Chapter XVI. Mr. Tetlow Asks Questions
 

Thanksgiving was celebrated in the Bobbsey home as it never had been before. I am afraid if I told you all that went on, of the big, brownroasted turkey, of the piles of crisp turkey, of the pumpkin and mince pies, of the nuts and candies, of the big dishes of cranberry sauce, and the plum pudding that Dinah carried in high above her head - I am afraid if I told you of all these things there would be trouble.

For I am sure you would all be writing to me to ask where the Bobbseys lived, so that you might go and see them, and perhaps spend Christmas with them. Not that they would not be glad to have you, but they have so many friends that their house is sure to be filled over the holidays.

So I will simply say that there was the grandest time ever, and let it go at that.

Uncle and Aunt Bobbsey - Uncle and Aunt Minturn, from the country and seashore, came, with Cousin Dorothy and Cousin Harry then, also, Hal Bingham arrived, and the Bobbsey twins took great delight in showing their former playmates about Lakeport.

"Isn't it lonesome at the seashore now?" asked Nan of Dorothy, as she walked with her cousin about the busy streets of the town.

"Not at all," answered Dorothy. "The sea is never lonesome for me. It always seems to be telling me something, Winter or Summer.

"I love it in the Summer," said Nan, "but in the Winter it seems so cold and cruel."

"That is because you do not know it as well as I do," said Dorothy.

Hal, Harry, and Bert had fine times together. There was no skating, and the little flurry of snow there had been was not enough for coasting, but they had other fun.

"Do your ducks miss our duck Downy?" asked Freddie of his cousin Harry.

"Well, I guess they do," was the laughing answer, for Freddie and Flossie had a pet duck which they took about with them almost as faithfully as they did Snoop. "How is Downy, anyhow?" asked Harry.

"He's fine," answered the little fellow. "Want to see him?" and he took his cousin out to the barn where Downy had a pen all to himself.

"Snoop's gone," said Freddie, "and so is our silver cup, but maybe we'll get that back. It's in a circus."

"In a circus!" cried Harry. "I should think your cat might be in a circus, but not a silver cup."

"We don't know where Snoop is," went on Freddie, "'cause he got away at the time of the circus wreck," and he explained about it. "But we are almost sure the circus fat lady has our cup."

The Thanksgiving holidays came to an end at last and, much to the regret of the Bobbseys, their visitors, old and young, had to go back to their homes.

"But you'll come again at Christmas, won't you?" asked Flossie as she said goodbye.

"We'll try," said her Uncle Bobbsey. "But maybe there won't be room, with Santa Claus and all his reindeers."

"Oh, we'll make room for you," spoke Freddie. "Santa Claus won't stay long."

With a merry peal of laughter the visitors went off to the station, waving farewells. Then came rather a quiet time at the Bobbsey house, as there always is when visitors go. There seems to be a sort of loneliness, when company leaves, no matter how many there are in the family, nor what fun there is. But the feeling soon passes.

"Well, we'll soon be at school again," said Bert, a day or so before the opening of the Winter term. "I wish we'd get some snow. Then it would be more fun."

"Yes," said Freddie. "We could build snow forts and have snowball fights. I wish it would snow hard."

"So do I, so we could ride down hill," said Nan. "Is your big bob nearly done, Bert?"

"No, Charley and I have quite a lot of things to do on it yet, but we're going to work every night after school now, and it will soon be finished."

"I'm going to have skates for Christmas," announced Freddie. "I hope the lake will be frozen over by then."

"I guess it will be," returned Bert. "It's getting colder every night."

The Bobbseys were back at school. For a time Nan and Bert, who were in a higher grade, did not like it so well, as they had a strange teacher, and lessons, too, were more difficult. But they were not children who gave up easily, and soon they were at the head of their class as usual. Their teacher, too, was much nicer than they had thought at first. They had considered her stern, but it was only her way, and soon wore off.

As for Freddie and Flossie, they had advanced but little except in reading, and this opened a new world to them.

"We'll soon be reading books," boasted Freddie, on his way home one day.

"And I'm going to read all about firemen, soldiers and Indians."

"Oh, I'm not," said Flossie. "I'm going to read how to be a nurse, so I can take care of you when you're hurt."

"That will be nice," said Freddie.

One day, at recess, Bert saw Jim Osborne motioning to him in a secret sort of fashion.

"Come on with us," said Jim, who was a new boy in school. "Danny Rugg and some of the rest of us are going to have some sport."

"What doing?" asked Bert.

"Smoking cigarettes back of the coal house. I've got a whole pack."

"No; I don't smoke," said Bert quietly.

"Bah! You're afraid!" sneered Jim.

"Cigarettes can't hurt you. It's only cigars and pipes that do."

"Yes, I admit I am afraid," said Bert. "I'm afraid of getting sick. Besides, I promised my mother I wouldn't smoke until I was twenty-one, and I'm not going to tell a story. Anyhow, I've got an uncle who smokes, and he says cigarettes are worse than a pipe or cigars, and he ought to know."

"Aw, come on! " urged Jim.

"No," said Bert firmly, and he would not go. Jim went off with Danny and some of the other boys, and they were laughing among themselves. Bert felt that they were laughing at him, but he did not mind.

There was to be an examination of the school by some of the members of the Board of Education late that afternoon, and, directly after recess, Mr. Tetlow went to each room to tell the pupils and teachers to get ready for it, and to put certain work on the blackboards, so it could be seen.

When the principal got to the room where Danny Rugg and his particular chums sat, Mr Tetlow, sniffing the air suspiciously, said:

"I smell smoke!"

"I have been noticing it, too," said the lady teacher. "Perhaps the furnace does not work properly."

"It isn't that kind of smoke," went on Mr. Tetlow. "It is tobacco smoke. Have any of you boys been smoking during recess?" he asked sternly, looking across the room.

No one answered. Danny, Jim, and some of the others seemed to be studying their geography lessons very hard.

"I just want to say a word about cigarette smoking," went on Mr. Tetlow, "for that is usually how a boy begins. Of smoking in general, when a boy gets to be a man, I have nothing to say. Some say it is injurious, and others not, in moderation. But there can be no doubt that for a growing boy to smoke is very harmful. Again I ask if anyone here has been smoking?"

No one replied. The guilty boys bent deep over their books and did not look up.

"Well, I am sure someone here has," said Mr. Tetlow. "I can smell it plainly." He walked down the aisles, looking sharply from one boy to another. If he was sure who were the guilty ones he gave no sign. "And I want to add," said Mr. Tetlow, "that not only is cigarette smoking harmful to the smoker, but it is dangerous. Many fires have been caused in that way. If I find out who of my pupils have been smoking around the school they will be severely punished."