Chapter IX. In the Store

Mr. Bobbsey bought his tickets, put his change in his pocket, and turned to gather his little party together to take them through the gate, past the ticket chopper.

"Why, where are Freddie and Flossie?" he asked.

Mrs. Bobbsey, Nan, Bert, none of them, had seen the little twins rush past the ticket chopper and on to the train. All began to turn here and there excitedly, looking about for the blue-eyed boy and girl.

"Now, now," said Mr. Bobbsey, "don't worry. You, Bert, and your mother and Nan will wait here at the head of the stairs, while I go down to the street and see if the children went down there again. I'll not be gone long. If they are not close at hand, I'll come back to you before making further search. Now, as I said, don't worry. In a city children are always quickly found."

Mr. Bobbsey did as he said, but, of course, saw nothing of Freddie and Flossie, who were now having a very nice ride and a very good time indeed on the elevated express train.

By this time the ticket chopper, the agent who sold tickets, the station porter and several persons who were waiting to take a train, had heard from Nan and Bert what had happened. These people offered all sorts of advice, but Mr. Bobbsey thought it best to listen to that of the ticket agent, who, of course, would know more about the elevated trains than persons who only rode on them two or three times a day.

The ticket chopper had seen the children rush by him and on to the train, but they had gone by so quickly that he had not been able to stop them, and, as there were a good many people on the platform, he did not know to whom they belonged. So he told the ticket seller and Mr. Bobbsey that Flossie and Freddie had taken the last express train that had passed the station.

"It would have been easy enough to stop them if you'd only known it at first," said the ticket seller; "but they've got the start of you now, and after Sixty-sixth Street these express trains make only a few stops before they reach the end of the line. But I can telephone to one of the ticket sellers at one of the uptown stations and have him meet the train and take the children off."

"What will he do with them?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Oh, he'll keep 'em safe till you folks get there. The trains run pretty close together at this hour of the day. Your husband can get uptown after 'em so quick that they won't have to wait long."

"What shall we do?" asked Bert.

"We will all go on together," answered his father. "I wish we had taken an automobile to go to the hotel, and then this would not have happened. But Flossie and Freddie would have been disappointed if they had not had the first ride in an elevated train. However, I'm sure it will all come out right."

The ticket agent went into his little office to telephone on ahead, and have Flossie and Freddie taken from the train and held until their parents could claim them. Meanwhile Mr. Bobbsey and the others waited until this was done before getting on the train that was to take them far uptown in New York.

Something was the matter with the telephone in the first station which the ticket seller called up. He could not get the agent there to talk to him over the wire until the train in which Flossie and Freddie were riding, had whizzed on, after making a short stop.

"Well, I'll catch them at the next station where the train stops," the agent said. This time he managed to get in touch with the agent there, but when the latter understood, and ran out to hail the train, it was already in motion and could not be stopped.

"Well, the third time is always lucky," said the ticket seller who had offered to do what he could to help Mr. Bobbsey. "I'll be sure to catch them now."

He talked over the telephone to another agent and this one answered back that the train was just then pulling out of his station.

"But I'll yell at one of the guards," this agent called into the telephone instrument, "and tell him to put the children off at the next stop. I'll do that," and he rushed out to try to call to one of the trainmen.

"That will be One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street," said the first agent, as he came out of his little office. "That's the best I can do. Your two little children will be put off the train when it makes the stop there, and the ticket agent will look after them until you get there. You can wait for the next express, or you can take a local train here and change to the express at Sixty-sixth Street."

When the next train came along, they got on, eager and anxious to catch up to the missing children. In order not to be bothered with the hand-baggage, Mr. Bobbsey had called a taxicab and had had the chauffeur take it to the hotel were they were to stop, which was an uptown hotel, near enough to Central Park for Flossie and Freddie to walk over to see the monkeys as often as they wished.

Meanwhile the two runaway children--who really did not mean to run away--were in the express train speeding along. After their first surprise at finding themselves alone, they were not frightened, but continued to look out of the windows and to wonder at the many sights they saw.

"Well, we'll be at the end of this run some time," said the guard, who had been talking with Flossie and Freddie.

"What will you do with us then?" the little boy asked.

"Turn you over to the agent, unless we have some other word about you," the trainman answered. "Wait, we're going to stop here, and there may be a message." He hurried out on the platform.

As the train was leaving that station Flossie and Freddie saw the ticket agent run out, waving his hand, and they heard him shout something to their guard. When the latter came into their car again he said to Flossie and Freddie:

"That message was about you two. The agent said two lost children were on this train and that they were to be put off at the next station and left until their father came for them. You're the only lost children I know of."

"And we're not lost so very much," said Flossie slowly. "'Cause we are here. It's Daddy and the rest who are lost."

"Well, they'll soon be along--coming on the next train," said the guard. "I'll turn you over to the agent at One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street and you'll be all right."

This was done. The train came to a stop; many passengers got off and a kind woman took Flossie and Freddie in charge and saw that they got inside the elevated station, where the agent, who had been telephoned to, knew about them and was expecting them.

"Now, just sit right down here and be comfortable," the agent said to the Bobbsey twins. "You'll be all right, and your folks will soon come for you. I have to sit in the office and sell tickets."

The kind woman called a good-bye to the children and went away; so Flossie and Freddie were left by themselves in the elevated railroad station at One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street.

For a while they sat quietly, watching the people come in to buy tickets or get off trains. The agent did not pay much attention to them, being very busy, for it was toward the close of day when the rush was like the morning, greater than at other times.

"Say! What's that?" suddenly asked Flossie, holding up her chubby hand to tell Freddie to stop whistling, which he was trying to do.

"What's what?" he asked, looking at his sister.

"I hear music," went on Flossie.

"So do I!" exclaimed Freddie.

They both listened, and from somewhere outside they heard the sound again.

"It's a hand organ!" cried Flossie.

"No, it's a hand piano!" said Freddie. "Hear how jiggily the tune is."

"Well, it's the same thing," Flossie insisted, "I wonder if there's a monkey with it."

"Let's go downstairs and see," proposed Freddie.

Once Flossie or Freddie made up their minds to do a thing it was almost as good as done--that is, if it were not too hard. This time It seemed easy to do. They looked toward the little office in which the ticket seller had shut himself. He was busy selling tickets.

"He'll not see us," whispered Freddie. "Besides, we're coming right back as soon as we see the monkey."

"And we'll give him some peanuts," added Flossie. "You can buy some with your five cents, Freddie. And we won't give them all to the monkey. I want some."

"So do I. Come on, we'll go down."

The agent seemed to have forgotten them. At any rate his door was closed and he could not see them. None of the passengers, hurrying in to buy tickets, paid any attention to the Bobbsey twins. So, hand in hand, Flossie and Freddie went out of the station, and down the long stairs to where they could hear the music of the hand piano.

It was being played by an Italian man in the street, almost under the elevated station, and, as Flossie leaned over the stair railing to look down, she cried out:

"Oh, there is a monkey, Freddie! The man has it on a string!"

"That's good. Do you see peanuts anywhere?"

"Yes, there are some at that stand near the bottom of the stairs. Don't lose your five cents!"

"I won't!"

Freddie hurried down with Flossie. He bought a bag of peanuts, and the children hastened across the street to where a little crowd of boys and girls stood in front of the hurdy-gurdy, or hand piano, listening to the music and watching the monkey. This will draw a crowd, even in New York, where there are many more and stranger sights to be seen.

"Oh, isn't he cute!" cried Flossie, tapping her feet on the sidewalk in time to the music.

"He's coming over this way," said Freddie. "I'm going to give him a peanut."

"But don't let him get the whole bag."

"I won't. Here, Jacko! Have a peanut!" and Freddie held out one to the hurdy-gurdy monkey.

The long-tailed animal lost no time in making a grab for it, and soon he was chewing it hungrily. The man grinding out the music shook the cord which was fast to a collar around the monkey's neck. What the street piano man wanted was pennies and five-cent pieces put in the monkey's red cap. Peanuts were good for Jacko, but money was better for his master.

The monkey well knew what the jerks meant on the cord around his neck. They meant that he must scramble around in the crowd and hold out his cap for pennies. The monkey would much rather have eaten peanuts, but even monkeys can not do as they like in this world.

So, with a chattering sound, and with another look at Freddie, who tossed him a peanut, the monkey, catching the dainty in one paw, started to try to collect some money.

But he must have been a hungry little monkey, for, when he looked at Flossie, and saw on her hat what he thought were red cherries, that monkey made up his mind to get some of them if he could. Though the cherries were made of celluloid, they looked very real, and they might have fooled even a boy or a girl, to say nothing of a monkey.

So with a quick bound Jacko--which seems to be the name of all those long-tailed chaps--was perched on Flossie's shoulder, tearing at her hat with two paws, trying to pull off what he thought were ripe, red cherries.

"Oh! Oh!" screamed Flossie. "Oh, stop!"

"Wait till I get hold of him!" cried Freddie.

"Come away! Come away froma de littlea gal!" yelled the piano Italian. Some in the crowd laughed and others screamed.

The monkey kept pulling and tearing at Flossie's hat until he had pulled it from her head and then, jumping down off her shoulder to the ground, the animal crouched under the piano and began pulling off the red cherries. But one bite told him they were not real, and then, perhaps frightened at what he had done and fearing he would be punished, the monkey tried to run away.

But he was held by the string on his collar, and the Italian, perhaps afraid that he would be made to pay for Flossie's hat, which his monkey had torn to pieces, pulled Jacko to him, perched him on his shoulder and hurried away, wheeling the street piano.

"Oh, Freddie! Freddie! What shall I do?" cried Flossie, as she looked at her sadly torn hat.

"It's a shame," said a woman in the crowd.

"You'll need a new hat, little girl," said another woman.

That gave Freddie an idea. If his sister needed a new hat he was the one to help her get it. He looked up and down the street. Across the way was a large drygoods store, in one of the windows of which were many hats and other things for girls and ladies to wear.

"Come on, Flossie!" cried Freddie, clasping her hand. "I'll take you there."

"Where?" she asked. Tears had come into her eyes when the monkey tore her nice, new hat. But she did not really cry. "Where are you going to take me, Freddie?" she asked.

"Over to that big store; and we'll buy a new hat for you," said the little fellow. "Then we'll go back to the station and wait for Daddy and the rest. Come on. I'll get you a new hat."

Flossie wondered how Freddie was going to do it, but she did not ask. Leaving the torn hat in the street, she went with her brother. He led the way into the big store, which, though it was not one of the large ones of New York, was much bigger than any in Lakeport.

"Well, little ones, what can I do for you?" asked one of the tall men in the store, as Flossie and Freddie strolled in. "Are you with your parents?"

"No, sir, we're all alone," spoke up Freddie. "We were lost on an express train, but we're waiting for my father and mother and Bert and Nan. But a monkey chewed up Flossie's hat and I want a new one for her. You sell hats, don't you?"