The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore by Laura Lee Hope
Chapter XVI. Dorothy's Doings
"Here they come!" called Nellie, who was searching around the barn, and saw the farmer with the two children crossing the hill.
"I'm Robinson Crusoe!" insisted Freddie, "and this is my man, Friday," he added, pointing to the farmer.
Of course it did not take long to clear up the mystery of the little ones' disappearance. But since his return Freddie acted like a hero, and certainly felt like one, and Flossie brought home with her a dainty bouquet of pink sebatia, that rare little flower so like a tiny wild rose. The farmer refused to take anything for his time and trouble, being glad to do our friends a favor.
Aunt Sarah and Harry were to leave for Meadow Brook that afternoon, but the worry over the children being lost made Aunt Sarah feel quite unequal to the journey, so Aunt Emily prevailed upon her to wait another day.
"There are so many dangers around here," remarked Aunt Sarah, when all the "scare" was over. "It is different in the country. We never worry about lost children out in Meadow Brook."
"But I often got lost out there," insisted Freddie. "Don't you remember?"
Aunt Sarah had some recollection of the little fellow's adventures in that line, and laughed over them, now that they were recalled.
Late that afternoon Dorothy, Nan, and Nellie had a conference: that is, they talked with their heads so close together not even Flossie could get an idea of what they were planning. But it was certainly mischief, for Dorothy had most to say, and she would rather have a good joke than a good dinner any day, so Susan said.
Harry, Hal, and Bert had been chasing through the woods after a queer-looking bird. It was large, and had brilliant feathers, and when it rested for a moment on a tree it would pick at the bark as if it were trying to play a tune with its beak. Each time it struck the bark its head bobbed up and down in a queer way for a bird. But the boys could not get it. They set Hal's trap, and even used an air rifle in hopes of bringing it down without killing it, but the bird puttered from place to place, not in a very great hurry, but just fast enough to keep the boys busy chasing it.
That evening, at dinner, the strange bird was much talked about.
"Dat's a ban-shee!" declared Dinah, jokingly. "Dat bird came to bring a message from somebody. You boys will hear dat tonight, see if you doesn't," and she gave a very mysterious wink at Dorothy, who just then nearly choked with her dessert.
A few hours later the house was all quiet. The happenings of the day brought a welcome night, and tired little heads comfortably hugged their pillows.
It must have been about midnight, Bert was positive he had just heard the clock strike a lot of rings, surely a dozen or so, when at his window came a queer sound, like something pecking. At first Bert got it mixed up with his dreams, but as it continued longer and louder, he called to Harry, who slept in the alcove in Bert's room, and together the boys listened, attentively.
"That's the strange bird," declared Harry. "Sure enough it is bringing us a message, as Dinah said," and while the boys took the girl's words in a joke, they really seemed to be coming true.
"Don't light the gas," cautioned Bert, "or that will surely frighten it off. We can get our air guns, and I'll go crawl out on the veranda roof back of it, so as to get it if possible."
All this time the "peck-peck-peck" kept at the window, but just as soon as Bert went out in the hall to make his way through the storeroom window to the veranda roof, the pecking ceased. Harry hurried after Bert to tell him the bird was gone, and then together the boys put their heads out of their own window.
But there was not a sound, not even the distant flutter of a bird's wing to tell the boys the messenger had gone.
"Back to bed for us," said Harry, laughing. "I guess that bird is a joker and wants to keep us busy," and both boys being healthy were quite ready to fall off to sleep as soon as they felt it was of no use to stay awake longer looking for their feathered visitor.
"There it is again," called Bert, when Harry had just begun to dream of hazelnuts in Meadow Brook. "I'll get him this time!" and without waiting to go through the storeroom, Bert raised the window and bolted out on the roof.
"What's de matter down dere?" called Dinah from the window above. "'Pears like as if you boys had de nightmare. Can't you let nobody get a wink ob sleep? Ebbery time I puts my head down, bang! comes a noise and up pops my head. Now, what's a-ailin' ob you, Bert?" and the colored girl showed by her tone of voice she was not a bit angry, but "chock-full of laugh," as Bert whispered to Harry.
But the boys had not caught the bird, had not even seen it, for that matter.
Both Bert and Harry were now on the roof in their pajamas.
"What's--the--matter--there?" called Dorothy, in a very drowsy voice, from her window at the other end of the roof.
"What are you boys after?" called Uncle William, from a middle window.
"Anything the matter?" asked Aunt Sarah, anxiously, from the spare room.
"Got a burgulor?" shrieked Freddie, from the nursery.
"Do you want any help?" offered Susan, her head out of the top-floor window.
All these questions came so thick and fast on the heads of Bert and Harry that the boys had no idea of answering them. Certainly the bird was nowhere to be seen, and they did not feel like advertising their "April-fool game" to the whole house, so they decided to crawl into bed again and let others do the same.
The window in the boys' room was a bay, and each time the pecking disturbed them they thought the sound came from a different part of the window. Bert said it was the one at the left, so where the "bird" called from was left a mystery.
But neither boy had time to close his eyes before the noise started up again!
"Well, if that isn't a ghost it certainly is a ban-shee, as Dinah said," whispered Bert. "I'm going out to Uncle William's room and tell him. Maybe he will have better luck than we had," and so saying, Bert crept out into the hall and down two doors to his uncle's room.
Uncle William had also heard the sound.
"Don't make a particle of noise," cautioned the uncle, "and we can go up in the cupola and slide down a post so quietly the bird will not hear us," and as he said this, he, in his bath robe, went cautiously up the attic stairs, out of a small window, and slid down the post before Bert had time to draw his own breath.
But there was no bird to be seen anywhere!
"I heard it this very minute!" declared Harry, from the window.
"It might be bats!" suggested Uncle William. "But listen! I thought I heard the girls laughing," and at that moment an audible titter was making its way out of Nan's room!
"That's Dorothy's doings!" declared Uncle William, getting ready to laugh himself. "She's always playing tricks," and he began to feel about the outside ledge of the bay window.
But there was nothing there to solve the mystery.
"A tick-tack!" declared Harry, "I'll bet, from the girls' room!" and without waiting for another word he jumped out of his window, ran along the roof to Nan's room, and then grabbed something.
"Here it is!" he called, confiscating the offending property. "You just wait, girls!" he shouted in the window. "If we don't give you a good ducking in the ocean for this to-morrow!"
The laugh of the three girls in Nan's room made the joke on the boys more complete, and as Uncle William went back to his room he declared to Mrs. Bobbsey and Aunt Emily that his girl, Dorothy, was more fun than a dozen boys, and he would match her against that number for the best piece of good-natured fun ever played.
"A bird!" sneered Bert, making fun of himself for being so easily fooled.
"A girls' game of tick-tack!" laughed Harry, making up his mind that if he did not "get back at Dorothy," he would certainly have to haul in his colors as captain of the Boys' Brigade of Meadow Brook; "for she certainly did fool me," he admitted, turning over to sleep at last.