Chapter VII. Happy Days
 

Mr. Bobbsey sat looking at Aunt Emeline's letter, reading parts of it over again. Mrs. Bobbsey watched her husband. The Bobbsey twins looked at their father and mother. A great hope was beginning to come into the hearts of Bert and Nan.

As for Flossie and Freddie, they were rather too small to know what it was all about, but they realized that something had happened that did not happen every day.

"What's the matter, Mommie?" asked Freddie, slipping down out of his chair and going over to her. He saw that she was worried. "Have you got the toothache?" he wanted to know. Once Freddie's tooth had ached and he knew how it hurt.

"No, dear," answered Mrs. Bobbsey. "I haven't the toothache. But I have a letter from Aunt Emeline and she can't come to stay with you children while daddy and I go out West."

"Aunt Emeline not come?" repeated Freddie.

"No, dear. She thinks she is too old to look after you four lively youngsters. And perhaps she is right. I wouldn't want to make too much work for her."

"Aunt Emeline not coming!" said Freddie again in a thoughtful voice. "Ho! Then I go and get a cookie!"

Nan and Bert burst out laughing.

"What's the matter?" asked their father and mother, as Freddie slipped down out of his mother's lap, into which he had climbed, and started for the kitchen to find Dinah. "What made you laugh, Bert?" asked his mother.

"Oh, I guess Freddie must have heard Nan and me talking about Aunt Emeline not letting us have anything to eat except at meal time," replied Bert. "And, now she isn't coming, he thinks he can have a cookie whenever he wants it."

"Oh, I see!" and Mr. Bobbsey smiled. "Well, Aunt Emeline may be strict, but she is a very good housekeeper. I am sorry she can not come to stay while we are in the West. I really don't know what we are going to do."

"Nor I," sighed Mrs. Bobbsey. "We counted on Aunt Emeline all the while, and now I don't know whom else I can get on such short notice. Can't we wait a while about going West?" she asked her husband.

"I don't very well see how we can wait," answered Mr. Bobbsey. "The tickets are bought, and all my plans are made. I have hired a man to come to the lumber office while I am away. I have written the men at the timber tract and at the cattle ranch that we are coming. Now, what are we to do?"

"We can't leave the children here alone," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "That is certain."

"No, we couldn't do that," agreed Mr. Bobbsey. "As good a cook as Dinah is, and careful as Sam is, we couldn't leave the children with them."

"Dinah gave me a cookie, an' she says she'll give you one, too, if you want it, Flossie," announced Freddie, coming into the room then, munching a sweet cake.

"Course I want it!" exclaimed the little "fat fairy," as her father called her, and she slipped out of her mother's lap, where she had climbed after Freddie got down, and, like her brother, hurried to the kitchen.

"Well, since we can't leave the children here at home by themselves, or only with Dinah and Sam," said Mr. Bobbsey, after a pause, "there is only one thing to do."

"You mean we must stay at home?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, and the hearts of Bert and Nan felt very sad indeed.

"Stay at home? No, indeed!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey. "We must take the children with us!"

"Out West?" cried Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Yes, out West!" her husband said. "We'll take the children with us since Aunt Emeline can't come to stay with them."

"Hurray!" cried Bert.

"Oh, I'm so glad!" echoed Nan.

"Yes, that will be the best way out of it," went on Mr. Bobbsey to his wife, after Bert and Nan had stopped dancing around the room, hands joined, with Flossie and Freddie in the ring they made, the two younger twins each eating one of Dinah's cookies. "We'll take the Bobbsey twins out West."

"But what about school?" asked his wife, who just happened to think that the summer term would not end for about three weeks.

"Oh we don't need to go to school!" said Bert.

"We can take our books with us and study on the train," suggested Nan.

"I fear there wouldn't be much studying done," laughed Mrs. Bobbsey. "But do you really think we might take the children out of school?" she asked.

"That is something we will have to find out about," her husband answered. "Of course it will not be much loss to Flossie and Freddie, as they are not as far along in their studies as are Nan and Bert. But I wouldn't like to have them lose much of their lessons."

"Teacher said I was at the head of my class, and I'd pass easy!" declared Bert.

"And my teacher said I was one of her best students," added Nan. She and Bert were in the same grade but in different classes.

"Well, since we really have to go out West to look after the lumber and cattle properties that are to be your mother's," said Mr. Bobbsey, "and since we must take you children with us, I'll see your teachers, Bert and Nan, and ask them if it will put you back much to lose the last two weeks of the term."

"Oh, goodie! Goodie!" shrieked Nan, jumping up and down.

"Hurray!" cried Bert. "Now I'm going to be a cowboy. Whoop!"

"Mercy me!" exclaimed their mother, covering her ears with her hands as Bert and Nan shouted loudly.

"Come on, Flossie!" called Freddie to his small sister. "Let's go and ask Dinah for more cookies."

That was Freddie's way of celebrating the good news.

Then came happy days.

Mr. Bobbsey, once he had made up his mind that the children were to go out West with him and his wife, went to the school and saw the teachers who had charge of Bert and Nan. He found that the older Bobbsey twins were so well along in their studies that it would not hold them back in the fall to stop now. So they were given permission to leave school before the regular time.

There was no trouble at all about Flossie and Freddie. They had simple lessons, and they could easily be taught at home to make up for the time they would lose.

It was arranged that Dinah and Sam should stay at home in the Bobbsey house to look after it during the summer, while Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey and the twins went out West.

"And be sure to feed Snap!" said Bert to Sam, as the colored man was cutting the grass on the lawn one day, while the dog frisked about chasing sticks that Bert and Freddie tossed here and there for him.

"Oh, I won't forget Snap!" promised Sam.

"And you must give Snoop a saucer of milk every day, Dinah!" said Nan, as she rubbed the black cat which was purring around her legs.

"Oh, indeedy Snoop and I am mighty good friends!" declared Dinah. "I suah won't forget to feed Snoop!"

Mr. Bobbsey bought other tickets, so he could take the children on the Western trip. He made all the arrangements, trunks were packed, and finally, one day, Bert and Nan and Flossie and Freddie said good-bye to their school chums.

"I'm going out West to learn to be a cowboy!" said Bert.

"I wish I was going!" exclaimed Danny Rugg.

"So do I," said Charley Mason.

"I'll see some Indians, too," Bert went on.

"And will you see those darling little papooses they carry on their backs?" asked Nellie Parks.

"I guess I'll see them," Nan said. "I don't like Indian men and women, but the babies must be cute."

"Wouldn't it be great if you could get an Indian doll?" asked Grace.

"Indians don't have dolls!" declared Danny.

"Indian girls do!" exclaimed Nellie. "I saw a picture in one of my books of an Indian girl, and she had a doll made of corn silk and a corncob and some tree bark."

"What a funny doll!" exclaimed Grace. "Do try and bring one home, Nan!"

"I will," she promised.

Bert and Nan were so excited at the prospect of going West that if their father and mother had expected the children to pack the trunks and valises it never would have been done. But Mrs. Bobbsey knew better than to expect this. She and Dinah looked after the packing.

Flossie and Freddie, of course, were too small to do any of this, though one day Mrs. Bobbsey saw the little boy stuffing something into an old stocking.

"Freddie Bobbsey, what are you doing?" asked his mother.

"Dinah gave me some cookies," was the answer, "and I'm goin' to take 'em out West with me. Maybe I'll get hungry, an' maybe I'll get lost, or carried off by the Indians, an' then I'll have cookies to eat!"

"Oh, dear me! you can't take a lot of cookies in a stocking," laughed Mrs. Bobbsey.

"There'll be plenty to eat out West. As for getting lost, I suppose you will do that; you always have, but we manage to find you. However, I hope you won't get lost too often. And I don't think you'll be carried off by the Indians. Or, if so, they'd return you quickly."

The happy days seemed to grow happier as the time came nearer to take the train for the great West. One afternoon, the day before the Bobbsey twins were to start, Bert and Nan went down to their father's lumberyard office with a message sent by their mother.

"What's all this I hear about you?" asked Mr. Hickson, the old man who had been in the railroad wreck. He was out loading a wagon with boards. "What are you children going to do out West?" he asked them.

"I'm going to learn to be a cowboy," declared Bert.

"And I'm going to get an Indian doll!" said Nan.

"My goodness!" exclaimed the old man, smiling at the Bobbsey twins, for he liked them very much. "I hope you have a good time. That's what makes children happy--to have a good time. I wish I could find my children. I haven't seen my boys, Charley and Bill, for a long while. They must be grown-up men now. Yes, I certainly wish I could find Charley and Bill. It was all a mistake when they ran away from home. I wish I had them back," and slowly and sadly shaking his head he went on loading the lumber wagon.

Bert and Nan felt sorry for Mr. Hickson, and they wished they might help him find his "boys," as he called Bill and Charley, though, as he said, they must be grown men now. But Bert and Nan had too many things to think about in getting ready to go out West to feel sorry very long. They took the message to their father and then hurried home.