Chapter XIII. A Stray Cat
 

Mr. Bobbsey, who was standing near Bert and Nan, turned quickly as he heard his wife call and ran around to her side.

"What's the matter?" he called. "Has Flossie fallen?"

But one look was enough to show him that the two little Bobbsey twins and their mother were all right. But Flossie was without her hat, and she had been wearing a pretty one with little pink roses on it.

"What happened?" asked Mr. Bobbsey, while one of the men who stay inside the Monument at the top, to see that no accidents happen, came around to inquire if he could be of any help.

"It's Flossie's hat," explained Mrs. Bobbsey. "She was taking it off, as she said the rubber band hurt her, when a puff of wind came along---" "And it just blowed my hat right away!" cried Flossie. "It just blowed it right out of my hand, and it went out of the window, my hat did! And now I haven't any more hat, and I'll--I'll--an'--an'--"

Flossie burst into tears.

"Never mind, little fat fairy!" her father comforted her, as he put his arms around her. "Daddy will get you another hat."

"But I want that one!" sobbed Flossie. "It has such pretty roses on it, an' I liked 'em, even if they didn't smell!"

"I guess the little girl's hat will be all right when you get down on the ground," said the monument man. "Many people lose their hats up here, and unless it's a man's stiff one, or unless it's raining or snowing, little harm comes to them. I guess your little girl's hat just fluttered to the ground like a bird, and you can pick it up again"

"Do you think so?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Oh, you'll get her hat back again, ma'am, I'm sure," the man said. "There's lots of boys and young men who stay around the monument, hoping for a chance to earn a stray dime or so by showing visitors around or carrying something. One of them probably saw the hat flutter out of the window, and somebody will pick it up."

"Well, let's go down and see," suggested Mr. Bobbsey. "I think we have had all the view we want."

"Don't cry, Flossie," whispered Nan consolingly, as she took her little sister by the hand. "We'll get your hat back again."

"And the roses, too?" Flossie asked.

"Yes, the roses and everything," her mother told her.

"If I were a big, grown-up fireman, I could climb down and get Flossie's hat," said Freddie. "That's what firemans do. They climb up and down big places and get things--and people," the little boy added after a moment of thought.

"Well, I don't want my little fireman climbing down Washington Monument," said Mr. Bobbsey. "It's safer to go down in the elevator."

And, a little later, the Bobbsey twins and their father and mother were back on the ground again. Once outside the big stone shaft, they saw a boy come running up with Flossie's hat in his hand.

"Oh, look! Look!" cried the little girl. "There it is! There it is!"

"Is this your hat?" the small boy wanted to know. "I saw it blow out of the window, and I chased it and chased it. I was afraid maybe it would blow into the river."

"It was very nice of you," said Mr. Bobbsey, and he gave the boy twenty- five cents, which pleased that small chap very much.

Flossie's hat was a little dusty, but the pink roses were not soiled, and soon she was wearing it again. Then, smiling and happy, she was ready to go with the others to the next sight-seeing place.

"Where now?" asked Bert, as they started away from the little hill on which the Monument stands.

"I think we'll go to the Smithsonian Museum," said his father. "There are a few things I want to see, though you children may not be very much interested. Then I want to take your mother to the art gallery and after that--well, we'll see what happens next," and he smiled at the Bobbsey twins.

"I know it will be something nice!" exclaimed Nan.

"I hope it's something good to eat!" murmured Bert. "I'm hungry!"

"I'd like to see a fire!" cried Freddie. "Do they ever have fires in Washington, Daddy?"

"Oh, yes, big ones, sometimes. But we really don't want to see any, because a fire means danger and trouble for people."

"And wettings, too," put in Flossie. "Sometimes when Freddie plays fire he gets me wet."

"Well, I'm goin' to be a fireman when I grow up," declared Freddie. "And I wish I had my little fire engine now, 'cause I don't like it not to have any fun."

"We'll have some fun this afternoon," his father promised him.

Just as Mr. Bobbsey had expected, the children were not much amused in the art gallery or the museum. But Mrs. Bobbsey liked these places, and, after all, as Nan said, they wanted their mother to have a good time on this Washington trip.

After lunch they went again to call on the Martins, as Mr. Bobbsey had to see the father of Billy and Nell on business.

"And where are we going to have some fun?" Bert asked, as they journeyed away from their hotel toward the Martin house.

"You'll see," his father promised. The children tried to guess what it might be, but they could not be sure of anything.

It did not take Mr. Bobbsey long to get through with his business with Mr. Martin and then the father of the twins said to Mrs. Martin:

"Can you let Billy and Nell come with us on a little trip?"

"To be sure. But where are you going?" Mrs. Martin replied.

"I thought we'd take one of the big sight-seeing autos and ride about the city, and perhaps outside a little way," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Nell and Billy can tell us the best way to go"

"Oh, yes! I can do that'" cried Billy. "I often take rides that way with my uncle when he comes to Washington. Come on, Nell! We'll get ready."

"May we really go?" asked Nell, of her mother.

"Yes, indeed!" was the answer.

So, a little later, the Bobbsey twins, with Billy and Nell and Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey, were on one of the big automobiles. It was not too cold to ride outside, as they were all bundled up warm.

Through the different parts of the city the sight-seeing car went, a man on it telling the persons aboard about the different places of interest as they were passed. In a little while the machine rumbled out into the quieter streets, where the houses were rather far apart.

Then the automobile came to a stop, and some one asked:

"What's so wonderful to see here?"

"Nothing," the driver of the car answered. "But I have to get some water for the radiator. We won't be here very long. Those who want to, can get out and walk around."

"Yes, I'll be glad to stretch by legs," said one man with a laugh. He was sitting next to Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey, and they began talking to him. Nan and Bert were talking to Billy and Nell, and, for the time being, no one paid much attention to Flossie and Freddie, who were in a rear seat.

Suddenly Flossie called to her little brother;

"Oh, look! There's a cat! It's just like our Snoop!"

Freddie looked to where Flossie pointed with her chubby finger.

"No, that isn't like our Snoop," said the little boy, shaking his head.

"Yes, 'tis too!" declared his sister. "I'm going to get down and look at it. I like a cat, and I didn't see one close by for a long time."

"Neither did I," agreed Freddie. "If that one isn't like our Snoop, it's a nice cat, anyhow."

The cat, which seemed to be a stray one, was walking toward the car, its tail held high in the air "like a fishing pole."

Flossie and Freddie were in the rear seat, as I have said, and no one seemed to be paying any attention to them. Their father and mother were busy talking to the man who had gotten down to "stretch his legs," and Nan and Bert, with Billy and Nell, were busy talking.

"Let's get down," proposed Flossie.

"All right," agreed Freddie.

In another moment the two smaller Bobbsey twins had left their seat, climbed down the rear steps of the sight-seeing automobile, and were running toward the stray cat, which seemed to wait for them to come and pet it.