The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore by Laura Lee Hope
Chapter I. Chasing the Duck
"Suah's yo' lib, we do keep a-movin'!" cried Dinah, as she climbed into the big depot wagon.
"We didn't forget Snoop this time," exclaimed Freddie, following close on Dinah's heels, with the box containing Snoop, his pet cat, who always went traveling with the little fellow.
"I'm glad I covered up the ferns with wet paper," Flossie remarked, "for this sun would surely kill them if it could get at them."
"Bert, you may carry my satchel," said Mrs. Bobbsey, "and be careful, as there are some glasses of jelly in it, you know."
"I wish I had put my hat in my trunk," remarked Nan. "I'm sure someone will sit on this box and smash it before we get there."
"Now, all ready!" called Uncle Daniel, as he prepared to start old Bill, the horse.
"Wait a minute!" Aunt Sarah ordered. "There was another box, I'm sure. Freddie, didn't you fix that blue shoe box to bring along?"
"Oh, yes, that's my little duck, Downy. Get him quick, somebody, he's on the sofa in the bay window!"
Bert climbed out and lost no time in securing the missing box.
"Now we are all ready this time," Mr. Bobbsey declared, while Bill started on his usual trot down the country road to the depot.
The Bobbseys were leaving the country for the seashore. As told in our first volume, "The Bobbsey Twins," the little family consisted of two pairs of twins, Nan and Bert, age eight, dark and handsome, and as like as two peas, and Flossie and Freddie, age four, as light as the others were dark, and "just exactly chums," as Flossie always declared.
The Bobbsey twins lived at Lakeport, where Mr. Richard Bobbsey had large lumber yards. The mother and father were quite young themselves, and so enjoyed the good times that came as naturally as sunshine to the little Bobbseys. Dinah, the colored maid, had been with the family so long the children at Lakeport called her Dinah Bobbsey, although her real name was Mrs. Sam Johnston, and her husband, Sam, was the man of all work about the Bobbsey home.
Our first volume told all about the Lakeport home, and our second book, "The Bobbsey Twins in the Country," was the story of the Bobbseys on a visit to Aunt Sarah and Uncle Daniel Bobbsey in their beautiful country home at Meadow Brook. Here Cousin Harry, a boy Bert's age, shared all the sports with the family from Lakeport. Now the Lakeport Bobbseys were leaving Meadow Brook, to spend the month of August with Uncle William and Aunt Emily Minturn at their seashore home, called Ocean Cliff, located near the village of Sunset Beach. There they were also to meet their cousin, Dorothy Minturn, who was just a year older than Nan.
It was a beautiful morning, the very first day of August, that our little party started off. Along the Meadow Brook road everybody called out "Good-by!" for in the small country place all the Bobbseys were well known, and even those from Lakeport had many friends there.
Nettie Prentice, the one poor child in the immediate neighborhood (she only lived two farms away from Aunt Sarah), ran out to the wagon as Uncle Daniel hurried old Bill to the depot.
"Oh, here, Nan!" she called. "Do take these flowers if you can carry them. They are in wet cotton battin at the stems, and they won't fade a bit all day," and Nettie offered to Nan a gorgeous bouquet of lovely pure white, waxy lilies, that grow so many on a stalk and have such a delicious fragrance. Nettie's house was an old homestead, and there delicate blooms crowded around the sitting-room window.
Nan let her hatbox down and took the flowers.
"These are lovely, Nettie," she exclaimed; "I'll take them, no matter how I carry them. Thank you so much, and I hope I'll see you next summer."
"Yes, do come out again!" Nettie faltered, for she would miss Nan, the city girl had always been so kind--even lent her one of her own dresses for the wonderful Fourth of July parade.
"Maybe you will come down to the beach on an excursion," called Nan, as Bill started off again with no time to lose.
"I don't think so," answered Nettie, for she had never been on an excursion--poor people can rarely afford to spend money for such pleasures.
"I've got my duck," called Freddie to the little girl, who had given the little creature to Freddie at the farewell party as a souvenir of Meadow Brook.
"Have you?" laughed Nettie. "Give him plenty of water, Freddie, let him loose in the ocean for a swim!" Then Nettie ran back to her home duties.
"Queer," remarked Nan, as they hurried on. "The two girls I thought the most of in Meadow Brook were poor: Nettie Prentice, and Nellie the little cash girl at the fresh-air camp. Somehow, poor girls seem so real and they talk to you so close--I mean they seem to just speak right out of their eyes and hearts."
"That's what we call sincerity, daughter," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "You see, children who have trials learn to appreciate more keenly than we, who have everything we need. That appreciation shows in their eyes, and so they seem closer to you, as you say."
"Oh! oh! oh!" screamed Freddie, "I think my duck is choked. He's got his head out the hole. Take Snoop, quick, Bert, till I get Downy in again," and the poor little fellow looked as scared as did the duck with his "head out of the hole."
"He can't get it in again," cried Freddie, pushing gently on the little lump of down with the queer yellow bill--the duck's head. "The hole ain't big enough and he'll surely choke in it."
"Tear the cardboard down," said Bert. "That's easy enough," and the older brother, coming to the rescue, put his fingers under the choking neck, gave the paper box a jerk, and freed poor Downy.
"When we get to the depot we will have to paste some paper over the tear," continued Bert, "or Downy will get out further next time."
"Here we are," called Uncle Daniel, pulling up to the old station.
"I'll attend to the baggage," announced Mr. Bobbsey, "while you folks all go to the farther end of the platform. Our car will stop there."
For a little place like Meadow Brook seven people getting on the Express seemed like an excursion, and Dave, the lame old agent, hobbled about with some consequence, as he gave the man in the baggage car instruction about the trunk and valises. During that brief period, Harry, Aunt Sarah, and Uncle Daniel were all busy with "good-byes": Aunt Sarah giving Flossie one kiss more, and Uncle Daniel tossing Freddie up in the air in spite of the danger to Downy, the duck.
"All aboard!" called the conductor.
"Come and see us at Christmas!" called Bert to Harry.
"I may go down to the beach!" answered Harry while the train brakes flew off.
"We will expect you Thanksgiving," Mrs. Bobbsey nodded out the window to Aunt Sarah.
"I'll come if I can," called back the other.
"Now, let us all watch out for the last look at dear old Meadow Brook," exclaimed Nan, standing up by the window.
"Let Snoop see!" said Freddie, with his hand on the cover of the kitten's box.
"Oh, no!" called everybody at once. "If you let that cat out we will have just as much trouble as we did coming up. Keep him in his box."
"He would like to see too," pouted Freddie. "Snoop liked Meadow Brook. Didn't you, Snoopy!" putting his nose close to the holes in the box.
"I suppose by the time we come back from the beach Freddie will have a regular menagerie," said Bert, with a laugh. "He had a kitten first, now he has a kitten and a duck, and next he'll have a kitten, a duck, and a---"
"Sea-serpent," put in Freddie, believing that he might get such a monster if he cared to possess one.
"There goes the last of Meadow Brook," sighed Nan, as the train rounded a curve and slowed up on a pretty bridge. "And we did have such a lovely time there!"
"Isn't it going to be just as nice at the ocean?" Freddie inquired, with some concern.
"We hope so," his mother replied, "but sister Nan always likes to be grateful for what she has enjoyed."
"So am I," insisted the little fellow, not really knowing what he meant himself.
"I likes dis yere car de best," spoke up Dinah, looking around at the ordinary day coach, the kind used in short journeys. "De red velvet seats seems de most homey," she went on, throwing her kinky head back, "and I likes to lean back wit'out tumbling ober."
"And there's more to see," agreed Bert. "In the Pullman cars there are so few people and they're always---"
"Proud," put in Flossie.
"Yes, they seem so," declared her brother, "but see all the people in this car, just eating and sleeping and enjoying themselves."
Now in our last book, "The Bobbsey Twins in the Country," we told about the trip to Meadow Brook in the Pullman car, and how Snoop, the kitten, got out of his box, and had some queer experiences. This time our friends were traveling in the car with the ordinary passengers, and, of course, as Bert said, there was more to be seen and the sights were different.
"It is splendid to have so much room," declared Mrs. Bobbsey, for Nan and Flossie had a big seat turned towards Bert and Freddie's, while Dinah had a seat all to herself (with some boxes of course), and Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey had another seat. The high-back, broad plush seats gave more room than the narrow, revolving chairs, besides, the day coach afforded so much more freedom for children.
"What a cute little baby!" exclaimed Nan, referring to a tiny tot sleeping under a big white netting, across the aisle.
"We must be quiet," said Mrs. Bobbsey, "and let the little baby sleep. It is hard to travel in hot weather."
"Don't you think the duck should have a drink?" suggested Mr. Bobbsey. "You have a little cup for him, haven't you, Freddie?"
"Yep!" answered Freddie, promptly, pulling the cover off Downy's box.
Instantly the duck flew out!
"Oh ! oh! oh!" yelled everybody, as the little white bird went flying out through the car. First he rested on the seat, then he tried to get through the window. Somebody near by thought he had him, but the duck dodged, and made straight for the looking glass at the end of the car.
"Oh, do get him, somebody!" cried Freddie, while the other strange children in the car yelled in delight at the fun.
"He's kissing himself in the looking glass," declared one youngster, as the frightened little duck flapped his wings helplessly against the mirror.
"He thinks it's another duck," called a boy from the back of the car, clapping his hands in glee.
Mr. Bobbsey had gone up carefully with his soft hat in his hand. Everybody stopped talking, so the duck would keep in its place.
Nan held Freddie and insisted on him not speaking a word.
Mr. Bobbsey went as cautiously as possible. One step more and he would have had the duck.
He raised his hand with the open hat--and brought it down on the looking glass!
The duck was now gazing down from the chandelier!
"Ha! ha! ha!" the boys laughed, "that's a wild duck, sure!"
"Who's got a gun!" the boy in the back hollered.
"Oh, will they shoot my duck!" cried Freddie, in real tears.
"No, they're only making fun," said Bert. "You keep quiet and we will get him all right."
By this time almost everyone in the car had joined in the duck hunt, while the frightened little bird seemed about ready to surrender. Downy had chosen the highest hanging lamps as his point of vantage, and from there he attempted to ward off all attacks of the enemy. No matter what was thrown at him he simply flew around the lamp.
As it was a warm day, chasing the duck was rather too vigorous exercise to be enjoyable within the close confines of a poorly ventilated car, but that bird had to be caught somehow.
"Oh, the net!" cried Bert, "that mosquito netting over there. We could stretch it up and surely catch him."
This was a happy thought. The baby, of course, was awake and joined in the excitement, so that her big white mosquito netting was readily placed at the disposal of the duck hunters.
A boy named Will offered to help Bert.
"I'll hold one end here," said Will, "and you can stretch yours opposite, so we will screen off half of the car, then when he comes this way we can readily bag him."
Will was somewhat older than Bert, and had been used to hunting, so that the present emergency was sport to him.
The boys now brought the netting straight across the car like a big white screen, for each held his hands up high, besides standing on the arm of the car seats.
"Now drive him this way," called Bert to his father and the men who were helping him.
"Shoo! Shoo! Shoo!" yelled everybody, throwing hats, books, and newspapers at the poor lost duck.
"Shoo!" again called a little old lady, actually letting her black silk bag fly at the lamp.
Of course poor Downy had to shoo, right into the net!
Bert and Will brought up the four ends of the trap and Downy flopped.
"That's the time we bagged our game," laughed Will, while everybody shouted and clapped, for it does not take much to afford real amusement to passengers, who are traveling and can see little but the other people, the conductor, and newspapers.
"We've got him at last," cried Freddie in real glee, for he loved the little duck and feared losing his companionship.
"And he will have to have his meals served in his room for the rest of his trip," laughed Mrs. Bobbsey, as the tired little Downy was once more put in his perforated box, along the side of the tin dipper of water, which surely the poor duck needed by this time.