Chapter II. The Start
 

With so much to think about, the few weeks that were left between vacation and the country passed quickly for the Bobbseys. As told in any first book, "The Bobbsey Twins," this little family had a splendid home in Lakeport, where Mr. Bobbsey was a lumber mechant [sic]. The mother and father were both young themselves, and always took part in their children's joys and sorrows, for there were sorrows sometimes. Think of poor little Freddie getting shut up all alone in a big store with only a little black kitten, "Snoop," to keep him from being scared to death; that was told of in the first book, for Freddie went shopping one day with his mamma, and wandered off a little bit. Presently he found himself in the basement of the store; there he had so much trouble in getting out he fell asleep in the meantime. Then, when he awoke and it was all dark, and the great big janitor came to rescue him - oh! - Freddie thought the man might even be a giant when he first heard the janitor's voice in the dark store,

Freddie often got in trouble, but like most good little boys he was always saved just at the right time, for they say good children have real angels watching over them. Nan, Bert, and Flossie all had plenty of exciting experiences too, as told in "The Bobbsey Twins," for among other neighbors there was Danny Rugg, a boy who always tried to make trouble for Bert, and sometimes almost succeeded in getting Bert into "hot water," as Dinah expressed it.

Of course Nan had her friends, as all big girls have, but Bert, her twin brother, was her dearest chum, just as Freddie was Flossie's.

"When we get to the country we will plant trees, go fishing, and pick blackberries," Nan said one day.

"Yes, and I'm going with Harry out exploring," Bert announced.

"I'm just going to plant things," prim little Flossie lisped. "I just love melons and ice cream and - "

"Ice cream! Can you really plant ice cream?" Freddie asked innocently, which made the others all laugh at Flossie's funny plans.

"I'm going to have chickens," Freddie told them. "I'm going to have one of those queer chicken coops that you shut up tight and when you open it it's just full of little 'kippies.' "

"Oh, an incubator, you mean," Nan explained. "That's a machine for raising chickens without any mother."

"But mine are going to have a mother," Freddie corrected, thinking how sad little chickens would be without a kind mamma like his own.

"But how can they have a mother where there isn't any for them?" Flossie asked, with a girl's queer way of reasoning.

"I'll get them one," Freddie protested. "I'll let Snoop be their mamma."

"A cat! the idea! why, he would eat 'em all up," Flossie argued.

"Not if I whipped him once for doing it," the brother insisted. Then Nan and Bert began to tease him for whipping the kitten after the chickens had been "all eaten up."

So the merry days went on until at last vacation came!

"Just one more night," Nan told Flossie and Freddie when she prepared them for bed, to help her very busy mother. Bert assisted his father with the packing up, for the taking of a whole family to the country meant lots of clothes, besides some books and just a few toys. Then there was Bert's tool box - he knew he would need that at Meadow Brook.

The morning came at last, a beautiful bright day, a rare one for traveling, for a fine shower the evening before had washed and cooled things off splendidly.

"Now come, children," Mr. Bobbsey told the excited youngsters. "Keep track of your things. Sam will be ready in a few minutes, and then we must be off."

Promptly Sam pulled up to the door with the family carriage, and all hurried to get in.

"Oh, Snoop, Snoop!" cried Freddie. "He's in the library in the box! Dinah, get him quick, get him!" and Dinah ran back after the little kitten.

"Here you is, Freddie!" she gasped, out of breath from hurrying. "You don't go and forget poor Snoopy!" and she climbed in beside Sam.

Then they started.

"Oh, my lan' a-massy!" yelled Dinah presently in distress. "Sam Johnson, you jest turn dat hoss around quick," and she jerked at the reins herself. "You heah, Sam? Quick, I tells you. Get back to dat house. I'se forgot to bring - to bring my lunch basket!"

"Oh, never mind, Dinah," Mrs. Bobbsey interrupted. "We will have lunch on the train."

"But I couldn't leab dat nice lunch I got ready fo' de chillen in between, missus," the colored woman urged. "I'll get it quick as a wink. Now, Sam, you rush in dar quick, and fetch dat red and white basket dat smells like chicken!"

So the good-natured maid had her way, much to the delight of Bert and Freddie, who liked nothing so well as one of Dinah's homemade lunches.

The railroad station was reached without mishap, and while Mr. Bobbsey attended to getting the baskets checked at the little window in the big round office, the children sat about "exploring." Freddie hung back a little when a locomotive steamed up. He clung to his mother's skirt, yet wanted to see how the machine worked.

"That's the fireman," Bert told him, pointing to the man in the cab of the engine.

"Fireman!" Freddie repeated. "Not like our firemen. I wouldn't be that kind," He had always wanted to be a fireman who helps to put out fires.

"Oh, this is another kind," his father explained, just then coming up in readiness for the start.

"I guess Snoop's afraid," Freddie whispered to his mother, while he peeped into the little box where Snoop was peacefully purring. Glad of the excuse to get a little further away, Freddie ran back to where Dinah sat on a long shiny bench.

"Say, chile," she began, "you hear dat music ober dar? Well, a big fat lady jest jumped up and down on dat machine and it starts up and plays Swanee Ribber."

"That's a weighing machine," Nan said with a laugh. "You just put a penny in it and it tells you how much you weigh besides playing a tune."

"Lan' o' massy! does it? Wonder has I time to try it?"

"Yes, come on," called Bert. "Father said we have plenty of time," and at the word Dinah set out to get weighed. She looked a little scared, as if it might "go off" first, but when she heard the soft strain of an old melody coming out she almost wanted to dance.

"Now, ain't dat fine!" she exclaimed. "Wouldn't dat be splendid in de kitchen to weigh de flour, Freddie ?"

But even the interesting sights in the railroad station had to be given up now, for the porter swung open a big gate and called: "All aboard for Meadow Brook!" and the Bobbseys hurried off.