The Bobbsey Twins at Meadow Brook by Laura Lee Hope
Chapter XX. Frank Comes Back
"Watch me dive in!"
"I can swim under water!"
"Let's see who can first swim across to the other side of the big hole!"
Bert Bobbsey, his cousin Harry, Tom Mason and some other boys were standing on the bank of the little brook, or river, as it was sometimes called, all ready for a cool bath that hot summer day. The water of the "old swimming hole," as it was called, was not deep enough to be dangerous, and Mrs. Bobbsey was not afraid to have Bert go there without his father. Bert's father had taught him to swim.
"All ready now?" asked Harry, as the boys stood in line on the edge of the little pool, waiting for the dive.
"All ready!" answered Bert.
"Then go!" cried the farm-boy.
Into the water they splashed, head first, disappearing under the waves. Up they bounced again, like corks, and then they began swimming for the other side.
"A race! A race!" cried Bert, shaking his head to get the water out of his eyes and nose. He had held his mouth tightly shut when diving, so no water had been able to get between his lips.
"I'll race you!" exclaimed Tom Mason, and soon the boys were swimming as hard as they could toward the other bank. Some of them could not swim very well, but they paddled, or swam "dog-fashion."
"Tom's going to win!" cried one of the boys who could not swim fast. He was now standing up in the water, looking at the three boys in the lead.
"No, I think Bert will get to the other side first!" said another boy, who stood on the bank, not yet having dived in.
"You're all wrong, Harry will beat!" exclaimed a third boy, and so it proved. Harry soon passed Bert and Tom, and reached the farther bank first. Then Tom came next, while poor Bert was last.
"Too bad you couldn't win," said Harry kindly.
"Oh, you two are better swimmers than I am," said Bert. "I don't mind being beaten that way. I guess I need more practice."
"That's it," his cousin said. "I have had more chances to swim than you do, so of course I ought to be better."
"You can beat me, and I swim as much as you do," said Tom, who had lived in the country all his life, and near the little river. "I used to beat Harry every time," said Tom to Bert, "but now he goes ahead of me."
"Well, maybe you'll beat him next time," remarked Bert, with a laugh.
After the little race the boys swam about as they pleased, now jumping in, or diving head first from the bank near the deeper part of the pool, sometimes swimming under water, and then jumping out to lie in the warm sand, or on the green grass.
"Oh, this is great fun!" exclaimed Bert, as he sat on the edge of the bank, swinging his bare feet to and fro. "I'm glad we came!"
"Look out!" suddenly called Tom, but he spoke too late. Just then Harry slipped quietly up behind Bert and pushed him into the water.
"Whoop!" yelled Bert, as he splashed in. He went under, but soon came up again, and, swimming to shore, crawled out.
"You wait until I get hold of you!" he cried laughingly to Harry. "I'll toss you in! Just wait!"
"You've got to get me first!" replied Harry, keeping out of Bert's way. Bert raced after Harry but did not catch him. However, Bert waited his chance and a little later, when he saw Harry sitting on the edge of the hole, talking to one of the other boys, Bert stole softly up behind his cousin, and pushed him into the water.
"Wow!" cried Harry as he splashed in.
"Now we're even," Bert said with a laugh.
After this the boys played some games in the water, swimming about, "ducking" one another, and having lots of fun.
"Well, I guess it's about time we started for home," said Harry, after a bit, as he noticed the sun, like a ball of fire, sinking to rest in the western sky. "I'll have to go after the cows soon."
"I'll go with you," offered Bert, as the boys came out of the water, and began to dress.
They were almost ready to start back home when Bert noticed a boy walking along the path that extended on one side of the river.
At first Bert did not pay much attention to the boy, after giving him one glance, but as the strange lad came nearer Bert looked at him more closely.
"I wonder where I've seen that boy before?" he said aloud.
"Over there," replied Bert, pointing.
Harry gave one look, and exclaimed:
"Why, don't you remember? That's the boy who found Freddie when he was lost at the circus!"
"Oh, so it is!" exclaimed Bert. "But what is he doing here? Why isn't he with the show?"
"I don't know," answered Harry, who was trying to untangle a hard knot in his shoe lace. "Better ask him."
"I will, if he comes near enough," decided Bert, as he finished dressing. Then he "ruffled" up his hair, so it would dry more quickly.
By this time they had on their clothes, and the other boy had noticed the lads who had just finished swimming. He gave them one look, and then turned hurriedly away, as if he did not want them to see him.
"Hold on wait a minute--Frank!" called Bert.
The boy stopped as he heard his name mentioned.
"Who wants me?" he asked.
"I do--Bert Bobbsey," was the answer. "You know me. You found my little brother Freddie, when he was lost at the circus. Don't you remember?"
"Oh--yes," was the answer.
The boy walked slowly forward, and as he came nearer Bert could see that he looked tired and hungry.
"What's the matter?" Harry asked. "Why aren't you with the circus any more? Did you lose your place?"
"Well, no, not exactly," replied Frank, "but the side show I worked for busted up--I mean it failed, and I was out of a place. There was nothing else for me to do in the circus, so I had to leave it. I haven't any work now, and I don't know what to do."
"That's too bad," said Bert kindly. "What are you going to do?"
"I don't know," and Frank's voice was sad.
"Are you going back to the lumber office?" asked Harry, for he had heard his cousin tell how Frank had run away from his guardian, Mr. Mason, who punished the boy for taking in a Confederate twenty dollar bill, that was worthless.
"No, I'll never go back there!" exclaimed Frank, with flashing eyes.
"Mr. Mason was looking for you, the day after the circus showed in Rosedale," said Bert. "Did he see you?"
"No, he didn't, and I don't want to see him," Frank said. "After I lost my place in the side show, where I took in tickets at the tent entrance, I started to tramp, and look for work. But I haven't found any yet. So I thought I'd come back to Meadow Brook. I heard there were some farms around here, and I thought maybe I could get work on one of them. If I can't--I don't know what to do," and it sounded as if Frank was trying to keep from crying.