Chapter XIX. "Oh Look!"

For a time the actors on the stage, taking part in the fairy play, had to stop. They could not go on because the Chinese children were crying so hard. And really it was a strange thing to have happen.

Then Cinderella herself--or at least the young lady who was playing that part--seeing what the matter was, stepped to the front of the stage and said to the Chinese minister:

"Tell your little children there will be no more shooting. They will not be frightened again. I am sorry it happened," and she bowed and kissed her hand to the older boys and girls, in the box. They were not frightened as were the smaller ones.

"It is all right. They will be themselves again soon. I thank you," said the Chinese minister, rising and bowing to the actress. He spoke in English, but with a queer little twist to his words, just as we would speak queerly if we tried to talk Chinese.

Then the sobbing of the frightened children gradually ceased, and the play went on. But the Bobbsey twins were almost as much interested in the queer, beautifully dressed foreign children in the box as they were in the play itself. Indeed Flossie and Freddie looked from the stage to the box and from the box back to the stage again so often that their mother said they would have stiff necks. However, they didn't have, which only goes to show that children's necks can stand a great deal of twisting and turning without getting tired.

So the play went on, and very pretty it was. Cinderella tried on the glass slipper. It fitted perfectly, and everything came out all right, and she and the prince lived happily forever after.

"Is that all?" asked Flossie, when the curtain went down for the last time, and the people began getting up to leave.

"That's all," her mother told her. "Didn't you like it?"

"Oh, yes, it was nice," said Flossie. "But they didn't have as much red fire as I wanted to see."

"And they didn't have a single fire engine!" sighed Freddie.

"Too bad!" laughed Bert. "We'll look for a show for you, Freddie, where they have nothing but fire engines!"

But, after all, even without quite enough red fire and not a fire engine on the stage, the play was enjoyed by the Bobbsey twins and their little friends, the Martin children.

"Where are we going?' asked Nan, as they came out of the theater and Mr. Bobbsey led the children toward a big automobile that stood at the curb.

"We are going to the Martins for the evening," answered Daddy Bobbsey. "Mr. Martin sent down his auto for us, so we don't have to go out in the storm."

"It was very kind of him," added Mrs. Bobbsey.

"I like the snow!" cried Freddie. "I'm going to make a snow fort, to- morrow, and a snow man."

"And I'm going to make a little snow doll!" declared Flossie.

"Wait until you see if there's snow enough," advised Bert.

"Will there be much, do you think?" Nan inquired of Nell.

"Well, we don't often have a very heavy fall of snow here," was the answer, "though it sometimes happens. It's snowing hard now."

And so it was, And the weather was getting cold, too, almost as cold as back in Lakeport. But the Bobbseys were used to it. Their eyes were shining and their cheeks were red. Flossie and Freddie tried to catch the drifting snow flakes dancing down from the sky. But there was quite a crowd on the side-walk coming out of the theater, and every one seemed to get in the way of the little Bobbsey twins, so they did not have much luck catching the white crystals.

Into the big, closed auto they piled, and soon they were rolling along the snow-covered streets of Washington toward the home of Nell and Billy Martin. Mr. and Mrs. Martin would be waiting at their house to greet the Bobbseys. It was dark, now, and the lighted lamps made the snow sparkle like a million diamonds.

"Oh, it's just lovely!" sighed Nan, as she leaned back against the cushions and peered from the window.

"It looks just like a fairy play out there," and Nell pointed to the glittering snow.

"It looks like--like one of those funny Christmas cards that twinkle so!" declared Freddie.

"Oh, it will soon be Christmas, won't it?" exclaimed Flossie, who sat on her mother's lap. "I wonder what I'll get!"

"I want something, too!" cried Freddie. "Oh, won't it be nice at Christmas!"

"Yes, it will soon be here--much sooner than we think," said Mr. Bobbsey.

"Shall we go home for Christmas?" Nan asked.

"Oh, yes," her father told her. "My business here is nearly finished, and we'll go back to Lakeport next week."

"Aren't we going to buy anything to take home--souvenirs I mean?" added Bert. "I promised to bring Sam something."

"And I want to take Dinah a present!" declared Nan.

"Yes, we must do a little shopping for things like that," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "You children will have a chance next week."

And they talked of that, and the things they would buy, until the automobile stopped at the Martin house, when they all went inside.

After supper, or dinner as it is more often called, the children had fun playing games and looking at picture books, while the older folk talked among themselves. Mr. and Mrs. Martin were quite interested in hearing of how the Chinese children cried when the fire cracker went off.

"I have never seen any of the ambassadors or the ministers from the Oriental countries wear their native dress," said Mr. Martin. "But there is no reason why they shouldn't."

"No," said Mr. Bobbsey, "there isn't. If we went to a foreign country we would want to wear the clothes we had always worn at home, and we wouldn't like to be stared at for doing it, either."

The evening passed pleasantly, but at last Mrs. Bobbsey noticed that Flossie and Freddie were getting sleepy, so she said they would have to go back to the hotel and to bed.

"And I hope the fire engines don't wake us up to-night," said Nan. "I want to sleep."

"I do, too," added her mother. Nothing happened that night, and in the morning there was enough snow on the ground for the making of a small snow man, at least, and as many snowballs as the children wanted to throw at him. Flossie and Freddie were warmly dressed, and allowed to play out in a little yard in front of the hotel. It was rather a treat for Washington children to have as much snow as they now had, and many were out enjoying it.

Flossie and Freddie played as they did at home, and Bert and Nan, with Nell and Billy Martin, who came over, watched the smaller twins.

"Let's throw snowballs at a target," said Freddie presently. "I'm going to play I'm a soldier and shoot the cannon."

"You haven't any target, Freddie Bobbsey," declared Flossie.

"Yes, I have, too!" answered her twin brother. "Just look here!"

Freddie had espied a small tin can standing in an areaway not far away. He ran to get this, and then set it up on a near-by iron railing.

"There's my target!" he exclaimed; and both he and Flossie began to throw snowballs at it and were in high glee when the can tumbled over.

Thus the fun went on for some time.

After lunch Mrs. Bobbsey said:

"Now, children, if you wish, you may go out and buy some souvenirs. As long as Nell and Billy are here to go with you, I will not have to go, since they know their way about the streets near our hotel. I'm going to give you each a certain sum, and you may spend it in any way you like for souvenirs to take home to Sam, Dinah and your other friends. Now start out and have a good time."

The snow had stopped and the sun was shining, which meant that the white covering would not last long. But it gave a touch of winter to Washington, and the children liked it.

Down the street went the six children, two by two, the four Bobbsey twins and Nell and Billy Martin. Flossie and Freddie walked together, then came Billy and Bert, while Nan walked with Nell.

"Here's a store where they have nice things," said Nell, as they stopped in front of one, the windows of which held all sorts of light and pretty articles, from fans and postcards to vases and pocket knives, some with tiny photographic views of Washington set in the handles.

"Let's go in there and buy something," proposed Bert.

In they trooped, and you may well believe me when I say that the woman who kept this store had a busy half-hour trying to wait on the four Bobbsey twins at once. Nell and Billy did not want to buy anything, but the Bobbseys did.

At last, however, each one had bought something, and then Bert said:

"I know where to go next."

"Where?" asked Nan.

"Around the corner," her brother answered as they came out of the souvenir shop. "There's a cheaper place there. I looked in the windows yesterday and saw the prices marked. We haven't got much money left, and we've got to go to a cheap place for the rest of our things."

"All right," agreed Nan, and Bert led the way. The other store, just as he said, was only around the corner, and, as he had told his sister, the windows were filled with many things, some of them marked at prices which were very low.

Suddenly, as Nan was peering in through the glass, she gave a startled cry, and, plucking Bert by the sleeve, exclaimed:

"Oh, look!"