Chapter XXI. Uncle Jack's Real Name
 

"Well! Well!" laughed Mr. Bobbsey, when he heard what Freddie said. "That's great! Almost had a goat, did you? I must hear about that!"

"But first tell us about Uncle Jack," begged Nan. "Is he going to get better?"

"Oh, I hope he is going to get better!" broke in Freddie. "It isn't a bit nice to be sick. You have to stay in bed, and sometimes you have to have your head all bound up, and sometimes you have to take the awfullest kind of medicine ever was."

"You don't always have to stay in bed when you're sick," put in Flossie. "And sometimes the medicine isn't bad a bit. It's sweet and nice."

"But tell us about Uncle Jack," begged Nan again. "He'll get better, won't he?"

"That is something the doctors can't tell," answered her father. "I saw him in the hospital."

"Was he glad to see you?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Well, to tell you the truth he didn't know me. He was very ill and was out of his head with fever. I did what I could for him, and saw that he would be well taken care of, and then went to Mr. Todd's house to stay all night. I said I'd go back to the hospital in the morning, but Uncle Jack was no better, and, after waiting two or three days, I decided to come back here."

"Didn't he know you at all?" asked Nan.

"No, he was out of his head with fever all the while. Before I came, he had told some of the doctors that he had something very important to tell me--something that had to do with his friends or relations, they said. He would tell no one else but me, but when I got to his bedside he could not talk so that I could understand him. So really I don't know any more about him than before. I don't even know what his real name is.

"Sometimes he used to call himself Jackson, and again it would be some other name. I think he may not have known who he really was. But if he does, it will be some time before he can tell me, or any one else. He was still out of his head when I came away."

"Are you going back?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Not until they send for me, which will be when he takes a turn for the better or worse. I want to do all I can for the poor old man, for he was so good to Flossie and Freddie. But now tell me about the goat."

Freddie and Flossie took turns doing that, and a very funny story they made of it, too. Mr. Bobbsey laughed, and laughed again. Then he had to hear about everything else that had happened while he was in Lakeport.

"And now tell us what happened there--I mean besides about Uncle Jack," said Nan. "Did you see any of my friends?"

"And did you see Bessie Benton?" Flossie asked, naming a little girl with whom she often played.

"Yes, I saw Bessie," said Mr. Bobbsey, "and she sent you her love."

"Did you see Tommy Todd?" Freddie queried.

"Yes; I stayed at his house."

"How is the ice-boat?" asked Bert.

"Well, there has been a thaw, as you know, and there isn't enough ice in Lake Metoka on which to sail the Bird. I guess Tommy'll have to wait until you get back there, Bert. We'll have more cold weather yet."

"Oh, are we going to leave New York?" asked Nan sorrowfully.

"We can't live here," said her mother. "We've stayed longer now than I thought we would. Have you much more business to look after?" she asked her husband.

"It will take about two weeks more, and then I think we'll go back to Lakeport. But you children can have plenty of good times in two weeks, I should think."

"Of course we can!" cried Bert. "And when we get back home----"

"Are we going camping?" interrupted Freddie. "Flossie and I want to go camping in the woods."

"On an island in a lake," added the little girl. "And we can take the bugs that go around and around and around and--and----"

"And the bugs that go around and around will catch all the mosquitoes that fly up and down, up and down, and bite us!" laughed Mrs. Bobbsey. "Yes, we certainly shall have to take the 'go around' bugs to camp with us, children."

"Do you really think we can go camping?" asked Bert of his father.

"Well, I don't know. We'll see."

The Bobbsey twins, both sets of them, did indeed have many more good times in New York. I wish I had room to tell you about them, but I have not space. They went to see many sights, paid another visit to Central Park and Bronx Park and saw many nice plays and moving picture shows.

Mr. and Mrs. Whipple and Laddie often went with the Bobbseys on little excursions about the great city. Laddie and the children became better friends than before, and Mrs. Whipple said her little nephew had never had such good times in all his life.

"He missed his mother greatly before your children came to this hotel," said Mrs. Whipple to Mrs. Bobbsey.

"When is Mrs. Dickerson coming back from California?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.

"When it is warm here. She can not stand cold weather. But she did not go out to California altogether on account of the climate."

"Didn't she?"

"No. You have heard my husband speak of a long-lost brother--also a brother of Mrs. Dickerson's, who was a Whipple before her marriage."

"Yes, I heard something about that."

"Well, for a number of years my husband and Mrs. Dickerson have been trying to find this lost brother. And there was a rumor that he had gone to California when a boy and had grown up among the miners near San Francisco. It was to find out, if possible, whether or not this was so, that Mrs. Dickerson went out West. Though, to be sure, the Winters here are hard for her to endure."

"Did she have any success in finding her brother?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.

"No," answered Mrs. Whipple, "she did not, I'm sorry to say. She and my husband feel bad about it. But he may be found some day. He has been missing many years."

It was two or three days after this talk that, one evening, Mr. and Mrs. Whipple and Laddie were in the hotel rooms of the Bobbseys, paying a visit, when a telegram was brought up for Mr. Bobbsey.

"It's from Lakeport," he said, as he opened it and saw the date and the name of the place from which it had come.

"From Lakeport?" asked Mr. Whipple, as Mr. Bobbsey was reading the message. "That's where the old woodsman lives, isn't it?"

"Yes," answered Mrs. Bobbsey. "And, though he is very ill, he is being well looked after, thanks to the money you gave for him."

"Oh, I didn't give much. It was your husband who did the most. I was glad to help, for I always have a soft spot in my heart for those who camp in the woods. How is Uncle Jack, by the way? I believe that's his name?"

"Yes, that was his name," said Mr. Bobbsey in a queer voice, as he held the telegram out to Mr. Whipple.

"It was his name--what do you mean?"

"I mean that he has come to his senses now. The doctors have operated on him and he will get better. There was an injury to his head that made him forget much of his early life. But now he is all right and he remembers his real name."

"What is it?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, while the others breathlessly waited for an answer. "What is his real name?"

"John Whipple," was the answer. "That's what this telegram is about. Though everybody called the woodchopper Uncle Jack, his real name is John Whipple!"