Chapter X. Lost
 

Several persons, dining at different tables, looked over to the one where the Bobbseys were. They smiled as they heard Bert's excited voice and saw him with the empty, overturned sugar bowl in his hand.

"Yes, this is the very one Miss Pompret lost!" Bert went on. "If we can only find the milk pitcher now we'll have both pieces and we can get the reward. Look at the pitcher, Nan, and see if it's got the dog--I mean the lion--on as this has."

"Don't dare turn over the milk!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey, as Nan reached for the pitcher. "Spilling the sugar was bad enough. Bert, how could you?"

"But, Mother, that's the only way I could tell if it was Miss Pompret's!" said the boy, while Flossie and Freddie looked curiously at the heap of square lumps of sugar where Bert had emptied them in the middle of the table.

"Let me see that bowl, Bert," said Mr. Bobbsey a bit sternly. "I think you are making a big mistake. This isn't at all like the kind of china Miss Pompret has. Hers is much finer and thinner."

"But this has got a lion on the bottom, and it's in a circle just like the lion on Miss Pompret's dishes!" said Bert, as he passed the bowl to his father.

"Are the letters there--the letters 'J.W.'?" Nan asked eagerly.

"I don't see them," said Bert. "But the lion is there. Maybe the letters rubbed off, or maybe the tramp scratched 'em off."

"No, Bert," and Mr. Bobbsey shook his head, "this sugar bowl has a lion marked on the bottom, it is true, but it isn't the same kind that is on Miss Pompret's fine china. This tableware is made in Trenton, New Jersey, and it is new--it isn't as old as that Miss Pompret showed you. Now please pick up the sugar, and don't act so quickly again."

"Well, it looked just like her sugar bowl," said Bert, as he began putting the square lumps back where they belonged. A smiling waiter saw what had happened, and came up with a sort of silver shovel, finishing what Bert had started to do.

"Wouldn't it have been great if we had really found her milk pitcher and sugar bowl?" asked Nan. "If we had the hundred dollars we could buy lots of things in Washington."

"Don't count on it," advised Mrs. Bobbsey. "You will probably never see or hear of Miss Pompret's missing china. But I'm glad Bert overturned the sugar bowl and not the milk pitcher searching for the lion mark."

"Oh, I wouldn't upset the milk'" exclaimed Bert with a laugh. "I knew the sugar wouldn't hurt the tablecloth."

So that incident passed, much to the amusement of the other hotel guests, and, really, no great harm was done, for the sugar was easily put back in the bowl. Then dinner was served, and for a time the Bobbsey twins did not talk very much. They were too busy with their knives, forks and spoons.

Bert wanted to go out and take a look at the Capitol by night, to see the searchlights that were arranged to cast their glow up on the dome from the outside. Nan, also, said she would like to take a little walk, and as Mrs. Bobbsey was tired she said she would stay in with Flossie and Freddie.

So it was arranged, and Mr. Bobbsey took the two older children out of the hotel. It was still early evening, and the streets were filled with persons, some on foot, some in carriages, and many in automobiles.

It was not far from the hotel where the Bobbseys were staying to the Capitol, and soon Bert and Nan, with their father, were standing in front of the beautiful structure, with its long flight of broad steps leading up to the main floor.

"It's just like the picture in my geography!" exclaimed Nan, as she stood looking at it.

"But the picture in your book isn't lighted up," objected Bert.

"Well, no," admitted Nan.

"The lights have not been in place very long," explained Mr. Bobbsey. "Very likely the picture in Nan's book was made before some one thought of putting search lamps on the dome."

"Could we go inside?" Bert wanted to know. "I'd like to see where the President lives."

"He doesn't live in the Capitol," explained Nan. "He lives in the White House; doesn't he Daddy? Our history class had to learn that."

"Yes, the White House is the home of the President," said Mr. Bobbsey. "But we could go inside the Capitol for a few minutes I guess. The senators and congressmen are having a night session."

"What for?" asked Nan. "Do they have to work at night?"

"Sometimes."

"They don't work," declared Bert. "They just talk. I know, 'cause I heard Mr. Perkins say so down in our post-office at home one day. He said all the senators and congressmen did was talk and talk and talk!"

"Well, they do talk a lot!" laughed Bert's father. "But that is one of the ways in which they work. Now we'll go inside for a little while."

In spite of the fact that it was night the Capitol was a busy place. Later Mr. Bobbsey learned that the senators and congressmen were meeting at night in order to finish a lot of work so they could the sooner end the session--"adjourn," as it is called.

Bert and Nan walked around the tiled corridors. They saw men hurrying here and there, messenger boys rushing to and fro, and many visitors like themselves.

The children looked at the pictures and statues of the great men who had had a part in the making of United States history, but, naturally, Nan and Bert did not care very much for this.

"It isn't any fun!" exclaimed Bert. "Can't we go in and hear 'em talk and talk and talk, like Mr. Perkins said they did?"

"We'll go in and hear the senators and congressmen debate, or talk, as you call it, some other time," said Mr. Bobbsey. "We mustn't stay too late now on account of having left mother and Freddie and Flossie at the hotel. I think you've seen enough for the first evening."

So, after another little trip about the corridors, Bert and Nan followed their father outside and down the flight of broad steps.

"Say, this would be a great place to slide down with a sled if there was any ice or snow!" exclaimed Bert.

"They wouldn't let him, would they, Daddy?" asked Nan.

"Hardly," answered her father.

"Well, I can have fun some other way," Bert said. "I wish I could find Miss Pompret's dishes and get the hundred dollars."

"So do I!" sighed Nan.

But their father shook his head and told them not to hope or think too much about such a slim chance as that.

Flossie and Freddie were in bed and asleep when Mr. Bobbsey and Bert and Nan reached the hotel again, and, after a little talk with their mother, telling her what they had seen, the two older Bobbsey twins "turned in," as Bert called it, having used this expression when camping on Blueberry Island, and taking the voyage on the deep, blue sea.

Because they were rather tired from their trip, none of the Bobbseys arose very early the next morning.

"It's a real treat to me to be able to lie in bed one morning as long as I like," said Mrs. Bobbsey, with a happy sigh as Flossie crept in with her. "And I don't have to think whether or not Dinah will have breakfast on time. I'm having as much fun out of this trip as the children are," she told her husband.

"I am glad you are, my dear," he said. "I'll be able to go around with you a little to-day, but after that, for about a week, I shall be quite busy with Mr. Martin. But Mrs. Martin and Nell and Billy will go around with you ant the children."

"When are we going to see Billy and Nell?" asked Bert, at the breakfast table.

"To-day," answered his father. "I telephoned Mr. Martin last night that we had arrived, and they expect us to lunch there to-day. But first I thought I'd take the children into the Congressional Library building. It is very wonderful and beautiful."

And it certainly was, as the children saw a little later, when their father led them up the broad steps. The library building was across a sort of park, or plaza, from the Capitol.

"We will just look around a little here, and then go on to Mr. Martin's," said Mr. Bobbsey. "It takes longer than an hour to see all the beautiful and wonderful pictures and statues here."

Mrs. Bobbsey was very much interested in the library, but I can not say as much for Flossie and Freddie, though Nan and Bert liked it. But the two smaller Bobbsey twins were anxious to get outdoors and "go somewhere."

"Well, we'll go now," said Mr. Bobbsey, when he and his wife had spent some little lime admiring the decorations. "Come, Freddie. Where's Flossie?" he asked, as he looked around and did not see his "little fat fairy."'

"She was here a little while ago," replied Nan. "I saw her with Freddie."

"Where did Flossie go, Freddie-boy?" asked his mother.

"Up there!" and the little chap pointed to a broad flight of stone steps.

"Oh, she has wandered away," said Mrs. Bobbsey.

"I'll run up and get her!" offered Mr. Bobbsey. Up the stairs he hurried, but he came back in a little while with a queer look on his face. "I can't find her," he said.

"Oh, Flossie's lost!" cried Freddie. "Oh, maybe she falled down stairs and got lost!"