Chapter V. News from the West
 

The Bobbsey twins looked from the window and saw Hiram Hickson walking through the yard on his way from the garage. He had slept all night in the comfortable room in the former stable, where Dinah and Sam also lived.

As the old man passed he saw Flossie and Freddie and Bert and Nan looking from the window at him. He smiled up at the children, and waved his hand to them.

"He looks a little like Uncle Daniel, doesn't he?" remarked Bert.

"Yes," agreed Nan. "Only his hair is whiter. I guess he's had lots of troubles."

"Maybe about his two sons," Bert went on. as the old man passed from sight toward the lumberyard. "I wish we could help him find them."

"I don't see how we could ever do that," returned Nan.

Flossie and Freddie stood with their noses pressed against the window glass, looking at Mr. Hickson until he was out of sight down the street. Then they got down off the chairs on which they had been kneeling, and Freddie asked:

"May I have an apple dumpling to take to school, Mother?"

"An apple dumpling to take to school!" she exclaimed. "Why, what in the world do you want to do that for?"

"I want it to eat at recess," explained the little fellow. "All the boys bring something to eat."

"And so do the girls," added Flossie. "I want something to eat, too. And Dinah is baking apple dumplings this morning--I smelled 'em when she opened the oven door."

"Well, I'm afraid apple dumplings are too big to take to school for a recess lunch," said Mrs. Bobbsey with a laugh. "I'll get Dinah to give you some cookies, though."

And Dinah not only gave some to Flossie and Freddie, but to Bert and Nan. Then, happy and laughing, the Bobbsey twins started for school.

"Did you go down and see the big railroad wreck yesterday?" asked Danny Rugg of Bert at the school-yard gate.

"Sure I saw it," was the answer.

"And we got a man out of it, too," said Nan.

"You got a man out of the wreck! What do you mean?" exclaimed Danny. "Did you go down and pull him out?"

"No," Nan went on. "But we saw him, and he's at our house now."

"He works for my father," said Bert, and he told the story of Hiram Hickson, not speaking, however, about the two sons of the old man who had run away from him because of a quarrel. Bert did not think his father would like to have him tell this outside the family.

"I was right close to the engine when it puffed out a lot of steam," said Danny Rugg. "And I ran away like anything!"

"So did we!" said Bert.

All the boys and girls were talking about the wreck that morning, and because they had had such a curious part in it--having at their home one of the passengers who had been hurt--Bert and Nan were the center of a little throng that wanted to hear, over and over again, about it. So the older Bobbsey twins told all they knew concerning it from the time of having first heard about the wreck from Charley Mason until they came home accompanied by Hiram Hickson, who had been slightly hurt in the accident.

"Is he all right now?" Danny Rugg wanted to know.

"Oh, yes. He's gone to work in my father's lumberyard," explained Bert. "I'm going to stop in to see him this afternoon."

"Can't we go, too?" asked Danny, as he and Charley Mason walked back into the school with Bert, some of the talk having taken place at recess.

"Yes, I guess so," was the answer.

Bert often stopped at the lumberyard on his way home from school. He liked to play among the piles of logs and sawed boards, as did the other boys. Flossie and Freddie liked this, too, but they were not allowed to climb around on the lumber piles unless their father or some other older person was with them. Often Bert and Nan made "sea- saws" on a lumber pile, but to-day Nan wanted to hurry home with Grace Lavine and Nellie Parks, for they had a new story book they were reading together, and over which they were very much excited, each pretending she was one of the principal characters.

So, after school was out, and the cookies which Dinah had given the children had been eaten down to the last crumbs, Nan took Flossie and Freddie home with her, and Bert and some of his boy chums went to the lumberyard. On the way they made snowballs and threw them at trees and fences.

"There he is!" said Bert to Charley and Danny, as they saw Mr. Hickson measuring a pile of boards and marking the lengths down in a book. "There's the man that came out of the railroad wreck!"

"Pooh, he isn't hurt a bit!" exclaimed Danny Rugg. "I thought you said his head was cut, Bert Bobbsey!"

"'Tis cut!" declared Bert. "Isn't your head cut, and weren't you hurt in the railroad wreck?" cried Bert, as Mr. Hickson waved his hand in greeting.

"Well, it isn't cut much--you can see where it is," and, taking off his hat, the old man showed the boys a piece of sticking plaster which had been put over the cut.

"There! What'd I tell you?" cried Bert.

Danny and Charley said nothing. They were satisfied now that they had actually seen the man himself and the cut he had got in the wreck.

The three boys played about on the lumber piles until it was time for them to go home, and Bert promised to bring his chums next day to have more fun on the masses of lumber. Some of the boards were so stacked up that there were spaces between, and these the boys played were "robber-caves."

It was nearing the end of winter when the railroad wreck had taken place. There was still plenty of snow and ice, but the sun was slowly working his way back from the south, where he had stayed so long, and each day brought spring nearer.

Mr. Hickson continued to live in his room over the Bobbsey garage. He liked it there, and he liked his work in the lumberyard. Mr. Bobbsey said the former Cedarville man was a good helper, and he was glad he had been able to hire him.

"And do you think he'll ever find his two boys?" asked Bert one day, when he and Nan had been talking to their father about Mr. Hickson.

"I'm afraid he'll never find them now, it has been so many years since they went away," explained Mr. Bobbsey. "They were boys then, sixteen or seventeen years old, and now they would be grown men. No, I don't believe Mr. Hickson will ever find his sons, though I wish he might, for I think it would make him much happier."

Bert and Nan wished they might help their father's friend to find his sons, but they did not see how it could be done. They even talked about it to Miss Pompret, the woman whose rare china they had so strangely discovered.

"Well, you Bobbsey twins are very lucky," said Miss Pompret, when Nan and Bert were at her house one early spring day. "You were very lucky about my china, and maybe you will be lucky about Mr. Hickson's sons. I hope he finds them. It is very sad to be old and to have no one in the world who really belongs to you. I hope you may be able to help him."

As has been said, the spring had come. The Bobbsey twins and the other children of Lakeport had made the most of winter while it lasted. They had built snow houses, snow men and had had snowball battles--at least--Bert, Charley Mason and Danny Rugg and the bigger boys, as well as Nan and her particular girl friends, had. The smaller ones, like Freddie, had coasted downhill on their sleds. This was fun in which Flossie also shared.

April came with plenty of showers, but the showers brought the May flowers, just as it says in the little verse. And then came June, which seemed the best month of all.

"Aren't you glad?" asked Bert of Nan, as four Bobbsey twins were on their way to school one beautiful June morning, when the birds were singing and the flowers in the yards along the way were all in blossom.

"Glad? What for?" asked Nan.

"'Cause school will soon be over and we'll have a long vacation," answered Bert.

"Oh, that's so!" agreed Nan. "We have only a few more weeks of school. I hope I pass my examinations."

"I hope so, too," agreed Bert. "I'm going to study real hard."

"So'm I!" murmured Nan. "Oh, look! There goes Mr. Hickson on a pile of daddy's lumber!" she cried. "Maybe he'll give us a ride to school."

They shouted to the old man, who was now one of the best of Mr. Bobbsey's helpers in the lumberyard.

"Whoa, Esmeralda!" called Mr. Hickson to the horse he was driving. "What is it?" he asked of the Bobbsey twins, who were on the sidewalk. "Did you want me?" he asked. "The boards rattle so I couldn't hear what you said. There hasn't been another railroad wreck, has there?" and he smiled.

"No," answered Bert. "But could you give us a ride to school, if you're going down that way?"

"I am and I will," answered Mr. Hickson. "Wait a minute, Flossie and Freddie," he called to the smaller children. "I'll help you up. Now don't run away, Esmeralda!" he called to the horse.

"Oh, she won't run! She's the slowest horse daddy has!" laughed Nan.

"She's a good horse, though," said Mr. Hickson, as he carefully put Flossie and Freddie up on the boards on the wagon. "Yes, she's a good horse, but she's getting old like me. Now are you up, Bert and Nan?" he asked, as he saw Bert helping his sister to her place.

"All ready!" Bert answered.

"Get along, Esmeralda!" called the man to the horse, and so the Bobbsey twins had a ride to school.

"Let's go down and play on your father's lumber piles to-day," said Danny Rugg to Bert, when school was out in the afternoon.

"Yes, we had a dandy time the other day!" chimed in Charley Mason. "Let's go again."

"All right, we'll go!" agreed Bert.

But when he and the two boys reached the yard where the sweet-smelling boards were piled in great heaps, Bert saw his father coming from the office.

"May we play on the lumber?" asked Bert.

"Yes, but come home early," Mr. Bobbsey answered. "I'm going home now, Bert, and I think you'd better come soon."

"Is anything the matter?" asked the boy, for he knew it was early for his father to leave his office unless something had happened.

"Nothing serious," was the answer. "But I have just had some strange news from the West, and I want to tell your mother about it. The news came in a letter, and it may make a big change in our plans for the summer."