swiftly, but a guard, who is a sort of brake-man, stopped them.
"Where are you youngsters going?" he asked good-naturedly.
"We want our father and mother," explained Freddie. "They must be in another car. We hurried on ahead."
"Well, it wouldn't be the first time that has happened," said the guard, with a laugh. "But I guess you're a little too small to go navigating around from car to car when the train's moving. What's your father's name? I'll have him called out for in the other cars."
"He's Mr. Richard Bobbsey, of Lakeport," said Flossie, "and my mother and sister and brother are with him. My sister is Nan and my brother is Bert. This is my brother, Freddie."
"Well, now I guess I know the whole family," laughed the guard, the other passengers joining in a smile. "I'll see if I can find your folks for you, though it's queer they haven't been looking for you themselves. You stay here."
The guard started to go through the other cars of the elevated train, and Freddie called after him:
"If you find my father, please tell him to open the box and take out the yellow bug."
"The yellow bug?" repeated the guard in some surprise. "Is your father an animal trainer?"
"Oh, no," said Flossie, seriously. "Freddie means one of the tin bugs that go around and around and around. And, if you please, I want a green one."
"Say, I wonder what kind of children these are, anyhow," murmured the guard. "Guess they must belong to a theatre or a circus."
"They look nice," said a man sitting near the door.
"Oh, they're all right, that's sure. Well, I'll see if I can find their folks for 'em."
Elevated railroad men in New York get used to doing queer things, and seeing strange sights, so it did not cause much excitement when the guard went into the different cars calling for Mr. Bobbsey. He had to come back to his own car once to call out "Forty-second Street," and to open the gates to let passengers off and others on. Then he closed the gates and called out: "Fiftieth Street next," After that he went again into the cars he had not been in before and called for Mr. Bobbsey, But of course that gentleman did not answer, being a station or two behind by this time.
The guard, not being able to find Mr. or Mrs. Bobbsey, or Nan and Bert, came back to where Flossie and Freddie were now rather anxiously waiting.
"Did you find him?" asked the children eagerly.
"No, I'm sorry to say your father isn't on this train. But don't worry. I'll look out for you, and your father is sure to come for you sooner or later."
"Did you find any of the bugs?" asked Freddie.
"That go around and around and around," added Flossie.
"No," said the guard, laughing, "I didn't. What about them?"
Freddie explained what he meant, and asked if the train could not be stopped while he went into the nearest toy store to buy some more of the tin, crawling toys. But the guard said this could not be done.
"I don't just know what to do with you," he said, scratching his head. "If your father thought, he could telephone to any of the stations where our train will stop--this is an express train and does not make many stops after Sixty-sixth Street till the end of the line. He could have the agent there take you off and keep you until he could come. Or, I might take you to One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Street, which is the end of the line, and have the agent there take charge of you. I don't know what to do."
Just then Flossie thought of something:
"Oh, Freddie!" she cried. "We haven't any tickets or any money, unless you have some, and the conductor will put us off!"
"I've got five cents," said Freddie, taking it out of his small pocket.
"That's only enough for a street-car ride, and this is the elevated railroad," replied his blue-eyed sister. "Oh, what shall we do?" And there was just a little tear in each eye as she looked at the guard.
"What's the matter now?" he asked kindly. "Do you want a bug?"
"No--I mean yes, but not now. We haven't any tickets and the conductor----"
"Didn't you drop your tickets in the chopper's box at the station where you got on?"
"No. We ran on ahead," explained Freddie.
"Ho! I see! You were so small that the ticket chopper didn't see you. Well, don't worry--it will be all right. The road won't lose much by carrying you two."
"You could send the bill to my father," said Flossie. "That's what mother says when she goes to buy things at the store."
"That will be all right," the guard said. "I'll see that you're not put off until the proper time comes. And you save your five cents," he added to Freddie, who was holding up the nickel. "You might want to buy some peanuts."
"Oh, that's so--for the monkeys in the park!" cried Freddie. "I forgot we were going to see them!"
By this time some of the other passengers were interested in the children, asking them many questions and learning the story of their coming to New York on a visit.
"They don't seem worried," said one woman. "And they're quite lost in this big city."
"Oh, we've been lost before," said Flossie easily. "Lots of times!"
"In the woods, too," added Freddie. "And we heard funny noises. But we weren't scared. Were we, Flossie?"
"Nope. We'll just keep on riding now until Daddy comes for us. It's fun, I think."
"And we don't have to pay for it, either," said Freddie, with satisfaction, as he put away his only piece of money. "I'm going to save this for peanuts for the monkeys."
"Will you save some for me?" asked Flossie. "I'm getting hungry."
"Maybe we'll eat these peanuts all ourselves," said Freddie, after thinking about it for a moment. "We can get some for the monkeys later afterward. I'm hungry, too."
"Well, you've got quite a long trip ahead of you," said the guard in whose car they were. "It's quite a ride to One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Street. I'll ask the gateman at the next stop if your father has telephoned about you. Just sit still."
And so Flossie and Freddie, in the elevated express train, were having a long ride all by themselves. They were not frightened now, for they were sure their father or mother would come for them soon, as he had done the day they were spilled out of the ice-boat and were taken in by Uncle Jack.
"I wonder what that nice woodchopper man is doing now?" asked Flossie. "Uncle Jack, I mean."
"I hope his pain is better," said Freddie. "Maybe we could get him work here on the elevated railroad, chopping tickets at the station." When people drop their tickets into the glass boxes at the elevated or subway stations they are "chopped" into fine pieces by the men who pump the handles up and down. "Uncle Jack chops wood," went on Freddie, "and he could easy chop tickets."
So Flossie and Freddie kept on with their long ride, talking and looking out of the train windows.
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