The Bobbsey Twins at Meadow Brook by Laura Lee Hope
Chapter XIX. In Swimming
Freddie's cries roused the whole house at Meadow Brook, for the little Bobbsey boy had a strong, ringing voice.
His mother was suddenly awakened from her sleep in the next room. Aunt Sarah and Uncle Daniel heard him in their apartment. Nan, Bert and Harry also heard him.
"Oh, Freddie!" cried Flossie, who slept in the same room with her little brother. "What is it? What is it, Freddie?" and she sat up in her crib.
"It's a bear--out in front--under a bush. The circus bear!" answered Freddie. "I didn't see the lion or tiger, but they must be out there too, unless the bear ate them up!"
"Oh! Oh!" cried Flossie. "Oh, dear!"
"Mamma! Nan! Bert!" cried Nan. "Come, oh, come here! Dinah!"
"I'se comin', honey lamb! I'se comin'!" cried the colored cook, as she heard Freddie's wild cry. "What am de mattah, honey lamb?"
Others were asking this question now.
"What's it all about?" called Bert.
"A bear!" answered Freddie.
"Lions and tigers," added Flossie, half sobbing.
"Gracious! Freddie's been dreaming, or else he's talking in his sleep," said Bert to Harry, who was also awakened by the shouts of the little boy.
By this time Mrs. Bobbsey was up, and had put on a dressing gown and slippers. She hurried out into the hall, to meet Aunt Sarah.
"Oh, something dreadful must have happened," said Freddie's mother. But when she went in his room, she found him and Flossie safe, with the little boy standing in the moonlight, near the open window.
"What is it, little man?" asked Aunt Sarah.
"Hush! Not so loud!" cautioned Flossie. "It's bears and lions and tigers. Freddie saw 'em!" She was not so frightened now.
"I did not see 'em!" cried Freddie. "I only saw a bear!"
"Oh, yes, the bear ate the lion and tiger," went on Flossie, "and if Snap or Snoop would only eat the bear now, it would be all right."
"What does it all mean?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey. "Did you really see something, Freddie, or were you dreaming?"
"I did see something, mamma, and it went: 'Wuff! Wuff!'" Freddie explained. "Then it went and hid under the lilac bush. I'll show you," and, taking his mother's hand, he led her to the window, out of which he pointed.
Now Nan, Bert and Harry came into the small twins' room.
"What is it?" they asked.
By turns Flossie and Freddie told their story, Freddie doing the "Wuff! Wuff!" part very earnestly, until Flossie begged him to stop, as he "skeered" her.
Dinah, too, came waddling into the room, bringing a candle which dripped grease down on her bare feet. The grease was hot, and as Dinah felt it, she gave a yell which was almost as startling as was Freddie's.
"Oh, what is it?" cried Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Candle grease done splashed on mah toe, an' burnt me," Dinah explained, as she stood on one foot, and held the other on top of it to ease the pain.
"There it is! There it is!" suddenly cried Freddie. "There's the bear!" and he leaned so far out of the window that Bert had to catch his little brother by his night gown to save him from a possible fall.
Mrs. Bobbsey and Aunt Sarah looked out, and saw a big black object come into the moonlight.
"Oh, it is a bear!" declared Mrs. Bobbsey.
"It does look like some strange beast," agreed Aunt Sarah.
"I wish Mr. Bobbsey were here," said the lumber merchant's wife.
"Uncle Daniel will fix him!" declared Freddie. "Uncle Daniel's got a gun. Mamma, can't I take my fire engine and squirt water on that bear?"
"No, indeed!" answered Mrs. Bobbsey. "Get back to bed right away."
"Dan, you'd better see what it is," said Aunt
Sarah, as her husband, half dressed, was heard out in the hall. "There is some animal under the lilac bush."
"I'll soon have him out of that," said the farmer. He had his gun with him, and while the children watched from the window, they saw him step out of the kitchen door.
"Oh, he's going to shoot!" cried Freddie in a shrill whisper, as he watched his uncle.
"I don't want to hear him!" murmured Flossie, as she got into her crib, and pulled the bed clothes over her ears.
But Bert, Nan and the others watched. Then, just as Uncle Daniel raised the gun, to shoot at something black which he saw beneath the lilac bush, an animal rushed out, and gave a howl.
Hardly had that died away than there sounded a loud:
"Bow! Wow! Wow!" This was repeated several times.
"Oh, it's only a dog!" cried Bert.
"Is it Snap?" Freddie wanted to know.
"No, it's a big black stray dog," answered Bert.
"No wonder Freddie thought it was a bear," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Now it's all over, go back to bed, and sleep in peace."
And it was only a dog that had caused all the excitement. The animal ran out into the moonlight, stood a moment looking at Uncle Daniel with the gun, and then gave more barks.
It was as if he said he did not like to be chased away in that fashion.
"Well, it's a good thing I didn't shoot him," said Uncle Daniel as he came back into the house.
"Whose dog was it?" asked his wife.
"Snook's big black one. He was hunting for a bone, I guess, and he must have sniffed and snuffed when the dirt got up his nose. That woke Freddie. It was only a dog."
"Only a dog!" murmured Freddie. "I thought it was a bear!"
"Well, I'm glad it wasn't, or a tiger or lion, either," said Flossie, as she curled up in her cot.
Soon the house was quiet again, and everyone went to sleep. In the morning Freddie and Flossie went out to look at the place under the lilac bush where the dog had been seen. They found a hole where he had been digging up a bone he had hidden there.
And, a little later that day, the dog himself came over, to make friends with Snap. He let Freddie pat him.
"He isn't half as big as he looked in the night," said the little fellow.
"No, daylight often makes many things seem smaller--even troubles, that look very big at night," said Mrs. Bobbsey, with a smile.
"But maybe we'll see some wild animals that got away from the circus," hopefully said Freddie at dinner.
"No, you won't!" exclaimed his uncle with a laugh.
"Why not?" asked Bert.
"Because none got away," was the answer. "I met one of the circus men in the village this morning. He stayed behind to settle up some bills, and he said not a single animal got away. It was all a false alarm; no truth in it."
"Well, I'm glad of it!" declared Mrs. Bobbsey, and I think everyone felt better on hearing that news.
Mr. Bobbsey came back to Meadow Brook the next day, and heard all about the wild animal scare, and also about Freddie being lost at the circus, and Frank Kennedy finding him.
"And Mr. Mason is looking for Frank at the circus, wherever the show is now," said Bert.
"Yes, so I heard," remarked Mr. Bobbsey. "Well, I hope he treats the poor boy kindly if he takes him back."
It was a hot, quiet summer afternoon, a few days later, that Bert and Harry, with Tom Mason, sat under the trees in front of the farmhouse. Mrs. Bobbsey and Aunt Sarah had gone calling, Flossie and Freddie were asleep in the house, and Nan had gone over to see Mabel Herold.
"What can we do?" asked Bert, stretching his arms.
"I don't want to do much except keep cool," spoke Harry.
"That's what I say!" exclaimed Tom. "And I know a good way to get that way, too."
"What way?" asked Bert, closing his eyes.
"Cool. Let's go swimming. It's just right for that!"
"All right!" agreed Harry.
"Fine!" cried Bert. "Let's do it."
A little later they were on their way to the old swimming hole, near the willow tree that grew on the edge of the brook, or little river.