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The Bobbsey Twins at Meadow Brook
by Laura Lee Hope
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Into the house, through the rain, tramped the children, and soon, eating cookies, they were telling about Freddie going to sleep in the hay, and Tom trying to make an omelet of himself in the hen's nest.

"Well, this certainly was a nice day, even if it did rain," said Nan, as they were ready to go to bed that night. "I wonder what we can do to-morrow?"

"I know," answered Bert. "Harry and I have a fine plan."

"Oh, tell me what it is," begged his sister.

"It's a secret," he laughed as he went upstairs.

After breakfast next morning Nan, who did not get up very early, looked for Harry and her brother.

"Where are the boys?" she asked her mother.

"Out in the barn," was the answer. "They took some big sheets of paper with them."

"They must be going to make kites," Nan said.

But when she saw what Bert and Harry were doing, she knew it was not a kite game they were planning. For in letters, made with a black stick on the sheets of paper, Nan read the words:

FIVE-PIN SHOW COME ONE COME ALL

"Oh, what is it?" she cried. "Please tell me, Bert!"

"We're going to have a show," said Harry, "and we're going to charge five pins to come in."

"Oh, may I be in it?" asked Nan. "I'll do anything you want me to. Mayn't I be in it?"

"Shall we let her?" asked Bert of his country cousin.

"Sure," said Harry kindly. "We boys won't be enough. We'll have to have the girls."

"Where's it going to be?" asked Nan.

"Here in the barn," her brother said. "We're going to make a cage for Snap—he's going to be the lion."

"Can Snoop be one of the animals, too?" she inquired.

"Yes, Snoop will be the black tiger," decided Harry. "I only hope he keeps awake, and growls now and then. That will make it seem real."

"Snoop sometimes growls when he gets a piece of meat," suggested Nan.

"Then we'll give him meat in the show," decided Bert.

He and Harry finished making the show bills, and then began to get ready for the performance. With some old sheets they made a curtain across one corner of the barn, in front of the haymow. Nan helped with this, as she could use a needle, thread and thimble better than could the boys.

Then Tom Mason, Mabel Herold and some other of the country boys and girls came over, and they were allowed to be in the show. Bert was to be a clown, and he put on an old suit, turned inside out, and whitened his face with starch, which he begged from Martha.

Harry was to be the wild animal trainer, and show off the black tiger, which was Snoop, and the fierce lion in a cage, which lion was only Snap, the dog.

The show was not to take place until the next day, as Bert said the performers needed time for practice. But some of the "show bills" were fastened up about the village streets, and many boys and girls said they would come if they could get the five pins.

Finally all was ready for the little play. Flossie was made door- keeper and took up the admission pins. Freddie wanted to be a fireman in the show, so they let him do this. His mother made a little red coat for him, and he had his toy fire engine that pumped real water.

"But you mustn't squirt it on anyone in the audience," cautioned Bert.

"No, I'll just squirt it on the wild animals if they get bad," said the little fellow.

Nan was to be a bare-back rider, and Harry had made her a wooden steed from a saw-horse, with rope for reins. Nan perched herself up on the saw-horse, and pretended she was galloping about the ring.

A number of boys and girls came to the show, each one bringing the five pins, so that Flossie had many of them to stick on the cushion which was her cash-box.

Bert was very funny as a clown, and he turned somersaults in the hay. Once he landed on a hard place on the barn floor, and cried:

"Ouch!"

Everyone laughed at that, and they laughed harder when Bert made a funny face as he rubbed his sore elbow.

Harry exhibited Snoop and Snap as the wild animals, but Snoop rather spoiled the performance by not growling as a black tiger should.

"This tiger used to be very wild, ladies and gentlemen," said Harry, "and no keeper dared go in the cage with him. But he is a good tiger now, and loves his keeper," and Harry put his hand in, and stroked Snoop, who purred happily.

"Oh, I think this is a lovely show!" exclaimed Nellie Johnson. "I'm coming every day."

A little later, near the box which had been made into a cage for Snoop, there came a loud noise. Snoop meowed very hard, and hissed as he used to do when he saw a strange dog. At the same time something went:

"Gobble-obblcobble!" Then came a great crash, more cries from Snoop and out into the middle of the barn floor dashed the black cat with a big, long-legged, feathered creature clinging to poor Snoop's tail.

"Oh! Oh! Oh!" cried Flossie. "The wild animals are loose!"



CHAPTER X

A SHAM BATTLE

For a few moments there was wild confusion in that part of the barn where the "show" was going on. Nan gave one look at the strange mixture of the howling Snoop and the gobbling bird in the centre of the floor, and then, catching Flossie up in her arms, Nan made a spring for the haymow.

"Wait! Wait!" cried Flossie. "I'm losing all the pins! I've dropped the pin cushion!"

That was her cash-box—the pins she had taken in as admission to the little play.

"We can't stop for it now!" cried Nan. "We must get out of the way."

"The cat has a fit!" cried Tom Mason.

"Oh, poor Snoop!" wailed Flossie.

"Grab him, somebody!" shouted Harry.

"No, let Snoop alone!" advised Bert. "He might bite, if you touched him now, though he wouldn't mean to."

"But what is it? What gave him the fit?" asked Mabel Herold.

"Our old turkey gobbler," answered Harry. "The gobbler has caught Snoop by the tail. It's enough to give any cat a fit."

"I should say so!" cried Bert. "Look out! They're coming over this way! Look out!"

The children scrambled to one side, for Snoop and the big turkey gobbler were sliding, rolling and tumbling over the barn floor toward the board seats where the show audience, but a little while before, were enjoying the performance.

The girls had followed Nan and Flossie up to a low part of the haymow, and were out of the way. But the boys wanted to be nearer where they could see what was going on.

The noise and the excitement had roused Snap, the dog, who had curled up in his cage and was sleeping, after having been exhibited as a raging and roaring lion, and now Snap was barking and growling, trying to understand what was going on. Perhaps he wanted to join in the fun, for it was fun for the turkey gobbler, if it was not for poor Snoop.

"Look out the way! Clear the track! Toot! Toot!" came a sudden cry and little Freddie came running toward the gobbler and cat, dragging after him his much-prized toy fire engine.

"Get back out of the way, Freddie!" ordered Bert. "Snoop may scratch or bite you, or the gobbler may pick you. Get out of the way!"

"I'm a fireman!" cried the fat little fellow. "Firemans never get out of the way! Toot! Toot! Clear the track! Chuu! Chuu! Chuu!" and he puffed out his cheeks, making a noise like an engine.

"You must come here!" insisted Bert, making a spring toward his little brother.

"I can't come back! Firemans never come back!" half screamed Freddie. "I'm going to squirt water on the bad gobble-obble bird that's biting my Snoop!"

And then, before anyone could stop him, Freddie unreeled the little rubber hose of his fire engine, and pointed the nozzle at the struggling gobbler and cat in the middle of the barn floor.

I have told you, I think, that Freddie's engine held real water, and, by winding up a spring a little pump could be started, squirting a stream of water for some distance.

"Whoop! Here comes the water!" cried Freddie, as he started the pump working.

Then a stream shot out, right toward the cat and turkey. It was the best plan that could have been tried for separating them.

With a howl and a yowl Snoop pulled his claws loose from where they were tangled up in the turkey's feathers. With a final gobble, the turkey let go of Snoop's tail. The water spurted out in a spraying stream, Freddie's engine being a strong one, for a toy.

"That's the way I do it!" cried Freddie, just like Mr. Punch. "That's the way I do it! Look, I made them stop!"

"Why—why, I believe you did!" exclaimed Bert, with a laugh.

The gobbler ran out through the open barn door, his feathers wet and bedraggled. He must have thought he had been caught in a rainstorm. And poor Snoop was glad enough to crawl away in a dark corner, to lick himself dry with his red tongue.

"Poor Snoop!" said Freddie, as he stopped his engine from pumping any more water. "I'm sorry I got you wet, Snoop, but I couldn't help it. I only meant to sprinkle the gobbler."

He patted Snoop, who began purring.

"Well, I guess that ends the show," said Bert, who looked funnier than ever now, as a clown, for the white on his face was streaked in many ways with the water, some of which had sprayed on him.

"Yes, the performance is over," announced Harry.

"Oh, but it was lovely!" said Nan, as she slid down the hay with Flossie. "I don't see how you boys ever got it up."

"Oh, we're smart boys!" laughed Harry.

"But I lost all the pins!" wailed Flossie. "Nan wouldn't let me stop to pick them up!"

"I should say not! With that queer wild animal bursting in on us!" exclaimed Mabel. "Oh, but I was so frightened!"

"Pooh! I wasn't!" boasted Freddie. "I knew my fire engine would scare them."

"Well, it did all right," announced Bert "I guess we'd better let Snap out now," he said, for the dog was barking loudly, and trying to break out of the packing box of which his cage was made.

Snoop's cage was broken, where the black cat had forced his way out.

"His tail must have been hanging down through the bars," explained Bert, "and the gobbler came along and nipped it. That made Snoop mad, and he got out and clawed the turkey."

"I guess that was it," agreed Harry. "Well, we had fun anyhow, if Snoop and the turkey did have a hard time."

Snoop was soon dry again, and not much the worse for what had happened to him. The gobbler, except for the loss of a few feathers, was not hurt. But after that the turkey and cat kept well out of each other's way.

Everyone voted the show a great success, and the children planned to have another one before they left Meadow Brook farm. But the Bobbsey twins did not know all that was in store for them before they went back to the city.

One day, when they were all seated at dinner in the pleasant Bobbsey farmhouse, Uncle Daniel paused, with a piece of pie half raised on his fork, and said:

"Hark!"

"What's the matter?" asked Aunt Sarah. "Did you think you heard the old ram coming again?"

"No, but it sounded like thunder," replied her husband, "and if it's going to rain I must hurry, and get those tomatoes picked."

"I heard something, too," said Mr. Bobbsey.

"So did I," spoke up Freddie. "Maybe it's the old black bull down in the pasture."

"No. There it goes again!" said Uncle Daniel. "It must be thunder!"

There sounded a dull distant booming noise, that was repeated several times.

Uncle Daniel got up hastily from the table and went to the door.

"Not a cloud in the sky," he remarked, "and yet that noise is growing louder."

It was, indeed, as they all could hear.

"It's guns, that's what it is," declared Bert "It sounds like Fourth of July."

"That's what it does," agreed his cousin Harry. "It's back of those hills. I'm going to see what it is."

"So am I!" cried Bert. The boys had finished their dinners, and now started off on a run in the direction of the booming sounds.

"Come along," said Uncle Daniel to Mr. Bobbsey. "We may as well go also."

"I want to come!" cried Freddie.

"Not now," said his mother. "Wait until papa comes back."

Mr. Bobbsey, with his brother and the two boys, soon reached the top of the hill. All the while the sound like thunder was growing louder. Then puffs of smoke could be seen rising in the air.

"What can it be?" asked Bert.

"I can't imagine," answered Harry.

They saw, in another minute, what it was.

Down in a valley below them was a crowd of soldiers, with cannon and guns, firing at one another. The soldiers were divided into two parties. First one party would run forward, and then the other, both sides firing as fast as they could.

"It's a war!" cried Bert. "It's a battle!"

"It's only a sham battle!" said Mr. Bobbsey. "No one is being hurt, for they are using blank cartridges. It must be that the soldiers are practicing so as to know how to fight if a real war comes. It is only a sham battle."

The cannons roared, the rifles rattled and flashes of fire and puffs of smoke were on all sides.

"Oh, look at the horses—the cavalry!" cried Harry, as a company of men, mounted on horses, galloped toward some of the soldiers, who turned their rifles on them.

Then one man, on a big black horse, left the main body and came straight on toward Mr. Bobbsey, Uncle Daniel, and the two boys.

"We'd better look out!" cried Bert "Maybe he wants to capture us!"



CHAPTER XI

MOVING PICTURES

The man on the black horse continued to ride toward the two boys, Uncle Daniel and Mr. Bobbsey. Behind him more men on horses rushed forward, but they were going toward some soldiers on foot, who were firing their rifles at the "cavalry," as Harry called them, that being the name for horse-soldiers.

"Oh, look, some of the men are falling off their horses!" cried Bert

"Maybe they are hurt," Harry said.

"No, I guess it's only making believe, if this is a sham battle," went on Bert.

By this time the man on the black horse was near Mr. Bobbsey.

"You had better stand farther back, if you don't mind," he said.

"Why, are we in danger here?" asked Uncle Daniel.

"Well, not exactly danger, for we are using only blank cartridges. But you are too near the camera. You'll have your pictures taken if you don't look out," and he smiled, while his horse pawed the ground, making the soldier's sword rattle against his spurs.

"Camera!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey. "Is someone taking pictures of this sham battle?"

"Yes, we are taking moving pictures," replied the soldier. "The man with the camera is right over there," and he pointed to a little hill, on top of which stood a man with what looked like a little box on three legs. The man was turning a crank.

"Moving pictures!" repeated Uncle Daniel, looking in the direction indicated.

"That's what this sham battle is for," went on the soldier who sat astride the black horse. "We are pretending to have a hard battle, to make an exciting picture. Soon the camera will be pointed over this way, and as it wouldn't look well to have you gentlemen and boys in the picture, I'll be obliged to you if you'll move back a little."

"Of course we will," agreed Mr. Bobbsey.

"Especially as it looks as though the soldiers were coming our way."

"Yes, part of the sham battle will soon take place here," the cavalryman went on.

"Come on back, boys!" cried Uncle Daniel, "We can watch just as well behind those trees, and we won't be in the way, and have our pictures taken without knowing it"

"Yes, and we won't be in any danger of having some of the paper wadding from a blank cartridge blown into our eyes," added Mr. Bobbsey.

"Say, this is great!" cried Harry. "I'm glad we came."

"So am I," said Bert

The boys looked on eagerly while the battle kept up. They saw the soldiers charge back and forth. The cannon shot out puffs of white smoke, but no cannon balls, of course, for no one wanted to be hurt. Back and forth rushed the soldiers on horses, and others on foot, firing with their rifles.

Of course they were not real soldiers, but were dressed in soldiers' uniforms to make the picture seem real. I suppose you have often seen in moving picture theatres pictures of a battle.

It was well that Mr. Bobbsey and the others had gotten out of the way, for shortly afterward the men rushed right across the spot where Bert and Harry had been standing.

"If we were there, then we'd have been walked on," said Bert.

"Yes, and we'd have had our pictures taken, too," said Harry, pointing to the man with the camera who had taken a new position.

"I wouldn't mind that, would you?" asked Bert.

"No, I don't know as I would," replied the country cousin. "It would be fun to see yourself in moving pictures, I think. Oh, look! That horse went down, and the soldier shot right over his head."

A horse had stumbled and fallen, bringing down the rider with him. But whether this was an accident, or whether it was done on purpose, to make the moving picture look more natural, the boys could not tell.

The firing was now louder than ever. A number of cannon were being used, horses drawing them up with loud rumblings, while the men wheeled the guns into place, loaded and fired them.

On all sides men were falling down, pretending to be shot, for those who took the moving pictures wanted them to seem as nearly like real war as possible.

"Oh, here they are!" suddenly exclaimed a voice back of Mr. Bobbsey and the others.

Turning, Bert saw his mother, with Aunt Sarah, Flossie, Freddie and Nan. They had come up the hill to look down into the valley and see what all the excitement was about.

"Yes, here we are!" cried Mr. Bobbsey. "Isn't this great? It's a sham battle."

"What for?" asked his wife, and she had to speak loudly to be heard above the rattle and bang of the guns.

"For moving pictures," answered Mr. Bobbsey, pointing to the men with the cameras, for now three or four of them were at work, taking views of the "fight" from different places.

"Mercy! What a racket!" exclaimed Aunt Sarah.

"Oh, I don't like it!" cried Flossie, covering her ears with her chubby hands. "Take me away, mamma; I'm afraid of the guns!"

"Pooh! There's nothing to be scared of!" exclaimed Freddie. "I'm going to be a soldier when I grow up, and shoot a gun."

"You can't play with me if you do," declared Flossie, when the bang of the cannon stopped for a moment, leaving the air quiet.

"I don't want to play with girls—I'm going to be a fighting soldier!" declared Freddie. "Hi! Hark to the guns! Boom! Boom!" and he jumped up and down as the cannon thundered again.

"Oh, I don't like it! I want to go home and play with my doll!" half- sobbed Flossie. "I don't like fighting."

"And I don't, either," said Nan, though she was not afraid. It was the noise for which she did not care.

"Hi! That was a fine one!" cried Freddie, as one of the largest cannon fired a blank shot at a group of horse soldiers.

"Please take me home!" sobbed Flossie, and there were tears in her blue eyes now.

"Yes, we'll go home," said Mrs. Bobbsey.

"You can play you are a nurse, Flossie, and take care of your doll. We'll leave the battle to the boys and men."

"I can stay, can't I?" asked Freddie, who was delighted at the lively scene down below, and he jumped about in delight as cannon after cannon went off.

"Yes, you may stay," said his father.

"We'll look after him," he added to his wife.

Freddie crowded up to where Bert and Harry were eagerly watching the sham battle, and stood between his brother and cousin.

"Boom! Boom!" he cried. "I like this!"

But little Flossie covered her ears with her hands and went on down the hill, toward the farmhouse, with her mother and aunt. Nan went with them also, as she said the firing made her head ache.



CHAPTER XII

THE BOBBSEYS ACT

"Well, I guess the battle is over now," said Bert, after a while. The cannon had stopped firing, and the "soldiers" no longer "shot" at each other with their rifles.

"See, the men on horses have captured the other men," spoke Harry. And he pointed to where the cavalry had surrounded a number of the foot soldiers, or infantry, as they are called, and were driving them over the fields toward some log cabins.

"They must have built those log houses on purposes for the moving picture play," said Uncle Daniel. "For they weren't here the other day, when I was over in this valley."

"Very likely they did," agreed Mr. Bobbsey. "It takes a great deal of work to make a moving picture play now-a-days, and often a company will build a whole house, only to set fire to it, or tear it down to make a good picture."

"If they set a house on fire," broke in Freddie, "I could put it out with my fire engine, and I'd be in the movies then."

"Oh, you and your fire engine!" laughed Bert, ruffling up his little brother's hair. "You think you can do anything with it."

"Well, I stopped the turkey gobbler from eating up Snoop," Freddie cried. "Didn't I?"

"So you did!" exclaimed Harry. "You and your fire engine are all right, Freddie."

The soldiers who had fallen off their horses, or who had toppled over in the grass, to pretend that they were shot in battle, now got up— "coming to life," Bert called it.

The battle scene was over, but the men were not yet done using the cameras, for they took them farther down the valley toward the log cabins. The soldiers were now grouped around these buildings, and Bert and Harry could see several ladies, in brightly colored dresses, mingled with the soldiers in uniform.

"I wonder what they are doing now?" asked Bert.

"Oh, taking a more peaceful scene for the movies," answered his father. "They have had enough of war, I guess."

"That would suit Flossie," remarked Uncle Daniel with a laugh.

The valley was now quiet, but over it hung a cloud of smoke from the cannon. The wind was, however, blowing the smoke away.

"Can we go up to the log cabins and watch them make more pictures, father?" asked Bert.

"Well, yes, I guess so; if you don't get in the way of the cameras. Do you want to come?" asked Mr. Bobbsey of Uncle Daniel. "You don't often get a chance to see moving pictures out here, I guess. Better come."

"No, not now, thank you," was the answer, "I must get back and look after my tomatoes. They need to be picked. But you can go on with the boys."

So Mr. Bobbsey took Bert and Harry up to where other moving pictures were being made. The boys did not understand all that was being done, but they watched eagerly just the same.

They saw men and soldiers talking to the ladies, who were members of the moving picture company. Then they saw soldiers, who pretended to have been hurt in the sham-battle, being put on cots, and bandaged up.

"This is a make-believe hospital," Mr. Bobbsey explained to the boys." They want it to look as natural as possible, you see."

The boys watched while "doctors" went among the "wounded," giving them "medicine," all make-believe, of course. Then one of the ladies, dressed as a nurse, came through the rows of cots which were placed in the open air, under some trees.

"How do you like it?" asked one of the moving picture men of Mr. Bobbsey, coming over to where Bert's father was standing. The man had been turning the crank of one of the cameras, but, just then, he had nothing to do.

"It is very interesting," said Mr. Bobbsey. "We heard your firing and came over to look on. Are you going to be here long?"

"Only a few days. But there will be no more battle pictures. They cost too much money to make. The rest of the scenes will be more peaceful."

"That would suit my little girl," said Mr. Bobbsey, with a laugh. "She didn't like the cannon and guns."

"Oh, have you a little girl?" asked the moving picture man, who seemed to be one of those in charge of the actors and actresses.

"Yes, I have a little girl," Mr. Bobbsey replied.

"And these two boys?" asked the camera man.

"No, only one of the boys is mine," and Bert's father nodded at his son. "The other is my nephew."

"Do you live around here?" the man went on. "Excuse my asking you so many questions," he continued. "My name is Weston, and I have charge of making these moving pictures. We need some children to take small parts in one of the scenes, and, as we have no little ones in our company, I was wondering whether we could not get some country boys and girls to pose for us, or, rather, act for us, for we want them to move, not to just stand still. And I thought if you lived around here," he said to Mr. Bobbsey, "you might know where we could borrow a dozen children for an hour or so."

"I don't live here," Mr. Bobbsey replied, "but I am staying on my brother's farm. What sort of acting do you want the children to do for the moving pictures?"

"Oh, something very simple. You see, one of the ladies in our company is supposed to be a school teacher before the war breaks out. We have taken the war scenes already—that sham battle you looked at was all we need of that.

"The school teacher goes to the front as a nurse, but before she goes, we want a scene showing her in front of the school surrounded by her pupils."

"I see," said Mr. Bobbsey.

"Now we have the schoolhouse," said Mr. Weston, "or, rather, there is an old schoolhouse down the road that will do very nicely to photograph. We have permission to use it, as this is vacation time. We also have the lady who will act as the teacher, and, later as the Red Cross nurse. But we need children to act as school pupils.

"I thought perhaps you might know of some children who would like to act for the movies," the man went on. "It will take only a little time, and it will not be at all unpleasant. They will just have to act naturally, as any school children would do."

"Well, I have four children of my own," said Mr. Bobbsey, as he thought of his two sets of twins, "and my brother has a boy. There are also several children in the village. Perhaps it could be arranged to have their pictures taken."

"I hope it can!" exclaimed Mr. Weston. "I'll talk to you about it in a few minutes. I must go see about this hospital scene now."

He hurried away, while Bert and Harry looked at one another.

"Do you want to be in the movies?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.

"I don't mind," spoke Harry, smiling.

"Neither do I," added Bert. "Freddie would like it, too, but Flossie wouldn't come if they shot any guns."

"They wouldn't shoot guns where children were," said Mr. Bobbsey. "I'll see what your mother, and Uncle Daniel and Aunt Sarah say."

Later that day the moving picture man explained just what was wanted, and as Mrs.

Bobbsey and Aunt Sarah had no objections, it was decided to let the Bobbsey twins, as well as Harry, take part in the moving pictures. Tom Mason, Mabel Herold and some others of the country village were also to be in the scene.

It was taken, or "filmed," as the moving picture people say, the next morning. Down to the old schoolhouse, on the country road, went the children, laughing and talking, a little bit shy, some of them.

But the actress who was to pretend to be a school teacher was so nice that she soon made the little children feel at ease. Flossie and Freddie loved her from the first, and each insisted upon walking along with her, hand in hand.

"That will make a pretty picture," said the moving picture man. "Just walk along the road, Miss Burns," he said to the actress, "with Flossie on one side, and Freddie on the other. I'll take your pictures as if you were going to school."

This was done. Flossie and Freddie soon forgot that they were really "acting" for the movies, and were as natural as could be wished.

"I—I've got a fire engine!" said Freddie, as he trudged along with the actress-teacher.

"Have you, indeed?" she asked pleasantly. "Don't look at the camera," she cautioned Flossie. "Just pretend it isn't there."

"And I've got a doll!" Flossie said, not to let Freddie get the best of her.

"And my fire engine pumps real water," Freddie went on, "and I squirted it on our cat and on the old turkey gobbler."

"Oh, but why did you do that?" asked the actress. "Wasn't that unkind?"

"Oh, no!" exclaimed Freddie, his eyes big and round. "The gobbler was pinching our cat's tail, and Snoop was scratching the turkey. I had to squirt water on them to make them stop."

"Oh, I see!" exclaimed Miss Burns with a jolly laugh.

"Well, anyhow, my doll can open and shut her eyes," said Flossie. "So I don't care!"

"That's enough of that scene," said Mr. Weston. "Now all you children crowd up around the school steps, as if you were going in after the last bell had rung. Pretend you are going into school."

The village children were a little bashful at first, but Bert, Nan and Harry, taking the lead, showed them what to do, and after one trial everything went off well.

The children grouped themselves about the actress-teacher, who clasped her arms about the shoulders of as many as she could reach. It made a pretty scene in front of the old school-house, with the green trees for a background. The use of the school had been allowed the moving picture company for the day.

"Now play about, as if it were recess," directed Mr. Weston, after the first scene had been taken. "Be as natural as you can. And you grown folks please keep back out of the way," he asked, for Mrs. Bobbsey and a number of the fathers and mothers had come to see their children pose for the moving picture camera.

By this time the children had lost their bashfulness, and were acting as naturally as though they really were at school. They played tag and other simple games, while the camera clicked their images on the celluloid film. Miss Burns, as the teacher, took part in some of the girls' games.

"Now I want a larger boy and girl to walk down the road together, the boy carrying the girl's books," said Mr. Weston. "You'll do," he went on to Nan, "and you," to Harry. Soon the two cousins were strolling along, having their pictures taken.

"I want to go with Nan!" cried Freddie "I want my picture taken some more."

"Not now, dear," said Miss Burns, who was not in the scene with Nan and Harry. "Wait a little."

"No, I want to go with Nan now," insisted Freddie, and he broke from the hand of the actress and rushed after his sister.

"Oh, he'll spoil the picture!" cried Bert, solicitously. "Come back, Freddie; that's a good boy!"

But Freddie did not intend to come back.

"Nan, Nan! Wait for me!" begged Freddie.

Nan did not know what to do. She had been told to walk down the road, pretending to talk to Harry, and to take half an apple which he would hand her, in view of the camera.

"That's all right—let the little fellow get into the picture," directed Mr. Weston. "It will make it all the prettier."

So Freddie had his wish, to walk beside his sister. But he had not gone far before he saw, on the edge of a little brook, a bright red flower.

"I'm going to get it!" he cried. "I can hold it in my hand. It will look nice in the picture."

"No, no!" cried Nan. "Stay with me, Freddie."

"Going to get the flower!" he shouted, as he ran on ahead.

And, just as he reached the edge of the brook, his foot slipped, and down he went with a great splash, into the water.

"Oh, Freddie's fallen in! Freddie's fallen in!" cried Nan, rushing forward.

"I'll pull him out!" cried the man grinding away at the crank of the camera.

"No, you stay there and get the moving picture," said Mr. Watson. "It will make a funny scene, and Freddie is in no danger. The water isn't deep! I'll get him out!"

"That's the second time Freddie's fallen in," said Bert, as he ran toward the brook.

"Help me out! Help me out!" sobbed Freddie, splashing about in the water.



CHAPTER XIII

THE CIRCUS

"There you are, my little man! Not hurt a bit! Up again! Out again!" and Mr. Weston picked little Freddie out of the brook, and set him on his feet. "All right, aren't you?" asked the moving picture man.

"Ye—yes, I—I guess so," stammered the "little fat fireman," as he looked down at his dripping knickerbockers. "But I—I'm terrible wet! I'm awful wet—ma—mamma!" he stammered.

"Never mind, Freddie," Mrs. Bobbsey answered with a smile. "You'll dry."

"I say!" called one of the men who had been turning the crank of the moving picture camera. "I say, Mr. Weston, I got the picture of the boy falling in the water on this film. I couldn't help it."

"That's all right," said the manager. "It won't spoil the picture any. It will only make it look more natural."

"And it's natural for Freddie to be wet;" said Bert, with a laugh. "He's always playing with that toy fire engine of his, and getting soaked,"

"But I didn't have the fire engine this time, Bert," said the chubby little chap. "I—I fell in!"

"You poor little dear!" exclaimed the actress-schoolteacher, putting her arms around him. "It was all my fault, too!"

"No, it was mine," said Freddie, generously. "I don't mind. I like being wet!"

They all laughed at this. Mrs. Bobbsey said Freddie wanted to be polite.

A few more pictures were made of the village children, the Bobbsey twins, with the exception of Freddie, taking part. Freddie was hurried off by his mother to the farmhouse to be put into dry clothes.

Then, with thanks to those who had helped make the scenes, Mr. Weston, Miss Burns and the camera man went back to the village hotel where they were stopping.

"Wasn't it great, Bert!" exclaimed Harry, as he and his cousin strolled over the fields.

"It certainly was," agreed Bert.

"If we could only see the pictures when they are finished," suggested Mabel Herold. "It must be queer to see yourself in the movies."

"I think so, too," said Nan. "I'm going to find out where this play will be shown, in some theatre, and maybe mamma will take us to it."

"I hope she does," Bert said. "It will be fun to see Freddie falling in."

"Poor little fellow!" murmured Nan.

"But he was real brave," Mabel added.

For several days the Bobbsey twins, their cousin and their country friends talked of the moving pictures in which they had had a part. They went again to the valley, where more scenes were being made, but none were as exciting as the sham-battle.

"Aren't they going to shoot any more guns?" asked Freddie, his eyes big and shining with the hope of excitement.

"I guess that's all over," spoke Bert.

"And I'm glad of it," Nan declared.

"So am I," exclaimed Flossie, looking around as though she would hear a boom from a cannon.

One day Bert and Harry went alone to the place where the moving picture company had erected tents and log cabins in the valley. They found the men packing things up, taking down the tents and knocking apart the wooden cabins.

"Are you all through?" Bert asked Mr. Weston."

"All through, my lad," was the answer. "We are going to another place soon, to get different moving pictures. But we'll be here for a day or two yet, at least some of the camera men will. They have to take pictures of a circus parade."

"Circus parade!" exclaimed Harry. "Is a circus coming here?"

"Well, not exactly here," replied Mr. Weston. "But it is coming to Rosedale—that's the next town—and I am going to have some moving pictures made of it."

"The circus coming to Rosedale!" cried Bert, looking at Harry. The same thought came to both of them.

"Let's go!" exclaimed Harry, eagerly.

"If our folks will let us," added Bert.

"Oh, I guess mine will," spoke the country boy. "Circuses don't come around here very often, and when they do, we generally go. I do hope they'll let you come, Bert."

"It's going to be a large circus," said Mr. Weston. "They have a good collection of wild animals."

"I don't believe they can beat our combination of a wild cat, Snoop, and a crazy turkey gobbler," said Bert to Harry with a laugh, when the two boys were on their way back to the farmhouse.

Passing along a country road Bert saw something that caused him to cry out:

"Look, there it is, Harry!"

"What?"

"The circus! See it!" and Bert pointed to a barn.

"Oh, you mean the circus posters," went on Harry, for Bert had pointed to the bright-colored pictures advertising the performance. There were shown men jumping through paper hoops or hanging from dizzy heights on trapeze bars, ladies riding galloping horses, and all sorts of wild animals, from the long-necked giraffe to the hippopotamus, who appeared to have no neck at all, and from the big elephant to the little monkey.

"Oh, I do hope we can see it!" cried Bert, as he and his cousin stood before the gay pictures.

"I'm going to do my best to go!" declared Harry.

The two boys hurried home, talking on the way of the circus posters they had seen, and wondering if there really would be shown all the wild animals pictured on the side of the barn.

Bert saw his father and mother sitting out in the side yard under a shady tree, and, running up to them he asked:

"Oh, can't we go? We want to so much! Nan, you ask, too!" he cried.

Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey looked at him rather surprised.

"What's it all about?" asked Mr. Bobbsey, with a smile.

"And what am I to ask?"

"For a circus—wild animals—moving pictures—the parade—an elephant —lions, tigers—everything!" cried Bert, stopping because he ran out of breath.

"Ask for all that?" exclaimed Nan, wonderingly.

"No, Bert means the circus is coming," explained Harry, with a laugh. "The moving picture people are going to get views of the parade. The posters are up on the barns and fences. It's coming to Rosedale, the circus is, and—"

"Oh, do let us go!" broke in Bert. Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey looked at one another, questioningly.

"Oh, wouldn't it be just grand!" sighed Nan.

"What is it?" demanded Freddie, toddling up just then. "Is there going to be a fire? Can I squirt with my engine?"

"Always thinking of that, little fat fireman!" laughed his father. "No, it isn't a fire, Freddie."

"It's a circus coming!" cried Bert "Can't you take us, father?"

"I'm afraid not, son," he said. "I have just had a letter calling me back to Lakeport on business."

"Oh!" cried Nan and Bert in a chorus.

"Do we have to go back to the city, too?" asked Bert, after a pause.

"No, I am going to let you and mamma stay here," said Mr. Bobbsey, "but I have to go. I'll come back, of course, but not in time to take you to the circus, I'm afraid."

"Mamma can take us," said Freddie.

"Hardly," said Mrs. Bobbsey with a smile. "I want papa along when I have four children to take to a circus."

"My father will take us," said Harry. "He always goes to a circus when one comes around here."

"Oh, fine!" cried Bert. "Uncle Daniel will take us! Uncle Daniel will take us!" and he caught Nan around the waist and went dancing over the lawn with her.

"Now may we go, papa?" asked Nan, when Bert let her go.

"Well, I guess so," answered Mr. Bobbsey. "Uncle Daniel can look after you as well as I could."

"If Uncle Daniel goes, it will be all right," Mrs. Bobbsey said.

"And will you go, too, mamma?" asked Bert, slipping up to her, and giving her a kiss.

"Oh, yes, I suppose I'll have to help feed the elephant peanuts," she laughed.

"Hurray! Hurrah!" cried Bert, swinging his cap in the air. "We're going to the circus! We're going to the circus!"

The children were delighted with the pleasure in store for them. They talked of little else, and when they found that Tom Mason and Mabel Herold were also going to the show, they were more than delighted.

"Oh, what fun we'll have!" cried Nan.

"I—I hope none of the wild animals get loose," said Flossie, with rather a serious face.

"Nonsense! Of course they won't!" cried Bert.

"If they do, I—I'll squirt my fire engine on them!" cried Freddie. "Lions and tigers are afraid of water."

"But elephants aren't, are they, mamma?" asked Flossie. "I saw a picture of an elephant squirting water through his nose-trunk just like your fire engine, Freddie. Elephants aren't afraid of water."

"Well, elephants won't hurt you, anyhow," spoke the little fat fellow. "And if a lion or tiger gets loose, I'll play the hose on him, just as I did at The Five-Pin Show."

Mr. Bobbsey was obliged to go back to the city next day, but he said he would return to Meadow Brook as soon as he could.

"And if you see that poor boy, bring him back with you, and we'll take him to the circus with us," said Freddie.

"What poor boy?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.

"You know, the one who had the no-good money, and who ran away when we were out with you in the auto that time, and the two girls in the boat—don't you remember?" asked Freddie, ending somewhat breathlessly, for that was rather a long sentence for him.

"Oh, you mean Frank Kennedy, who worked for Mr. Mason," said the lumber merchant.

"Yes, that's the boy," went on Freddie. "If you see him, tell him to run this way, and we'll take him to the circus with us."

"Poor boy," sighed Mrs. Bobbsey. "I wonder what has become of him?"

"I don't know," answered her husband. "I'll ask Mr. Mason, if I see him. He said Frank was sure to come back. It is a hard life for a boy to lead. Well, take care of yourselves, children, and I'll come back as soon as I can. Have a good time at the circus."

"We will, papa!" chorused the Bobbsey twins.

Uncle Daniel readily promised to take the whole family to the circus. Rosedale, where the show would be held, in the big tents, was not far from Meadow Brook.

"I'll just hitch up the team to the big wagon," said the farmer, "put plenty of soft straw in the bottom, and we'll go over in style. We'll take our lunch with us, and have a good time."

"Is Dinah going?" asked Flossie.

"Yes, I think we'll take her and Martha, too," said Mrs. Bobbsey, but when Flossie went to tell the colored cook the treat in store for her, Dinah cried:

"'Deed an' I ain't gwine t' no circus. I doan't want t' be et up by no ragin' lion who goeth about seekin' what he may devour, laik it says in de Good Book. Dere's enough wild animiles right yeah on dish year farm—wild bulls, wild rams an' turkey gobblers, what pulls cats by dere tails. No, sah! honey lamb—I ain't gwine t' no circus!"



CHAPTER XIV

FREDDIE IS MISSING

Flossie came back from her talk with Dinah, looking very disappointed.

"What is the matter, dear?" asked her mother, noting the sorrowful look on the little girl's face.

"Dinah isn't going to the circus," said Flossie, almost ready to cry, for she was very fond of the faithful and loving colored woman.

"Oh, I guess she'll go with us," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Why doesn't she want to come?"

"She's afraid of the wild animals," answered Flossie.

"Pooh! I'm not afraid!" boasted Freddie. "You tell her, Flossie, that I'll take my fire engine along an' scare 'em. Wait, I'll tell her myself."

Out Freddie ran to the kitchen, where Dinah was helping Martha with the baking.

"Don't you be afraid, Dinah!" he cried. "I won't let any of the wild animals get you!"

"Bress yo' heart, honey lamb!" exclaimed the colored cook with a laugh that made her shake "like a bowl full of jelly."

"I—I'll scare 'em off with my fire engine," Freddie went on.

"Will yo', honey lamb? So yo' won't let ole black Dinah get hurted, eh? Well, honey, lamb, I'd gib yo' all a hug but mah hands am all flour," and Dinah held them up for Freddie to see.

"Never mind, you can hug me some other time—you can hug me twice to make up for this," said Freddie. "Now you'll come to the circus, won't you?"

"I—I'll see, honey lamb," Dinah half-promised.

Later Mrs. Bobbsey told the colored cook there would be no danger, and when Dinah learned that Uncle Daniel was going, as well as one of his hired men, she made no more objections.

The day of the circus came, bright and sunny. Everyone was up early in the farm-house, for Uncle Daniel said they wanted to be in time to see the morning parade. Then they would eat their dinner, which they would take with them, as though it were a picnic, and go to the show in the afternoon.

"Oh, I wish papa were here!" sighed Nan, as she and Bert left the breakfast table.

"Why, you're not afraid, are you?" he asked.

"No, only I'd like him to see the show," she said. Nan was always thoughtful for her father.

"Yes, it would be nicer if he could come with us," agreed Bert. And then he forgot all about it, because he and Harry had a discussion as to whether an elephant or a hippopotamus could eat the most hay.

Work on the farm was almost forgotten that circus day. Uncle Daniel and the hired man did what had to be done, and then the horses were hitched to the big wagon, which was filled with straw.

Mrs. Bobbsey and Aunt Sarah were busy dressing Flossie and Freddie. Bert, Harry and Nan could look out for themselves. Dinah and Martha were busy in the kitchen putting up the lunch.

"Here comes Tom Mason!" called Bert to his cousin, as he saw the country boy, dressed in his best, coming up the walk.

"Oh, I do hope Mabel isn't late," exclaimed Flossie. Mabel and Tom were to go to the circus with Uncle Daniel, as the guests of the Bobbsey twins.

"There she comes—down the road," announced Harry, after greeting Tom. "Here comes Mabel!"

The children gathered out on the lawn to wait for the older folks. Finally everything was in readiness, the wagon, drawn by the prancing horses, rattled up, and into it piled the children, sitting down in the soft, clean straw.

"Where's Dinah?" called Flossie.

"Heah I is, honey lamb," answered the colored cook, as she came out with a big basket of good things to eat.

"Oh, I'm going to sit next to Dinah!" cried Bert with a laugh. "I always did like you, didn't I, Dinah?" he demanded.

"Go 'long wif you, honey!" she exclaimed.

"Yo' all doan't git none ob de stuff in dish yeah basket 'till lunch time—no, suh! No mattah how lubbin' yo' is!"

Off they started, with laughter and shouts, Uncle Daniel and his hired man sitting on the front seat, taking turns driving the horses. Freddie wanted to hold the reins, but his uncle said the animals were too frisky that morning for such little hands.

"When they come back they will be tired, and won't be so anxious to run away," the farmer said. "Then you may drive, Freddie."

All along the road were circus posters, and at each new one which they saw the children would shout and laugh in delight. They saw many other farm wagons going along, also filled with family parties, who, like themselves, were going to the circus.

"Hurrah for the big show!" Bert or Nan would call out.

"Hurray! Hurray!" the children in other wagons would answer back. "Isn't it jolly?"

And indeed it was a jolly time for everyone. Even Dinah forgot her fear of the wild animals when from a distance she caught sight of the white circus tents with the gaily colored flags streaming from them.

Uncle Bobbsey found a shed, near the circus grounds, where he could leave the horses and wagon, for he did not want to take the team into town, for fear the sight of the circus animals, and the music of the band, and the steam piano, or Calliope, might scare them, and make them run away.

"We'll watch the parade," Uncle Daniel said. "Then we'll come back here, eat our lunch, and go to the show in the afternoon."

This plan was carried out, and a little later the children and the old folks were standing in line in the big crowd, waiting for the circus parade to come past. Every once in a while someone would step out into the middle of the street, and look up and down.

"Is it coming? Is it coming?" others in the crowd would ask.

"Not yet," would be the answer.

"Oh, look!" suddenly exclaimed Bert, pointing to the window of an office building near which they were standing. "There's Mr. Westen taking moving pictures!"

"Oh, so he is!" cried Nan. And there indeed, with his camera pointed out of the window, was their old friend.

He saw the children and waved to them.

"Here it comes! Here it comes!" was the sudden cry, and from the distance came the sound of music.

"The parade has started! The parade has started!" was the cry that ran through the crowd.

"Oh, isn't this great!" cried Nan, clasping her chum Mabel by the arm.

"It's just lovely!" the country girl said, "and so nice of your mother and uncle and aunt to ask me."

"Oh, we were only too glad to have you," said Nan, politely, but she meant it.

Freddie snuggled close up to fat Dinah.

"Don't you be afraid," he said to the black cook. "I—I won't let any wild animals get you!"

"Dat's a good boy, honey lamb!" she murmured, as she took hold of his hand.

Louder played the music. The children in the crowd began dancing up and down, so excited were they.

"Here it comes! Here it comes!" they cried over and over again.

Then swept past the horses, gay with plumes, and covered with blankets of gold and silver, of purple and red. On the backs of the horses rode men and women with scarlet cloaks, carrying spears tipped with glittering silver.

Then came a herd of elephants, swinging themselves along, now and then sucking up dust from the street and blowing it on their big backs to keep off the flies. Men rode on top of the elephants' heads.

"Don't be afraid! Don't be afraid, Dinah!" said Freddie over and over again.

Ponies, camels, donkeys, more horses, more elephants and other animals went past in the parade.

Then came the gilded wagons, filled with gaily dressed men and women who nodded, smiled and waved their hands at the crowds in the streets.

Bert looked up at the window where Mr. Weston was perched with his camera, and saw him taking moving pictures.

"Oh, look! There's a lion in a cage!" cried Freddie, suddenly.

Just then the big beast sent out a roar that seemed to shake the very ground, and he threw himself against the bars of his cage.

"Oh, he's going to get out! He's going to get out!" came the cry and the people rushed back away from the street.

"No danger! No danger!" shouted the circus men.

"Hold on to me, Dinah!" cried Freddie. "Hold on to me. I won't let him bite you!"

More cages of wild animals rumbled past, but most of the beasts slept peacefully. Only the lion seemed to want to get out, and far down the street his roar could be heard.

"He's a new lion," said someone in the crowd. "He isn't used to being shut up, and he is trying to get out."

"Well, I hope he done stays shut up," murmured Dinah.

The parade came to an end at last, with the steam piano bringing up in the rear of the procession. The man played puffy little tunes, with a tooting chorus that made one want to dance.



"Now for lunch, and then to see the big show," said Uncle Daniel, as he led the way back to where the wagon had been left.

And what a jolly party it was, to sit in the straw and eat nice sandwiches, pies, cookies and cakes Martha and Dinah had put into the baskets. There was lemonade, too, and if it was not pink, like the kind the circus men sold, it was much better and sweeter.

"But when are we going into the circus?" Freddie wanted to know.

"Soon now," said Uncle Daniel.

A little later they made their way to the big tents. First they went in the one where the wild animals, in cages, were drawn up in a circle inside. There were lions, tigers, bears, giraffes, rhinocerosi, hippopotami, and elephants, to say nothing of the cute monkeys.

"Are dem cages good an' strong, mistah?" asked Dinah of one of the circus attendants.

"Oh, yes," he answered, as he passed a carrot in to one of the monkeys.

"Well, dat's good," she said. "'Cause I doan't want none ob dem bears or lions t' come after me when I'se watchin' de circus performers."

"I'll see that none of them get loose," promised the circus man with a laugh at Dinah's fears.

Then the Bobbsey party went on in to the main tent. I wish I could tell you all they saw, but I have not the room in this book. There was a parade around the ring to start with, and then in came rushing the comical clowns, the men and women who rode on horses and who jumped from one trapeze to another.

Jugglers they were, men with trained horses, trick ponies, trained dogs and trained elephants. Some elephants played a ball game, others turned somersaults. Clowns jumped over their backs, and through paper hoops.

"Look here!" Nan would exclaim.

"No, see over there!" Bert would cry.

"Oh, mamma, a man jumped from the top of the tent right into a big fish net!" exclaimed Freddie.

"Look at the monkey riding on the dog's back," Flossie shouted.

"And see that man jump off a horse and jump on him again backwards!" called Tom Mason.

"Oh, but look at the cute ponies," sighed Mabel Herold.

There was so much to see and talk about that the children's eyes must have been tired, and their necks aching before the circus was over.

At last it came to an end with the exciting chariot races, and the crowd began to leave the big tent.

"Now keep close together, children," warned Mrs. Bobbsey. "You must not get lost in this crowd."

"Yes, follow me," advised Uncle Daniel.

How it happened they could not tell, but when they reached the outside of the tent, and found a space where the crowd was not so thick, Freddie was missing.

"Where is Freddie?" asked Nan, looking about for him.

"Freddie!" exclaimed her mother! "Isn't he here?"

But Freddie was not with them, and with anxious faces they looked at one another.



CHAPTER XV

FOUND AGAIN

"Where can he be?" asked Bert.

"I saw him but a moment ago," said Aunt Sarah.

"An' he jest had hold ob mah hand!" cried Dinah. "Oh, mah honey lamb am done et up by de ragin' lion what goes about seekin' who he kin devouer! Oh landy!"

"Quiet, Dinah, please," said Uncle Daniel. For Dinah had called out so loudly that many in the crowd turned to look at her.

"But I wants Freddie—mah honey lamb!" the loving colored woman went on. "I wants him an' he's losted!"

"We'll find him," said Uncle Daniel. "Now whom was he with when we came out of the tent?"

"He had hold of my hand," said Bert, "but he pulled away and said he wanted to walk with Dinah."

"De lubbin honey lamb!" crooned Dinah.

"Did he come with you, Dinah?" went on Uncle Daniel, trying to find out exactly who had seen Freddie last.

"Yais, sah, he done comed wif me fo' a little while in de crowd, an' den he slid away—he just seem t' melt away laik," explained the cook.

"Which way did he go?" Uncle Daniel wanted to know.

"Which way? I dunno," Dinah answered.

"Oh, perhaps he went back to the animal tent," suggested Mrs. Bobbsey. She was not really frightened as yet. Often before Freddie had been lost, but he had generally been found within a few minutes. But he had never before been lost at a circus. This time he seemed to have melted away in the big crowd.

"Let's go back to the animal tent," suggested Uncle Daniel. "Freddie was so taken with feeding the elephants peanuts that he may have gone back to do that. We'll look."

"Oh, if only dem ugly lions or tigers habn't got him!" sighed Dinah.

"The wild animals couldn't get him, 'cause they're shut up in cages, aren't they?" asked Flossie.

"Yes, dear," Nan said to her, not wanting her little sister to be frightened. "No wild animals could get Freddie."

"We'll soon find him," declared Bert.

"We'll help you look," spoke Tom Mason. "Come on, Harry."

The three boys started to push their way back through the crowd toward the animal tent.

"Now don't you three get lost," said Uncle Daniel.

"We won't!" answered Bert, "but we're going to find Freddie!"

"Oh, where can the darling be?" gasped Aunt Sarah, looking around at the crowd all about her.

"What is it? What's the matter?" asked several ladies.

"A little boy is lost—my nephew," Aunt Sarah explained.

"Oh, isn't that too bad!" cried the sympathetic ladies. "We hope you find him!"

Back into the animal tent the Bobbseys and their relatives and friends pushed their way. It was not easy to work back through the crowd that was anxious to get away, now that the afternoon performance of the circus was over.

"He must be in there," said Uncle Daniel. "We'll find him."

Carefully he looked through the crowd of persons who were still in the animal tent. A number had remained, with their children, to get another look at the elephants, lions and tigers. Men were feeding some of the animals, now that there was a little quiet spell, and this was interesting to the youngsters.

"He doesn't seem to be here," said Aunt Sarah, as she peered through her spectacles.

"Oh, he must be!" exclaimed Mrs. Bobbsey. "He can't have gone on ahead of us, and if he turned back he would have to come into this tent."

"Oh, isn't it too bad!" exclaimed Nan, looking at her brother Bert, as though he could help. But Bert, Harry and Tom, though they had quickly made a round of the circle of animal cages, had come back to say that they found no trace of Freddie.

"I know what to do, mamma," spoke up Flossie.

"What, dear?" asked her mother, hardly knowing what she was saying.

"We ought to get a policeman," went on Flossie. "Policemans can find losted people. One found me once."

"That isn't a bad idea," spoke Uncle Daniel. "I think perhaps I had better speak to some of the town constables who are on duty here."

"Suppose we look in the big main tent," said Tom Mason. "Freddie may have wandered back in there to try and turn a somersault on one of the trapezes."

"Yes, it wouldn't do any harm to take a look," agreed Uncle Daniel. "We'll go in the big tent."

Into that large canvas house they went. Men were busy putting away some of the articles used for the animal tricks, and the balls, hoops knives and things the Japanese jugglers had used.

"Oh, where can he be?" murmured Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Something the matter, ma'am?" asked the ring-master, in his shiny tall hat, as he cracked his long whip. "Is someone lost?"

"Yes, my little boy Freddie, and we are so worried about him!"

"Well, don't worry," said the ring-master kindly. "Boys, and girls too, are lost every day at our circus performances, but they are always found all right. Don't worry. I'll have some of the men hunt for him. And you folks come with me. It's just possible he has been found and taken to the lost tent."

"The lost tent!" exclaimed Uncle Daniel. "Have you lost a tent, too?"

"No, but we have a sort of headquarters tent, or office, where all lost children are taken as soon as the circus men find them. A woman in the tent takes care of the little ones until their folks come for them. Your boy may be there waiting for you."

To the lost tent went the Bobbseys. They found two or three youngsters there, crying for their fathers or mothers, but Freddie was not among them.

"Oh, he isn't here!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey, and tears were in her eyes now. "I wish his father were here," she went on. "He would know what to do."

"Now don't you worry, ma'am," said the ring-master again. "We'll surely find him for you. He may have gone in one of the side shows, to see the fat lady, or the strong man. I'll have those places searched for you."

The ring-master did send some of his men to look in the side-show tents, but they came back to say that no one like Freddie had been seen. By this time Mrs. Bobbsey and Aunt Sarah were almost frantic with fright. Nan was crying, and even Bert, brave as he was, looked worried. A number of persons who had come to the circus offered to help look for Freddie, but, though they searched all over, the little fat fellow could not be found.

"Oh, dear! What shall we do!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Dat ugly ole lion—" began Dinah, when Nan gave a scream.

"Oh, what is it, child?" asked Aunt Sarah.

"Look. There's Freddie!" cried Nan. "There he comes!" and she pointed to her little brother being led toward them by a boy about Bert's age.



CHAPTER XVI

FRANK'S STORY

They all gazed in the direction in which Nan pointed. The crowd of visitors to the circus was thinning out now, and down toward the edge of a little creek could be seen the missing Freddie walking along, his hand thrust trustingly into that of the strange boy.

"Why—why!" began Bert. "That fellow—that boy—he—" and then he stopped. Bert was not exactly sure of what he was going to say.

"Oh, Freddie!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey, running forward. "Where have you been! Such a start as you've given us! Where were you?"

But Freddie himself did not seem as anxious to rush into his mother's arms as she was to clasp him. He plodded along with the strange boy, looking quite content, and as if he wondered what all the fuss was about.

"Dere de honey lamb am!" exclaimed black

Dinah, a grin spreading over her face. "De ole lion didn't cotch him after all. Dere's mah honey lamb!"

"Freddie! Freddie!" cried Flossie, who had been resting in Uncle Daniel's arms, "did a lion eat you, Freddie? Did he?"

"A lion eat him? Of course not!" laughed Bert. And Bert was doing some hard thinking as he stared at the strange boy who had Freddie by the hand.

"I thought we should find him," said Uncle Daniel. "I knew he couldn't be lost with all these circus people around. I say!" called Mr. Bobbsey's brother to one of the men who had been helping hunt for the missing boy. "Just tell them that we found him, will you, please? Freddie's found."

"Yes, sir, I'll tell 'em," said the man. "I'm glad he's all right. I'll tell 'em!"

"But where were you, Freddie?" asked his mother, who by this time had him safely in her arms. "Oh, where were you?"

"I found him down by the edge of the creek, watching 'em water the elephants," explained the strange boy, who, Mrs. Bobbsey thought, had a good, kind face. "You see, we water the elephants every afternoon when the show is over," the boy went on, "and it was down there I found him."

"Oh, I can't thank you enough for bringing him back to us," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "You were so good!"

"I didn't know just where he belonged," the strange boy explained. "But he told me his name, and where he lived, and of course I knew I could send word to his folks, though I didn't see, at first, how he got here all the way from Lakeport."

"Oh, we are visiting at his uncle's farm at Meadow Brook," explained Mrs. Bobbsey.

"So he said," went on the boy. "I was bringing him to the lost tent, when he spied you and said you were his folks."

"And I saw 'em water the elephants!" cried Freddie, struggling to get loose from his mother's arms. "The elephant sucked the water up into his nose, ma, and then he squirted it down his throat just like my fire engine squirts water. Only, 'course an elephant squirts lots more water than my engine. But I'm goin' to get a bigger one that squirts as much as a elephant, that's what I goin' to do. And I saw one elephant, ma, he went right out in the water and laid down in it. What do you think of that!"

"The elephants often do that, ma'am," explained the strange boy. "They like to get a bath now and then, but we don't often have time to give it to them."

"You speak as though you belonged to the circus," said Uncle Daniel.

"I do," answered the boy. "That is, I'm with one of the side-shows, and I help around when there's nothing else to do."

"Well, it was very kind of you to bring back my little boy," went on Mrs. Bobbsey. Freddie was busy telling Flossie all the wonderful things he had seen.

"Oh, I didn't do anything, ma'am," the boy said. "I sort of knew this little fellow."

"You knew him?" questioned Uncle Daniel.

"Well, that is I'd seen him before."

"But I can't understand how Freddie became lost," said Mrs. Bobbsey, while Uncle Daniel was wondering where the strange boy had seen Freddie before. "How did you get lost, Freddie?" his mother asked him.

"Lost! I wasn't lost!" he exclaimed. "I knew where I was all the time. I was with the elephants. It was you who got lost, mamma—you and Nan and Flossie and Bert—"

"Well, we called you lost," laughed Uncle Daniel. "But you're all right now, thanks to this boy. Do you live around here?" he asked. "I don't seem to remember you, though I know most of the folks in this section. But if you have seen Freddie before you must live around here."

"Oh, no, sir," was the answer. "I'm with the circus. But I used to live—"

"I know you now!" interrupted Bert. "You're Frank Kennedy, and I was with my father, calling on Mr. Mason, when I saw you. Freddie was with me then. Don't you remember, Freddie?" asked Bert. "This is the boy we saw—the boy we saw getting a—"

And Bert stopped. He did not want to say "shaking," for it was when Frank Kennedy was being severely shaken by Mr. Mason, on account of the bad twenty dollar bill, that the strange boy had last been seen by the Bobbsey lads. And on that occasion Frank had run away.

"Oh, now I know you!" cried Freddie, laughing.

"Yes, I am the boy you saw getting a shaking, for something that wasn't my fault!" exclaimed Frank, and his voice was hard and bitter. "I made up my mind I wouldn't stand Mr. Mason's cruel treatment any longer, so I ran away. I did see you two boys that time I got a shaking," Frank admitted. "You were in an automobile then," he went on, "and Mr. Bobbsey was with you." He looked around as though in search of the twins' father.

"Mr. Bobbsey had to go back to Lakeport on business," explained Mrs. Bobbsey. "We came over from Meadow Brook to the circus here to-day. And I remember Mr. Bobbsey speaking of you. So you ran away?"

"Yes'm, I ran away. I couldn't stand it in that lumber office any longer the way Mr. Mason treated me. It wasn't fair. And I'm never going back again, either. I don't like him, and he doesn't like me. I'll never let him be my guardian again."

"Poor boy!" murmured Mrs. Bobbsey. "You must have had a hard time. Did you come with this circus as soon as you ran away?"

"No'm, I had a pretty bad spell first along. When I ran away I had only the clothes I wore, and only a little money. It was my own!" he said, quickly, lest they think he might have taken it from Mr. Mason's lumber office. But one look at Frank's face showed that he was honest.

"What did you do?" asked Uncle Daniel.

"Well, I walked as far as I could the first night," Frank said, going on with his story. "Then I crawled in a barn to sleep."

"Didn't you have anything to eat?" asked Nan softly. She felt very sorry for the boy.

"Well, I had a couple of crackers I had saved from my lunch that day," he explained. "Then near the barn was a cow, and I milked her. That and the crackers was all I had for supper. But I slept good in the hay."

"I had a good sleep in some hay!" exclaimed Freddie, as he remembered the time they had played hide-and-go-seek in the barn.

"It makes a good bed when you're tired," said Frank.

"What did you have for breakfast?" asked Flossie. "I like an orange and oatmeal for mine."

"Well, I didn't have anything like that for mine," explained Frank with a smile. "I didn't have much of anything the first morning. I tramped on, and finally I found a place where I could chop some wood, and a lady gave me some bread and milk. It tasted very good."

"How did you get with the circus?" asked Bert. That part interested him more than how Frank got something to eat.

"Well, I just happened to come to the town where the circus was giving a show," explained Frank. "I was around when the men were watering the horses and other animals, and I helped carry water. Then one of the men asked me if I didn't want work, and I said I did. I was hungry then, too, and I could smell the things cooking in the circus kitchen tent. So I went to work for this show, and I've been here ever since. It's better than working in a lumber office when you get shook up every now and then," he added with a smile.

"And do you still help water the elephants?" asked Uncle Daniel.

"Oh, no, I help take tickets at one of the side shows," explained Frank. "The one where the fat lady and snakes are. I like it, though sometimes I help water the animals when I have nothing else to do. The circus people are good to me. I've earned enough money to get some clothes, and I'm never hungry any more. I was pretty ragged when I came to the circus, for I had been tramping around sleeping in barns, or wherever I could."

"Wouldn't it have been better to have gone back to Mr. Mason, your guardian?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, for she had heard her husband tell of the time he, Bert and Freddie had seen the boy shaken before he ran away.

"Oh, no'm!" Frank exclaimed. "I'm never going back to that lumber office. Mr. Mason accused me of losing twenty dollars for him. Well perhaps I did, but it wasn't my fault that the man gave me bad money that looked like good. I'm never going back!"

"Well, I don't know as I blame you," said Uncle Daniel softly, "but a circus is no place for a young boy. It's a hard life."

"Are you going to stay with this show?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Until I can get something better to do," answered Frank. "I know it isn't a good business, but I'll stay here until I can save some money, and then I'll look for something better. But I'll have to stay here for a while."

"Maybe you could give him work on the farm," suggested Aunt Sarah to her husband in a whisper. "I don't like him to be with a circus. And he was so good to Freddie that we ought to do something for him."

"He's too young to work on a farm," replied Uncle Daniel. "And he might be in a worse place than this circus. But we must be starting back home. It's getting late."

Freddie was hugged and kissed by his sisters, mother and aunt, and Mrs. Bobbsey insisted on making Frank a little present of money, for his kindness to Freddie. Frank did not want to take it, but finally he did.

"I'll buy some new shoes with it," he said.

"I shall tell my husband how good you were to find Freddie," said Mrs. Bobbsey, "and I am sure he will want to do something for you. I wish you would write to me once in a while. We should like to keep track of you."

"I will," promised the boy, as he put down the Bobbsey address. "I expect to be with this circus all summer," he said, as Freddie and the other children bade him good-bye.



CHAPTER XVII

A WILD ANIMAL SCARE

Back to the shed where they had left the horses, went the Bobbsey party, the children talking on the way of the wonderful things they had seen in the circus, while the older folks spoke of Freddie being lost, and found again, by Frank Kennedy.

"But I wasn't lost!" the little chap insisted. "I knew where I was all the time. Besides, the elephants were with me, and so was Frank, the boy who was shooked. I saw him shooked and so did Bert, didn't you?" and Freddie looked at his older brother.

"Well, we won't talk about that part of it," said his mother with a smile. "It isn't nice to think about, and I am glad Frank is in a place now where he will be kindly treated. Though perhaps Mr. Mason did not mean to be cruel. He was probably very sorry at losing so much money."

"I like Frank," said Freddie. "He let me, take hold of one of the elephant's tooths."

"Oh, Freddie!" exclaimed Dinah. "It's a wonder he didn't cotch an' bite yo, honey lamb!"

"Oh, I didn't take hold of one of his tooths away back in his mouth," explained Freddie, "it was the long tooth-pick tooth that stuck out under his nose."

"He means the elephant's tusk," explained Bert with a laugh.

"Oh, Freddie! I hope you weren't in any danger!" his mother cried.

"What an escape he had!" sighed Aunt Sarah. "Suppose an elephant had eaten him!"

"Pooh! Elephants don't eat anything but hay," said Freddie, who, of course, did not mean to be impolite, speaking to his aunt that way. "Frank told me so," he went on, "and I saw them eat hay. They eat a awful lot, and one of them took all my peanuts."

"Well, I'll buy you some more," said Uncle Daniel with a laugh. "You deserve it after the trouble you have had—getting lost and all that."

"I—I wasn't losted!" declared Freddie again. "I knew—"

"Oh, look at the balloons!" cried Flossie, as she saw a man outside the circus grounds selling the red, green and yellow gas-bags. "I want one, mamma!" cried the little girl.

"And so do I!" added Freddie, forgetting what he was going to say about not being lost "I want a balloon!"

They each had one, and then the children and older folks took their places in the wagon, and soon were on their way to Meadow Brook farm again, talking over the wonderful good time they had had.

"I'm coming to the circus to-morrow," announced Freddie, as though going to circuses was all there was to do in this world.

"The circus won't be there," said Bert.

"Won't be there? Where will it go?" asked Freddie, wonderingly.

"It will travel to the next town," Bert went on. "A circus stays in a town only one day, unless it's a very big place. This show will be far away by this time to-morrow."

"And will Frank be away, too?" asked



Flossie. "I like Frank, 'cause he found Freddie."

"Yes, Frank will be away, too, poor boy," said Mrs. Bobbsey, "that is, if he stays with the circus. I wish Richard could do something for him," she went on to Uncle Daniel and Aunt Sarah. "I feel sure that boy ought to be back in his guardian's home."

"But he said Mr. Mason was cruel to him," declared Aunt Sarah.

"Perhaps he wouldn't be any more," remarked Mrs. Bobbsey, wondering how anyone could be really cruel to children. She loved her twins very much.

"Well, I'se glad mah honey lamb am safe!" murmured Dinah, as she cuddled Freddie up in her big arms.

"Oh—oh, Dinah!" cried the little fellow with a laugh. "You squeeze me like an elephant's trunk!"

"Dat's 'cause I lubs yo', honey lamb!" went on the dear old colored woman.

Back to Meadow Brook in the cool of the evening came the Bobbseys and their friends. Tom and Mabel declared they had never had such a good time, and as for Freddie and Flossie they were too busy playing with their toy balloons to say much. But you may be sure they had enjoyed themselves, and Freddie forgot all about being lost.

On their way home the Bobbseys had met Mr. Weston with his moving picture camera. He said he had made several fine views of the circus.

"What about our pictures?" asked Nan. "The ones you took of us children near the school?"

"They will soon be finished," said Mr. Weston. "And when they are ready to be shown, I shall send your father word, so he may bring you, and let you look at yourselves on the white screen in our moving picture theatre. Won't you like that?"

"That will be great!" cried Bert. "I never saw myself in moving pictures."

"Nor I," said Nan.

Back in the pleasant farmhouse that evening all the happenings of the day were gone over again, until Mrs. Bobbsey, noticing that Flossie and Freddie were nodding their heads, and blinking their eyes real often, said:

"Come now, little tots, time you were in bed. To-morrow is another day."

"I'm going to take my balloon to bed with me," said Freddie.

"So am I!" exclaimed Flossie, who wanted to do as many things as did her brother.

"Oh, I wouldn't," their mother said. "Leave the balloons here until morning."

"And then we'll have a balloon race," proposed Bert.

"What's a balloon race?" Freddie wanted to know.

"No more talk to-night, little fat fireman!" said his mother. "Off to bed you go!" and he and Flossie were "packed off," the other children coming soon after.

Freddie and Flossie were up bright and early next morning, out playing with their balloons before breakfast. They tied long threads to them, and let them float above the trees.

"When will we have the balloon race?" asked Freddie.

"Whenever you like," Bert answered. "Only to have a race you have to let your balloon sail off, without any string fast to it, and you will not get it back again."

At first Freddie would not hear of that, but finally he and Flossie became tired of the toy circus balloons, and came to Bert to beg him to make a race for them.

Bert cut the string off both balloons. Freddie's was red and Flossie's blue.

"Now we'll let go of both balloons at the same time," Bert explained, "and the balloon that goes up highest will win the race. Now watch, everyone!"

They all watched, as Bert let go the toys, one from either hand. Up, up, up, went the red and blue balloons.

"Oh, mine's going faster!" cried Freddie.

"No, mine is!" exclaimed Flossie.

And, for a time first the red balloon would be ahead, and then the blue one. But finally they both were at exactly the same height, and in that way they sailed onward and upward until they were only little specks in the blue sky, so no one could tell which one was ahead in the race.

It was while the children were out in the yard in front of the Meadow Brook farmhouse, watching the disappearing balloons, that Bert heard a stranger's voice calling.

"I say, do you children know where there is a circus around here?" was the question, and, turning, Nan, Bert and the others saw a man in a carriage, on the road just outside the fence.

"A circus?" repeated Bert.

"Yes, I heard there was one showing around here," the man went on, "and I'd like to find it."

"There was a circus over at Rosedale yesterday," spoke Bert, "but it has traveled on by this time. If you inquired there you could find out where it went."

"I'll do that," the man said. "I'm much obliged to you," and he was about to drive on, when Bert asked:

"Aren't you Mr. Mason, who has a lumber yard near my father's?"

"Whoa!" called the man to his horse. "Yes, I'm Mr. Mason," he went on, "and I have a lumber yard. But I don't seem to know you."

"I'm Bert Bobbsey," the lad said, "and my father—"

"Oh, yes, to be sure! Of course I know you!" the man exclaimed. "Why, you were the boy in the automobile the day my ward, Frank Kennedy, ran away from me."

"Yes, I was there," said Bert.

"Well, it's about Frank that I came on here," said Mr. Mason. "I have been tracing him. I heard he joined a circus when he ran away from me, and I want to find him and take him back. I came on here by train, and hired this horse and carriage to drive about the country. But now, when I am almost up to the circus, you tell me it has moved. That's too bad, and I'm not sure, when I find it, that Frank will be with it."

"I think he will be, Mr. Mason," said Bert, quietly.

"What's that?" cried Mr. Mason. "You think Frank will be with the circus? What makes you think so?"

"Because we saw him with it yesterday," said Nan, taking part in the talk, "and he said he was going to travel with it."

"Yes, that's right," agreed Bert. He thought it only fair to give information about Frank, since Mrs. Bobbsey had said she thought it would be best for the runaway boy to go back to his guardian.

"Hum!" exclaimed Mr. Mason. "If Frank is with the circus, I'll soon get him. I'll drive over to Rosedale, and inquire where the show went from there. I can easily trace it. Much obliged to you for your information," he called over his shoulder, as he drove off. He did not stop to inquire how Frank was, nor how he had fared since running away. Perhaps Mr. Mason did not think of this.

"Oh, I hope he—I hope he doesn't shake Frank, when he finds him," said Nan, as the lumber man drove on.

"I don't believe he will," remarked Bert. "I fancy Frank will make his guardian promise to treat him better if he goes back to the lumber office."

Nan and Bert went in the house to tell their mother of meeting the man who was looking for Frank. She said they had done right to tell what they knew.

"Poor boy," she sighed, "he hasn't had a very happy life, but perhaps this will be all for the good, and he may be better treated now."

That afternoon, as Harry and the Bobbsey children, with Tom Mason and Mabel Herold were going down the road to pick some blackberries, they met a farmer boy driving an empty hay wagon. This boy knew Bert, Harry and Tom.

"Hello!" he called to them, "did you hear the news about the circus?"

"What news?" asked Bert, wondering if the boy meant that Mr. Mason had reached the show and taken away Frank.

"News about the wild animals escaping from the circus," went on the boy on the hay-wagon.

"Wild animals escaping!" exclaimed Nan, with a frightened look over her shoulder, while Flossie came over closer to her sister.

"That's it!" said the boy. "When the show was moving out of Rosedale last night, some tigers and lions got loose, and ran off in the woods. They looked for 'em, but couldn't find 'em. Some of the farmers around here are out now with guns."

"Oh, Nan!" exclaimed Flossie. "Let's go back home! I don't like wild animals!"



CHAPTER XVIII

WHAT FREDDIE SAW

For a few seconds Bert and Harry, his cousin, stared at the boy on the hay-wagon. Then Harry, who knew him well, asked:

"Say, Jim Bates, are you joking or did you really hear about some wild animals escaping from the circus?"

"Indeed I'm not joking!" cried Jim. "I did hear it! Bill Snowden told me. You know he lives over on the road that runs from Rosedale to Blaisdell and the circus went there. It went right past his house in the night, and he looked out of his window and saw the camels and elephants and wild animal cages."

"I saw the elephants, too!" exclaimed Freddie. "I took hold of one's big toothpick tooth. Elephants eat hay. Were they eating any hay when that boy saw 'em? I wish elephants would go past our house."

"Quiet, Freddie dear, please," said Nan. "We want to hear about the wild animals. Did they really get loose?" she asked, and she looked over her shoulder, as did Flossie and Mabel Herold.

"Well, that's what Bill Snowden said," replied Jim Bates. "Of course I didn't see 'em run away myself, but I'm all ready for 'em, if I meet any bears, or lions or tigers," he added.

"Ready for 'em—how do you mean?" asked Bert.

"I've got a big club, and some stones," answered Jim, and he took up from the seat beside him a stout stick, and showed where he had made a little pile of stones in the wagon.

"They wouldn't hurt a lion," said Freddie. "Lions or tigers aren't afraid of sticks or stones. I'm going to get my fire engine. It squirts water, and wild animals is afraid of water."

"Yes, we've heard that story before," said Bert, with a laugh. "But don't you go out hunting for wild animals with that toy engine of yours, Freddie!" his older brother advised.

"No, indeed," added Nan. "Oh, I think we ought to go home, Bert."

"I'm going home," said the boy on the wagon, "and if I meet any animals on the way; I'm going to throw stones at 'em."

"Pooh! They won't be afraid of stones," declared Freddie.

"Yes, they will, too!" declared Jim Bates. "I read in a book that a bear's nose is very soft and tender, and if you hit him on it he'll howl, and run away."

"I heard that, too," said Harry. "I hope it's true."

"Well, if a bear's nose is tender, a lion's or a tiger's must be tender also," went on Jim, "and if I meet any wild animals I'm going to hit 'em on the nose."

"That's a good idea," Bert said, with a laugh. "But how can you be sure you'll hit 'em on the nose?"

"Oh, I can't be sure," admitted Jim, "but I'm a pretty good shot throwing stones, and I've got plenty, so if I miss the first time I'll hit 'em on the nose later. There isn't any wild animal going to get me. No sir!" and he looked at the stones and his stout club.

"I should think," said Mabel Herold, "that if you had a good team of horses you could drive fast and get away from any wild animals you might meet."

"Well, I could do that, too," replied the boy On the hay-wagon. "And if I throw all my stones, and don't hit a lion or a bear on the nose, I'll whip up and get away."

"Well, I'm going to get away now," decided Nan. "Come on, Flossie and Mabel. We won't go berrying to-day. Bears like blackberries, so I've read, and no one can tell but that there might be one in the berry patch where we are going."

"Oh, I don't think so!" exclaimed Bert. "Maybe there isn't any truth in that story after all, about the wild animals escaping. That other boy didn't see 'em get away, did he?" asked Bert of Jim.

"No, he didn't exactly see 'em," admitted the boy on the hay-wagon, "but he heard the circus men talking in the night about how the lion and the bear and the tiger got out of their cages."

"Oh, come on home, Nan! Come on home!" begged Flossie. "This is worse than the shooting in the moving pictures. Let's go home."

Nan was very willing to go, and so was Mabel. Freddie, too, after thinking it over, decided that he had better go back with the girls, and get his toy fire engine ready for any possible danger.

"What do you say, Bert, shall we go back?" inquired Harry.

"Well, I don't know," slowly replied the older Bobbsey lad. "I don't really believe in the least that any wild animals are loose, but if the girls aren't going berrying there's no use in us going."

"I guess that's right," agreed Tom. "No use going on alone."

And, though none of the older boys would admit it, I think they, too, were rather glad to turn back after having heard the story of the escape of the wild circus animals.

"Well, I'm all ready for 'em, if I meet any," declared Jim, as he drove on, having told the news.

On the way back Bert and the others met several farmers who knew Harry or Tom, and each of these men said they had also heard the story of the escape of a lion, tiger and bear.

"And if they are loose, some of us may miss some cattle or sheep," declared Mr. Ames, who lived not far from Uncle Daniel. "I think we farmers will have to get up a hunting party."

"I'd like to come," broke in Freddie. "I've got a fire engine, and wild animals is afraid—"

"That will do, dear," said Nan, gently putting her finger across his lips. "Little boys can't go hunting wild animals."

By the time the Bobbsey twins and their friends had almost reached Meadow Brook, on their way back, they had met several persons—men or boys—who spoke of having heard of the escape of the circus animals.

When the children came up the gravel walk of the farmhouse, Mrs. Bobbsey, seeing them from the side porch, where she was sitting, stringing beans for supper, called out:

"Well you are back early. Did you get many berries?"

"We didn't get any, mother," said Nan. "We—"

"It's wild animals!" burst out Freddie, unable to keep quiet any longer. "A lion, a tiger and a bear! They got away from the circus, and they—they—"

"What's all this?" interrupted Aunt Sarah, coming out with her sewing in her hands.

Then, by turns, with many interruptions from Freddie, the story was told. Dinah listened with wide-opened eyes, and if she could have turned pale I think she would have done so. But of course she could not, for she was the color of a chocolate cake, and had to stay that way.

"Oh, I don't believe a word of it!" exclaimed Uncle Daniel, when he heard the tale. "Every time a circus comes to town there is a story of wild animals escaping, but I've never seen any yet. I don't believe it at all!"

But the children did, and later, when Uncle Daniel came back from a visit to the village store that evening, he had to admit that several persons had spoken to him about the wild beasts being loose.

"Hadn't you better see if your shot gun is loaded?" his wife asked him.

"Well, I will, if it will make you feel any easier," he agreed. "But there's no danger of any of them coming near here, even if they have escaped, which I don't believe."

The children were rather frightened that night, and would not go far from the porch to play in the moonlight, which they usually did before going to bed.

Of course Bert and Harry were not as frightened as were Flossie and Freddie, but they looked nervously over their shoulders at the dark places under the bushes as they passed them.

Freddie, true to his promise, got out his toy fire engine, and filled the tank with water, winding up the spring that worked the pump and sent out the stream from the little rubber hose.

"Now I'm ready for a lion or a tiger or a bear," he said.

"Well, don't dream of them," said his mother. "Now it's time for bed."

Whether the talk of the circus animals had made Freddie nervous, or whether he did dream of them, he could not clearly tell afterward. All he knew was that he did not sleep well, and, some time after going to bed he awakened with a start.

There was no light in his room, but the moon shone in. He could look across to where Flossie was asleep in her crib.

Then Freddie heard a noise. It came from outside and sounded like: "Wuff!"

"Oh! Oh!" whispered Freddie to himself. "That's him! That's one of the wild animals! It's a bear! That's how bears go—'wuff!' Oh, it's come, and what shall I do!"

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