The Bobbsey Twins on a Houseboat by Laura Lee Hope
Chapter III. Dinah's Upset
"What's the matter? What has happened?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, who had run out to the front porch, upon hearing the excited cries, and the exclamations of fat Dinah, the cook. "Oh! has anything happened to any of the children?"
"Yes'm, I s'pects there has, ma'am," said Dinah. "Pore li'l Freddie am done smashed all up flatter'n a pancake, Mrs. Bobbsey!"
"He's all right!" shouted Bert, who had, by this time, reached his little brother, and was lifting him out of the bicycle. "Not hurt a bit, are you, Freddie?"
"N--no, I--I guess not," said Freddie, a bit doubtfully. "I--I'm scared, though."
"Nothing to be frightened at now, Freddie," said Bert, holding up the little chap, so his mother could see him.
"Why, Freddie isn't hurt, Dinah," said Mrs. Bobbsey, in great relief. "What made you think so?"
"Well, I seed him all tangled up in dat two-wheeled velocipede ob Bert's, an' de hoss team was comin' right down on de honey-lamb. I thought shuah he was gwine t' be squashed flatter'n a pancake. But he ain't! Bless mah soul he ain't! Oh, dere's mah cake burnin'!" and into the kitchen ran Dinah, glad, indeed, that nothing had happened worse than the scare Freddie received.
"Good Snap! Good old dog!" said Nan, as she patted his head.
"Bow wow!" barked Snap. He still held the horse reins in his strong white teeth. He was not going to let the horses go yet.
"Oh, Freddie!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey, when she understood what had happened. "What danger you were in! Why did you take Bert's wheel?"
"I--I wanted a ride, Mamma. I didn't think I'd fall off, or that the team would come."
"You must never do it again," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Never get on Bert's wheel again, unless he is with you to hold you. You are, too small, yet, for a bicycle."
"Yes'm," said Freddie in a low voice.
"But where is the driver of the wagon?" went on Mrs. Bobbsey, looking at the empty seat.
"Maybe he fell off," suggested Nan, who had taken Freddie from Bert, the latter picking up his wheel, and looking to see if it had been damaged by the fall. But it was all right.
"Here comes a driver now," said Flossie, who saw one of the men from her father's lumber yard hurrying along the road.
"Is anybody hurt?" the man asked, as he came up, running and breathing fast, for he had come a long way.
"No one, I think," answered Mrs. Bobbsey. "But my little boy had a very narrow escape."
"I am sorry," said the driver. "I left the team standing out in front of the lumber yard, while I went in the office to find out where I was to deliver the planks. When I came out the horses were trotting away. I guess they were scared by something. I ran fast, but I could not catch them."
"Snap caught them for you," said the twins' mother, as she looked at the former circus dog, who was still holding the horse-reins.
"Yes, he's a good dog," the lumber wagon driver said. "I was afraid, when I saw how far the horses had gone, that they might do some damage. But I'm glad no one was hurt."
"I think we all are glad," spoke Mrs. Bobbsey. "It was partly my little boy's own fault, for he should not have gotten on his brother's bicycle. But he won't do it again."
"No, I never will!" promised Freddie, as he rubbed his leg where it had been bruised a little from becoming tangled up in the wire spokes.
Snap barked and wagged his tail, as the driver took the lines from him, and then, when the man drove off with the horses and the load of lumber, Mrs. Bobbsey went with the twins back into the yard.
"Well, I'm glad all the excitement is over," she said. "Where were you, Nan? Grace Lavine called for you, but I looked out in the yard and did not see you, so she went away again."
"Why, I went down to papa's office, Mamma, with that letter you gave me for him."
"Yes, I know, but I supposed you had come back. What kept you so long?"
"Well, I--er--I was talking to papa, and---"
Nan did not want to go on. for she did not want to tell that she had been talking about the houseboat.
Mr. Bobbsey had been intending to keep that as a little secret surprise for his wife, but now, if her mother asked about it, Nan felt she would have to tell. She hardly knew what to say, but just then something happened that made everything all right.
Mr. Bobbsey himself came hurrying down the street, from the direction of his lumber office. He seemed much excited, and his hat was on crooked, as though he had not taken time to put it on straight.
"Is everything all right?" he called to his wife. "None of the children hurt?"
"No, none of them," she answered with a smile. Mr. Bobbsey could see that for himself now, since Freddie and Flossie were going up the walk together, Freddie tying one of the book straps around the dog's neck, while Nan and Bert followed behind them, with Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Someone telephoned to me," said the lumber merchant, "that they saw one of our teams running away down this street, and I was afraid our children, or those of some of the neighbors, might be hurt. So I hurried down to see. Did you notice anything of a runaway team?"
"Yes," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "But everything is all right now. Only I haven't yet heard what it was that kept Nan so long down at your office," and she smiled.
Nan looked at her father, and Mr. Bobbsey looked at Nan. Then they both smiled and laughed.
"To tell you the truth," said Mr. Bobbsey, with another smile, "Nan discovered a secret I was not going to tell at once."
"A secret?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey in surprise.
"Yes, it's about---" began Nan.
Then she stopped.
"Go on. You might as well tell her," said Mr. Bobbsey, laughing.
"I know!" exclaimed Freddie, who was all over his fright now. "It's about a boathouse and---"
"A houseboat!" interrupted Bert. "You've got the cart before the horse, Freddie."
"That's it!" exclaimed Nan. "Papa has bought the Marvin's houseboat, Mamma, and we're going to have lovely times in it this summer."
"And I'm going to run the engine," declared Bert.
"I'm going to be fireman!" cried fat Freddie. "I'm going to put on coal and squirt water on the fires!"
"I'm going to sit on deck and play with my dolls," spoke Flossie, who was trying to climb up on Snap's back to get a ride.
Mrs. Bobbsey looked at her husband.
"Really?" she asked. "Have you bought the boat?"
"Yes," he replied, "I have. You know we have been thinking of it for some time. Lake Metoka would be just fine for a houseboat, and we could go on quite a cruise with one. Mr. Marvin wanted to sell his boat, and as he and I had some business dealings, and as he owed me some money, I took the boat in part payment."
"And is it ours now, Papa?" asked Bert.
"Yes, the houseboat is ours. It is called the Bluebird, and that is a good name for it, since it is painted blue--like your eyes, little fat fairy!" he cried, catching Flossie up in his arms.
"Is it a big boat, Papa?" asked Bert. Like most boys he liked things big and strong.
"Well, I think it will be large enough," said Mr. Bobbsey with a smile as he set down Flossie and caught up Freddie in the same way. "Were you frightened when you fell down and saw the lumber team coming toward you?" he asked.
"A little," Freddie said. "But I wished my legs were long enough so I could ride Bert's bicycle. Then I could get out of the way."
"You'd better keep away from the wheel until you are bigger," said his father, who had been told about the accident and the excitement. "But now I must get back to the office. I have plenty of work to do."
"Oh, but can't you stay just a little longer, to tell us more about the boat!" pleaded Nan. "When can we have a ride in it?"
"A boat is called 'her,'" interrupted Bert,
"Well, 'her' then," said Nan. "Tell us about her, papa. I didn't hear much at your office."
"You heard more than I meant you to," said Mr. Bobbsey with a smile. "Nan came in with that letter just as Mr. Marvin and I were finishing our talk about the houseboat," he went on. "I was going to keep it secret a little longer, but it's just as well you should know now.
"I think you will like the Bluebird. It has a little gasoline engine, so we can travel from place to place. And there is a large living room, a kitchen, several bed rooms and a nice open deck, where we can sit, when it is too hot to be inside."
"Oh, that's going to be great!" cried Bert. "I want a room near the engine."
"And can I be a fireman?" asked Freddie.
"I want to be near mamma--and you," spoke little Flossie.
"Oh, isn't it going to be lovely!" exclaimed Nan, clapping her hands.
"Scrumptious, I call it!" cried Bert, and he ran into the house, through the hall, and into the dining-room, just as big, fat Dinah, the cook, was entering the same room, carefully holding a big cake which she had just covered with white frosting.
"Oh dear!" cried Bert, as he ran, full tilt, Into the big cook.
"Good land ob massy!" fairly yelled Dinah. "Wha--wha---"
But that was all she could say. She tried to save herself from falling, but she could not. Nor could Bert. He went down, on one side of the doorsill, and Dinah sat down, very hard, on the other, the cake bouncing from her hands, up toward her head, and then falling into her lap.