Chapter VII. On the Express Train

Mr. Bobbsey wished to ask one of the railroad men in the big station some questions about the trunks, and he also had to send a telegram, so, while he was doing these things, he told his wife and children to sit down and wait for him. Mrs. Bobbsey led Nan and Bert and Flossie and Freddie to one of the many long benches in the large depot, but the two smaller twins were so excited at being in such an immense place that they had not been seated more than a few seconds before they jumped up to gaze all about them. Bert and Nan, too, though older than their brother and sister, were much astonished at what they saw.

"Why--why!" gasped Freddie, "it's bigger than our armory at home!" for in Lakeport there was a big hall where the soldiers drilled.

"It's three times as big," said Flossie.

"Four!" declared Freddie. "Come on!" he called to his sister, "let's see how long it takes to walk around it."

"Don't go too far away," said Mrs. Bobbsey, who, for the moment, did not realize how really large the station was. "Don't get lost!" she went on.

"No'm, we won't!" promised Flossie and Freddie.

They started off to walk around the large depot, which, as you who have seen it know, takes up a whole New York City block, or "square," as you will say if you live near Philadelphia.

Mr. Bobbsey's business took him a little longer than he expected, but as Bert and Nan begged to be allowed to buy a little candy at the newspaper stand near them, and as Mrs. Bobbsey wanted a magazine, the getting of these things took a little time, so the three did not notice how long Mr. Bobbsey was away from them.

When he came back, having sent his message and found out what he wanted to know, the twins' father asked:

"Where are Flossie and Freddie?"

"They're walking around, just seeing how big the station is," said Nan.

"Trying to find out how much larger it is than our armory at home," added Bert with a laugh.

"Well, I hope they don't get lost," said Mr. Bobbsey, "This place is a good deal larger than our armory. I'd better go to look for them," he went on as a glance around, near the news stand, did not show the two little ones anywhere in sight.

"I'll come with you," offered Bert.

"No, you'd better stay here with your mother," said his father. "I don't want you getting lost, too." And he smiled at his son. "Stay right here. I'll not be long."

But if Mr. Bobbsey thought he was going to find Flossie and Freddie soon he was disappointed. He wandered about under the big glass roof, which at first the two younger twins had taken for the sky; but he did not see Flossie or Freddie.

"Has yo'all done lost suffin, boss?" inquired one of the colored porters.

"I'm looking for my two little children," explained Mr. Bobbsey. "They wandered away from their mother."

"Oh, don't yo'all worry 'bout dat, boss! Chilluns gits lost heah ebery day, an' we all easy find 'em ag'in."

"Oh, I'm not worried," answered Mr. Bobbsey, with a smile. "But it is time for us to go, and I want them. Did you see them--two little ones--about so high," and he held his hand a short distance above the stone floor. "They have light hair and blue eyes."

The porter thought for a moment. Then he said:

"Well, to tell yo' de truff, boss, we has about seben hundred blue-eyed an' light-haired chilluns in heah ebery day, and we has de same number ob dark ones, so it's mighty hard t' 'member 'em all."

"Yes, I suppose so. Well, I'll walk about I dare say I shall find them."

"I'll tell some ob de udder men," offered the porter. "We often has t' pick up lost little ones an' take 'em to de waitin' room. Ef yo' doan't find yo' tots yo'se'f, stop in dere."

"I will," said Mr. Bobbsey, and he was about to walk on when the porter called to him:

"Heah comes a light-haired, blue-eyed gal now, an' she's runnin' like she's in a hurry. Maybe she's yo'rs."

Mr. Bobbsey looked up in time to see Flossie running toward him from the front part of the station. She seemed much excited, and when she neared her father she called:

"Oh, Daddy! guess what happened!"

"I'm afraid I haven't time," said Mr. Bobbsey quickly, "We must hurry away. Where is Freddie?"

"That's what I mean! Guess what happened to him," went on Flossie, who was rather out of breath.

"I can't," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Tell me quickly, Flossie. Is he hurt?"

"Oh, no; he's all right. But he's gone off down the street, and he went into a store where there was a lot of bugs in the window, and he says he's going to buy some. I want some bugs, too!"

"What in the world is she talking about?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, who from where she sat had seen her husband and little girl and had hurried on to join them.

"She says Freddie went down the street," explained Mr. Bobbsey, "and that he----"

"Yep! He went in a store with a lot of bugs in the window!" said Flossie again. "They're great big bugs and they walk around and around and around!" and she shook her flaxen head as hard as she could, as she often did when excited.

"What in the world do you mean?" asked Nan, who, with Bert, now joined their father.

"Freddie must have gone outside the depot to go down a street," said Bert. "Maybe she means he went into an animal store, where they sell monkeys and parrots."

"No, they weren't any monkeys--nor parrots, either," said Flossie. "But some of the big bugs were green like a parrot. And we didn't go outdoors, either."

"Then show us where you did go," ordered Mr. Bobbsey quickly. "I think we can find Freddie that way. Did you go into the store with him?" he asked his little girl.

"Nope. I ran back to get the money to buy the bugs that crawl around and around and around, and go in a little door all by theirselves!" said Flossie, who was not breathing so fast now.

"What is it all about?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey. "We seem to have found a queer part of New York as soon as we arrive."

"It's over this way," and Flossie, taking her father's hand, pulled him in the direction from which she had come. Up a flight of broad stone steps she led him, the others following, until, as they approached the main entrance of the station, Flossie pointed and said:

"There's the street with all the stores on it. Freddie went down there, and we stopped in front of a window where the bugs are, that go around and around and----"

"Yes, dear, we know all about how they go around," said her mother, with a smile. "But show us where Freddie is."

"Just down the street," said Flossie. "Come on."

"Oh, I see what she means!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey. "It's the arcade. This is part of the depot--the vestibule, so to speak," he went on. "It's the entrance, and it is so big that there is room for stores on either side. It does look like a street."

And so it did, except that there were no automobiles or wagons in it--just people hurrying along. On either side of the arcade were stores, where fruit, candy, toys, flowers and other things were sold. You can imagine that a station which has room in it for many trains, automobiles and thousands of people easily has room for stores also.

"Come on--right down this way!" called Flossie, hurrying ahead of the others, "I'll show you where the bugs are."

"The bugs that go around and around and around," laughed Bert, in a low tone to Nan.

"Oh, I do hope Freddie hasn't gotten into any trouble," sighed Nan, who, though she was only ten years old, felt much more grown up than either Flossie or Freddie.

"Here are the bugs!" cried Flossie, a little later, and she stopped in front of a station toy store, in the window of which a young man was showing how big tin bugs would move along on a spring roller that was fastened beneath them. There were green, red, yellow and spotted bugs, and they did indeed go "around and around and around," as Flossie had said, and some of them steered themselves, when started by the young man, into the door of a little pasteboard house, where all the toy tin bugs seemed to live.

"There's Freddie now, buying a bug!" cried Flossie, as she saw through the store door her brother talking to a clerk. And the clerk was showing Freddie how the bug "walked" on the wooden roller which answered for legs.

"I want a bug, too!" Flossie cried, and into the store dashed the little girl. "I've brought back Papa and Mamma and Bert and Nan," Flossie explained to her brother. "They all want to see the bugs."

"Well!" exclaimed the man in the store. "This is going to be a busy day for me, I guess," and he smiled at the Bobbsey family.

"Can I have three of these bugs, Daddy?" asked Freddie, just as if he had caused no trouble at all by going off as he had done.

"I want three, too," echoed Flossie.

"Oh, what funny looking things!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey, as the clerk sent the bugs crawling "around and around."

"They are very amusing," said the salesman, "and just the thing for children. They can play many games with them and keep out of mischief."

"They'll have to be pretty good to keep these youngsters out of mischief," said Mr. Bobbsey, with a smile. "Yes, Freddie, you may have some bugs, and Flossie also. How about you, Nan and Bert?"

"I'd rather have that small aeroplane," said Bert, pointing to one that could be wound up with a rubber band and would fly for some distance.

"And I'd like that work basket," said Nan.

"Well, we'll get you all something, and then we must start for our hotel," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Come, Freddie, pick out the bugs you want, and don't run away again. You might get lost, even if you are only in the railroad station."

"I couldn't get lost--Flossie knew where I was," said Freddie. "I sent her back to bring you, so you could pay for my bugs."

Then the two younger Bobbseys looked over about all the toy tin bugs in the station store, and finally picked out those they wanted, though it took some little time. Bert's and Nan's gifts were wrapped up long before Freddie could make up his mind whether to take a blue bug, striped with green, or a purple one, spotted with yellow, finally making up his mind that the last was best.

Then, after all the baggage had been collected, the family was ready to start for the hotel where they were to stay while in New York. Mr. Bobbsey wanted to get a taxicab, but Flossie and Freddie had heard of the elevated trains, which ran "in the air," and they wanted to go in one of them, saying it would be such fun. So, as it was almost as near one way as it was the other, Mr. Bobbsey consented, and they set off for the elevated railroad.

"Oh, there goes a train!" cried Flossie, as they came in sight of the station, which was high above the street, set on iron pillars, some of which also held up the elevated track. "Just think, Freddie, we're going to ride on a high train!" Flossie was quite excited.

"I hope it doesn't fall," said Nan.

"They're made strong on purpose, so they won't fall," said Bert.

Flossie and Freddie ran on ahead up the elevated stairs, and just as their father was buying the tickets, to drop in the little box where the "chopper" stood, working up and down a long handle, a train rumbled into the station.

The iron gates of the car platforms were pulled back, several persons hurried off and others hurried on. Flossie and Freddie, thinking this was the train their parents, Bert and Nan, were going to take, and, being anxious to get seats near the window where they could look out, rushed past the ticket chopper, darted through the open gates and into one of the cars.