Chapter XII. Nearing Lumberville

Bert Bobbsey was the first to spring to the window and look down when his sister said this. As the rooms Mr. Bobbsey had taken were on the tenth floor it would have been quite a fall for Freddie if he had tumbled out. But after one look Bert said:

"Freddie couldn't have fallen from here. There's an iron railing all around the outside of the window, and even Freddie couldn't get through."

"I wonder where he is!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey. "I'm sure I saw him here a moment ago!"

"Yes, he was here," said Nan. "I washed a speck of dirt off his chin, and then Flossie wanted me to wash her hands."

"But I washed my own hands, I did!" exclaimed Flossie, looking at her pink palms.

"And the soap slid all over the floor and every time I picked it up it slid some more; didn't it, Nan?" she asked with a laugh.

"Yes," answered the older girl. "But where can Freddie be?"

"That's what I'm wondering," added Mrs. Bobbsey. "We must find him."

"I guess he went out into the hall," said Bert. "There's a boy in the rooms next door about as old as Freddie, and I saw them talking together yesterday."

Mrs. Bobbsey hurried into the hall outside their apartment in the hotel. Bert, Nan and Flossie followed, Flossie still laughing at the funny way the cake of soap had slid around the bathroom when she washed her hands.

Mrs. Bobbsey looked up and down the corridor, but she saw nothing of her little boy. She was hurrying toward the elevators, where the red light burned at night, when she met one of the chambermaids who looked after the rooms and made up the beds.

"Are you looking for your little boy?" asked the maid, smiling pleasantly at Mrs. Bobbsey and the children.

"Yes, I am," answered Freddie's mother. "Have you seen him?"

"Yes," was the answer. "You needn't look for him, I gave him the money."

"You gave him the money! What money?" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey. "I didn't send him for any money."

"Why, I saw him come out of your room and start for the elevator," the maid went on. "I was working across the hall. I heard your little boy saying that he couldn't get in without money and then he looked at me. He asked me if I had eleven cents and I gave it to him."

"You gave my little boy Freddie eleven cents?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey wondering if it were all a joke. "Why did you do that?"

"Because he said he wanted it to get into the moving picture place just down the street," the chambermaid said. "I thought you had let him go, and that he had forgotten the money. It's ten cents for children to get in afternoons, you know, and a penny for war tax. I gave it to him."

"Dear me!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey. "The idea of his doing that! Which moving picture place was it?"

"I know!" broke in Bert. "It must be the one we were in yesterday where they had the cowboy and Indian scenes. Freddie has gone there again."

"He did want to see an Indian," added Nan.

"But would they let such a little boy in all alone?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Oh, lots of the children get grown-ups to take them in," the chambermaid explained. "I've often seen 'em do it."

"But I don't want Freddie going by himself or with people he doesn't know!" said the little boy's mother. "But it was kind of you to give him the money, and here is your change back," she said to the hotel maid. "But now we must get Freddie."

"I'll get him," offered Bert. "I know just where the place is."

"I wish you would," returned Mrs. Bobbsey. "Bring him right back here. I shall have to scold him a little."

Bert went down in the elevator. The man running the big wire cage, which lifted people up and down instead of having them go by the stairs, nodded and smiled at Bert.

"I took yo' little brother down awhile ago," said the elevator man, who was colored like Sam Johnson.

"Yes, he ran away," replied Bert.

"Guess you'll find him at de movies!" laughed the elevator man. "He had 'leven cents, an' he was talkin' 'bout Indians an' cowboys."

"Yes, he's crazy about 'em," answered Bert. "We're going out West you know."

"Is you?" asked the man, as the elevator went down. "Well, de West am a mighty big place. I suah hopes yo' l'il brother doan git lost in de big West."

"We'll have to keep watch over him," returned Bert, as he got out of the car and hurried down the street toward the moving picture theater. On the way he was wondering as to the best way of getting Freddie out of the show. It would be dark inside, Bert knew, though the picture on the screen made it light at times. But it would be too dark to pick Freddie out of the crowd, especially as the theater was a large place and Bert did not know where his small brother would be sitting.

"I guess I'll have to speak to the girl that sells tickets, and maybe she can tell me how to find Freddie," thought Bert.

But when he reached the moving picture theater he had no trouble at all. For Freddie was there, and he was outside, and not inside at all. And the reason Freddie had not gone in was for the same reason that a number of other boys and girls were standing outside the theater.

In the lobby, or the open place near the ticket window, stood a tall man, wearing a red shirt, a big hat with a leather band on it, and, around his neck, a large purple handkerchief. The man wore big boots, and his trousers, instead of being of cloth as were those of Bert's father, were made of sheepskin.

"Oh, he's a cowboy!" exclaimed Bert. And so the man was. At least he was dressed as some cowboys dress, especially in moving pictures, and this man was standing in front of the theater to advertise the photoplay and draw a crowd.

The crowd was there, and Freddie was right up in front, looking with open eyes and open mouth at the cowboy, who was walking back and forth, letting himself be looked at.

"Freddie! Freddie!" called Bert, when he had worked his way close to his little brother. "What you doing here?"

"I'm going to the show!" declared Freddie. "I want to see the wild cows again. And look, Bert! Here's a cowboy like those we're going to see a lot of when we get out West!"

Freddie spoke so loudly that many in the crowd laughed, as did the cowboy himself. Then as the big man in the red shirt and sheepskin trousers happened to remember that he was there to advertise the show he began saying:

"Step right inside, ladies and gentlemen, and boys and girls. See the big cattle round-up and the Indian raid! Step in and see the cowboys taming the wild horses!"

"Come on in!" called Freddie to Bert. "I want to see it! I want to see the show! I've 'leven cents! The lady in the hotel gave it to me!"

"No, you can't go in now!" said Bert firmly, as he kept hold of his little brother's hand. "Mother want you. She didn't like it because you ran away. We thought maybe you fell out the window."

"But I didn't!" cried Freddie. "I came down in the levelator, and I want to see the show."

"Not now," said Bert kindly, as he led Freddie out of the crowd. "Mother is going to take us all down town to buy things."

"But I want to see the show!" insisted Freddie, and he was going to cry, Bert feared, when there appeared, out in front of the hotel, an Italian with a hurdy-gurdy.

Freddie was always ready to look at something like this, and soon he was in the crowd listening to the man grind out the tunes.

"I'm going to give him this penny," said Freddie, showing the coins the chambermaid had given him. "I'll keep the ten cents, and maybe I can get another penny to go to the movies. But I'll give the man this one."

"All right," agreed Bert, glad enough to get Freddie away from the cowboy. And then Freddie seemed to forget all about wanting to go to the movies in listening to the music.

By this time Mrs. Bobbsey, Nan and Flossie had come down from their rooms. They saw Bert and Freddie in the crowd around the hurdy-gurdy man.

"Oh, I'm glad you have found him!" exclaimed Freddie's mother, as she saw her little son. "You did very wrong to run away," she added.

Freddie looked sorry, for he knew he was being scolded.

"I--I didn't go into the movies," he said, "and I have ten cents left. I gave a penny to the man," and he showed his mother the ten-cent piece in his chubby fist.

"You must never do such a thing again, Freddie," went on Mrs. Bobbsey. "Now I'm going to take that ten cents away from you, and when you want to go to the movies you must ask me."

"Will you take me to see the cowboy after we go shopping?" the little fellow wanted to know.

"I don't believe we'll have time," Mrs. Bobbsey answered, trying not to smile. "We must get ready to leave for Lumberville then."

"Oh, that'll be fun!" cried Freddie. "I want to see the big trees. Maybe I'll climb one."

"And that's something else you must not do!" went on his mother. "You must not go out in the woods nor climb trees alone."

"I won't. Bert will come with me," said Freddie.

Then the Bobbsey twins went shopping with their mother, and that night they again got aboard a sleeping car and started for Lumberville, which was reached the next morning.

And when Flossie and Freddie and Bert and Nan opened their eyes and looked from the car window they saw a strange sight.