Chapter IV. A Long Ride
 

The train was speeding along with that regular motion that puts many travelers to sleep, when Freddie curled himself on the sofa and went to sleep.

"Poor little chap!" Mr. Bobbsey remarked. "He is tired out, and he was so worried about Snoop!"

"I'm glad we were able to get this sofa, so many other people like a rest and there are only four sofas on each car," Mrs. Bobbsey explained to Dinah, who was now tucking Freddie in as if he were at home in his own cozy bed. The air cushion was blown up, and put under the yellow head and a shawl was carefully placed over him.

Flossie's pretty dimpled face was pressed close to the window pane, admiring the big world that seemed to be running away from the train, and Bert found the observation end of the train very interesting.

"What a beautiful grove of white birch trees!" Nan exclaimed, as the train swung into a ravine. "And see the soft ferns clinging about them. Mother, the ferns around the birch tree make me think of the fine lace about your throat!"

"Why, daughter, you seem to be quite poetical!" and the mother smiled, for indeed Nan had a very promising mind.

"What time will we get there, papa?" Bert asked, returning from the vestibule.

"In time for dinner Aunt Sarah said, that is if they keep dinner for us until one o'clock," answered the parent, as he consulted his watch.

"It seems as if we had been on the train all night," Flossie remarked.

"Well, we started early, dear," the mother assured the tired little girl. "Perhaps you would like one of Dinah's dainty sandwiches now?"

A light lunch was quickly decided on, and Dinah took Flossie and Nan to a little private room at one end of the train, Bert went with his father to the smoking room on the other end, while the mother remained to watch Freddie. The lunch was put up so that each small sandwich could be eaten without a crumb spilling, as the little squares were each wrapped separately in waxed paper.

There was a queer alcohol lamp in the ladies room, and other handy contrivances for travelers, which amused Flossie and Nan.

"Dat's to heat milk fo' babies," Dinah told the girls, as she put the paper napkins carefully on their laps, and got each a nice drink of icewater out of the cooler.

Meanwhile Bert was enjoying his lunch at the other end of the car, for children always get hungry when traveling, and meals on the train are only served at certain hours. Two other little girls came into the compartment while Flossie and Nan were at lunch. The strange girls wore gingham aprons over their fine white dresses, to keep the car dust off their clothes, and they had paper caps on their heads like the favors worn at children's parties. Seeing there was no stool vacant the strangers darted out again in rather a rude way, Nan thought.

"Take you time, honeys," Dinah told her charges. "If dey is very hungry dey can get ice cream outside."

"But mother never lets us eat strange ice cream," Flossie reminded the maid. "And maybe they can't either."

Soon the lunch was finished, and the Bobbseys felt much refreshed by it. Freddie still slept with Snoop's box close beside him, and Mrs. Bobbsey was reading a magazine.

"One hour more!" Bert announced, beginning to pick things up even that early.

"Now we better all close our eyes and rest, so that we will feel good when we get to Meadow Brook," Mrs. Bobbsey told them. It was no task to obey this suggestion, and the next thing the children knew, mother and father and Dinah were waking them up to get them ready to leave the train.

"Now, don't forget anything," Mr. Bobbsey cautioned the party, as hats and wraps were donned and parcels picked up.

Freddie was still very sleepy and his papa had to carry him off, while the others, with some excitement, hurried after.

"Oh, Snoop, Snoop!" cried Freddie as, having reached the platform, they now saw the train start off. "I forgot Snoop! Get him quick!"

"Dat kitten again!" Dinah exclaimed, with some indignation. "He's more trouble den - den de whole family!"

In an instant the train had gotten up speed, and it seemed Snoop was gone this time sure.

"Snoop!" cried Freddie, in dismay.

Just then the kind porter who had befriended the cat before, appeared on the platform with the perforated box in his hand.

"I wanted to keep him," stammered the porter, "but I knows de little boy 'ud break his heart after him." And he threw the box to Mr. Bobbsey.

There was no time for words, but Mr. Bobbsey thrust a coin in the man's hand and all the members of the Bobbsey family looked their thanks.

"Well, I declare, you can't see anybody," called out a good-natured little lady, trying to surround them all at once.

"Aunt Sarah!" exclaimed the Bobbseys.

"And Uncle Dan!"

"And Harry!"

"Hello! How do? How are you? How be you?" and such kissing and handshaking had not for some time entertained the old agent at the Meadow Brook station.

"Here at last!" Uncle Daniel declared, grabbing up Freddie and giving him the kind of hug Freddie had intended giving Aunt Sarah.

The big wagon from the Bobbsey farm, with the seats running along each side, stood at the other side of the platform, and into this the Bobbseys were gathered, bag and baggage, not forgetting the little black cat.

"All aboard for Meadow Brook farm!" called Bert, as the wagon started aff [sic] along the shady country road.