Chapter VII. On a Trip
 

The Bobbsey twins could hardly wait for their daddy to come home after their mother had told them what he said over the telephone.

"Tell me again, Mother, just what he told you!" begged Nan.

"Well, he said he was just as glad as you children were, that there was to be no more school for a month," answered Mrs. Bobbsey. "Though, of course, he was sorry that the steam boiler had broken. And then he said he had some wonderful news to tell us all."

"Oh, I know what it is!" cried Bert.

"What?" asked Nan.

"He's found the tramp that took Miss Pompret's dishes," went on Bert, "and he's got them back--daddy has--and he's going to get the hundred dollars! That's it!"

"Oh, I hardly think so," said Mrs. Bobbsey, with a smile. "I don't believe daddy has caught any tramp."

"They do sometimes sleep in the lumberyard," remarked Bert.

"Yes, I know," agreed his mother. "But, even if daddy had caught a tramp, it would hardly be the same man who took Miss Pompret's rare pieces of china--the pitcher and sugar bowl. And if it had been anything like that, daddy would have told me over the telephone."

"But what could the wonderful news be?" asked Nan.

"Something too long to talk about until he gets home, I think," answered Mother Bobbsey. "Have patience, daddy will soon be here!"

But of course the Bobbsey twins could not be patient any more than you could if you expected something unusual. They looked at the clock, they ran to the door several times to look down the street to see if their father was coming, and, at last, when Nan had said for about the tenth time: "I wonder what it is!" a step sounded on the front porch.

"There's daddy now!" cried Bert.

Eight feet rushed to the front door, and Mr. Bobbsey was almost overwhelmed by the four twins leaping at him at once.

"What is it?" cried Bert.

"Tell us the wonderful news!" begged Nan.

"Have you got another dog for us?" Flossie wanted to know.

"Did you bring me a new toy fire engine?" cried Freddie.

"Maybe it's a goat!" exclaimed Flossie.

"Now wait a minute! Wait a minute!" laughed Mr. Bobbsey, as he kissed each one in turn. "Sit down and I'll tell you all about it."

He led them into the library, and sat down on a couch, taking Flossie and Freddie up on his knees, while Bert and Nan sat close on either side.

"Now first let me hear all about what happened at school to-day," said Mr. Bobbsey, who had come home to dinner.

"Oh, no!" laughed Nan. "We want to hear the wonderful news first!"

"Oh, all right!" laughed her father. "Well, then, how would you all like to go off on a trip?"

"A trip?" cried Bert. "A real trip? To Florida?"

"Well, hardly there again so soon," replied his father.

"Do you mean a trip to some city?" asked Nan. "In a steamboat?" cried Freddie. "I want to go on a boat!"

"Yes, I think perhaps we can go on a boat," said Mr. Bobbsey.

"And in a train, too!" exclaimed Flossie. "I want to go on a train!"

"And I suppose, if we take this trip, we'll have to go on a train, also," and Mr. Bobbsey looked over the heads of the children and smiled at his wife who stood in the doorway.

"But you haven't told us yet where we are going," objected Nan.

"Is it to New York?" Bert wanted to know.

"Part of it is," his father replied.

"Oh, is it two trips?" Nan asked.

"Well, not exactly," answered Mr. Bobbsey. "You might say it has two parts to it, like a puzzle. The first part is to go on a trip to New York, and from there we'll go on a trip to--I'll let you see if you can guess. Come on, Bert, your turn first."

"To Uncle William's!" guessed Bert.

"No," answered his father. "Your turn, Nan."

"To Uncle Daniel's at Meadow Brook."

"No," and her father smiled at her.

"I know!" cried Freddie. "We're goin' on the houseboat."

"Wrong!" said Mr. Bobbsey. "Now what does my little fat fairy have to say?"

"Are we going swimming?" asked Flossie, who loved to splash in the water.

"Hardly!" laughed Daddy Bobbsey. "It's too cold. Well, none of you has guessed right, so I'll tell you. We're going to Washington to visit the Martin children who were here a while ago."

"Oh, to Washington!" cried Nan. "How nice!"

"And shall we see Billy and Nell?" Bert wanted to know.

"Yes," his father answered, "that's what we'll do. I had a letter from Mr. Martin the other day, inviting us all to come to his house to pay him a visit," he went on. "I didn't know just when I could go, but to- day I got another letter from another man in Washington, saying he wanted to see me about some lumber business. I may have to stay a week or two, so I thought I would take the whole family with me, and make a regular visit of it."

"Will you take us all?" asked Freddie.

"Yes."

"And Snap and Snoop an' an'--" began Flossie.

"Well, hardly the dog and the cat," explained her father. "Just mother, you four twins and I will go to Washington."

"When can we start?" Nan asked.

"As soon as your mother can get you ready," replied Mr. Bobbsey.

"I'm ready now," announced Freddie.

"And shall we stop in New York?" Bert demanded.

"Yes, for a day or so. And now what do you think of my news?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.

"It's just--wonderful!" cried Nan. "Oh, we'll have such fun with Nell and Billy!"

"And I want to see if I can drop a ball off Washington Monument," added Bert.

"Oh, you hadn't better try that," his father cautioned him. "You might hit some one. Well, then, it's all settled, and we'll go on the trip. How about it, Mother?" and he smiled at his wife.

"I think it will be very nice to go," she answered. "I like Mr. Martin and his children very much, and I'm sure we'll like Mrs. Martin too. It's fortunate that we can all go--that the children will not lose any schooling. For if all the classes stop, and the school is closed, they will all start evenly again when the boiler is fixed. So run along now, my twins, and get ready for lunch. Daddy and I have lots to talk about."

And so did the Bobbsey twins, as you can easily imagine.

If I told you all the things that happened in the next few days there would be but little else in this book except the story of getting ready for the journey. And as the trip itself is what you want to hear about, and especially what happened on it, I'll skip the getting ready and go right on with the story.

Trunks and valises were packed, Dinah and Sam were told what to do while the Bobbseys were away, and the children reminded the colored cook and her husband to be sure to feed Snap and Snoop plenty of things the dog and cat liked.

"Oh, I'll look after dem animiles all right, honey lamb!" said fat Dinah to Freddie. "I won't let 'em starve!"

"And maybe I can get another dog in Washington," said Freddie.

"And maybe I can find a cat!" added Flossie.

"Fo' de land sakes! doan brung any mo' catses an' dogses around heah," begged Dinah.

At last everything was in readiness. Mr. Bobbsey had written to Mr. Martin, telling of the coming of the Bobbsey twins to Washington, after a short stay in New York. The children said good-bye to Dinah and Sam, as well as to Snap and Snoop, and then one day they were taken to the railroad station in the automobile.

"All aboard!" cried the conductor, as the Bobbseys scrambled into the coach of the train that was to take them to New York. "All aboard!"

"Oh, isn't this fun?" cried Nan, as she settled herself in a seat with Bert.

"Great!" he agreed. "I wonder what will happen before we get back."

And it was going to be something very odd, I can tell you that much.