Chapter XII. The Children's Party
 

When Mr. Tetlow, a little later, entered his office he found Flossie and Freddie standing by one of the windows, looking out on the other children marching to their classrooms. They had cried a little, but had stopped now.

"I am very sorry to have to punish you two twins," said the principal, "but I had given strict orders that no one was to play with that water. Why did you do it?"

"Because," answered Flossie.

"Danny Rugg told us to," added Freddie. "He said it was a new kind of faucet."

"Now be careful," warned Mr. Tetlow. Often before he had heard pupils say that someone else told them to break certain rules. "Are you sure about this?" he asked.

"Yes! sir," said Freddie, eagerly. "Danny told us to do it."

"But didn't you know it was forbidden?."

"No, sir," answered Flossie.

"Why, I spoke of it in all the rooms."

"We wasn't here yesterday or the day before," said Flossie. "Freddie was sick."

Mr. Tetlow began to understand.

"I will look this up," he said, "and if find -"

He was interrupted by a boy from one of the higher classes coming in with a note from his teacher. She wanted a new box of chalk.

"When you go back, George," said the principal to the boy, as he gave him what the teacher had sent for, "go to Miss Hegan's class, and have her send Danny Rugg to me. Flossie and Freddie say he told them to spray water with one of the new faucets."

"Yes, sir, he did!" exclaimed George. "I heard him, but I didn't think they would do it. He did tell them."

At this unexpected information Mr. Tetlow was much surprised.

If that is the case, Danny is the one to be punished," he said. "I am sorry, Flossie and Freddie, that I suspected you. You may go back to your class, and I will write your teacher a note, saying you may go out half an hour ahead of the others to make up for coming to my office. But, after this, no matter whether anyone tells you or not, don't spray the water."

"No, sir, we won't!" exclaimed the Bobbsey twins, now happy again.

Danny Rugg was punished by being kept in after school for several days, and Mr. Tetlow sent home a note to his father, explaining what a mean trick the bully had played.

"I wish I had heard Danny telling you that - just to get you in trouble," said Bert, when he was told of what had happened. "I'd have fixed him."

"Oh, don't get into any more fights," begged Nan.

Bert did not come to blows with Danny over this latest trouble, but he did tell the bully, very plainly, what he thought of him, and said if Danny ever did a thing like that again that he would not get off so easily.

"Oh, I'm not afraid of you," sneered Danny.

Lessons and fun made up many school days for the Bobbsey twins. And, as the Fall went on, lessons grew a little harder. Even Freddie and Flossie, young as they were, had little tasks to do that kept them busy. But they liked their school and the teacher, and many were the queer stories they brought home of the happenings in the classroom.

It was now toward the end of October, and the weather was getting cooler, though during the day it was still very warm at times. The twins, as did their friends, looked forward to the coming of Winter and the Christmas holidays.

Thanksgiving, too, would be a time of rejoicing and of good things to eat, and this occasion was to be made more of than usual this time, for some boys and girls the Bobbseys had met in the country and at the seashore were to be invited to spend a few days in Lakeport.

But before this there was another event down on the program. This was to be a party for Flossie and Freddie, the occasion being their joint birthdays.

"And we're going to have candy!" cried Freddie, when the arrangements were talked over.

"And ice cream" - added Flossie - "a whole freezer full; aren't we, mamma?"

"Well, I guess a small freezer full won't be any too much," said Mrs. Bobbsey, smiling. "But I hope none of you eat enough to make yourselves ill."

"We won't," promised Freddie and Flossie.

There were busy times in the home of the twins the next few days, for though Nan and Bert's birthdays were not to be observed, still they were to have their part in the jolly celebration.

Invitations were sent out, on little sheets of note paper, adorned with flowers, and in cute little envelopes. Flossie and Freddie took them to the postoffice themselves.

"My! what a lot of mail!" exclaimed the clerk at the stamp window, as he saw the children dropping the invitations into the slot. "Uncle Sam will have to get some extra men to carry that around, I guess. What's it all about?"

"We're going to have a party," said Flossie, proudly.

Just then Danny Rugg came into the post-office.

"A party; eh?" he sneered. "I'm coming to it, I am; and I'm going to have two plates of ice cream."

"You are not!" cried Freddie. "My mamma wouldn't let a boy like you come to our party."

"'Specially not after what you did - telling us to play in the water," added Freddie. "You can't come!"

"Yes, I can," insisted Danny, just to tease the children.

For a moment Flossie and Freddie almost believed him, he seemed so much in earnest about it.

"You can't come you haven't any invitation," said Flossie, suddenly.

"I'll take one of those you put in the box," went on the mean boy.

"He won't dare - will he?" and Freddie appealed to the mail clerk.

"I should say not!" said the man at the stamp window. "If he does Uncle Sam will be after him."

"Well, I'm coming to that party all the same!" insisted Danny, with a grin on his freckled face.

Flossie and Freddie were so worried about him that they told their mother, but she assured them that Danny would not come to spoil their fun.

Finally the afternoon and evening of the party arrived, for the little folks were to come just before supper, play some games, eat, and then stay until about nine o'clock.

Flossie and Freddie had been dressed in their prettiest clothes, and Nan and Bert also attired for the affair. The ice cream had come from the store, all packed in ice and salt, and Dinah had set it out on the back stoop, where it would be cooler.

Dinah was very busy that day. She hurried about here and there, helping Mrs. Bobbsey. Sam, her husband, also had plenty to do.

"I 'clar t' gracious goodness!" Dinah exclaimed, "I suah will get thin ef dish yeah keeps up! I ain't set down a minute dis blessed day. My feet'll drop off soon I 'specs."

"Will they, really, Dinah?" asked Freddie. "And can we watch 'em fall?"

"Bress yo' hearts, honeys!" exclaimed the colored cook, "I didn't mean it jest dat way. But suffin's suah gwine t' happen - I feels it in mah bones!"

And something was to happen, though not exactly what Dinah expected.

Finally all was in readiness for the guests. The good things to eat were in the kitchen, all but the ice cream, which, as I have said, was out on the back porch. Flossie and Freddie had gone to the front door nearly a dozen times to see if any of the guests were in sight. Snap, as a special favor, had been allowed to stay in the house that afternoon, for the twins were going to make him do tricks for their friends.

There came a ring at the door bell.

"Here they come! Here they come!" cried Flossie.

"Let me answer, too," cried Freddie, and they both hurried through the front hall to greet the first guest at their party.