Chapter X. Lost Underground
 

Flossie and Freddie looked up at the tall man, who smiled kindly down at them. He seemed to be laughing at something, though whether it was Flossie's flaxen hair, now rather tangled because the monkey had pulled off her hat, or because Freddie looked so funny asking his question, the children could not tell.

"So you want a hat for the little girl?" asked the floorwalker, as the man was called. He walked up and down in the store to see that the clerks waited properly on the customers, and he told strangers where to go.

"Flossie wants a hat," went on Freddie. "The monkey ate the cherries off hers."

"No; he didn't really eat them," Flossie explained, anxious to have everything just right. "He tried to chew 'em, but he didn't like 'em. Anyhow, my hat's gone!"

"What kind of a hat did you want?" asked the store man, not quite sure how to treat the children.

"One with feathers on," suggested Freddie.

"No, I want one with flowers on!" insisted Flossie.

"How much did you want to pay?" asked the man, shaking his head in a puzzled way.

"My father will pay," replied Freddie, "You just send the bill to him--Mr. Richard Bobbsey, of Lakeport. He has a lumber mill and----"

"What seems to be the trouble?" broke in a new voice, and the two children, as well as the floorwalker, turned to see standing near them a stout man, with gray hair, who was smiling kindly at them.

"Oh, Mr. Whipple!" exclaimed the tall man, glad to have some one else to help him. "I don't know what to do about these children. They want a hat for the little girl, and----"

"It's because a monkey ate Flossie's hat!" broke in Freddie. "We're lost. We were on an express train, but we got off and we heard music and please charge it to our father--charge the hat, I mean, not the music, for we didn't pay anything for that. Did we Flossie?"

"No; but I'm not going to have a hat with feathers on. I want one with flowers on, and I wish mamma was here--or Nan--to help pick it out."

"I'll help you," offered Freddie kindly.

"I guess you had better come with me," said the stout man, who, as the children learned afterward was Mr. Daniel Whipple, owner of the big store into which Flossie and Freddie had wandered. "I'll take you up to my office," Mr. Whipple went on, "and you can tell me about yourselves. I'll try to find your folks for you."

"And can I get a hat?" asked Flossie.

"Yes, I think so," the store owner answered. "Send one of the clerks from the children's hat department to my office with some hats that will do for this little girl," he went on, and the floorwalker said he would.

"We'll be all right now, Flossie," said Freddie, as they followed their new friend. In a little while Flossie was fitted with just the hat she wanted, and Mr. Whipple was listening to the story told in turn by the two children.

"Your father is probably on his way up to get you now," said Mr. Whipple. "He'll expect to find you in the elevated station, but you will not be there. I'll send one of my clerks over to tell the agent you are here, and to send your father over when he comes. But I think I'll keep you two tots here, because----"

"We might get lost again--we get lost lots of times," said Freddie with a smile. "It's nice here. I like it!" and, very much at home, he looked around the office of the store owner. It was almost closing time, and Mr. Whipple was wondering whether in case the children's father did not come it would not be better to take them to his own home, when the clerk came back from the elevated station with Mr. Bobbsey himself.

"Oh, Daddy!" cried Flossie and Freddie.

"Well, you two certainly gave me a fine chase!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey, with a smile, hugging his "little fat fireman" and his "fat fairy," one after the other. "Where in the world have you been?"

"Oh, we heard a hand organ and we went to look at the monkey and it chewed Flossie's hat and we're here!" gasped Freddie, all in one breath.

"And I got a new hat, and you'll please pay for it, Daddy," added Flossie. "And did you bring my bugs--the ones that go around and around and around?" she asked.

"Yes, Flossie, I have them. But what's all this about a hat?"

"I bought her a new one," explained Freddie, "but I didn't have any money to pay for it, so we charged it."

"The little girl seemed to need one, Mr. Bobbsey," said the store owner.

"Oh, that will be all right, I'm glad to pay for it, Mr.--er----"

"Whipple is my name," said the store man. "Daniel Whipple."

"Whipple!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey, and a thoughtful look came over his face. "Daniel Whipple," and he seemed to be trying to think of something he had heard a long while before.

"Yes; you may have seen it in my advertisements. I advertise in the papers every day."

"Ah, yes, I presume so," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Thank you very much, Mr. Whipple, for looking after the children for me. I reached the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street elevated station a little while ago, and the ticket agent there was very much excited because the children had slipped out while he was in his office.

"We were just trying to think where they could have gone, when your clerk came up to say they were here. Now I'll take them to their mother, who is quite anxious about them."

"I can well believe she is," said Mr. Whipple. "Come and see me again," he invited Flossie and Freddie, who, after their father had paid for the new hat, went away with him.

A little later they were safe in the hotel where the Bobbsey family was to live while in New York. Mrs. Bobbsey, Bert and Nan were already there, and quite glad to see the two runaways, you may be sure.

"What a lot of adventures you must have had!" cried Nan, when Flossie and Freddie had told her a few of the things that had happened.

"We did!" laughed Freddie. "You ought to have seen that monkey's face when he bit on those make-believe cherries on Flossie's hat!" and Freddie laughed loudly.

"Anyhow I got a new hat!"

"That Mr. Whipple was a fine man," said Freddie.

"Indeed he must be," agreed Mrs. Bobbsey, and then, seeing a strange look on her husband's face, she asked:

"What is the matter? Are you worried?"

"No, but I am trying to remember where I have heard that name before. But so much has happened to-day that I can't recall it."

It had been indeed, a full day since the Bobbsey twins had left their home in Lakeport that morning, and Mrs. Bobbsey insisted on Flossie and Freddie, at least, going to bed early. This the small twins were glad enough to do, after they had told Nan and Bert the different things that had happened after they got on the express train.

"It was an awful splendid store," said Flossie, in speaking about Mr. Whipple's establishment.

"Bigger'n any store in Lakeport," added her twin.

"And the nicest clerks that ever was," went on Flossie. "Why, one of 'em had a whole counter full of cologne, and she squirted some on me when I went past, and it smelled awful good!"

After breakfast the next morning, when Mr. Bobbsey had finished sending some telegrams and telephone messages, he asked the children what they first wanted to see in New York.

"The monkeys!" cried Flossie and Freddie.

"I want to go on Fifth avenue and see the lovely shops and stores," said Nan.

"And I want to go to the history museum and see the stuffed animals and the model of a whale," said Bert, who had been reading of this.

"Well, how would you like to go and see some live fish?" asked Mr. Bobbsey. "That ought to satisfy all of you, and Nan can see some stores on the way to the Aquarium. I have to go downtown in New York," he said to his wife, "and I can take the children to the Aquarium at the Battery as well as not."

"All right," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "If you'll do that I'll stay here and rest. Afternoon will do for me to go out. Now mind, Flossie and Freddie, don't get lost again!"

The small twins promised they would not and soon all four were on their way downtown with their father. This time they went in the subway, or underground road, which, as Freddie said, was like one big, long tunnel.

"We'll get out at the Brooklyn Bridge or City Hall Park," said Mr. Bobbsey. "I have to see a man in the City Hall, and from there we can walk to the Battery, as it is a nice day. Or we can ride, if you get too tired."

The children were sure they would not get too tired, and a little later they all got out at the subway station at Brooklyn Bridge.

There were many persons hurrying to and fro, trains coming in and going out, and lights all over, making the children think it was night, though it was in the morning.

"Wait here just a minute," said Mr. Bobbsey, showing the twins a less crowded place where they could stay. "I want to get a magazine over at the news-stand," he added.

The magazine he wanted had been put away under a pile of papers, and as the boy was getting it out Flossie caught sight, down the platform, of a man pasting up on the advertising boards in the underground station, some new posters.

"Oh, maybe it's signs about a circus, Freddie!" cried the little girl "Come on and watch!"

Freddie was always ready to go, and he had darted off after his sister down the long platform before Bert and Nan saw them. When the two older children missed the younger twins they looked hurriedly about for them.

"There they are--watching that bill-poster," said Bert. For the underground subway stations are much used by advertisers, gaily colored sheets of paper being pasted on boards put there for that purpose.

"You mustn't run away like that!" said Nan to Flossie, as she came up to her sister, to lead her back.

"We wanted to see if it was a circus poster, but it isn't," returned Freddie.

"Well, come on back. Daddy will miss us," declared Bert. He started back--at least he thought he did--for the place where their father had told them to wait for him. But the subway station under the New York sidewalks was so large and rambling, there were so many stairways leading here and there, up and down, and there were so many platforms that it is no wonder Bert went astray.

"Where are you going?" asked Nan at last.

"Well, I was trying to find the place father told us to wait," Bert answered.

"It's over this way," said Nan, pointing just the other direction from the one in which Bert was walking.

"All right, we'll try that, but it seems wrong," he stated.

They walked a little way in that direction. They saw nothing of their father, however, and there were fewer people on the platform where they now were.

"Oh, dear!" cried Flossie, "I'm thirsty! I want a drink!"

"So do I!" added Freddie.

Nan and Bert looked about them. They were still in the underground station, and they could see trains coming in and going out, and crowds of people hurrying to and fro. But they could not see their father nor the place where he had told them to wait. At last Nan said:

"Bert, I don't know where we are! We're lost!"