Chapter III. A Queer Dog
 

Papa Bobbsey first looked for some of the circus men of whom he might inquire about the fat lady. There was much confusion, for a circus wreck is about as bad a kind as can happen, and for some time Mr. Bobbsey could find no one who could tell him what he wanted to know.

Meanwhile Mrs. Bobbsey kept the four children and Dinah with her, surrounding their little pile of baggage off to one side of The tracks.

Some of the big torches were still burning, and the full moon was coming up, so that there was plenty of light, even if it was night.

"Oh, but if we could only find Snoop!" cried Freddie. "Here, Snoop! Snoop!" he called.

"I had much rather find the fat lady, and get back your lovely silver cup," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "I hope she hasn't taken it away with her."

"She had it in her hand when the train, stopped with such a jerk," explained Flossie. "Oh, but mamma, don't you want us to find Snoop - dear Snoop?"

"Of course I do. But I want that silver cup very much, too. I hope your father finds it."

"But there never could be another Snoop," cried Flossie. "Could there, Freddie? And we could get another silver cup."

"Don't be silly," advised Bert, rather shortly.

"Oh, don't talk that way to them," said Nan. "They do love that cat so. Never mind, Flossie and Freddie. I'm sure we'll find him soon. Here comes papa."

Mr. Bobbsey came back, looking somewhat worried.

"Did you find her?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey anxiously.

"No," he replied, with a shake of his head. "She was the circus fat lady all right. It seems she missed the showtrain, and came on in ours. And, when we stopped she got out, and went up ahead. Part of the circus train, carrying the performers, was not damaged and that has gone on. The fat lady is with that, so one of the men said."

"And, very likely, she has carried off our silver cup," exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey. "Oh dear! Can you find her later, Richard?"

"I think so. But it will take some time. The circus is going to Danville - that's a hundred miles from here. But I will write to the managers there, and ask them to get our cup from the fat lady."

"But where is Snoop?" asked Freddie, with much anxiety.

"I don't know, my dear," answered Mr. Bobbsey. "I asked the circus men if they had seen him, but they were too busy to remember. He may be running around some where. But we can't wait any longer. We must get home. I'll speak to one of the switchmen, who stay around here, and if they see Snoop I'll have them keep him for us. We'll come back tomorrow and inquire."

"But we want Snoop now!" exclaimed Freddie, fretfully.

"I'm afraid we can't get him," said Mrs. Bobbsey, gently. "Come, children, let's go home now, and leave it to papa. Oh, to think of your lovely silver cup being gone!"

"Snoop is worse," said Flossie, almost crying.

"I - I'm sorry I let the fat lady take the cup," spoke Freddie.

"Oh, you meant all right, my dear," said his mamma, "and it was very kind of you. But we really ought to start. We may miss a trolley. Come, Dinah, can you carry all you have?"

"'Deed an' I can, Mrs. Bobbsey. But I suah am sorry 'bout dat ar' Snoop."

"Oh, it wasn't your fault, Dinah," said Nan quickly. "He is getting to be such a big cat that he can easily push the slats off his box, now. We must make it stronger next time."

Flossie and Freddie wondered if there would be a "next time," for they feared Snoop was gone forever. They did not worry so much about the silver cup, valuable as it was.

With everyone in the little party carrying something, the Bobbsey family set off across, the fields toward the distant trolley line that would take them nearly home. The moon was well up now, and there was a good path across the fields. Nan and Bert were talking about the wreck, and recalling some of the funny incidents of catching the circus animals.

Flossie and Freddie were wondering whether they would ever see their pet cat again. They had had him so long that he seemed like one of the family.

"Maybe he ran off and joined the circus," said Flossle.

"Maybe," spoke her brother. "But he can't do any tricks, so they won't want him in a show."

"He can so do tricks! He can chase his tail and almost grab it."

"That isn't a trick."

"It is so - as much as standing on your head."

"Children - children - I don't know what I'll do with you if you don't stop that constant bickering," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "You must not dispute so."

"Well, mamma, but isn't chasing your tail a trick?" asked Flossie. "Freddie says it isn't."

"Well, it isn't a circus trick, anyhow," declared her brother. "I meant a circus trick."

"Well, Snoop is a good cat, anyhow," went on Flossie, "and I wish we had him back."

"Oh, so do I!" exclaimed Freddie, and thus that little dispute ended.

They were walking along through a little patch of woods now, when Bert, who was the last one in line, suddenly called out:

"Something is coming after us!"

"Coming after us? What do you mean?" asked Nan quickly, as she hurried to her father's side.

"I mean I've been listening for two or three minutes now, to some animal following after us along the path. Some big animal, too."

Flossie and Freddie both ran back and took hold of their mother's hands.

"Don't scare the children, Bert," said Mr. Bobbsey, a bit sternly. "Did you really hear something?"

"Yes, father. It's some animal walking behind us. Listen and you can hear it your self."

They all listened. It was very quiet. Then from down the hard dirt path they all heard the "pitpat, pitpat" of the footsteps of some animal. It was coming on slowly.

For a moment Mr. Bobbsey thought of the wild animals of the circus. In spite of what the men had said perhaps one of the beasts might have escaped from its cage. The others in the little party evidently thought the same thing. Mrs. Bobbsey drew her children more closely about her.

"'Deed an' if it's one ob dem elephants," said Dinah, "an' if he comes fo' me I'll jab mah hat pin in his long nose - dat's what I will!"

"It can't be an elephant," said Mr. Bobbsey. "One of the big beasts would make more noise than that. It may be one of the monkeys - I don't see how they could catch them all - they were so lively and full of mischief."

"Oh, if it's a monkey, may we keep it?" begged Flossie. "I just love a monkey."

"Mercy, child! What would we do with it around the house?" cried Mrs. Bobbsey. "Richard, can you see what it is?"

Mr. Bobbsey peered down the road.

"I can see something," he said. "It's coming nearer."

"Oh dear!" cried Nan, trembling with fear.

Just then a bark sounded - a friendly bark.

"It's a dog!" said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Oh, I'm so glad it wasn't an elephant," and she hugged Freddie and Flossie.

"Pooh! I wasn't afraid!" cried Freddie. "If it had been an elephant I - I'd give him a cookie, and maybe he'd let me ride home on his back."

The animal barked louder now, and a moment later he came into sight on a moonlit part of the path. The children could see that it was a big, shaggy white dog, who wagged his tail in greeting as he walked up to them.

"Oh, what a lovely dog!" cried Nan. "I wonder where he belongs?"

The fine animal came on. Bert snapped his fingers, boy-fashion.

Instantly the dog stood up on his hind legs and began marching about in a circle on the path.

"Oh, what a queer dog!" cried Flossie. "Oh I wish he was ours!"