The Bobbsey Twins in a Great City by Laura Lee Hope
Chapter XIII. The "Rescue" of Freddie
During the rest of the play the attention of Freddie and Flossie, who sat near him, was divided between Laddie, the new boy, and the things happening on the stage. Both were so jolly--the funny things the actors did and the chance of having a new playmate--that the two smaller Bobbsey twins did not know which was best.
"Don't you like this show?" asked Freddie of Laddie, when the curtain went down again.
"Yes. It's great! But I'm glad you're comin' to play with me," Laddie answered.
"So'm I," answered Freddie. "You're glad too, aren't you, Flossie?"
"Of course I am," said the little girl.
"Does she--she play with you?" asked Laddie, nodding his head toward Freddie's little sister, as if in surprise.
"Of course she does. We have lots of fun. Why?"
"But she's a girl!"
"Of course she's a girl," agreed Freddie. "She couldn't be my sister if she wasn't a girl. I've got another sister, too, but she's bigger. She's sitting on the end of the row. She plays with Bert and Flossie plays with me. We're two sets of twins. Don't you like girls?"
"Well, I don't know," said Laddie slowly. "I never played with 'em much. I--I like your sister, though. She can play with us. Do you ever play store?"
"Lots of times," said Freddie. "We take some dirt for sugar, some little stones for eggs, some big stones for loaves of bread, clam shells and pieces of tin for dishes--we have lots of fun like that. But we haven't had any fun that way since we came to New York. I fell on a turtle's back in the 'quarium, though, and had a ride."
"You did!" cried Laddie, so loudly that many persons in near-by seats turned to smile at him.
"Sure I did," answered Freddie. "I'll tell you about it. I was scared at first, but----"
"Laddie, dear, the curtain is going up and you had better keep quiet," said the elderly lady who was with the new boy.
"Is she your mother?" Freddie asked.
"No, she's my aunt. My mother is out in California, but she's comin' home soon, and I'm glad of it, though my aunt is awful nice."
"Hush!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey, thinking it was Freddie talking, for now the last act had started. So the two little boys quieted down, each one resolved to start talking again as soon as he could.
The last act of the show proved to be uproariously funny, and Freddie laughed and laughed until he was in danger of rolling on the floor again. But he was held fast in his seat, and so that danger was averted.
"Say, Freddie, wouldn't you like to be an actor man?" questioned Flossie, during a brief interval in the play.
"Sure, I'm going to be an actor man when I grow up," responded her brother quickly.
"But you're going to be a fireman too, ain't you?" queried his sister.
"Of course! I'm going to be an actor man and a fireman too," replied Freddie. "I can act in a theatre when there aren't any fires to be put out."
"But what would you do if you were all dressed up as an actor man when you had to go out to ?" asked his sister.
"Oh, I'd just tell the people that I couldn't act any more, and then I'd run right out and get my engine," answered Freddie simply.
"I guess I'd like to be an actor man too," put in Laddie. "I heard a big boy tell once that they earn bushels and bushels of money."
"Sure, they do," answered Freddie. "They make a thousand dollars a minute, I guess."
The play ended in a jolly lot of fun and music, and everybody was laughing when the final curtain went down. Fathers and mothers, who had come to bring their children, talked with one another, though they were strangers, and it was because of this that Mrs. Bobbsey, when Freddie and Laddie started to talk together again about the turtle ride, nodded and smiled at the elderly lady with whom Laddie had come to the theatre.
"My little boy seems to have taken quite a fancy to yours," said the twins' mother.
"Oh, he isn't my boy, though I love him as though he were," said this lady. "Laddie is my sister-in-law's boy, but she is in California. My husband and I are taking care of Laddie."
"And Freddie is coming to play store and steam cars and automobile and steam engine, with me, and--and----"
Laddie paused, trying to think of something else.
"Fireman," said Freddie. "We're going to play fireman."
"Oh, yes," agreed Laddie. "I forgot about that. We're going to play fireman."
"And I'm going to play with 'em," added Flossie.
"Yes, she can come," said Laddie to his aunt. "I guess I'll like her, though I don't know much about playin' with girls," he added.
"Well, you seem to have it all settled," laughed his aunt. The Bobbseys and their new friends were standing in the theatre aisle, waiting for the crowds ahead of them to pass out.
"We're strangers in New York," added Mrs. Bobbsey. "We are staying at the Parkview Hotel----"
"Why, that's where my husband and I have been living for a number of years," said Freddie's aunt. "My husband has a department store in Harlem, but he likes to live in this section. I like the hotel very much. Won't you let me call to see you?"
Mrs. Bobbsey said she would be very glad to, and so the two ladies, having thus met, became friends, which Laddie and Freddie had done a little while before. Laddie's aunt, whose name was Mrs. Whipple, said she would be glad to have Freddie and Flossie, as well as Nan and Bert, come in to play with Laddie.
"Though I am afraid your two larger twins are rather old for our small boy," said Mrs. Whipple, who had no children of her own.
"Yes, Nan and Bert are getting a little older," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "But Freddie and Flossie will be delighted to have a new play-fellow."
So it was arranged that the next day the two small twins were to go to the Whipple apartment to play with Laddie, and Flossie and Freddie could hardly wait for that time to come.
"Oh, I think New York is just the nicest place!" said Flossie, as she talked with Freddie about whether or not she might bring one doll with her when she went to Laddie's hotel home.
"It's dandy!" said Freddie. "Don't you wish you were coming with us, Bert?"
"Pooh! Dad is going to take me to see the airships go up down at Governor's Island. They go up even in Winter, for the airmen want to get used to the cold, I guess," Bert said.
"Oh, I want to see the airships!" cried Freddie. "Can't Daddy take me, too?" he asked his mother.
"Well, not this time, Freddie," said Mr. Bobbsey. "You and Flossie are going to have some fun with Laddie. I'll take you later."
And with this the small twins had to be satisfied. So, while Nan and Bert were taken downtown, to get a glimpse of the airships flying over New York bay, which the bird-like craft did, in charge of army officers, who wished to learn to fly, even when there was snow on the ground, the small twins, taking some of their toys with them, went to the hotel rooms where Laddie Dickerson lived with his aunt.
"Did you bring the bugs that go around and around and around?" asked Flossie, as their mother knocked at Mrs. Whipple's door.
"Yep," answered Freddie, "And I brought my toy fire engine, too. I wonder if she'll let us squirt real water?" and he nodded toward the door that was not yet opened by Laddie's aunt.
"You mustn't do that unless you are told you may," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "If you squirt water you may spoil the wall paper."
"We'll be careful," promised Freddie, and then Mrs. Whipple's maid opened the door, and the twins went in to have a good time.
Laddie was very glad to see them, and he was much amused at the "go-around" bugs. He had a number of toys of his own, and when the children were tired of playing with them, and with those the Bobbsey twins had brought, they began to have a make-believe store.
"I've got some real store boxes and things," said Laddie, as he brought them out from his play-room.
"Oh, they are real!" cried Flossie, as she saw them. "Isn't they grand! Where'd you get 'em?"
"My Uncle Dan gave them to me," said Laddie. "He keeps a real store, and he sells hats and dresses and lots of things."
"What's the name of his store?" asked Freddie.
"He's Daniel Whipple," answered Laddie. "He is my mother's brother--her name was Whipple, too, before she was married to my father. And my middle name is Whipple. I go to my Uncle Dan's store lots of times; it's an awful big one."
"I know it is!" cried Freddie. "I've been in it!"
"You have?" cried Laddie in surprise.
"When?" asked Flossie. "When were we in Laddie's uncle's store?"
"Don't you 'member?" went on Freddie. "It was the time the monkey chewed your hat, Flossie. We went into a store to buy a new one, and Daddy came there and found us and the man's name was Whipple."
"That's right--it was," agreed Flossie. "Oh, isn't that funny! And now we're playing with you, Laddie."
"It is queer, I'm going to tell my aunt."
And when Laddie did, Mrs. Whipple remembered having heard her husband tell about the two little lost children who came into his department store after a street-piano monkey had spoiled a little girl's hat.
"And to think you two are those same children!" cried Mrs. Whipple. "It is quite remarkable, and New York such a big place as it is. I must tell my husband. He's Laddie's uncle, you know."
"I've got another uncle, too, but we don't know where he is," went on Laddie.
"Is he lost at sea?" asked Freddie. "If he is, I know how to find him. Just ask Tommy Todd's father. He was shipwrecked, and me and Flossie found him in a snow storm."
"You must tell me about that some time," said Mrs. Whipple. "But Laddie's other uncle isn't lost at sea, so far as we know. It's too sad a story to tell to children. But Mr. Whipple has a brother, who is also a brother to Laddie's mother, but this brother has long been lost."
"How'd he get lost?" asked Freddie. "Did he go to the store and couldn't find his way back?"
"No, my child. It was different from that. I'll tell you, perhaps, another time. Go on with your play now."
So Laddie, Freddie and Flossie went back to their "store," and had lots of fun. Then they played other games, using Freddie's fire engine and Laddie's train of cars, and even Flossie's doll, who rode as a passenger.
"Well, what'll we do next?" asked Freddie, when he and Laddie had taken turns squirting water from the fire engine in the bath room.
"Let's play automobile," said Laddie. "I can get----"
He stopped talking and seemed to be listening.
"What's the matter?" asked Flossie, as Laddie hurried to a window that looked down into a side street.
"It's a fire!" cried Laddie. "I can hear the puffers! Come on! It's right down this side street!"
Flossie and Freddie looked out of the window long enough to see a crowd of people in front of a store not far from the hotel, which was on a corner. And in the street, which was a side one, as Laddie had said, were a number of fire engines.
"Let's go down!" cried Freddie, all excited at what he saw.
"Oh, you mustn't!" gasped Flossie.
"Course we can," declared Laddie. "My aunt always lets me look at a fire when it's near here, and this is awful close. Maybe this hotel will burn down."
"Oh-o-o-o!" cried Flossie. "Where's my doll?" And she ran to get her pet.
"Come on, we'll go!" said Freddie to Laddie. "Girls don't like fires, but we boys do."
"Sure," said Laddie. "We'll go, all right. My aunt's looking out the front window, and we can go out the side door and down the elevator," he went on. "I know all the elevator men, 'cause I've lived in this hotel a whole year. My aunt won't care 'cause she won't see us, so she won't be worried. I don't like her to worry."
"Me either," said Freddie. So the two little boys, making sure Mrs. Whipple was still looking from the front windows of her apartment, to see what all the excitement was about, stole out of a door into the side hall and so reached the elevators.
"Down, George!" called Laddie to the colored elevator man.
"Down it am, Master Laddie," was the good-natured answer. "Where is yo'all gwine?"
"To see the fire," was the answer. "Don't he talk funny?" asked Laddie of Freddie, as they left the elevator at the ground floor.
"He talks just like our colored cook, Dinah," said Freddie. "Did you ever see her?"
"You ought to eat some of her pancakes," went on Freddie. "I'll write, when I have a chance, and ask her to send you some."
"Oh, hear the engines whistlin'!" cried Laddie. "Hurry up, or maybe they'll be gone before we get there."
The fire was not near enough to the hotel to cause any danger, though many of the hotel guests were excited, and so no attention was paid to the small boys, Freddie and Laddie, as they hurried out to see all that was going on. There was a crowd in the side street and more engines and hook and ladder trucks were dashing up to help put out the fire.
From the blazing store great clouds of black smoke were pouring out, and firemen were rushing here and there. Laddie looked for a while at the exciting scene and then he called to Freddie:
"I'm going back and get my aunt. She likes to look at fires."
"All right; I'll wait for you here," Freddie said. They had been standing not far away from the side entrance to the hotel, and as Laddie turned to go back after his aunt, Freddie walked down the street a little way, nearer the fire.
"I can see Laddie and his aunt when they come," thought the small boy.
But just then a bigger crowd, anxious to watch the fire, came around the corner, and, rushing down the narrow side street, fairly pushed Freddie ahead of them.
"Here! Wait a minute! I don't want to go so fast!" cried the little fellow. "I want to wait for Laddie!"
No one paid any attention to him, and he was swept along, half carried off his feet by the rush, until at last he found himself standing alone, almost in front of the burning store.
"Oh, I can see fine here!" thought Freddie. "I wish Laddie and his aunt would hurry and come here. Wow! This is great!"
Freddie was so excited watching the puffing engines, seeing the big black clouds of smoke, and the leaping, darting tongues of lire from the windows of the burning building, also watching the firemen squirt big streams of Water on the blaze, that he did not think of himself, and the first he realized was when some one shouted at him:
"Stand back there, youngster!"
Freddie did not know he was the "youngster" meant, and stood where he was.
"Get back there!" cried the voice again. "You may be hurt!"
But Freddie was busy watching the fire. He wished he had brought his own little engine with him.
"I could squirt water on some of the little sparks, anyhow," he said to himself. "I guess I'll go back and get it, and find Laddie and his aunt."
Freddie was about to turn when suddenly he saw a fireman in a white rubber coat, which showed he was one of the chiefs, or head men, rushing toward him.
"Get back! Get back!" cried this fireman. "Don't you know you're inside the fire lines!"
Then for the first time Freddie noticed that back of him was stretched a rope, behind which stood the crowd of men and boys. Freddie was so small that he had slipped under the rope, not knowing it. He had either slipped under himself or been pushed by the throng.
"Get back! Get back!" cried the fireman.
The next instant there was a loud noise, as if a gun had been fired, and Freddie felt himself being lifted up and carried along quickly.