The Bobbsey Twins in the Country
Laura Lee Hope
Part 2 out of 3
down--in the harvest-apple tree!
"Hello there!" called the man from above, losing the colored umbrella
and quickly dropping himself from the low tree.
"Hello yourself!" answered John. "Did you have a nice ride?"
"First class," replied the man with the stars on his shirt. "But I've
got a long walk back to the grove. Could I hire a bicycle around here?"
Harry spoke to his father, and then quickly decided to let the balloon
man ride his bicycle down to the picnic grounds.
"You can leave it at the ice-cream stand," Harry told the stranger. "I
know the man there, and he will take care of it for me until I call for
The children were delighted to talk to a real live man that had been up
in a balloon, and the balloonist was indeed very pleasant with the
little ones. He took Freddie up in his arms and told him all about how
it felt to be up in the sky.
"You're a truly fireman!" Freddie said, after listening to all the
dangers there are so far above ground. "I'm a real fireman too!"
Just then the balloon that had been tossing about in the air came down
in the other end of the orchard.
"Well, there!" exclaimed the man. "That's good luck. Now, whichever one
of you boys gets that balloon first will get ten dollars. That's what
we pay for bringing it back!"
With a dash every boy started for the spot where the balloon had
landed. There were quite a few others besides the Bobbseys, and they
tumbled over each other trying to get there first. Ned Prentice,
Nettie's brother, was one of the best runners, and he cut across the
orchard to get a clear way out of the crowd.
"Go it, Bert!" called John.
"Keep it up, Harry!" yelled someone else.
"You'd get it, Tom!" came another voice.
But Ned was not in the regular race, and nobody noticed him.
"They've got it," called the excited girls.
"No, it's Bert !"
"'Tisn't either--it's Ned!" called John, as the only poor boy in the
crowd proudly touched the big empty gas-bag!
"Three cheers for Ned!" called Uncle Daniel, for he and Mr. Bobbsey had
joined in the crowd.
"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!" shouted all the boys good-naturedly, for Ned
was a favorite companion, besides being one who really needed the
"Suppose we drive down," Uncle Daniel suggested. "Then we can bring Ned
back with his ten dollars."
This was agreed upon as a good plan, and as quickly as John had hitched
up the big wagon ail the boys piled in with the aeronaut and started
for the grove.
THE LITTLE GARDENERS
When little Ned Prentice put the ten-dollar bill in his mother's hand,
on that pleasant Fourth of July evening, he felt like a man. His mother
could hardly believe the story of Ned's getting the money just for
finding a balloon, but when it was explained how valuable the balloon
was, and how it sometimes takes days of searching in the woods to find
one after the balloonist lets go and drops down with his parachute, she
was finally convinced that the money rightfully belonged to Ned.
"No one needs it more than I do," Mrs. Prentice told Mr. Bobbsey, who
had brought Ned home in the wagon, "for since the baby was sick we have
hardly been able to meet our bills, it cost so much for medicine."
"We were all glad when Ned got there first,"
Harry said politely, "because we knew he deserved the reward most."
As Ned was a poor boy, and had to work on farms during vacation, his
father being dead and only one brother being old enough to go to work,
the reward turned out a great blessing, for ten dollars is a good deal
of money for a little boy to earn at one time.
"Be sure to come up to our fireworks tonight," Harry called, as they
drove away, and Ned promptly accepted the invitation.
"It has certainly been a great Fourth of July!" Uncle Daniel exclaimed,
later in the evening when the children fired off their Roman candles
and sky rockets and burned the red fire. The little children had
beautiful pinwheels and "nigger chasers" that they put off on the
porch. Then Nan had a big fire balloon that she sent up, and they
watched it until it was out of sight, away over the pond and clear out
of Meadow Brook.
It was a very tired lot of children that rolled off to sleep that
night, for indeed it had been a great day for them all.
For a few days after the Fourth it rained, as it always does, on
account of all the noise that goes up in the air to shake the clouds.
"You can play in the coach house," Aunt Sarah told the children, "but
be careful not to run in and out and get wet." The children promised
to remember, and soon they were all out in the big wagon house playing
merrily. Freddie climbed in the wagon and made believe it was a "big
fire engine." Bert attached a bell on the side for him, and when he
pulled a rope this bell would clang like a chemical apparatus. Nan and
Flossie had all their dolls in the pretty new carriage with the soft
gray cushions, and in this the little girls made believe driving to New
York and doing some wonderful shopping.
"Freddie, you be coachman," coaxed Flossie, "because we are inside and
have to have someone drive us."
"But who will put out all the fires?" Freddie asked, as he clanged the
"Make b'lieve they are all out," Flossie told him.
"But you can't make b'lieve about fires," argued the little fellow,
"'cause they're really."
"I tell you," Nan suggested. "We will suppose this is a great big high
tally-ho party, and the ladies always drive them. I'll be away up high
on the box, but we ought to have someone blow a horn!"
"I'll blow the horn," Freddie finally gave in, "cause I got that big
fire out now."
So Freddie climbed up on the high coach with his sisters, and blew the
horn until Nan told them they had reached New York and were going to
stop for dinner.
There were so many splendid things to play with in the coach house,
tables, chairs, and everything, that the Bobbseys hardly knew it before
it was lunch time, the morning passed so quickly.
It cleared up in the afternoon and John asked the children if they
wanted to help him do some transplanting.
"Oh! we would love to," Nan answered, for she did love gardening.
The ground was just right for transplanting, after the rain, and the
tender little lettuce plants were as easy to take up as they were to
put down again.
"I say, Nan," John told her, "you can have that little patch over there
for your garden. I'll give you a couple of dozen plants, and we will
see what kind of a farmer you will make."
"Oh, thank you, John," Nan answered. "I'll do just as I have seen you
doing," and she began to take the little plants in the pasteboard box
from one bed to the other.
"Be careful not to shake the dirt off the roots," said John, "and be
sure to put one plant in each place. Put them as far apart here as the
length of this little stick, and when you put them in the ground press
the earth firmly around the roots."
Flossie was delighted to help her sister, and the two girls made a very
nice garden indeed.
"Let's put little stones around the path," Flossie suggested, and John
said they could do this if they would be careful not to let the stones
get on the garden.
"I want to be a planter too," called Freddie, running up the path to
John. "But I want to plant radishes," he continued, "'cause they're the
"Well, you just wait a few minutes, sonny," said John, "and I'll show
you how to plant radishes. I'll be through with this lettuce in a few
Freddie waited with some impatience, running first to Nan's garden then
back to John's. Finally John was ready to put in a late crop of
"Now, you see, we make a long drill like this," John explained as he
took the drill and made a furrow in the soft ground.
"If it rains again that will be a river," said Freddie, for he had
often played river at home after a rain.
"Now, you see this seed is very fine," continued John. "But I am going
to let you plant it if you're careful."
"That ain't redishes!" exclaimed Freddie "I want to plant redishes."
"But this is the seed, and that's what makes the radishes," John
"Nope, that's black and it can't make it red?" argued Freddie.
"Wait and see," the gardener told him. "You just take this little paper
of seeds and scatter them in the drill. See, I have mixed them with
sand so they will not grow too thick."
Freddie took the small package, and kneeling down on the board that
John used, he dropped the little shower of seeds in the line.
"They're all gone!" he told John presently; "get some more."
"No, that's enough. Now we will see how your crop grows. See, I just
cover the seed very lightly like mamma covers Freddie when he sleeps in
the summer time."
"Do you cover them more in the winter time too, like mamma does ?"
"Yes, indeed I do," said the gardener, "for seeds are just like babies,
they must be kept warm to grow."
Freddie stood watching the line he had planted the seed in.
"They ain't growing yet," he said at last. "Why don't they come up,
"Oh!" laughed the gardener, "they won't come up right away. They have
to wake up first. You will see them above the ground in about a week, I
This was rather a disappointment to the little fellow, who never
believed in waiting for anything, but he finally consented to let the
seeds grow and come back again later to pick the radishes.
"Look at our garden!" called Nan proudly, from across the path.
"Doesn't it look straight and pretty?"
"You did very well indeed," said John, inspecting the new lettuce
patch. "Now, you'll have to keep it clear of weeds, and if a dry spell
should come you must use the watering can."
"I'll come up and tend to it every morning," Nan declared. "I am going
to see what kind of lettuce I can raise."
Nan had brought with her a beautiful string of pearl beads set in gold,
the gift of one of her aunts. She was very proud of the pearls and
loved to wear them whenever her mother would let her.
One afternoon she came to her mother in bitter tears.
"Oh, mamma!" she sobbed. "The the pearls are gone,"
"Gone! Did you lose them?" questioned Mrs. Bobbsey quickly.
"I--I don't know," and now Nan cried harder than ever.
The news soon spread that the string of pearls were lost, and everybody
set to work hunting for them.
"Where do you think you lost 'em?" asked Bert.
"I--I don't know. I was down in the garden, and up the lane, and at the
well, and out in the barn, and over to the apple orchard, and feeding
the chickens, and over in the hayfield,--and lots of places."
"Then it will be like looking for a needle in a haystack," declared
All the next day the boys and girls hunted for the string of pearls,
and the older folks helped. But the string could not be found. Nan felt
very bad over her loss, and her mother could do little to console her.
"I--I sup--suppose I'll never see them again," sobbed the girl.
"Oh, I guess they'll turn up some time," said Bert hopefully.
"They can't be lost so very, very bad," lisped Flossie. "'Cause they
are somewhere on this farm, ain't they?"
"Yes, but the farm is so very big!" sighed poor Nan.
For a few days Freddie went up to the garden every morning to look for
radishes. Then he gave up and declared he knew John had made a mistake
and that he didn't plant radishes at all. Nan and Flossie were very
faithful attending to their garden, and the beautiful light green
lettuce grew splendidly, being grateful for the good care given it.
"When can we pick it?" Nan asked John, as the leaves were getting quite
"In another week!" he told the girls, and so they continued to watch
for weeds and kept the ground soft around the plants as John had told
Freddie's radishes were above ground now, and growing nicely, but they
thought it best not to tell him, as he might pull them up too soon. Nan
and Flossie weeded his garden as well as their own and showed they
loved to see things grow, for they did not mind the work of attending
"Papa will come up from Lakeport to-night," Nan told Flossie; "and
won't he be pleased to see our gardens!"
That evening when Mr. Bobbsey arrived the first thing he had to do was
to visit the garden.
"Why, I declare!" he exclaimed in real surprise. "You have done
splendidly. This is a fine lettuce patch."
Mrs. Bobbsey and Aunt Sarah had also come up to see the girls' garden,
and they too were much surprised at the result of Nan's and Flossie's
"Oh!" screamed Freddie from the other side of the garden. "See my
redishes! They growed!" and before anyone could stop him he pulled up a
whole handful of the little green leaves with the tiny red balls on the
"They growed! They growed!" he shouted, dancing around in delight.
"But you must only pick the ripe ones," his father told him. "And did
you really plant them?" Mr. Bobbsey asked in surprise.
"Yep! John showed me," he declared, and the girls said that was really
"Now I'll tell you," Aunt Sarah remarked. "We will let our little
farmers pick their vegetables for dinner, and then we will be able to
say just how good they are."
At this the girls started in to pick the very biggest heads of lettuce,
and Freddie looked carefully to get the very reddest radishes in his
patch. Finally enough were gathered, and down to the kitchen the
vegetables were carried.
"You will have to prepare them for the table," Mrs. Bobbsey said. "Let
us see, girls, what a pretty dish you can make."
This was a pleasant task to Nan and Flossie, who both always loved to
play at housekeeping, and when at last Nan brought the dish in to the
dinner table everybody said how pretty it looked.
"Them's my redishes!" exclaimed Freddie, as he saw the pretty bright
red buttons peeping out from between the lettuce leaves.
"But we can all have some, can't we, Freddie?" his father asked.
"Yes, 'course you can. But I don't want all my good redishes smothered
in that big dish of green stuff," he pouted.
"Now, Nan, you can serve your vegetables," Aunt Sarah said, and then
Nan very neatly put a few crisp lettuce leaves on each small plate, and
at the side she placed a few of Freddie's radishes, "with handles on"
as Dinah said, meaning the little green stalks.
"Just think, we've done it all from the garden to the table!" Nan
exclaimed, justly proud of her success at gardening.
"I done the radishes," put in Freddie, gulping down a drink of water to
wash the bite off his tongue, for his radishes were quite hot.
"Well, you have certainly all done very nicely," Mrs. Bobbsey said.
"And that kind of play is like going to school, for it teaches you
important lessons in nature."
The girls declared they were going to keep a garden all summer, and so
It was an unusually warm night, and so nearly all the doors were left
open when the folks went to bed. Freddie was so worked up over his
success as a gardener he could not go to sleep.
At last he dozed off, but presently he awoke with a start. What was
that strange sound ringing in his ears? He sat up and listened.
Yes, somebody must surely be playing the piano. But what funny music!
It seemed to come in funny runs and curious thumps. He called out
sharply, and his mother came at once to his side.
"I heard piano-playing," said Freddie, and Mrs. Bobbsey started, for
she remembered how Flossie had once told her the same thing.
"Oh, Freddie, are you sure?" she asked.
"Sure," repeated the little fellow. "But it wasn't very good playing."
Mrs. Bobbsey called Uncle Daniel, and the latter lit a lamp and went
below into the parlor. Nobody was at the piano or in the room.
"I've made a careful examination," he said, on coming back. "I can see
nothing unusual. Some of the children left a piece of cake on the keys
of the piano, that's all."
"Well, cake can't play," put in Freddie. "Maybe it was a ghost."
"No, you must have been dreaming," said his mother. "Come, go to
sleep," and presently Freddie dropped off. Mrs. Bobbsey was much
worried, and the next day the older folks talked the matter over; but
nothing came of it.
"Tom Mason is going to bring his colt out this afternoon," said Harry
to Bert, "and we can all take turns trying him."
"Oh, is it that pretty little brown horse I saw in the field back of
Tom's home?" asked Bert.
"That's him," Harry replied. "Isn't he a beauty!"
"Yes, I would like first-rate to ride him, but young horses are awful
skittish, aren't they?"
"Sometimes, but this one is partly broken. At any rate, we wouldn't
have far to fall, for he is a little fellow," said Harry.
So the boys went down to Tom's home at the appointed time, and there
they met Jack Hopkins.
"We've made a track around the fields," Tom told his companions, "and
we will train him to run around the ring, for father thinks he may be a
race-horse some day, he's so swift."
"You may go first," the boys told him, "as he's your horse."
"All right!" Tom replied, making for the stake where Sable, the pony,
was tied. Sable marched along quietly enough and made no objections to
Tom getting on his back. There was no saddle, but just the bit in the
horse's mouth and attached to it a short piece of rein.
"Get app, Sable!" called Tom, snapping a small whip at the pony's side.
But instead of going forward the little horse tried to sit down!
"Whoa! whoa!" called the boys, but Tom clung to Sable's neck and held
on in spite of the pony's back being like a toboggan slide.
"Get off there, get off there!" urged Tom, yet the funny little animal
only backed down more.
"Light a match and set it under his nose," Harry suggested. "That's the
way to make a balky horse go!"
Someone had a match, which was lighted and put where Sable could sniff
"Look out! Hold on, Tom!" yelled the boys all at once, for at that
instant Sable bolted off like a deer.
"He's running away!" called Bert, which was plain to be seen, for Tom
could neither turn him this way or that, but had all he could do to
hold on the frightened animal's neck.
"If he throws him Tom will surely be hurt!" Harry exclaimed, and the
boys ran as fast as they could across the field after the runaway.
"Whoa! whoa! whoa!" called everybody after the horse, but that made not
the slightest difference to Sable, who just went as if the woods were
afire. Suddenly he turned and dashed straight up a big hill and over
into a neighbor's cornfield.
"Oh, mercy!" cried Harry, "those people are so mean about their garden,
they'll have Tom arrested if there's any corn broken."
Of course it was impossible for a runaway horse to go through a field
of corn and do no damage, and Tom realized this too. By this time the
dogs were out barking furiously, and altogether there was wild
excitement. At one end of the field there was a high board fence.
"If I could only get him there he would have to stop," thought Tom, and
suddenly he gave Sable a jerk in that direction.
"Drop off, Tom, drop off!" yelled the boys. "He'll throw you against
But at that minute the little horse threw himself against the boards in
such a way that Tom slid off, yet held tightly to the reins.
The horse fell, quite exhausted.
As quickly as they could get there the boys came up to help Tom.
"Hurry!" said Harry, "there is scarcely any corn broken, and we can get
away before the Trimbles see us. They're away back in the fields
planting late cabbage."
Tom felt hardly able to walk, but he limped along while Harry led Sable
carefully between the cornhills. It was only a few feet to the edge of
the field, and then they were all safe on the road again.
"Are you hurt?" the boys asked Tom, when finally they had a chance to
speak about the runaway.
"I feel as if I had dropped from a balloon onto a lot of cobblestones,"
Tom answered, "but I guess that's only the shaking up I got. That pony
certainly can go."
"Yes indeed," Harry admitted; "I guess he doesn't like the smell of
sulphur matches. Lucky he was not injured with that fall against the
"I found I had to throw him," Tom said, "and I thought the fence was
softer than a tree."
"I suppose we ought to make him run until he is played out," said Bert,
"That's the way to cure a horse of running away."
But none of the boys felt like risking their bones even to cure Sable,
so the panting animal was led to the stable and for the rest of the day
allowed to think over his bad conduct.
But that was not the last of the runaway, for in the evening just after
supper old Mr. Trimble paid a visit to Tom's father.
"I came over to tell you what a scallywag of a boy you've got," began
the cross old man. "He and a lot of young loafers took a horse and
drove him all through my cornfield to-day, and now you've got to pay
"My son is not a scallywag," Mr. Mason declared, "and if you call him
names like loafer and scallywag I'll make you pay damages."
"Oh! you will, eh?" the other sneered. "Think I'm afraid of an old
constable up here, do you?"
"Well now, see here," Mr. Mason said, "Be reasonable and do not quarrel
over an accident. If any corn is knocked down I'll get Tom to fix it
up, if it's broken down we will see what it would cost to replace it.
But the boys did not do it purposely, and it was worse for Tom than
anyone else, for he's all black and blue from the hard knocks he got."
At this the cross man quieted down and said, Well, he would see about
it. Mr. Trimble was one of those queer people who believe all a boy is
good for is doing mischief and all a boy deserves is scolding or
beating. Perhaps this was because he had no sons of his own and
therefore had no regard for the sons of other people.
Mr. Mason went directly to the cornfield with his neighbor. He looked
carefully over every hill, and with a spade and hoe he was able to put
back into place the few stalks that had been knocked down in Sable's
"There now," said Mr. Mason, "I guess that corn is as good as ever. If
it wants any more hoeing Tom will come around in the morning and do it.
He is too stiff to move to-night."
So that ended the runaway, except for a very lame boy, Tom Mason, who
had to limp around for a day or two from stiffness.
"How would you like to be a jockey!" laughed his companions. "You held
on like a champion, but you were not in training for the banging you
"Well, I guess Sable will make a fine racehorse," said Tom, "when he's
broken. But it will take someone stronger than I am to break him in."
The next afternoon all the boys went fishing. They had been out quite
late the night before to find the "night walkers" for bait, as those
little worms only come out of the ground after dark. Bert had a new
line his father brought from Lakeport, and the others boys had nets and
hooks, as most country boys who live near streams are always fond of
"Let's go over to the cove," Harry said when they all started off.
"There's lots of good fish in that dark corner."
So the cove was chosen as a good spot to fish from, and soon the
Bobbsey boys and their friends were lying around the edge of the deep
clear stream, waiting for a bite.
Bert was the first to jerk his line, and he brought it up with such
force that the chubfish on his hook slapped Harry right in the face!
"Look out!" called Harry, trying to dodge the flapping fish. "Put your
catch down. He's a good one, but I don't care about having him kiss me
that way again."
All the boys laughed at Bert, who was a green fisherman they said. The
fish was really a very nice plump chub and weighed more than a pound.
He floundered around in the basket and flapped his tail wildly trying
to get away from them.
"I've got one," called Tom next, at the same moment pulling his line
and bringing up a pretty little sunfish. Now "sunnies" are not
considered good eating, so Tom's catch did not come up to Bert's, but
it was put in the basket just the same.
"I'm going out on the springboard," August Stout announced, stepping
cautiously out on the board from which good swimmers dived.
"You know you can't swim, August," said Harry, "and if you get a catch
and jerk it you'll tumble in."
"Oh! I'll be all right," August answered, lying down flat on the narrow
springboard and dropping his line.
For a time all the boys lay watching for a bite. No one spoke, for
sometimes they say fish are very sensitive to sound and go in another
direction if they hear a voice.
It was a beautiful July day, and perhaps the boys were a little lazy.
At any rate, they all became so quiet the little woodpeckers on the
trees went on with their work pecking at the tree bark as if no human
being was in sight.
Suddenly there was a big splash!
"August!" yelled all the boys at once, for indeed August was gone from
"Quick!" called Harry to his companions. "He can't swim!"
The next minute the boy in the water came to the top and threw up his
arm. But no one was near enough to reach it.
"Strike out, August!" yelled Bert. "We're coming," and one boy after
the other dropped in the water now, having thrown off their heavy
"Oh, where is he?" screamed Bert in terror, for no movement on the
water's surface showed them where August was.
"Here!" cried Tom Mason, who was quite a distance out. "Here he is!
Help! come quick!"
No need to urge the boys to hasten, for all realized the danger their
companion was in.
"Don't pull down, August," went on Tom. "Try to help yourself, or
you'll pull me under." Harry had around his neck a strong piece of rope
he picked up as he made a dive into the water.
"Take hold of this," he called to August, "and we can all pull."
As the rope was put in August's hand the other boys all took hold and
soon towed the unfortunate boy in.
"He's very weak," said Harry when they pulled August up on the shore.
"I guess he has swallowed a lot of water. We better roll him on the
grass and work his arms up and down. That will revive him."
August was indeed very weak, and had had a narrow escape. For some time
his companions worked over him before he opened his eyes and spoke.
"Oh!" he murmured at last, "I'm so sick!"
"I guess you are, August," said Tom, "but you'll be all right soon."
They lifted him carefully under a shady tree and removed his wet
"I'll run over to Smith's and get him something to wear home," said
Harry, who hurried across lots and presently returned with an old suit
of clothes. August was able to dress himself now, and as soon as he
felt strong enough the boys helped him home.
"You can have my fish, August," said Bert nobly.
"And mine too," Tom added. August did not want to accept the boys'
offers at first, but at last they prevailed upon him to do so.
"I think I fell asleep," said he, referring to the accident.
"Guess we all did!" added Harry, "for we only woke up when we heard the
It seems the number of accidents country boys have only make them truer
friends, for all the things that happened in Meadow Brook made each boy
think more of his companions both in being grateful for the help given
and being glad no dear friend's life was lost.
"Mother," said Harry, using that loved name to show that what he was
about to say was something important, "Peter Burns is sick. He has not
been able to work since the cannon exploded and gave him the shock, and
all his peas are spoiling because there's no one to pick them. Mrs.
Burns hired some boys yesterday, but they broke down so many vines she
had to stop them; and, mother, would you mind if Bert and I picked some
to-day? The sun is not hot."
"Why, my dear," replied Aunt Sarah, "it would be very nice of you to
help Peter; he has always been a kind neighbor. I don't think it would
do you any harm to pick peas on a cool day like this. Bert can ask his
mother, and if she is satisfied you can put on your play overalls and
go right along."
Both boys were given the desired permission, and when Tom and Jack
heard where the Bobbseys were going they said at once they would go
"Are you sure your mother won't mind?" Mrs. Burns asked the boys,
knowing Harry's folks did not need the money paid to pick the peas. "Of
course I'm very glad to have you if your mothers are satisfied."
Soon each boy had a big basket under his arm, and was off for the
beautiful field of soft green peas, that stretched along the pond bank
at the side of Mrs. Burns' home. Now, peas are quite an expensive
vegetable when they come in first, and farmers who have big fields of
them depend upon the return from the crop as an important part of the
summer's income. But the peas must be picked just as soon as they are
ripe, or else they will spoil. This was why Harry got his friends to
turn in to help poor Peter Burns.
"I'll go down this row and you take that." suggested Bert to Harry.
"Then we can talk to each other without hollering."
"All right," Harry replied, snapping the peas off the vines and
dropping them into his basket like a real farmer.
"Let's have a race," called Tom. "see who gets his basket full first."
"But no skipping for big ones," put in Jack. "You have to pick every
The boys all started in at the top of the hill, each working two rows
at a time. They were so interested in the race that scarcely a word was
spoken. The peas were plentiful and ripe too, so that the baskets were
filling up quickly. Mrs. Burns herself was picking, in fact she had
been in the field since the very first peep of dawn, and she would be
sure to stay out until the darkness would drive her in.
"You are fine pickers," she told the boys, seeing how quickly they
worked. "I pay ten cents a basket, you know."
"I guess we can earn a dollar a day at this rate," laughed Tom, whose
basket was almost full.
"I'm done," called Jack from his row.
"No, you're not," said Harry, "you have to cover the rim."
"Oh!" exclaimed Jack, who had just slipped between the rows. "Oh! there
goes my basket."
And sure enough the big basket had been upset in Jack's fall, and most
of the peas were scattered on the ground.
"Ha! ha!" laughed Bert. "I'm first. My basket is full."
"I'm next!" called Tom, picking his basket up in his arms.
"Well, I'll be last I guess," laughed Tom, trying hard to pick up the
"There's mine!" called Harry, and now all the boys carried their
baskets to the big bag at the end of the field and dumped them in.
"It won't take long to fill the bag," said Harry, "and it will be so
good for Peter to have them ready, for to-morrow is market day."
So the boys worked on right along until lunch time, each having picked
four big baskets full. August Stout came along and helped some too, but
he could not stay long, as he had to cut some clothes poles for his
"Well, I declare!" said Mrs. Burns, looking at the three full bags the
boys had picked. "Isn't that splendid! But I can't pay until Peter
comes from market."
"We just did it for fun," answered Harry. "We don't want any pay."
"Indeed you must have forty cents apiece, ten cents a basket," she
insisted. "See what a good load you have picked!"
"No, really, Mrs. Burns; mother wouldn't like us to take the money,"
Harry declared. "We are glad to have helped you, and it was only fun."
Poor Mrs. Burns was so grateful she had to wipe her eyes with her
"Well," she said finally, "There are some people in this world who talk
about charity, but a good boy is a gift from heaven," and she said this
just like a prayer of blessing on the boys who had helped her.
"The crop would have been spoiled to-morrow," remarked Tom, as he and
his companions started up the road. "I'm awfully glad you thought of
helping her, Harry."
It seemed all that day everything went right for the boys; they did not
have even a single mishap in their games or wanderings. Perhaps it was
because they felt so happy over having done a good turn for a poor
"Say, fellows," Tom said later, while they sat on the pond bank trying
to see something interesting in the cool, clear water, "what do you say
if we make up a circus!"
"Fine," the others answered, "but what will be the show?"
"Animals of course," continued Tom; "we've got plenty around here,
"Well, some," Harry admitted. "There's Sable, for instance."
At this the boys all laughed at Tom, remembering the runaway.
"Well, I could be a cowboy, and ride him just the same," spoke up Tom.
"I rode him around the track yesterday, and he went all right. He was
only scared with that sulphur match when he ran away."
"A circus would be fine," Bert put in. "We could have Frisky as the
"And Snoopy as the Wild Cat," said Harry.
"And two trained goats," August added.
"And a real human bear, 'Teddy'?" suggested Jack.
"Then a cage of pigeons," went on Harry.
"Let's get them all in training," said Tom, jumping up suddenly,
anxious to begin the sport.
"I tell you!" Harry planned. "We can each train our own animals and
then we can bring them together in a well-organized circus."
"When will we have it?" August asked impatiently.
"About next week," Harry thought, and this was decided upon.
During the interval the boys were so busy training that they had little
time for other sports, but the girls found out-door life quite as
interesting as their brothers did, and now made many discoveries in and
about the pretty woodlands.
"Oh, we saw the prettiest little rabbits today," Nan told her mother,
after a trip in the woods. "Flossie and Freddie were sitting on an old
stump when two rabbits ran right across the road in front of them.
Freddie ran after them as far as he could go in the brushwood, but of
course no one can go as fast as a rabbit."
"And the squirrels," Flossie told them. "I think the squirrels are the
prettiest things that live in the woods. They have tails just like
mamma's feather boa and they walk sitting up so cute."
"Oh, I think the rabbits are the nicest," lisped Freddie, "'cause they
are Bunnies, and Bunnies bring Easter eggs."
"And we have made the loveliest fern garden up back of the swing," said
Flossie. "We got a whole basket of ferns in the woods and transplanted
"In the center we have some lovely Jack-in the-pulpits," Nan added.
"Some are light green striped, and the largest are purple with gold
stripes. The Jacks stand up straight, just like real live boys
preaching in a pulpit."
"Don't you think, mamma," asked Flossie, "that daisies and violets make
a lovely garden? I have a round place in the middle of our wild flower
bed just full of light blue violets and white daisies."
"All flowers are beautiful," their mamma told them, "but I do think
with Flossie that daisies and violets are very sweet."
"And, mamma, we got a big piece of the loveliest green moss! It is just
like real velvet," said Flossie. "We found a place all covered with it
down by the pond, under the dark cedar trees. Nan said it wouldn't grow
in our garden, but I brought some home to try. I put it in a cool dark
place, and I'm going to put lots of water on it every day."
"Moss must be very cool and damp to grow," Mrs. Bobbsey replied. "I
remember how disappointed I used to be when I was a little girl and
tried to make it grow around my geraniums. It would always dry up and
turn brown in a few days."
"Oh," called Freddie from his garden under the cherry tree, "come
quick! Look at the funny bugs!"
Nan and Flossie hurried to where their little brother had dug a hole in
"They're mice!" exclaimed Nan. "Oh, aren't they cute! Let's catch them.
Call Bert or Harry."
While Flossie ran to tell Bert, Nan watched the tiny mice so that they
would not get away.
"It's a nest of field mice," Harry told them.
"We'll put them in a cage and have them in our circus."
"But they're my mice," cried Freddie, "and I won't let anybody have
"We're only going to help you take care of them in a little box. Oh,
there's the mother--catch her, Harry," called Bert.
The mother mouse was not so easy to catch, however, and the boys had
quite a chase after her. At last she ran into a tin box the boys had
sunk in the ground when playing golf. Here Harry caught the frightened
"I've got a queer kind of a trap," Harry said. "It's just like a cage.
We can put them in this until we build a larger one. We can make one
out of a box with a wire door."
The mice were the smallest, cutest things, not larger than Freddie's
thumb. They hardly looked like mice at all, but like some queer little
bugs. They were put in the cage trap, mother and all, and then Bert got
them a bit of cheese from the kitchen.
"What! Feed mice!" exclaimed Dinah "Sakes alive, chile! you go bringing
dem mice in de house to eat all our cake and pie. You just better drown
dem in de brook before dey bring a whole lot more mices around here."
"We'll keep them away from the house," Bert told Dinah. "We're going to
have a circus, you know, and these will be our trained mice."
Freddie, of course, was delighted with the little things, and wanted to
dig for more.
"I tell you!" said Bert. "We might catch butterflies and have them
under a big glass on the table with all the small animals."
"That would be good," Harry agreed. "We could catch some big brown ones
and some little fancy ones. Then after dark we could get some big moths
down by the postoffice electric light."
The girls, too, went catching butterflies. Nan was able to secure four
or five yellow ones in the flower garden near the porch, and Flossie
got two of the small brown variety in the nasturtium bed. Harry and
Bert searched in the close syringa bushes where the nests are usually
"Oh! look at this one!" called Freddie, coming up with a great green
butterfly. "Is it bird?" he asked. "See how big it is!"
It really was very large, and had such beautiful wings it might easily
be mistaken for some strange bird.
"We will try to keep them alive," said Harry, "and perhaps we can get
ma's big glass globe to put them in. She has one she used to put wax
"And, oh say!" exclaimed Bert, "couldn't we have an aquarium with
snakes and turtles and toads in?"
"Fine!" declared Harry. "We've got a big glass tank I used to have gold
fish in. We'll get the other fellows to help catch some snakes, fish,
and turtles and toads, and--and anything else that will stand water!"
Then what a time they had hunting for reptiles! It seemed each boy had
a different variety on his premises. August Stout brought three turtles
and Jack Hopkins caught two snakes under a big stone in his back yard.
Tom Mason supplied four lovely gold fish, while Ned Prentice brought
three bright green frogs.
"I can catch hop-toads," declared Freddie, and sure enough the little
fellow brought two big ones and a baby toad in his hat down to the
boys, who had their collection in a glass tank in the barn.
"We can't put the snakes in with the others or they'll eat them up,"
said Jack. "I'll get a big glass jar for the snakes."
"And say!" said Harry. "Will we charge admission to the show?"
"Sure--five cents each," said Tom, "and give the money to the fresh-air
camp over on the mountain."
This was considered a good plan, and now it was only a few days more
until Wednesday--the day of the circus!
News of the circus had spread from one end of Meadow Brook to the
other. Every boy and girl in the place expected to get in to see the
sights, and even some grown folks had made up their minds, from what
they heard, there would be something interesting for them to see, and
so they decided to go too.
Mrs. Bobbsey, Aunt Sarah, Dinah, and Martha had bought tickets for
reserved seats (these cost ten cents each). Then Mildred Manners was
going to bring her mother and her big sister, and Mabel Herold expected
to have her mother with her also. Mr. Bobbsey was coming up from
Lakeport purposely to see the circus, and Uncle Daniel had helped the
boys put up the seats and fix things generally. A big tent had been
borrowed from the Herolds; they were only out at Meadow Brook for the
summer, and this tent was erected in the open field between the Bobbsey
and the Mason farms, alongside the track where Tom had tried Sable.
The tent had large flaps that opened up the entire front, so that all
the exhibits could be shown nicely to the people on the seats out side.
The seats were made of boards set on most anything that would hold
them, with a few garden benches for reserved seats at the front.
Everything was ready, and the circus day came at last.
"Lucky it isn't raining," the boys declared as they rushed around
putting the final touches to everything.
August Stout was appointed to collect the tickets, and Ned Prentice was
to show the people to their seats.
Only one hour more!
Lots of children came early to get good seats. Roy Mason sat right in
the front row alongside of Freddie. Nettie Prentice was on the very
first bench back of the reserved seats. The Herolds came next, and had
Aunt Sarah's front garden bench, the red one. Mildred Manners' folks
paid ten cents each too, and they had the big green bench from the side
"Give Mrs. Burns a front seat," Harry whispered to Ned, as the busy
farmer's wife actually stopped her work to see what all the excitement
The Bobbseys had come--Mr. Bobbsey and all,--and Dinah wore her best
"When will it begin?" Flossie asked, just trembling with excitement.
"I saw Harry and Bert go in the tent some time ago," whispered Nan;
"and see, they are loosing the tent flap."
There was a shout of applause when Harry appeared. He actually wore a
swallowtail coat and had on a choker--a very high collar--and a bright
green tie. He wore long trousers too, and looked so queer even Aunt
Sarah had to laugh when she saw him.
"Oh!" exclaimed all the children when they looked inside the tent.
"Isn't it grand!" whispered Flossie.
Then Bert stepped up on the soap box in the middle of the ring.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he began, making a profound bow, "ladies and
Then everybody roared laughing.
Bert had to wait until they got through laughing at his funny costume,
which was a good deal like Harry's, only the latter wore a red tie.
In a few moments Bert went on again.
"Ladies and gentlemen! Our first number is Frisky, the Sacred Calf of
India!" he exclaimed, imitating that queer-voiced man called a "Barker"
and used at circuses.
Snap! snap! went Bert's whip, and out from a side place, back of a big
screen, came Jack Hopkins dressed like a real clown, leading our old
friend Frisky, the runaway calf.
How awfully funny it was!
The calf had over him a plush portiere that reached clear down to the
ground, and over each ear was tied a long-handled feather duster!
Such laughing and clapping as greeted this "first number"!
Frisky just turned around square in front and looked the people
straight in the face. This funny move made Mr. Bobbsey "die laughing,"
as Flossie said, and Uncle Daniel too was hilarious.
"The sacred calf is too sacred to smile," laughed Uncle Daniel, while
Dinah and Martha just roared.
The children didn't think they ought to laugh out loud and spoil the
show; even Freddie raised his finger to Dinah.
Suddenly the clown jumped on the calf's back. He tried to stand on his
head. Then he turned a somersault on to the sawdust.
Everybody clapped hard now, and the children began to shout.
But Bert snapped his whip and the clown went down on his hands and
knees to apologize. Of course clowns are not supposed to speak, so Jack
did everything by pantomime.
Next he came around and kissed Frisky. This made everybody roar again,
and no matter what the clown did it certainly looked very funny.
Finally Bert snapped his whip three times, and the clown jumped on
Frisky's back, over the plush curtain and all, and rode off.
"Wasn't that splendid!" everybody exclaimed.
"I really never enjoyed a big circus more than this!" remarked Mrs.
Bobbsey to Mrs. Burns. The others all said nice things too; and then
Bert announced the next turn.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he began again, "our next number will introduce
to you the famous wildcats, Snoop and Fluffy. Real wildcats from the
jungle, and this is the first--time--they--have ever been exhibited in
Snap went the whip, and out came Harry with our little kitten friends
one on each arm.
He whistled, and Snoop climbed on his shoulder!
He whistled again, and Fluffy climbed on the other shoulder.
This "brought the house down," as Uncle Daniel said, and there was so
much noise the kittens looked frightened.
Next Harry stretched out both arms straight and the kittens carefully
walked over into his hands.
"Well, I declare!" exclaimed Dinah. "Jest see dat Snoopy kitty-cat! If
he can't do real reg'lar circus tricks! And jest to think how he cut up
on de cars! 'Pears like as if he was doin' it fer jokes den too!"
"And look at Fluffy!" exclaimed Martha; "as white as Snoop is black!"
Harry stooped down and let the kittens jump through his hands, which is
an old but none the less a very pretty trick.
With the air of a real master, Bert snapped his whip and placed on the
table a little piece of board. He rubbed something on each end (it was
a bit of dried herring, but the people didn't know that), then Harry
put Snoop on one end and Fluffy on the other.
"Oh, a teeter-tauter!" called Freddie, unable to restrain his joy any
longer. "I bet on Snoop. He's the heaviest."
At the sound of Freddie's voice Snoop turned around and the move sent
Fluffy up the air.
"Oh! oh! oh!" came a chorus from the children, but before anybody in
the circus had time to interfere off went Fluffy, as hard as she could
run, over the lots, home.
The next minute Snoop was after her, and Harry stood alone in the ring
bowing to the "tremendous applause."
When the laughing had ceased Bert made the next announcement.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "we will now introduce our famous
menagerie. First we have the singing mice."
"They're mine!" called Freddie, but Nan insisted on him keeping quiet.
"Now you will hear the mice sing," said Bert, and as he held up the
cage of little mice somebody whistled a funny tune back of the scenes.
"Good! good!" called Mr. Bobbsey. "We've got real talent here," he
added, for indeed the boys had put together a fine show.
"Now you see our aquarium," went on Bert as Harry helped him bring
forward the table that held the glass tank.
"Here we have a real sea serpent," he said, pointing to a good fat chub
that flopped around in the water.
"Let the little ones walk right up and see them," Bert said. "Form in
line and pass in this way."
Not only the children went up, but grown folks too, for they wanted a
look into the tank.
"Now here are our alligators and crocodiles," announced Bert, pointing
his whip at the turtles.
"And these are sea-lions," he said, pointing out Freddie's hop-toads.
At each announcement everybody laughed, but Bert went on as seriously
as if he were deaf.
"In this separate tank," he declared, "we have our boa-constrictors,
the largest and fiercest in the world. This is the first time one of
this specimen has ever been captured alive. Note the dangerous stripe
on his back!"
It was Jack's snakes that came in for this description, and the girls
were quite afraid of them, although they were in a glass jar.
"Well, I declare!" said Mrs. Burns. "If this isn't a sure-enough
circus. I often paid a half-dollar when I went to see things no better
Everybody thought everything was splendid, and the boys were well paid
for their efforts.
"Now," said Bert, "here are our crystal fish from the deep sea!" (These
were Tom's goldfish.) "You will notice how bespangled they are. They
say this comes from the fish eating the diamonds lost in shipwrecks."
"What a whopper!" called someone back of the scenes whose voice sounded
like Tom Mason's.
Snap! went Bert's whip, and the boys did not interrupt him again.
"The last part of our menagerie is the cage of prize butterflies," said
Bert. "These butterflies are rare and scarce and--"
"Hard to catch!" remarked someone not on the programme.
"Now there will be ten minutes' intermission," the announcer said, "so
all may have time to see everything in the menagerie.
"After that we will give you the best number of the programme, our
"Oh, that's going to be Tom!" exclaimed Roy.
"No, it's Bert," said Flossie.
"Well, Jack has our goat-wagon," said Mildred.
"I guess there'll be a whole lot in the race," said Freddie, "and maybe
they'll have firemen."
During the intermission August sold a whole big basket of peanuts, and
the people wanted more. They knew all the money was to go to the fresh-
air camp, which was probably the reason they bought so generously.
"I don't know when I have enjoyed myself so much," declared Mrs.
Manners, fanning herself. "I had no idea boys could be so clever."
"That's because you only have girls," laughed Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Don't you think we ought to give them a treat for working so hard?"
whispered Mrs. Herold to Aunt Sarah. "I would be delighted to have them
all to dinner," she added, in her society way, for the Herolds were
"That would be very nice, I'm sure," Aunt Sarah replied; "boys always
have good appetites after having a lot of fun."
All this time there was plenty of noise back of the scenes, and it was
evident something big was being prepared.
Presently Bert and Harry came out and lowered the tent flap, first
making sure all the little sightseers were outside.
"They're comin'!" exclaimed Freddie, clapping his fat hands.
"Oh, I'm just so nervous!" whispered Flossie! "I hope none of the
animals will get loose."
"Now, ladies and gentlemen," called Tom Mason, appearing at the tent,
"if you will just turn round the other way in your seats and face that
ring we will give you an exhibition of cowboy life on the plains!"
THE CHARIOT RACE
Tom's costume was a splendid imitation of a cowboy. He wore tan-
colored overalls and a jumper, the jumper being slashed up at the sides
like an Indian's coat. On his head was a very broad sombrero, this hat
having really come from the plains, as it belonged to a Western farmer
who had lately moved to Meadow Brook.
Presently Tom appeared again, this time riding the fiery Sable.
"Hurrah! hurrah!" shouted the boys, as Tom drove into the ring like a
Bert now stepped into the middle of the ring alongside of some soap
boxes that were piled up there.
"Now you see ladies and gentlemen," began Bert, laughing a little at
the show in broad daylight, "you see this (the soap boxes) is a mail
coach. Our cowboy will rob the mail coach from his horse just as they
used to do in the mountains of Arizona."
Snap went the whip, and away went Sable around the ring at a nice even
canter. After a few turns around Tom urged his horse on a little until
he was going on a steady run. Every one kept quiet, for most of Meadow
Brook people had heard how Sable had run away some days before.
"There ought to be music," whispered Jack to Harry, for indeed the
circus was so real it only lacked a brass band.
Now Bert put on top of the soap boxes Harry's canvas schoolbag stuffed
full of papers.
"This is the United States mail," he said. "We will understand that the
coach has stopped for a few minutes."
Sable was going along splendidly by this time, and everybody said what
a pretty little horse he was.
"He's goin' to steal the mail box now!" whispered Flossie to Freddie.
"I hope Sable won't fall or anything."
Snap! snap! went the whip as the horse ran faster and faster.
All of a sudden Tom got a good tight hold on the reins, then he pulled
up alongside of the mail coach, leaned over, grabbed the mail bag, and
spurred his horse at full speed around the ring.
"Hurrah! hurrah!" shouted everybody.
"Well done!" called Uncle Daniel.
"Couldn't be better!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey.
Tom waved his hat now and patted Sable affectionately, as all good
riders do when their horses have done well in the ring.
The men admired the little horse so much they came up and asked the
"cowboy" a lot of questions about him, how old he was and who broke him
"One more number," called Bert. "The chariot race."
At this all took their seats again, and out trotted two clowns, Jack
and August, each riding in a little goat wagon.
The goats were decorated with the Fourth of July buntings and the
wagons had the tailboards out and were tipped up like circus chariots.
The clowns pulled up in line.
"One, two, three!" called Bert, with a really big revolver up in the
"Ready! Set! Go!" Bang! went the revolver (a blank cartridge, of
course) and away started the chariots.
Jack wore a broad green belt and August had yellow. Jack darted ahead!
"Go it, green!" shouted one group of boys.
"Pass him, orange!" called another crowd.
Now August passed Jack just as they crossed the line.
"One!" called Bert. "We will have ten rounds."
In the next the wagons kept almost even until just within a few feet of
the line, then Jack crossed first.
"Two!" called Bert, while all the boys shouted for their favorite.
In the next three or four turns the riders divided even. Finally the
last round was reached and the boys had tied; that is, both were even
when the round started. This of course made the race very interesting,
as both had equal chances of winning.
"I'll put a dollar on green," called Mr. Bobbsey. "For the fresh-air
"I'll put one on orange," called Uncle Daniel, "for the same charity."
Then the ladies all wanted to bet, but Bert said it was against the
rules to allow betting.
"We will take all the money you want to give us," said Bert, "but we
cannot allow betting on the races."
"All ready!" called the ringmaster, holding his revolver high in the
Bang went the gun!
Off went the chariots!
My, how those little goats did run!
"Go it, green!"
"Go it, orange!"
Shout after shout greeted the riders as they urged their steeds around
Suddenly Jack's chariot crossed in front of August.
"Foul!" called Bert, while Jack tried his best to get on his own side
"Back! back!" yelled Jack to his horse (goat), but the little animal
was too excited to obey.
Finally fat August Stout, the funniest clown: dashed home first and won
"Hurrah for Nero!" called everybody. "Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!" shouted
the boys long and loud.
The circus was over!
The money was counted, and there was exactly twenty-three dollars to be
given the poor children in the Meadow Brook Fresh-Air Camp.
Wasn't that splendid? And to think everybody had such a good time too!
Freddie and Roy were allowed to ride home in the goat wagons, and they
tried to race along the way.
A committee of five boys, Bert, Harry, Jack, Tom, and August, took the
money over to the fresh-air camp the next day, and the managers said it
was a very welcome gift, for new coats were needed for some sick
children that were expected to come out from the city as soon as
provision could be made for them.
"Somebody dropped a two-dollar bill in the ticket box," August told his
companions. "Then there were the other two dollars from the race,
besides some fifty-cent pieces I don't know who gave. Of course we
couldn't make all that just on five-and ten-cent seats. And I took in
two dollars on the peanuts besides."
"Well, we're all satisfied," said Harry. "And I guess everybody had a
"Sure they did," spoke up Tom, "and I hope Bert will come out here next
year to help us with another big circus. They're the best fun we ever
For some days every boy and girl in Meadow Brook talked about the
circus, which had really been a greater success than even the boys
themselves had expected.
It was a warm afternoon quite late in July--one of those days that make
a boy feel lazy and inclined to stretch himself.
Bert and Harry were down back of the barn sitting on the fresh stack of
hay that had just been piled up by John the stableman.
"Did you ever try smoking?" Harry asked Bert suddenly, as if he had
discovered something new and interesting.
"No!" answered Bert in surprise. "Father wouldn't let me smoke."
"Neither would pa," said Harry, "but I suppose every fellow has to try
it some time. I've seen them make cigarettes out of corn silk."
"I suppose that is not as bad as tobacco," replied Bert.
"No," answered Harry, "there's no harm in corn silk. Guess I'll try to
roll a cigarette."
At this Harry slid down off the hay and pulled from the fast withering
corn some dry silk.
With a good handful he went back to Bert.
"I've got some soft paper," he said, sitting down again and beginning
Bert watched with interest, but really had no idea of doing wrong.
"There!" exclaimed Harry, giving the ends of the cigarette a twist.
"How is that?"
"Pretty good," answered Bert; "looks like a real one."
"Let's try it!" went on Harry.
"Not in the hay," exclaimed Bert; "you might drop the match."
At this Harry slid down along the side of the stack, and Bert followed.
It did seem wrong as soon as Harry struck the match, but the cigarette
being only corn silk made the boys forget all the warnings never to
Harry gave a puff or two. Then he choked a little.
"Kinder strong," he spluttered. "You try it!"
Bert put the cigarette in his mouth. He drew it once or twice, then
quickly tossed it aside.
"Ouch!" he exclaimed. "Tastes like old shoes!"
At that time John came up and piled on some more hay. The boys of
course had to act as if nothing had happened, and dared not look around
to find the lighted cigarette even though they wanted to very much.
"I hope it went out," Bert said, as John walked away again.
"If it didn't it's under the hay," said Harry, somewhat alarmed. "But I
guess it's out."
"My, look at the storm coming!" Bert exclaimed suddenly. "We ought to
help John with that load of hay."
"All right," said Harry, "come along!" and with this the two boys
started on a run down through the fields into the open meadow, where
the dry hay was being packed up ready to put on the hay rick.
John, of course, was very glad of the help, for it spoils hay to get it
wet, so all three worked hard to load up before the heavy shower should
"All ready!" called John, "and no time to lose."
At this the boys jumped up and all started for the barn.
"There's smoke!" exclaimed Harry in terror as they neared the barn.
"The barn is afire!" screamed John the next minute, almost falling from
his seat on the wagon in his haste to get down.
"Quick! quick!" yelled the boys, so frightened they could hardly move.
"The hose!" called John, seeing flames now shoot out of the barn
windows, "Get the hose, Harry; it's in the coach house. I'll get a
bucket while you attach the hose."
By this time everybody was out from the house.
"Oh, mercy!" cried Aunt Sarah. "Our whole barn will be burned."
Uncle Daniel was with John now, pouring water on the flames, that were
gaining in spite of all efforts to put them out.
"Where's the firemen!" cried little Freddie, in real tears this time,
for he, like all the others, was awfully frightened.
The boys had a stream from the hose now, but this too was of no
account, for the flames had shot up from the big pile of dry hay!
"The firemen!" called Freddie again.
"There are no firemen in the country, Freddie," Nan told him. "We have
to put the fire out ourselves."
"We can't then," he went on, "and all the other barns will burn too."
There was indeed great danger, for the flames were getting ahead
All this time the terrific thunderstorm was coming up.
Clap after clap of thunder rolled over the hills and made the fire look
more terrible against the black sky.
"The rain!" exclaimed Uncle Daniel at last, "The rain may put it out;
At this one terrific clap of thunder came. Then the downpour of rain.
It came like a very deluge, and as it fell on the flames it sent out
steam and smoke but quickly subdued the cracking and flashing of the
Everybody ran to the back porch now but John and Uncle Daniel. They
went in the coach house at the side of the barn.
"How could it have caught fire?" Aunt Sarah said. But Harry and Bert
were both very pale, and never said a word.
How heavily the rain did pour down, just like a cloudburst! And as it
struck the fire even the smoke began to die out.
"It's going out!" exclaimed Harry. "Oh, I hope it keeps on raining!"
Soon there was even no more smoke!
"It's out!" called John, a little later. "That was a lucky storm for
The heavy downpour of rain had ceased now, and everybody ran to the
barn to see what damage the fire had done.
"It almost caught my pigeon coop!" said Harry, as he examined the
blackened beams in the barn near the wire cage his birds lived in.
"The entire back of this barn will have to be rebuilt," said Uncle
Daniel. "John, are you sure you didn't drop a match in the hay?"
"Positive, sir!" answered John. "I never use a match while I'm working.
Didn't even have one in my clothes."
Bert whispered something to Harry. It was too much to have John blamed
for their wrongdoing.
"Father!" said Harry bravely, but with tears in his eyes. "It was our
fault; we set the barn afire!"
"What!" exclaimed Uncle Daniel in surprise. "You boys set the barn
"Yes," spoke up Bert. "It was mostly my fault. I threw the cigarette
away and we couldn't find it."
"Cigarette!" exclaimed Uncle Daniel. "What!--you boys smoking!"
Both Bert and Harry started to cry. They were not used to being spoken
to like that, and of course they realized how much it cost to put that
nasty old cigarette in their mouths. Besides there might have been a
great deal more damage if it hadn't been for the rain.
"Come with me!" Uncle Daniel said; "we must find out how all this
happened," and he led the unhappy boys into the coach house, where they
all sat down on a bench.
"Now, Harry, stop your crying, and tell me about it," the father
Harry tried to obey, but his tears choked him. Bert was the first able
"Oh, Uncle Daniel," he cried, "we really didn't mean to smoke. We only
rolled up some corn silk in a piece of paper and--"
His tears choked back his words now, and Harry said:
"It was I who rolled the cigarette, father, and it was awful, it almost
made us sick. Then when Bert put it in his mouth--"
"I threw it away and it must have fallen in the hay!" said Bert.
"Why didn't you come and tell me?" questioned Uncle Daniel severely.
"It was bad enough to do all that, but worse to take the risk of fire!"
"Well, the storm was coming," Harry answered, "and we went to help John
with the hay!"
"Now, boys," said Uncle Daniel, "this has been a very serious lesson to
you and one which you will remember all your lives. I need not punish
you any more; you have suffered enough from the fright of that awful
fire. And if it hadn't been that you were always pretty good boys the
Lord would not have sent that shower to save us as He did."
"I bet I'll never smoke again as long as I live," said Harry
determinedly through his tears.
"Neither will I," Bert said firmly, "and I'll try to make other fellows
stop if I can."
"All right," answered Uncle Daniel, "I'm sure you mean that, and don't
forget to thank the Lord to-night for helping us as He did. And you
must ask His pardon too for doing wrong, remember."
This ended the boys' confession, but they could not stop crying for a
long time, and Bert felt so sick and nervous he went to bed without
eating any supper. Uncle Daniel gave orders that no one should refer to
the fire or cause the boys any more worry, as they were both really
very nervous from the shock, so that beyond helping John clear things
up in the burned end of the barn, there was no further reference to the
Next day it rained very hard--in fact, it was one of those storms that
come every summer and do not seem to know when to go away.
"The gate at the sawmill dam is closed," Harry told Bert, "and if the
pond gets any higher they won't be able to cross the plank to open up
the gate and let the water out."
"That would be dangerous, wouldn't it?" Bert asked.
"Very," replied Harry. "Peter Burns' house is right in line with the
dam at the other side of the plank, and if the dam should ever burst
that house would be swept away."
"And the barn and henhouse are nearer the pond than the house even!"
Bert remarked. "It would be an awful loss for a poor man."
"Let's go up in the attic and see how high the pond is," Harry
From the top of the house the boys could see across the high pond bank
into the water.
"My!" Bert exclaimed; "isn't it awful!"
"Yes, it is," Harry replied. "You see, all the streams from the
mountains wash into this pond, and in a big storm like this it gets
"Why do they build houses in such dangerous places?" asked Bert.
"Oh, you see, that house of Burns' has stood there maybe one hundred
years--long before any dam was put in the pond to work the sawmill,"
"Oh, that's it--is it?" Bert replied. "I thought it was queer to put
houses right in line with a dam."
"See how strong the water is getting," went on Harry. "Look at that big
log floating down."
"It will be fun when it stops raining," remarked Bert. "We can sail
things almost anywhere."
"Yes, I've seen the pond come right up across the road down at Hopkins'
once," Harry told his cousins. "That was when it had rained a whole
week without stopping."
"Say," called Dinah from the foot of the stairs. "You boys up there
better get your boots on and look after that Frisky cow. John's gone
off somewhere, and dat calf am crying herself sick out in de barn.
Maybe she a-gettin' drownded."
It did not take long to get their boots and overcoats on and hurry out
to the barn.
"Sure enough, she is getting drownded!" exclaimed Harry, as they saw
the poor little calf standing in water up to her knees.
"Where is all the water coming from?" asked Bert.
"I don't know," Harry answered, "unless the tank upstairs has
The boys ran up the stairs and found, just as Harry thought, the tank
that supplied all the barns with water, and which also gave a supply
for the house to be used on the lawn, was flowing over.
"Is there any way of letting it out?" asked Bert, quite frightened.
"We can open all the faucets, besides dipping out pailfuls," said
Harry. "But I wish John would get back."
Harry ran to get the big water pail, while Bert turned on the faucet at
the outside of the barn, the one in the horse stable, another that
supplied water for the chickens and ducks, and the one John used for
carriage washing. Frisky, of course, had been moved to a dry corner and
now stopped crying.
Harry gathered all the large water pails he could carry, and hurried up
to the tank followed by Bert.
"It has gone down already," said Harry, as they looked into the tank
again. "But we had better dip out all we can, to make sure. Lucky we
found it as soon as we did, for there are all father's tools on the
bench right under the tank, besides all those new paints that have just
"Here comes John now," said Bert, as he heard the barn door open and
"Come up here, John!" called Harry; "we're almost flooded out. The tank
"It did!" exclaimed John. "Gracious! I hope nothing is spoiled."
"Oh, we just caught it in tine," Harry told him, "and we opened up the
faucets as soon as we could. Then we began dipping out, to make sure."
"You were smart boys this time," John told him, "and saved a lot of
trouble by being so prompt to act. There is going to be a flood sure.
The dam is roaring like Niagara, and they haven't opened the gates
"I'm glad we are up high," Bert remarked, for he had never seen a
country flood before, and was a good deal frightened at the prospect.
"Hey, John!" called Freddie from the back porch. "Hey, bring me some
more nails, will you? I need them for my ark."
"He's building an ark!" laughed Bert. "Guess we'll need it all right if
this keeps on."
Harry got some nails from his toolbox in the carriage house, and the
boys went up to the house.
There they found Freddie on the hard cement cellar floor, nailing
boards together as fast as his little hammer could drive the nails in.
"How's that?" asked the little fellow, standing up the raft.
"I guess that will float," said Bert, "and when it stops raining we can
"I'm going to make a regular ark like the play one I've got home," said
Freddie, "only mine will be a big one with room for us all, besides
Frisky, Snoop, Fluffy, and--"
"Old Bill. We'll need a horse to tow us back when the water goes down,"
Freddie went on working as seriously as if he really expected to be a
little Noah and save all the people from the flood.
"My, but it does rain!" exclaimed somebody on the front porch.
It was Uncle Daniel, who had just returned from the village, soaking
"They can't open the gates," Uncle Daniel told Aunt Sarah. "They let
the water get so high the planks sailed away and now they can't get
near the dam."
"That is bad for the poor Burns family!" exclaimed Aunt Sarah. "I had
better have John drive me down and see if they need anything." "I
stopped in on my way up," Uncle Daniel told her, "and they were about
ready to move out. We'll bring them up here if it gets any worse."
"Why don't they go to the gates in a boat?" asked Bert.
"Why, my dear boy," said Uncle Daniel, "anybody who would go near that
torrent in a boat might as well jump off the bridge. The falls are
twenty-five feet high, and the water seems to have built them up twice
that. If one went within two hundred feet of the dam the surging water
would carry him over."
"You see," said Harry, explaining it further, "there is like a window
in the falls, a long low door. When this is opened the water is drawn
down under and does not all have to go over the falls."
"And if there is too much pressure against the stone wall that makes
the dam, the wall may be carried away. That's what we call the dam
bursting," finished Uncle Daniel.
All this was very interesting to Bert, who could not help being
frightened at the situation.
The boys told Uncle Daniel how the tank in the barn had overflowed, and
he said they had done good work to prevent any damage.
"Oh, Uncle Daniel!" exclaimed Freddie, just then running up from the
cellar. "Come and see my ark! It's most done, and I'm going to put all
the animals and things in it to save them from the flood."
"An ark!" exclaimed his uncle, laughing. "Well, you're a sensible
little fellow to build an ark to-day, Freddie, for we will surely need
one if this keeps up," and away they went to examine the raft Freddie
had actually nailed together in the cellar.
That was an awful night in Meadow Brook, and few people went to bed,
staying up instead to watch the danger of the flood. The men took turns
walking along the pond bank all night long, and their low call each
hour seemed to strike terror in the hearts of those who were in danger.
The men carried lanterns, and the little specks of light were all that
could be seen through the darkness.
Mrs. Burns had refused to leave her home.
"I will stay as long as I can," she told Uncle Daniel. "I have lived
here many a year, and that dam has not broken yet, so I'm not going to
give up hope now!"
"But you could hardly get out in time should it break," insisted Uncle
Daniel, "and you know we have plenty of room and you are welcome with
Still she insisted on staying, and each hour when the watchman would
call from the pond bank, just like they used to do in old war-times:
"Two o'clock-and--all is--well!" Mrs. Burns would look up and say,
"Dear Lord, I thank Thee!"
Peter, of course, was out with the men. He could not move his barns and
chicken house, but he had taken his cow and horse to places of safety.
There were other families along the road in danger as well as the
Burnses, but they were not so near the dam, and would get some warning
to escape before the flood could reach them should the dam burst.
How the water roared! And how awfully dark it was! Would morning ever
"Four o'clock--the water rises!" shouted the men from the bank.
"Here, Mary!" called Peter Burns at the door of their little home, "you
put your shawl on and run up the road as fast as you can! Don't wait to
take anything, but go!"
"Oh, my babies' pictures!" she cried. "My dear babies! I must have
The poor frightened little woman rushed about the house looking for the
much-prized pictures of her babies that were in heaven.
"It's a good thing they all have a safe home to-night," she thought,
"for their mother could not give them safety if they were here."
"Come, Mary!" called Peter, outside. "That dam is swaying like a tree-
top, and it will go over any minute." With one last look at the little
home Mrs. Burns went out and closed the door.
Outside there were people from all along the road. Some driven out of
their homes in alarm, others having turned out to help their neighbors.
The watchmen had left the bank. A torrent from the dam would surely
wash that away, and brave as the men were they could not watch the
flood any longer.
"Get past the willows quick!" called the men. "Let everybody who is not
needed hurry up the road!"
Mr. Mason, Mr. Hopkins, Uncle Daniel, and John, besides Peter Burns,
were the men most active in the life-saving work. There were not many
boats to be had, but what there were had been brought inland early in
the day, for otherwise they would have been washed away long before
down the stream into the river.
"What's that?" called Uncle Daniel, as there was a heavy crash over
near the gates.
Then everybody listened breathless.
It was just coming daylight, and the first streak of dawn saw the end
of the awful rain.
Not one man in the crowd dared to run up that pond bank and look over
"It's pretty strong!" said the watchman. "I expected to hear it crash
an hour ago!"
There was another crash!
"There she goes!" said Mr. Burns, and then nobody spoke.
A TOWN AFLOAT
"Is she going?" asked Uncle Daniel at last, after a wait of several
Daylight was there now; and was ever dawn more welcome in Meadow Brook!
"I'll go up to the pipes," volunteered John. "And I can see from
Now, the pipes were great water conduits, the immense black iron kind
that are used for carrying water into cities from reservoirs. They were
situated quite a way from the dam, but as it was daylight John could
see the gates as he stood on the pipes that crossed above the pond.
Usually boys could walk across these pipes in safety, as they were far
above the water, but the flood had raised the stream so that the water
just reached the pipes, and John had to be careful.
"What's that?" he said, as he looked down the raging stream.
"Something lies across the dam!" he shouted to the anxious listeners.
This was enough. In another minute every man was on the pond bank.
"The big elm!" they shouted. "It has saved the dam!"
What a wonderful thing had happened! The giant elm tree that for so
many, many years had stood on the edge of the stream, was in this great
flood washed away, and as it crossed the dam it broke the force of the
torrent, really making another waterfall.
"It is safe now!" exclaimed Uncle Daniel in surprise. "It was the tree
we heard crash against the bank. The storm is broken at last, and that
tree will hold where it is stuck until the force goes down. Then we can
open the gates."
To think that the houses were safe again! That poor Mrs. Burns could
come back to the old mill home once more!
"We must never have this risk again," said Mr. Mason to Uncle Daniel.
"When the water goes down we will open the gates, then the next dry
spell that comes when there is little water in the pond we will break
that dam and let the water run through in a stream. If the mill people
want water power they will have to get it some place where it will not
Uncle Daniel agreed with Mr. Mason, and as they were both town
officials, it was quite likely what they said would be done in Meadow
"Hey, Bert and Harry!" called Tom Mason, as he and Jack Hopkins ran
past the Bobbsey place on their way to see the dam. "Come on down and
see the flood."
The boys did not wait for breakfast, but with a buttered roll in hand
Harry and Bert joined the others and hurried off to the flood.
"Did the dam burst?" was the first question everybody asked along the
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