Chapter XII. The Letters
 

The day after Christmas, when Bert and Nan came home from having been to see a number of their friends, but not having succeeded in getting any of them to promise to make the trip to Snow Lodge, the two older Bobbsey twins were quite discouraged.

"I'll need another fellow to help me sail the ice-boat," spoke Bert. "Of course I know you'll do all you can, Nan, but we can't tell what might happen. I don't see what's the matter with all the fellows, anyhow, that they can't go."

"And the girls, too," added Nan. "I couldn't get one of them to promise. And I don't know whether mamma and papa will let you and me go in the ice-boat by ourselves."

And, when they heard of this plan, both Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey objected to it.

"It would be too risky," decided Mr. Bobbsey. "Your ice-boat is a small one. I know, Bert, but in a stiff wind it might capsize if you did not have some other boy along to help you manage it. I guess you and Nan had better come with us in the big sled."

"I think so, too," added Mrs. Bobbsey.

There seemed to be no other way out of it, and Nan and Bert felt quite badly. Not even the tricks of Snap and Snoop, when Freddie and Flossie put the dog and cat through them before going to bed, would cause their older brother and sister to look happy.

"Never mind," said Mamma Bobbsey, "when we get to Snow Lodge you'll have such a good time that you won't mind not having made the trip on skates or on the ice-boat. And you can skate all you like when you get up there."

The next day Freddie was playing quite a game. He had a little toy village, made of pasteboard houses, and this he had set up in the playroom. He was pretending that a fire had broken out in one of the dwellings and he was going to put it out with his toy engine. Of course there was not even a match on fire, for Mrs. Bobbsey was very careful about this, but Freddie pretended to his heart's content. He was allowed to have real water, but Dinah had spread on the floor an old rubber coat so that the spray would do no harm.

With a great shout Freddie came running out of the "engine house," which was a chair turned on its side. He was pulling his toy after him, racing to the make-believe blaze.

Just then Flossie came into the room with her new walking doll, and, not seeing her, Freddie ran into and knocked her over.

Flossie sat down quite hard, and for a moment was too surprised to cry. But a moment later, when she saw Freddie's fire engine run over her new doll, which cried out "Mamma!" as if in pain, the tears came into Flossie's eyes.

"Oh, you bad boy!" she exclaimed, forgetting her own pain, at the sight of her doll, "you've run right over her!"

"I--I couldn't help it!" said Freddie, stopping in his rush to the fire to pick up his sister's toy. "You got right in my way."

"I did not--Freddie Bobbsey!"

"Yes, you did, too, and I'm going to squirt water on you, and put you out. You're on fire! Your cheeks are all red!"

This was true enough. Flossie did get very red cheeks when she was excited.

"Don't you put any water on me!" she cried. "I'll tell mamma on you! And you've broke my best doll, too! Oh, dear!" and Flossie burst into tears, so there was no need for Freddie to use his toy engine to wet her flaming cheeks.

This frightened Freddie. He seldom made his twin sister cry, and he was very much alarmed.

"I--I didn't mean to, Flossie," he said, putting his arms around her. "I guess I was running pretty fast. Don't cry, and you can squirt my engine. Maybe if you squirted some water on your doll she'd be all right," and Freddie picked up the talking toy.

"Don't you dare put any water on her!" screamed Flossie." You'll make her catch cold, and then she won't talk at all, Oh, dear! I wish you didn't have that old engine."

Mrs. Bobbsey came into the room just then, or there is no telling what might have happened. She knew what to do, and soon she had straightened out matters. It was not very often that Flossie and Freddie had trouble of this kind, but they were only human children, just like any others, and they had their little disputes now and then.

"Oh, dear! This will never do!" said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Freddie, you must not rush about the house so fast."

"But, mamma, firemens is always fast. They have to be fast, and I was going to a fire," the fat little fellow said.

"I know, dear, but you should look where you are going. And, Flossie, dear, you must watch out before you rush into a room, you know."

"Yes, mamma, but, you see, I was pretending my doll was sick, and I was running to the doctor's with her."

"Oh, dear!" cried Mamma Bobbsey. "You were both in too much of a hurry, I think. Never mind. Let's see if the doll is hurt. much."

It seemed that she was, for though she would walk across the room when wound up, she would not cry out "Mamma!" But Mrs. Bobbsey was used to mending broken toys, and after poking about in the wheels and springs with a hairpin she soon had the doll so it would talk again. Then Flossie was happy, and her tears were forgotten.

Freddie said he was sorry he had been in such a hurry, so all was forgiven, and he went on playing fireman. He was in the midst of putting out a make-believe blaze in the village church when the doorbell rang, and the postman's whistle was heard.

"Will you get the mail, dear?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey of Freddie. "Dinah is busy, I'm sure. Let me see how mamma's little fat fireman can get the letters. But don't run!" she exclaimed, "or you might fall downstairs."

"I won't, mamma," said Freddie.

He came back with several letters, and he was again playing he was a fireman, and Flossie was making believe she was a doctor for her sick doll, when Mrs. Bobbsey exclaimed:

"Oh, this will be good news for Bert," and she looked up from a letter she was reading.

"What is it. mamma?" asked Flossie. "Is someone sending him more Christmas presents?"

"No, dear, but Harry, your cousin from the country, you know, is coming to visit us. Bert will have someone to play with. Won't that be nice?"

"And can I play with him, too?" asked Freddie.

"I guess so, sometimes," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "But you must remember that Harry is about ten years old, and he won't always want to be with little boys."

"I'm a big boy!" declared Freddie. "I'm 'most as big as Bert."

"Well, I guess you can have some fun," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Bert will be glad to hear this. Now, who can this other letter be from?" and she tore open the envelope.

"Why!" she cried, as she quickly read it "It's from Uncle William Minturn, at the seashore, and he says his daughter Dorothy is coming to pay us a visit. Well, did you ever! Our two cousins--one from the country and the other from the seashore--both coming at the same time! Oh, this will please Bert and Nan!"

"And can't we have a good time, too?" asked Flossie.

"Of course," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Let me see now; how will I arrange the rooms for them? Oh, I forgot, we're going to Snow Lodge soon. I wonder what I can do? Both Dorothy and Harry will be here before I can tell them not to come. I must telephone to papa!"

Bert and Nan came in just then, in time to hear this last.

"Telephone to papa!" exclaimed Bert "What's the matter, mother? Has anything happened?"

"Nothing, only your cousins, Dorothy and Harry, are coming to visit you. And I don't know what to do about it, as we are going to Snow Lodge!"

"Do about it?" cried Bert. "Why, we won't do anything about it, except to let them come. Say, this is the best news yet! Harry can go with me on the ice-boat. Hurray! Hurray!"

"Yes, and Dorothy and I can skate on the lake!" said Nan. "Oh, how glad I am!"

"We'll take them both to Snow Lodge!" cried Bert. "Now we won't have to look for any other boys or girls. Well have our own cousins! Whoop!" and he threw his arms around his mother, while Nan tried to kiss her. Flossie and Freddie looked on in pleased surprise. The letters had come just in time. Now there would be a jolly party at Snow Lodge.