Chapter VII. The Two Cousins
 

"Oh, Freddie! What has happened?" cried Mrs. Bobbsey.

"It--it's the---" began Freddie, but that was as far as he got, for just then the stream of water from his toy engine spurted right into his open mouth.

"Shut it off!" cried Mr. Bobbsey. "Here, I'll do it!"

He started across the kitchen floor.

"Look out, Massa Bobbsey!" yelled Dinah. "It'll cotch yo' shuah. It done cotched me!" and then as she saw the little rubber hose of Freddie's fire engine swing around, and the nozzle point at her, the fat cook ran into the dish-closet and shut the door.

"How did it happen?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, not so excited, now that she found nothing serious was the matter.

"Freddie--Freddie--he wanted to try how his fire engine worked, 'cause he hadn't played with it this week," explained Flossie. Freddie was busy wiping the water from his face. "So he filled the tank, and wound it up, and now--and now--it won't--it won't stop-squirtin'!" went on Flossie. "It--it---"

And then she, too, had to stop talking, for the hose was spurting water at her now.

"I'll shut it off. Something must be the matter with the spring," said Mr. Bobbsey. He walked toward Freddie's fire engine, which was pretty large, for a toy. But before he reached it, the water hose had swung around, and, instead of sprinkling Flossie, was aimed at Mr. Bobbsey. However he did not mind. Holding the newspaper in front of his face, Freddie's father reached the fire engine, and turned off the machinery that pumped the water.

"There!" he cried. "The fire's out! The only damage is from water," and he laughed, for he was wet, and so were Mrs. Bobbsey, Flossie and Freddie; and the kitchen itself was pretty well sprinkled.

"What's it all about?" asked Bert, for he and Nan, who had been studying their lessons, had heard the noise of the excitement, and had run to the kitchen to see what had caused it.

"Oh, Freddie turned in a false alarm," said Mr. Bobbsey. "How did you come to put water in your engine, when mamma has told you not to do so in the house?" he asked the little boy.

"Be--be--cause," said Freddie slowly, "I wanted to see if it would-- work. I'm going to take it on the houseboat with me."

"Well, I guess it worked all right," Bert said, as he looked around at the wet kitchen. Luckily there was oil cloth on the floor, and the walls were painted, so the water really did no harm.

Dinah slowly opened the door of the dish-closet, and peered out.

"Am it all done, honey lamb?" she asked, looking at Freddie.

"Yes, Dinah! It's all done squirtin'," he said. "I guess there isn't any more water, anyhow."

"No," said Mr. Bobbsey, with a smile, as he looked in the tank of the engine, "it's all pumped out."

Freddie's toy fire engine was a large and expensive one his uncle had given him on Christmas. It was made as nearly like a real engine as possible, only instead of working by steam, it worked by a spring. When a spring was wound up, it operated a small pump in the engine. The pump made water spurt out through a little rubber hose, and the water for the engine was poured into a tank. The tank held about two gallons, so you see when it was all pumped out in the kitchen, and spurted on those in the room, it made them pretty wet.

"It's clean water," said Nan, when every one had somewhat cooled down, "and it's so warm to-night, I wouldn't mind being sprayed with a hose myself."

"Still, Freddie shouldn't have done it," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "I have told you not to play with your engine in the house, when it had water in it, Freddie. How did you come to disobey me?" she asked, for usually the little fellow was very good about minding.

"I--I didn't mean to, mamma," he said "First I just wanted to see if the engine tank leaked, so I put in some water. I didn't think it would hurt, out here on the kitchen oil cloth, and honestly I wasn't going to squirt it."

"No, I suppose not," said Mr. Bobbsey, wiping the water from his face, and glancing at his soaked newspaper.

"So I just filled the tank with water from the sink," explained Freddie.

"I--I helped him," confessed Flossie, ready to take her share of the blame.

"What happened next?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Why--er--I just wanted to see if the spring was all right, so I wound that up," Freddie went on. "Then I sort of forgot about the water in the tank, and before I knew it, why it--it went off--sudden like."

"Land ob massy! I should say it done did go off--suddint laik!" exclaimed Dinah. "Fust I knowed I was dryin' de dishes an' den I got a mouth full ob watah. I shuah did t'ink a watah pipe had done gone an' busted. I shuah did!"

"It--it just kept on squirtin'!" said Freddie. "I couldn't stop it like it always used to stop."

"No, the pump is out of order," said Mr. Bobbsey, as he looked at the now empty fire engine. "It wouldn't stop pumping. Well, I'm glad it wasn't a real fire, and glad that no one is hurt. Put your engine away now, Freddie, and, after this, don't play with water in the house, when mamma has told you not to."

"I won't," promised Freddie. "But it's a good engine, isn't it?"

"Oh, yes, it's a good engine, all right."

"And I can take it on the houseboat, can't I?"

"Yes, but you won't need to put any water in. There'll be enough in the creek and lakes," said Mrs. Bobbsey with a smile. "Come now, Flossie and Freddie, you are wet, so you might as well get undressed and go to bed. It is nearly time, anyhow, and you have had quite a day of it. Off to bed!"

Off to bed the twins went.

Dinah wiped up the kitchen, and, as she did so, she murmured over and over again: "It shuah did go off suddint laik! It shuah did!"

Flossie and Freddie, little the worse for their wetting, went off to school next day, with Nan and Bert. The two sets of twins talked of many things on their way to their classes, but, most of all, they talked of the coming trip on the houseboat, and of the accident to the fire engine the night before.

"I do hope Cousin Dorothy can come with us," said Nan, as she left Bert to walk along with Nellie Parks.

"And I hope Harry can go," said Bert. "Better hurry along, Freddie," he called to his little brother. "There goes your bell, and yours, too, Flossie."

The two little tots turned into the gate of the school that led to the yard where the smallest pupils formed in line.

"Well, even if Harry and Dorothy can't go, I'll take my fire engine," said Freddie.

"And we'll take Snoop and Snap, so we won't be lonesome," suggested Flossie. "Oh, won't it be fun, Freddie!"

"Yes, I wish it was time to go now. I'm tired of school," said the little fellow.

But school must go on, whether there are houseboat parties or not, so the Bobbsey twins had to study their lessons. I think that day, however, Bert must have been thinking of other things than his books, for when the teacher asked him what an island was, Bert gave a queer answer. Instead of saying it was a body of land, surrounded by water, Bert said:

"An island is a fire engine in the kitchen."

"Why, Bert Bobbsey! What are you thinking of?" asked the teacher.

"Oh, I--I was thinking of something that happened at our house last night," Bert went on, while all the children in the room laughed.

"Then you'd better tell us about it," suggested Miss Teeter, the instructor, for she was very kind. So Bert told of Freddie's mishap, and how it was he happened to be thinking of that instead of the right answer to the question about the island.

"I hear you have a houseboat, Bert," said John Blake, a boy in the same room, as the children came out of school that afternoon.

"Yes, my father bought the one Mr. Marvin owned," said Bert. "It's a fine one, too. We're going to have a trip in her soon."

"You're a lucky boy!" exclaimed John. "Can't you take me down and show me over the boat?"

"I'd like to," said Bert, "but father said I wasn't to go aboard, when he was not with me."

"Pooh! He'll never know," suggested Danny Rugg, a boy with whom Bert had had more or less trouble. "You needn't tell your father you went to the boat. Come on, take us down and let's see it."

"No," said Bert, quietly but firmly. "Maybe my father wouldn't know I had been on board, but I'd know it."

"Aw, you're a fraid-cat!" sneered Danny. "Come on, take us down, and we'll have some fun."

"No," said Bert with a shake of his head. "I'm sorry. Some other time, after I've asked my father if I may, I'll show you all over the Bluebird."

"I want to go now," Danny said.

"Oh, there's plenty of time," spoke John, pleasantly. "I wouldn't want Bert to do what his father told him not to, just to oblige me. I'll see the boat some other time, Bert; that will do just as well."

"Huh! He's a fraid-cat!" muttered Danny again, as he shuffled off, muttering to himself. Several times he had made trouble for the Bobbsey twins, and Bert was not any too friendly with him. Danny was a bully in the school.

Bert wished, very much indeed, that he could have taken some of his boy friends down to the houseboat, but his father had a good reason for not wanting any boys aboard, unless he could be with them. Workmen were making certain changes in the craft, and doing some painting inside and outside.

A few days after this, when the Bobbsey twins reached home from school, Mrs. Bobbsey met them at the door, saying:

"I have good news for you, children!"

"What is it?" cried Bert.

"Don't we have to go to school any more?" Freddie.

"Are we going on the houseboat sooner than we expected?" Nan wanted to know.

"It's about your two cousins--Harry and Dorothy," went on Mrs. Bobbsey. "They have both accepted our invitations, and they will come with us on the trip! Won't that be nice?"

"Lovely!" exclaimed Nan, her eyes shining with delight. "Dorothy and I'll have such nice times together!"

"And Harry and I'll catch a lot of fish," declared Bert.

The days went on. The houseboat was nearly ready for her trip. Very soon school would close.

"Come on, Bert, can't you show us over the boat now?" asked Danny Rugg one afternoon, on his way home from school, with Nan's brother, and some other boys.

"I can't to-day, but perhaps I can to-morrow," said Bert. "I'll ask my father."

"He'll never know about it," tempted Danny again, but Bert could not be influenced that way.

"Never mind, I'll fix you!" threatened Danny, which was what he usually said, when he could not have his own way.

Bert thought little of the threat at the time, though later he recalled it vividly.

It was that night, just as the smaller twins were getting ready for bed, that the telephone in the Bobbsey house rang out a call.

"I'll answer it," said Mr. Bobbsey, as he went to the instrument. "Hello!" he called. Then his wife and children heard him cry:

"What! Is that so! That's too bad! Yes, I'll attend to it right away. I wonder how it happened?"

"Oh, what has happened?" cried Mrs. Bobbsey, in alarm.

"Is the lumber yard on fire again?" asked Freddie, thinking of his toy engine.

"Not as bad as that," said Mr. Bobbsey, as he quickly put on his hat. "But the watchman at the dock just telephoned me that our houseboat, the Bluebird, has gotten adrift, and is floating out into the lake."