The Bobbsey Twins at Meadow Brook
by Laura Lee Hope
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He sat up in bed listening. He heard the noise again!

"Wuff! Wuff!"

Then Freddie decided he must be brave. Without waking Flossie, the little fellow slid from bed, and crossed to the window. The bear, if such it was, could not be in his room. He was sure of that, for the place was made bright by the moonlight that streamed in the window.

Over to this window Freddie went. He looked out, and as he did so, he saw something shaggy and black walk under the lilac bush in front of the house.

"There he is!" whispered Freddie to himself. Then in his shrill childish voice he called loud:

"Mamma! Bert! Nan! It's come! The bear! He's out in front under the bush! Oh! Oh! Oh!"



Freddie's cries roused the whole house at Meadow Brook, for the little Bobbsey boy had a strong, ringing voice.

His mother was suddenly awakened from her sleep in the next room. Aunt Sarah and Uncle Daniel heard him in their apartment. Nan, Bert and Harry also heard him.

"Oh, Freddie!" cried Flossie, who slept in the same room with her little brother. "What is it? What is it, Freddie?" and she sat up in her crib.

"It's a bear—out in front—under a bush. The circus bear!" answered Freddie. "I didn't see the lion or tiger, but they must be out there too, unless the bear ate them up!"

"Oh! Oh!" cried Flossie. "Oh, dear!"

"Mamma! Nan! Bert!" cried Nan. "Come, oh, come here! Dinah!"

"I'se comin', honey lamb! I'se comin'!" cried the colored cook, as she heard Freddie's wild cry. "What am de mattah, honey lamb?"

Others were asking this question now.

"What's it all about?" called Bert.

"A bear!" answered Freddie.

"Lions and tigers," added Flossie, half sobbing.

"Gracious! Freddie's been dreaming, or else he's talking in his sleep," said Bert to Harry, who was also awakened by the shouts of the little boy.

By this time Mrs. Bobbsey was up, and had put on a dressing gown and slippers. She hurried out into the hall, to meet Aunt Sarah.

"Oh, something dreadful must have happened," said Freddie's mother. But when she went in his room, she found him and Flossie safe, with the little boy standing in the moonlight, near the open window.

"What is it, little man?" asked Aunt Sarah.

"Hush! Not so loud!" cautioned Flossie. "It's bears and lions and tigers. Freddie saw 'em!" She was not so frightened now.

"I did not see 'em!" cried Freddie. "I only saw a bear!"

"Oh, yes, the bear ate the lion and tiger," went on Flossie, "and if Snap or Snoop would only eat the bear now, it would be all right."

"What does it all mean?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey. "Did you really see something, Freddie, or were you dreaming?"

"I did see something, mamma, and it went: 'Wuff! Wuff!'" Freddie explained. "Then it went and hid under the lilac bush. I'll show you," and, taking his mother's hand, he led her to the window, out of which he pointed.

Now Nan, Bert and Harry came into the small twins' room.

"What is it?" they asked.

By turns Flossie and Freddie told their story, Freddie doing the "Wuff! Wuff!" part very earnestly, until Flossie begged him to stop, as he "skeered" her.

Dinah, too, came waddling into the room, bringing a candle which dripped grease down on her bare feet. The grease was hot, and as Dinah felt it, she gave a yell which was almost as startling as was Freddie's.

"Oh, what is it?" cried Mrs. Bobbsey.

"Candle grease done splashed on mah toe, an' burnt me," Dinah explained, as she stood on one foot, and held the other on top of it to ease the pain.

"There it is! There it is!" suddenly cried Freddie. "There's the bear!" and he leaned so far out of the window that Bert had to catch his little brother by his night gown to save him from a possible fall.

Mrs. Bobbsey and Aunt Sarah looked out, and saw a big black object come into the moonlight.

"Oh, it is a bear!" declared Mrs. Bobbsey.

"It does look like some strange beast," agreed Aunt Sarah.

"I wish Mr. Bobbsey were here," said the lumber merchant's wife.

"Uncle Daniel will fix him!" declared Freddie. "Uncle Daniel's got a gun. Mamma, can't I take my fire engine and squirt water on that bear?"

"No, indeed!" answered Mrs. Bobbsey. "Get back to bed right away."

"Dan, you'd better see what it is," said Aunt

Sarah, as her husband, half dressed, was heard out in the hall. "There is some animal under the lilac bush."

"I'll soon have him out of that," said the farmer. He had his gun with him, and while the children watched from the window, they saw him step out of the kitchen door.

"Oh, he's going to shoot!" cried Freddie in a shrill whisper, as he watched his uncle.

"I don't want to hear him!" murmured Flossie, as she got into her crib, and pulled the bed clothes over her ears.

But Bert, Nan and the others watched. Then, just as Uncle Daniel raised the gun, to shoot at something black which he saw beneath the lilac bush, an animal rushed out, and gave a howl.

Hardly had that died away than there sounded a loud:

"Bow! Wow! Wow!" This was repeated several times.

"Oh, it's only a dog!" cried Bert.

"Is it Snap?" Freddie wanted to know.

"No, it's a big black stray dog," answered Bert.

"No wonder Freddie thought it was a bear," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Now it's all over, go back to bed, and sleep in peace."

And it was only a dog that had caused all the excitement. The animal ran out into the moonlight, stood a moment looking at Uncle Daniel with the gun, and then gave more barks.

It was as if he said he did not like to be chased away in that fashion.

"Well, it's a good thing I didn't shoot him," said Uncle Daniel as he came back into the house.

"Whose dog was it?" asked his wife.

"Snook's big black one. He was hunting for a bone, I guess, and he must have sniffed and snuffed when the dirt got up his nose. That woke Freddie. It was only a dog."

"Only a dog!" murmured Freddie. "I thought it was a bear!"

"Well, I'm glad it wasn't, or a tiger or lion, either," said Flossie, as she curled up in her cot.

Soon the house was quiet again, and everyone went to sleep. In the morning Freddie and Flossie went out to look at the place under the lilac bush where the dog had been seen. They found a hole where he had been digging up a bone he had hidden there.

And, a little later that day, the dog himself came over, to make friends with Snap. He let Freddie pat him.

"He isn't half as big as he looked in the night," said the little fellow.

"No, daylight often makes many things seem smaller—even troubles, that look very big at night," said Mrs. Bobbsey, with a smile.

"But maybe we'll see some wild animals that got away from the circus," hopefully said Freddie at dinner.

"No, you won't!" exclaimed his uncle with a laugh.

"Why not?" asked Bert.

"Because none got away," was the answer. "I met one of the circus men in the village this morning. He stayed behind to settle up some bills, and he said not a single animal got away. It was all a false alarm; no truth in it."

"Well, I'm glad of it!" declared Mrs. Bobbsey, and I think everyone felt better on hearing that news.

Mr. Bobbsey came back to Meadow Brook the next day, and heard all about the wild animal scare, and also about Freddie being lost at the circus, and Frank Kennedy finding him.

"And Mr. Mason is looking for Frank at the circus, wherever the show is now," said Bert.

"Yes, so I heard," remarked Mr. Bobbsey. "Well, I hope he treats the poor boy kindly if he takes him back."

It was a hot, quiet summer afternoon, a few days later, that Bert and Harry, with Tom Mason, sat under the trees in front of the farmhouse. Mrs. Bobbsey and Aunt Sarah had gone calling, Flossie and Freddie were asleep in the house, and Nan had gone over to see Mabel Herold.

"What can we do?" asked Bert, stretching his arms.

"I don't want to do much except keep cool," spoke Harry.

"That's what I say!" exclaimed Tom. "And I know a good way to get that way, too."

"What way?" asked Bert, closing his eyes.

"Cool. Let's go swimming. It's just right for that!"

"All right!" agreed Harry.

"Fine!" cried Bert. "Let's do it."

A little later they were on their way to the old swimming hole, near the willow tree that grew on the edge of the brook, or little river.



"Watch me dive in!"

"I can swim under water!"

"Let's see who can first swim across to the other side of the big hole!"

Bert Bobbsey, his cousin Harry, Tom Mason and some other boys were standing on the bank of the little brook, or river, as it was sometimes called, all ready for a cool bath that hot summer day. The water of the "old swimming hole," as it was called, was not deep enough to be dangerous, and Mrs. Bobbsey was not afraid to have Bert go there without his father. Bert's father had taught him to swim.

"All ready now?" asked Harry, as the boys stood in line on the edge of the little pool, waiting for the dive.

"All ready!" answered Bert.

"Then go!" cried the farm-boy.

Into the water they splashed, head first, disappearing under the waves. Up they bounced again, like corks, and then they began swimming for the other side.

"A race! A race!" cried Bert, shaking his head to get the water out of his eyes and nose. He had held his mouth tightly shut when diving, so no water had been able to get between his lips.

"I'll race you!" exclaimed Tom Mason, and soon the boys were swimming as hard as they could toward the other bank. Some of them could not swim very well, but they paddled, or swam "dog-fashion."

"Tom's going to win!" cried one of the boys who could not swim fast. He was now standing up in the water, looking at the three boys in the lead.

"No, I think Bert will get to the other side first!" said another boy, who stood on the bank, not yet having dived in.

"You're all wrong, Harry will beat!" exclaimed a third boy, and so it proved. Harry soon passed Bert and Tom, and reached the farther bank first. Then Tom came next, while poor Bert was last.

"Too bad you couldn't win," said Harry kindly.

"Oh, you two are better swimmers than I am," said Bert. "I don't mind being beaten that way. I guess I need more practice."

"That's it," his cousin said. "I have had more chances to swim than you do, so of course I ought to be better."

"You can beat me, and I swim as much as you do," said Tom, who had lived in the country all his life, and near the little river. "I used to beat Harry every time," said Tom to Bert, "but now he goes ahead of me."

"Well, maybe you'll beat him next time," remarked Bert, with a laugh.

After the little race the boys swam about as they pleased, now jumping in, or diving head first from the bank near the deeper part of the pool, sometimes swimming under water, and then jumping out to lie in the warm sand, or on the green grass.

"Oh, this is great fun!" exclaimed Bert, as he sat on the edge of the bank, swinging his bare feet to and fro. "I'm glad we came!"

"Look out!" suddenly called Tom, but he spoke too late. Just then Harry slipped quietly up behind Bert and pushed him into the water.

"Whoop!" yelled Bert, as he splashed in. He went under, but soon came up again, and, swimming to shore, crawled out.

"You wait until I get hold of you!" he cried laughingly to Harry. "I'll toss you in! Just wait!"

"You've got to get me first!" replied Harry, keeping out of Bert's way. Bert raced after Harry but did not catch him. However, Bert waited his chance and a little later, when he saw Harry sitting on the edge of the hole, talking to one of the other boys, Bert stole softly up behind his cousin, and pushed him into the water.

"Wow!" cried Harry as he splashed in.

"Now we're even," Bert said with a laugh.

After this the boys played some games in the water, swimming about, "ducking" one another, and having lots of fun.

"Well, I guess it's about time we started for home," said Harry, after a bit, as he noticed the sun, like a ball of fire, sinking to rest in the western sky. "I'll have to go after the cows soon."

"I'll go with you," offered Bert, as the boys came out of the water, and began to dress.

They were almost ready to start back home when Bert noticed a boy walking along the path that extended on one side of the river.

At first Bert did not pay much attention to the boy, after giving him one glance, but as the strange lad came nearer Bert looked at him more closely.

"I wonder where I've seen that boy before?" he said aloud.

"What boy?"

"Over there," replied Bert, pointing.

Harry gave one look, and exclaimed:

"Why, don't you remember? That's the boy who found Freddie when he was lost at the circus!"

"Oh, so it is!" exclaimed Bert. "But what is he doing here? Why isn't he with the show?"

"I don't know," answered Harry, who was trying to untangle a hard knot in his shoe lace. "Better ask him."

"I will, if he comes near enough," decided Bert, as he finished dressing. Then he "ruffled" up his hair, so it would dry more quickly.

By this time they had on their clothes, and the other boy had noticed the lads who had just finished swimming. He gave them one look, and then turned hurriedly away, as if he did not want them to see him.

"Hold on wait a minute—Frank!" called Bert.

The boy stopped as he heard his name mentioned.

"Who wants me?" he asked.

"I do—Bert Bobbsey," was the answer. "You know me. You found my little brother Freddie, when he was lost at the circus. Don't you remember?"

"Oh—yes," was the answer.

The boy walked slowly forward, and as he came nearer Bert could see that he looked tired and hungry.

"What's the matter?" Harry asked. "Why aren't you with the circus any more? Did you lose your place?"

"Well, no, not exactly," replied Frank, "but the side show I worked for busted up—I mean it failed, and I was out of a place. There was nothing else for me to do in the circus, so I had to leave it. I haven't any work now, and I don't know what to do."

"That's too bad," said Bert kindly. "What are you going to do?"

"I don't know," and Frank's voice was sad.

"Are you going back to the lumber office?" asked Harry, for he had heard his cousin tell how Frank had run away from his guardian, Mr. Mason, who punished the boy for taking in a Confederate twenty dollar bill, that was worthless.

"No, I'll never go back there!" exclaimed Frank, with flashing eyes.

"Mr. Mason was looking for you, the day after the circus showed in Rosedale," said Bert. "Did he see you?"

"No, he didn't, and I don't want to see him," Frank said. "After I lost my place in the side show, where I took in tickets at the tent entrance, I started to tramp, and look for work. But I haven't found any yet. So I thought I'd come back to Meadow Brook. I heard there were some farms around here, and I thought maybe I could get work on one of them. If I can't—I don't know what to do," and it sounded as if Frank was trying to keep from crying.



Bert, Harry and their chums hardly knew what to do. They felt sorry for Frank, and wanted to help him, but they did not know just how to go about it.

"Do you know how to work on a farm?" asked Harry.

"Well, no, not exactly," replied Frank. "But I know something about the lumber business, and I guess I could chop wood. They have to do that on farms, don't they?" he asked, and he was smiling a little now.

"Oh, yes, wood has to be chopped," said Harry. "Entirely too much of it, I think. It makes my back ache."

"Say, why can't we ask him to come back with us?" whispered Bert to Harry, as Frank picked up a stone and tossed it into the water.

"I guess we could," said Harry, slowly.

"Then I'm going to do it," went on Bert. "I say," he spoke to Frank, "wouldn't you like to come back to my uncle's house, and get something to eat? Maybe he could give you work. I know Harry and I have plenty to do."

"I would like to come, very much," replied Frank, a brighter look coming over his face. "I'll do all the work I can, too," he added, quickly.

"Come along then," invited Harry, and as Bert and Frank walked along together, ahead of the others, Harry told his chums how he had first met Frank at the circus, the time Freddie was lost. He also explained to the boys what Bert had told him about Frank running away.

Leaving their chums with whom they had gone swimming, Bert and Harry led Frank down toward the pleasant farmhouse. Freddie was out in front, playing with his toy fire engine as usual. As soon as the little Bobbsey twin saw the circus lad, he exclaimed:

"Oh, there's my boy—my elephant-boy that found me when everybody was lost but me. Oh, I'm glad to see you!" he cried, and he ran to Frank, who caught Freddie up in his arms, and kissed him.

Nan and Flossie came down off the porch to see what all the excitement was about.

"Oh, it's the circus-boy!" Flossie cried. "Did you bring any trained monkeys or elephants with you?" she asked.

"No, not this time, I'm sorry to say," replied Frank. "They wouldn't let me take any of the animals with me when I came away."

"Well, did you bring any—any peanuts?" asked Freddie. "Peanuts are good, even if you haven't any elephants to eat 'em."

"No peanuts, either," went on Frank. Poor lad! He looked so hungry that if he had had any peanuts he probably would have eaten them himself.

"Well, did you bring any—any balloons?" Flossie wanted to know.

"Well, yes, I have some toy balloons," said Frank, and he pulled some pieces of rubber from his pocket. "These are circus balloons before they are blown up," explained Frank. "You can use a hollow goose quill to blow them full of air, and then tie a string, or thread, around the bottom, so the air won't come out. They won't go up like circus balloons, though," Frank said.

"Why not?" Freddie wanted to know.

"Because they have only air in them, instead of gas," Frank explained. "Gas is lighter than air, and that makes it lift the balloon. But you can have some fun with these," and he gave two each to Flossie and Freddie. "One of the circus men gave them to me," he went on. The children were soon playing with the balloons.

By this time Mrs. Bobbsey had come out of the house, and when she saw Frank she remembered him at once.

"Oh, it is very good to see you again," she exclaimed, and she looked sorry when he told her he had lost his place with the circus.

"Well, perhaps it is all for the best," said Mr. Bobbsey, when he heard the news. "A circus is not the nicest place in the world for a growing boy, though many good men and women are in circuses."

"I think I'd like to work on a farm for a change," said Frank.

"Well, you won't find farm work very easy," spoke Uncle Daniel, as he came out to listen to the runaway's story. "And I think you had better go back to your guardian," he added. "He has been looking for you."

"So Bert said," remarked Frank, "but I'll never go back to that lumber office to be treated as I was before. Mr. Mason really wasn't fair to me."

"Perhaps he meant to be," said Mr. Bobbsey.

"Well, didn't he punish me for something that wasn't my fault—taking that bad twenty dollar bill?" asked Frank.

"He did punish you, yes," admitted Mr. Bobbsey, "and I am not saying he did right in that. But you were put in his charge by the courts, and he has authority to look after you, the same as a father would look after his children."

"I think it is best that you go back to him," went on Uncle Daniel.

"I never will!" exclaimed Frank.

"Would you if I saw Mr. Mason and got him to promise to treat you more kindly, and overlook the loss of the twenty dollars?" asked the farmer.

"Well, I might," replied Frank, slowly.

"That's better!" exclaimed Uncle Daniel. "I like a young lad to have a real home," he went on, "and not be traveling about with a circus, no matter how good a show it is. What happened to the side-show you were with?" he asked Frank.

"Oh, our biggest snake died," said the boy, "and the fat lady was taken sick, and got so thin she wasn't a curiosity any more, so the show 'busted up,' as the circus people called it."

"Well, maybe it's just as well," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "I never did like snakes, anyhow, and it can't be healthful to be as fat as that lady was. I hope she gets better, and is thin enough to be comfortable. And now we must look after you, Frank. You will stay with us a few days, until Mr. Bobbsey and Uncle Daniel can arrange about your going back to your guardian."

"Yes," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Now that you have promised, Frank, I shall write to Mr. Mason, telling him you are here. He is probably searching for you, wondering what has happened to you since you lost your place with the circus."

"You are very kind to me," murmured the homeless boy.

"Yes, and I think Mr. Mason will be kind to you, too, after we have had a talk with him," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Now, Frank, make yourself at home here, and have a good time."

Frank certainly needed a good time if anyone did, for he had not had much fun thus far in life.

Aunt Sarah took Frank to the dining-room, and soon Dinah had served a meal that would make any hungry boy feel very much at home, Frank said.

"He shore hab got some appetite!" exclaimed Dinah, as she looked in through a crack in the kitchen door, and watched Frank eat.

"Well, I guess anyone would have an appetite if they had to live on hay and oats," said Martha.

"Hay an' oats!" cried Dinah. "Did he hab t' eat hay an' oats?"

"He must have," Martha replied. "That's about all they have in circuses."

"Pore boy!" sighed Dinah. "I'se gwine t' bake him a whole chocolate cake fo' his ownse'f; dat's what I am!"

And she did, too, though Frank shared his treat with the others, a day or so later, when it was given to him.

Meanwhile Frank was taken in almost as one of the family by the Bobbseys and their relatives and friends. Freddie never wanted to be away from his "circus-boy," as he called Frank, and Flossie, too, was quite in love with the wanderer.

"It makes me homesick for Mrs. Mason's two little girls," said Frank to Mrs. Bobbsey, as he came in one day from having taken Freddie and Flossie for a walk.

"Well, it's a good sign to be homesick," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "It shows you like your home, in spite of some bad times there. You will soon be back again."

Mr. Mason had been written to, and told that his ward was at Meadow Brook, and would go back with him if he called. But no answer had yet been received.

"I suppose he is trying to find you by following up the circus," said Mr. Bobbsey to Frank.

A few days after this Bert, Harry and Frank were on their way to the village store to get some groceries for Aunt Sarah. As they came near the place, in front of which was a large porch, a man was seen peering around the corner of the building. At the sight of him Frank started and pulled Bert by the sleeve.

"What's the matter?" asked Harry's cousin.

"That man!" whispered Frank. "See him! That's the one who gave me the bad money—the Confederate twenty dollar bill. What can he be doing here? Oh, if I could only get Mr. Mason's money back from that man!"

"Let's wait and see what he is doing," suggested Harry. The man had not yet seen them. The boys could watch him as he seemed to be hiding back of the corner of the country store.

"He's up to some trick, I'm sure," said Bert.

A few seconds later Mr. Mack, the owner of the store, came out and walked down the village street. Hardly had he started off than the strange man quickly went into the store.

"He's going to take the money!" exclaimed Bert. "There's no one in the store now. He waited for Mr. Mack to come out, so he could go in and get the money."

"No, I don't think that," spoke Harry. "George Smith, a boy I know, works for Mr. Mack, and attends to the store when Mr. Mack goes out. George must be in there now."

"Well, that man is up to some trick, I'm sure!" exclaimed Frank. "How can we find out what it is?"

"We can go in the store through the back door," said Harry. "Come on, we'll do it, and sneak in quietly! Then we can see what's going on."

Quietly the three boys went into the store through the rear entrance. No one up front could see them because of the piles of boxes and barrels in front of the counters.

"Well, what can I do for you to-day?" the three heard George Smith ask the stranger.

"I want two pounds of the best butter," was the man's answer. "And I suppose you can change a twenty dollar bill, can't you?"

"Oh, yes," said George. "We've got that much change."

"You were sure of that?" asked the man, glancing around the store nervously.

"Yes, sir, we always keep plenty of change on hand."

"Very well then, go and weigh out the butter and be sure and give me good weight."

"We always give full weight, sir," answered George.

Bert and the others could hear, but could not see George as he weighed out the butter. Then Frank whispered:

"I want to get near enough so I can see what kind of a twenty dollar bill that man gives this boy. Maybe it will be no good, just as he fooled me."

"Come over here," whispered Harry. "You can look through this crack between two boxes. It's right near the cash drawer, and you can see the bill when George makes change for it."

Frank crept up to make an observation, and as the store boy took the bill from the man, and began making change, Frank could not hold back any longer. He saw that the bill was the same kind that had fooled him. It was Confederate money, and utterly worthless.

"Don't give that man any change!" cried Frank. "That's bad money!"



Bert and Harry were so surprised at Frank's sudden call, that, for a few seconds, they did not know what to do or say. George Smith, the boy in the store, was also startled. He stood with the bad twenty dollar bill in his hand, wondering where the warning voice had come from. And then Frank showed how quick he could be.

"Hurry up!" he whispered to Bert and Harry. "One of you slip around and lock the front door, and the other one lock the back. Then we'll have this man trapped, and maybe I can make him pay back the money he got from me. Quick!"

"I'll go to the front door!" exclaimed Harry.

"And I'll lock the back one!" said Bert.

The man, who had heard Frank's call from behind the pile of boxes, must have known something had gone wrong with his plan to cheat.

"Never mind about the butter," he said quickly. "I guess I won't buy any after all. Just give me back my twenty dollar bill, and I'll get along."

"Oh, no, you won't!" exclaimed Harry, as he slipped around some barrels. Quickly running to the front door, the country boy locked it, and stood in front of it.

"Hurry! Give me my money back, I tell you!" cried the man to George, who stood near the cash drawer, not knowing what to do.

"Don't you give it to him!" advised Frank, stepping out. "Lock the back door, Bert," he called.

"I have!" cried the older Bobbsey boy.

The man started to run behind the counter, to find a way out, but he was too late. Bert had locked the door, and taken out the key.

"Let me out of here!" cried the stranger. "Let me out!"

Bert and Harry were somewhat frightened, but Frank was brave.

"You don't get out of here until you pay back the twenty dollars you cheated out of Mr. Mason," he said.

"I don't know anything about any Mr. Mason!" the stranger said. "I want my twenty dollar bill back, I won't need any butter to-day!"

"Don't give him that money!" cried Frank to George. "It's bad, and if you give it to him, he'll try to cheat someone else with it."

"I'll fix you!" cried the man. But at that instant there was a rattling sound at the front door, and Harry, looking through the glass panels, saw Mr. Mack, the store owner, and two or three other men outside.

"What's the matter? What has happened? Why am I locked out of my own store?" cried Mr. Mack, rattling the knob.

"There's a cheat in here!" cried Harry, unlocking the door. "There he is!" he went on, as Mr. Mack rushed in. "That man tried to pass a bad twenty dollar bill on your boy," went on Harry.

"He did, eh?" cried Mr. Mack. "Well, I'll see about that!"

"You let me go!" exclaimed the strange man. "I haven't done anything. I wanted some butter, but I changed my mind. There isn't anything wrong in that. Give me my twenty dollar bill and I'll go!"

"Oh, no, you'll not—not until you explain," said Mr. Mack, and he caught the man by the arm. Then the man tried to break away.

"Here, help me hold him!" Mr. Mack called to some of his friends who had come in with him. "We'll see what this is all about. Who can explain?" he asked, looking at Bert, Harry and Frank, in turn.

"He can," said Bert, pointing to the former circus boy.

At this the stranger took a good look at Frank, and he seemed much worried.

"I see you know me," said Frank with a smile.

The man muttered something to himself.

In a few words Frank told how he had been cheated by the old twenty dollar Confederate bill the man had passed on him some time ago, in the lumber office.

"And when I saw that man, to-day, for the first time since, hiding around your store," went on Frank to Mr. Mack, "I thought perhaps he was up to some of his old tricks. He went in as soon as you went out, and I saw him give your clerk the same kind of a bad bill he gave me. Only I gave him eighteen good dollars in change."

"But I didn't," said George Smith with a grateful look at Frank. "I was warned in time."

"I tell you it is all a mistake," said the man. "You had better let me go."

"The only place you will go to is prison," cried Mr. Mack. "Take him away, Constable Sprigg," he said to one of the men who had come into the store with him. "Take him away!"

So the man who had cheated Frank, and who had nearly cheated Mr. Mack, was locked up in jail. It was found that he had many Confederate bills with him. That money was once good in the Southern States, during war-times, but now it is of no value, and will not buy even a stick of candy.

Of course grown persons could not be fooled by the Confederate bills, but boys, who had never seen any of that money, might be easily deceived. And it was on boys that the man played his tricks, giving them bad twenty dollar bills for some small purchase, and getting good money in change.

"He just waited until Mr. Mack went out of his store," explained Frank, "and he knew only a boy was left in charge. That's how he tricked me, waiting until Mr. Mason was out of the office."

"Well, you did me a good service," said Mr. Mack, "and if ever you are in need of work, I'll give you a place in my store to help George when I am out."

"I guess Frank is going back in the lumber business," said Bert.

The next day Mr. Mason came in answer to the letter he had received about Frank. He brought with him the bad twenty dollar bill the man had cheated Frank with, and a little later the dishonest man was taken away by a policeman, and put in a place where he would have to work hard as a punishment for cheating honest persons. The Bobbseys never saw him again.

Everyone said Frank was very smart to catch the cheat as he had done. Mr. Mason received back his twenty dollars, for the man had some good money in his pockets when arrested.

"And now are you ready to come back with me, Frank?" asked Mr. Mason, when everything had come out right.

"I—I guess so," was the rather slow answer.

"My girls are anxious to see you again," the lumber merchant went on. "They have missed you very much. And I want to say I am sorry I was so cross and severe with you," he added. "I was provoked that you should be cheated, but I realize now that it was not your fault. That man made it his business to fool boys with his bad bills. Will you come back, Frank? I promise to treat you better from now on."

"Yes, he will go back," said Uncle Daniel, "but he hasn't had much fun this summer. Suppose you leave him here at Meadow Brook for a while. I think it will do Frank good."

"All right," agreed Mr. Mason. "But my wife and the girls are anxious to have him home. But let him stay here for a time."

And so happy days began for Frank Kennedy, and the happy days continued for the Bobbsey twins, and their friends and relatives. The long summer days on the farm were filled with good times.

One morning Freddie and Flossie went out in the kitchen where Dinah and Martha were busy making sandwiches and wrapping cakes in waxed paper.

"Are we going to have company?" asked Flossie.

"We's gwine t' hab annuder picnic!" exclaimed Dinah. "A big one!"

"Oh, goodie!" cried Freddie. "And I'm going to take my fire engine to the woods and squirt water on snakes."

"Well, don't pump any fire engine watah on ole Dinah, honey lamb!" begged the fat cook.

"Oh, a picnic! What fun!" cried Nan, when she heard about it.

And such good times as the Bobbseys had when they went to the cool green woods, with well-filled lunch baskets! Mr. Mack, the store keeper, was so grateful to Frank, for having saved the twenty dollars for him, that he sent a large bag of cakes and oranges for the woodland-dinner.

Frank went with the others, and a number of country boys and girls were invited. They played games and sat about in the long grass under shady trees to eat the good things Dinah and Martha had cooked. Freddie played with his fire engine to his heart's content, and, though he managed to get pretty wet himself, no one else suffered much.

And, a few days before Frank was to go back to his guardian Mr. Bobbsey gave the children another treat. They were taken to a nice moving picture show at Rosedale where the circus had been.

After some funny reels had been shown, there was flashed on the screen a schoolhouse, with the children clustering about the teacher.

"Oh, it's us! It's us!" whispered Nan. "Those are our pictures!"

"So they are!" agreed Bert. And they were. Views of the sham battle the children had witnessed were thrown on the screen, and then came a scene showing Freddie. No sooner had he noticed himself in the pictures than he cried out loud:

"Oh, that's me! Now watch me fall in the brook!"

And he did, amid the laughter of the audience.

I wish I had space to tell you of all the other things the Bobbseys did at Meadow Brook, but this book is as full as it will hold. So I will just say that when the time came Frank went back to Mr. Mason's home, and, a little later, the Bobbseys taking Snoop and Snap, went back to Lakeport, there to spend some weeks at home, until it was time to go on another vacation. And so, having enjoyed the company of the twins, we will say goodbye to them.


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