"I'd rather ride with Bert and Whisker than in the auto," said Freddie wistfully, as he saw his brother about to drive off.
"So would I!" added Flossie, who always chimed in with anything her twin brother did.
"But you can't," said Mrs. Bobbsey decidedly. "If you two small twins went with Bert in the goat wagon something would be sure to happen. You'd stop to give some one a ride or you'd have a race with a dog or a cat, and then we'd miss the boat. You must come with us, Flossie and Freddie, and, Bert, don't lose any time. The boat won't wait for you and Whisker."
"I'll be there before you," promised Bert, and he was, for he took a short cut. He said on the way he had stopped at the police station to ask if there was any news about the missing Snap, but the trick dog had not been seen, and so the Bobbseys went to camp without him.
If there had not been so much to see and to do, they would have been more lonesome for Snap than they were. As it was, they missed him very much, but Bert held out a little hope by saying perhaps they might find their pet on Blueberry Island, though why he said it he hardly knew.
"All aboard!" called the steamboat men as the Bobbseys settled themselves in comfort, their goods having been put in place. The goat wagon was left on the lower deck where stood the horses and wagons that were to be taken across the lake, for the steamer was a sort of ferryboat. "All aboard!" called the deck hands.
There was a tooting of whistles, a clanging and ringing of bells, and the boat slowly moved away from the dock.
"Oh, it's just lovely to go camping!" sighed Nan.
"We haven't really begun yet," said Bert. "Wait until we get to the woods and have to go hunting for what we want to eat, and cook it over an open fire—that's the way to live!"
"I guess there won't be much hunting on Blueberry Island," said Mr. Bobbsey, with a laugh.
"Well, we can make-believe, can't we?" asked Freddie.
"Oh, yes, you can make-believe," said his mother. "And that, sometimes, is more fun than having real things."
I will not tell you all the things that happened on the steamboat, for so much more happened on Blueberry Island that I will have to hurry on to that. Besides, the trip to the middle of the lake did not take more than an hour, and not much can take place in an hour.
I say not much, and yet sometimes lots of things can. But not a great deal did to the Bobbseys this time, though, to be sure, a strange dog tried to get hold of Snoop in his crate, and Freddie nearly fell overboard reaching after his hat, which blew off.
"But I could swim even if I did fall in," he said, for Mr. Bobbsey had taught all four twins how to keep afloat in water.
"Well, we don't want you falling in," his mother answered. "Now you sit by me."
This Freddie did for a short time. Then he got tired of sitting still and jumped down from his chair, at the same time calling to his little sister:
"Say, Flossie, let's go and watch the engine."
"All right," answered the little girl, ready, as always, to do anything her brother suggested.
As Flossie jumped from her chair to join her brother, she accidently kicked an umbrella belonging to a man who was sitting near by, and the umbrella fell to the floor and slipped out under the railing right into the water.
"Oh—oh—oh!" gasped Flossie.
But Freddie turned and ran as fast as he could to the stairs that led to the lower deck.
"Here! where are you going?" cried his father, and started after his son.
"Goin' after that umbrella!"
"I think not!" and Mr. Bobbsey caught up with Freddie and picked him up in his arms.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Bobbsey told the man how sorry she was, and said that they would replace the umbrella. But the man returned that he would not allow that.
"No one needs an umbrella on such a lovely day, anyway," he said.
But a deckhand who was cleaning some mops in the water had already rescued the umbrella.
"Blueberry Island!" called a man on the steamer, after the boat had made one or two other stops. "All off for Blueberry Island!"
"Oh, let us off! Let us off!" cried Flossie, getting up in such a hurry from her deck chair that she dropped her doll. "We're going camping there."
"I guess the passengers know it by this time, without your telling them," laughed her father. "But come on—don't forget anything."
Such a scrambling as there was! Such a gathering together of packages—umbrellas—fishing rods—hats, caps, gloves and the crate with black Snoop in it. Sam and Dinah helped all they could, and between them and Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey and the children the family managed to get ashore at last.
A gangplank had been run from the boat to the dock, and over this Bert drove Whisker and the goat cart. The goat seemed glad to get off the steamboat.
"Oh, wouldn't Snap just love it here!" cried Nan, as they went on shore and looked at the island. "Isn't it too bad he isn't with us?"
"I'm going to find him!" declared Bert. "Those old gypsies sha'n't have our trick dog!"
Blueberry Island was, indeed, a fine place for a camp. In the winter no one lived on it, but in the summer it was often visited by picnic parties and by those who liked to gather the blueberries which grew so plentifully, giving the island its name.
In fact, so many people came to one end of the island in the berry season that a man had set up a little stand near the shore, where he sold sandwiches, coffee, candy, and ice-cream, since many of the berry-pickers, and others who came, grew hungry after tramping through the woods.
But where Mr. Bobbsey was going to camp with his family, the berry-pickers and picnic parties seldom came, as it was on the far end of the island, so our friends would be rather by themselves, which was what they wanted.
Mr. Dalton, the man who kept the little refreshment stand, had his horse and wagon on the island, and he had agreed to haul the Bobbsey's trunks and other things to where their tents, already put up, awaited them.
"And can't we ride there in the goat wagon?" asked Freddie of his mother, as he saw Bert get up behind Whisker in the little cart.
"Yes, I think you and Flossie may ride now that we are on the island," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Do you want to go, Nan?"
"No, I'll walk with you and daddy. I'll get enough goat rides later."
"Oh, how nice it is!" cried Mother Bobbsey when she and Nan came in sight of the tents of the camp. "I know we shall like it here!"
"I hope you will," said her husband. "And now we must see about something to eat. I suppose the children are hungry."
"Dey's always dat way!" laughed fat Dinah. "I neber seen 'em when dey wasn't hungry. But jest show me whar's de cook-stove an' suffin' t' cook, an' dey won't be hungry long, mah honey lambs!"
Dinah was as good as her word, and she soon had a fine meal on the table in the dining tent, for the men Mr. Bobbsey had hired to set up the canvas houses had everything in readiness to go right to "housekeeping," as Nan said.
There were several tents for the Bobbsey family. One large one was for the family to sleep in, while a smaller one, near the kitchen tent, was for Dinah and her husband. Then there was a tent that served as a dining-room, and another where the trunks and food could be stored. In this tent was an ice box, for a boat stopped at the island every day and left a supply of ice.
The children helped to unpack and settle camp, though, if the truth were told, perhaps they did more to unsettle it than otherwise. But Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey were used to this, and knew how to manage.
So the meal was eaten, Whisker was put in his little stable, made under a pile of brush-wood, and the children went out rowing in a boat. They had lots of fun that afternoon, and Bert even did a little hunting for Snap, thinking that, by some chance, the trick dog might be on the island. But Snap was not to be found.
"Though, of course, we didn't half look," Bert said. "We'll look again to-morrow."
And now it was evening in "Twin Camp," as the Bobbseys had decided to call their place on Blueberry Island. There had been quite a talk as to what to name the camp, but when Dinah suggested "Twin," every one agreed that it was best. So "Twin Camp" it was called, and Daddy Bobbsey said he would have a wooden sign made with that on it, and a flag to hoist over it on a pole.
Beds were made up in the sleeping tent, and soon even Nan and Bert declared that they were ready to go to Slumberland by the quickest train or steamboat which was headed for that place. They had been up early and had been very busy. Flossie and Freddie dropped off to sleep as soon as they put their heads on the pillows.
Freddie did not know what time it was when he awakened. It was in the night, he was sure of that, for it was dark in the tent except where the little oil light was aglow. What had awakened him was something bumping against him. His cot was near one of the walls of the sleeping tent and he awoke with a start.
"Hi!" he called, as he felt something strike against him. "Who's doin' that? Stop it! Stop it, I say!"
"Freddie, are you talking in your sleep?" asked his mother, who had not slept very soundly.
"No, I'm not asleep," Freddie answered. "But something bumped me. It's outside the tent."
"Maybe it's Whisker feeling of you with his horns," said Flossie, who slept near her brother, and who had been awakened when he called out so loudly.
"It—it didn't feel like Whisker. It was softer than his horns," Freddie said. "Momsie, I want to come into your bed."
"No, Freddie, you must stay where you are. I guess it was only the wind blowing on you."
"No, it wasn't!" said Freddie. "It was a bump that hit me. I'm afraid over here!"
THE "GO-AROUND" BUGS
Without waiting for his mother to tell him that he might, Freddie slipped off his cot and went scurrying over the board floor of the tent toward Mrs. Bobbsey's bed.
"I'm coming, too!" said Flossie, who generally went everywhere her small brother did.
"Did something hit you, too?" asked Freddie, turning to his sister.
"No, but it might. If you are afraid I'm afraid, too."
"Oh, you children!" said Mrs. Bobbsey with sigh. "I believe you only dreamed it, Freddie."
"No, Momsie, I didn't! Really I didn't! Somethin' bumped me from outside the tent. It hit me in the back—not hard, but sort of soft like, an'—an' I woked up. I want to sleep with you!"
"What's it all about?" asked Daddy Bobbsey. Then Freddie had to explain again, and Flossie also talked until Nan and Bert were awakened.
"It might have been Whisker," said Bert. "If he got loose and brushed against the tent and Freddie had rolled with his back close against the side it would be like that."
Just then there sounded in the night the "Baa-a-a-a-a!" of the white goat.
"There he is!" cried Bert.
"But it sounds as though he were still safely tied up," said Mr. Bobbsey. "I'll have a look outside. Too bad we haven't Snap with us. He'd give the alarm in a minute if anything were wrong."
The goat bleated again, but the sound did not seem near the tent, as it would have done if Whisker has been loose. Putting on his bath robe and slippers, Mr. Bobbsey took a lantern and went outside. Bert wanted to come with his father, but Mrs. Bobbsey would not hear of it.
"We want a little man in here to look after us," she said, smiling.
"Ain't I almost a man? I can make my fire engine go," Freddie said, forgetting his fright, now that the "big folks" were up, and the light in the tent was turned higher.
They could hear Mr. Bobbsey walking around outside, and they heard him speaking to the goat who bleated again. Mr. Bobbsey was as fond of animals as were his children, and Whisker was almost like a dog, he was so tame and gentle.
"Was the goat loose, Daddy?" asked Nan, when her father came back into the tent.
"No, he was tied all right in his little stable. It wasn't Whisker who brushed against Freddie, if, indeed, anything did."
"Something did!" declared the small boy. "Didn't I wake up?"
"Well, you might have dreamed it," said Nan. "You often talk in your sleep, I know."
"I did feel something bump me," declared Freddie, and nothing the others could say would make him change his idea.
"Did you see anything?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey in a low voice of her husband when the twins were in their beds again. Flossie's and Freddie's cots were moved over nearer to those of their parents', and they had dropped off to slumber again, after getting drinks of water.
"Well, I rather think I did," answered Mr. Bobbsey in a low voice.
"You did! What?"
"I don't know whether it was a horse or a man, but it was something. It was so dark I couldn't see well, and the trees and bushes come up around the tents."
"How could it be a horse?"
"It might have been the one that belongs to Mr. Dalton. If the horse were walking around, cropping grass wherever he could find it, he might have brushed past the side of the tent and so have disturbed Freddie."
"Yes, I suppose so," agreed Mrs. Bobbsey. "But couldn't you tell a horse from a man?"
"No, it was too dark. I only just saw a shadow moving away from the tents as I stepped out."
"And was Whisker all right?"
"Yes, though I guess he was lonesome. He tried to follow me back here when I left him."
"I suppose Whisker misses the children," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "But do you think it could be a man who was wandering about our tents?"
"It could be—yes."
"One of the gypsies?"
"Oh, I wouldn't say as to that. In fact, I don't believe the gypsies are anywhere around here. The children have that notion in their heads, but I don't believe in it. Perhaps it was a blueberry picker who was lost."
"But if he was lost, and saw our tents, he'd stop and ask to be set on the right road," went on Mrs. Bobbsey. "Besides, blueberries won't be ripe for another week or so, and nobody picks them green."
"No, I suppose not," agreed her husband. "Well, I'm sure I don't know who or what it was, but I saw a dark shadow moving away."
"Shadows can't do any harm."
"No, but it takes some one or something to make a shadow, and I'd like to know what it was. I'll take a look around in the morning," said Mr. Bobbsey. "We don't want Twin Camp spoiled by midnight scares."
"Maybe we'd better get another dog, if Snap doesn't come back," suggested his wife.
"I'll think about that. We can't very well train Whisker to keep watch. Besides, he can't bark," and Mr. Bobbsey laughed as he got back into bed.
There was no more disturbance that night and the twins did not again awaken. Mr. Bobbsey remained awake for a while, but he heard nothing, and he believed that if it was a man or an animal that had brushed against the tent where Freddie was sleeping, whoever, or whatever, it was had gone far away.
Dinah had a fine breakfast ready for the twins and the others the next morning. There were flap-jacks with maple syrup to pour over them, and that, with the crisp smell of bacon, made every one so hungry that there was no need to call even Nan twice, and sometimes she liked to lie in bed longer than did the others.
"Did you find what it was that bumped me, Daddy?" asked Freddie, as he, as last, pushed back his plate, unable to eat any more.
"No. And we don't need to worry about it. Now we must finish getting Twin Camp in order to-day," went on Mr. Bobbsey, "and then we will begin to have fun and enjoy ourselves."
"Are we going to catch any fish?" asked Bert. "Always, when you read of camps, they catch fish and fry them."
"Yes, we can go fishing after we get the work done," said his father. "Work first and play afterward is a rule we'll follow here, though there won't be much work to do. However, if we're to go fishing we'll have to dig some bait."
"I can dig worms!" cried Freddie. "Worms are good for bait, aren't they, Daddy?"
"For some kinds of fish, yes. We'll fish part of the time with worms and see what luck we have. Bert, you and Freddie can dig the bait."
"I want to help," said Flossie. "I helped Nan get out my dolls and toys, and now I want to dig worms."
"All right, little fat fairy!" laughed Bert. "Come along."
"Mercy, Flossie, digging bait is such dirty work! What do you want to do that for?" asked Nan.
"I don't care if it is dirty, it's fun."
"You might have known, Nan," laughed Mrs. Bobbsey, "that Flossie would not object to dirt."
With a shovel for turning up the dirt, and a tin can to hold the worms, Bert and the two smaller twins were soon busy. But they did not have as good luck as they expected. Earthworms were not plentiful on the island. Perhaps they could not swim over the lake from the main shore, Freddie suggested.
"Aren't bugs good for bait?" asked Freddie, when he had looked in the tin can and found only a few worms wiggling about after more than half an hour's digging on the part of himself and Bert.
"Some kinds of bugs are good for fishing; yes," Bert answered, and, hearing that, Freddie started back for the tent where the trunks were stored.
"What are you going to do?" Bert called after his little brother.
"I'm going to get the go-around bugs. We can use them for bait. Water won't hurt 'em—the store man told me so. We can use the go-around bugs."
"Oh, they're no good—they're tin!" laughed Bert.
But Freddie was not listening. He had slipped into the tent and was searching for the toys he had bought in New York. Bert kept on digging for worms, now and then finding one, which Flossie picked up for him, until he heard another call from Freddie. The little fellow came running from the tent with an empty and broken box in his hand.
"Look! Look!" cried Freddie. "My go-around bugs comed alive in the night and they broke out of the box. Oh, dear! Now I can't have 'em to catch fish with! The go-around bugs broke out of the box and they've gone away!"
THE BLUEBERRY BOY
"What's the matter, Freddie? What has happened? I hope you haven't hurt yourself," and Mrs. Bobbsey, who heard the small twin calling to Bert about the tin bugs, hurried from the tent, where she was making the beds, to see what the trouble was.
"No, Momsie, I'm not hurt," Freddie answered. "But look at my go-around bugs!" and he held out the empty and broken box.
"What's the matter with them?" asked Mr. Bobbsey who came up just then from the shore of the lake where he had gone to make sure the camp boats were securely tied.
"My bugs are all gone!" went on Freddie. "They broke out of the box in the night! They bited themselves out!"
"No, they didn't bite the box," said Flossie, coming up to look at what her small brother held. "They just went around and around and around, and they knocked a hole with their heads in the box and so they got out. Did you look for them on the floor of the tent, Freddie?"
"No, I didn't."
"Come on, we'll have a look," Bert said. He dropped the shovel with which he had been digging for worms and ran over to his little brother. He took the box from Freddie.
"That must have been smashed in the moving," Bert said to his father.
"No, it wasn't smashed," Freddie said, hearing what Bert remarked to Mr. Bobbsey. "Flossie and I were playing with the bugs yesterday after we got here, and the box wasn't broken then. It was all right, and so were the go-around bugs. But now they're gone!"
"Maybe the box fell off a table or something," said Mr. Bobbsey, "and broke that way. We'll look on the floor of the tent for your bugs, my little fat fireman."
But no bugs were to be found after a careful search had been made, and Freddie and Flossie were quite disappointed.
"We can't go fishing if we can't find any bugs for to bait the hooks," said Freddie, tears in his blue eyes.
"Never mind," his father answered. "The tin bugs wouldn't have caught many fish, and if we don't find your toys I'll get you some more when I go to town. You and Bert had better keep on digging the worms, I guess. They're better for fish."
"And I'll pick 'em up," offered Flossie. She was a queer little child in some ways, not afraid of bugs and "crawly things."
It did not take Freddie or Flossie long to forget what had made them unhappy, and though for a time they were sorry about the loss of the bugs, they soon became so interested in helping Bert dig for worms that they were quite jolly again.
"Here's an awful fat one, Flossie!" cried Freddie. "Pick that one up just terribly careful-like. I'm going to save him for my hook, and maybe I'll get the biggest fish of all."
"How'll you know where to find this one when you want it, I'd like to know, Freddie Bobbsey?" returned his sister.
"Tie a blue ribbon on it," suggested Bert.
"Yes, we might," said Flossie slowly. "Maybe Nan has a ribbon. I'll ask."
Bert laughed and said:
"I was just fooling, little fat fairy. I don't believe you can do that."
"I don't see why," dissented Freddie. "We can try, anyway. Here, I have a red string in my pocket. That'll do better than a ribbon."
He pulled out the string, and the two smaller children tied it around the middle of the earthworm, but, much to Flossie's dismay, they tied it so tightly that it almost cut the worm in two.
"Oh, Freddie Bobbsey! You fix that right away!" cried his twin sister, and he loosened the string.
Pretty soon Bert again dropped the spade he had taken up and said:
"There, Freddie, you dig awhile. I want to see about the lines and poles. We have almost worms enough."
Freddie was glad to do this, and Flossie was eager to pick up the crawling creatures. Bert went back to the tent to get out the poles, lines and hooks. There he found his father and mother looking at the broken box that had held the tin bugs.
"How do you think it became smashed?" Mrs. Bobbsey asked.
"I don't know," answered her husband. "It looks as though some one had stepped on it."
"But who could do that? Flossie and Freddie think so much of the bugs that they take good care of them, and they wouldn't put them where they would be stepped on. Do you suppose any of the men that have been helping set up the camp could have done it?"
"I hardly think so. If they did they wouldn't take the bugs away, and that is what has happened. It seems to me as though the box had been broken so the bugs could be taken out. For the cover fits on tightly, and it often sticks. Freddie and Flossie often come to me to open it for them. Probably whoever tried to open it could not do so at first, and then stepped on it enough to crack it open without damaging the tin bugs inside."
"But who would do such a thing?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey, and Bert found himself asking, in his mind, the same question.
"That's something we'll have to find out," said Mr. Bobbsey, and neither of them noticed Bert, who, by this time, was inside the tent where the fishing things were kept.
"Could it be the gypsies?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Well, I don't altogether believe all that talk about the gypsies," said Mr. Bobbsey slowly. "I think they may have taken Helen's talking doll, but that's all. However, if there are any gypsies here on the island, and if they saw those gay red, yellow and spotted bugs of Flossie's and Freddie's they might have taken them. They like those colors, and the crawling bugs might amuse them."
"Oh, but if there are gypsies on this island I don't want to stay camping here! They might take away some of the children—Flossie or Freddie! Nan and Bert are too old."
"Nonsense!" laughed Mr. Bobbsey. "There are no gypsies here, and you needn't worry."
"All the same I wish Snap were here with us," went on Mrs. Bobbsey. "I'd feel safer if I knew the dog were with the children all the while, as he was before."
"Well, if he doesn't come back, or if we don't find him soon, I'll get another dog," promised Mr. Bobbsey. "Now don't worry about gypsies. Maybe this broken box was only an accident."
"But what about the shadow you saw last night. Maybe that was a——"
Just then Dinah came waddling from the cook tent toward the large one where Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey stood. Bert could see and hear all that went on.
"Mrs. Bobbsey, did yo' take dat big piece ob bacon I cut a few slices off of last night?" asked the cook.
"Why, no, Dinah, I didn't," answered Mrs. Bobbsey. "Why do you ask?"
"'Cause as how dat bacon's gone. It's done gone complete! I hung it inside de tent, up high where none ob dem chatterin' squirrels or chipmunks could git it, an' now, when I want some fo' dinnah it's gone. Maybe de chilluns took some fo' dere fish hooks, 'cause I done heah Bert talk about bait."
"No, I didn't take it," answered Bert himself, stepping out of the small tent where the poles, oars for the boats and other camp articles were kept. "We've got worms enough for bait."
"Bacon gone, eh?" said Mr. Bobbsey. Then, as he looked at his wife and glanced at Bert, he went on: "Well, maybe a stray dog jumped up and got it. Some dogs can jump very high, Dinah. Snap could, I remember."
"Good land ob massy! Ef I t'ought dat 'er Snap had come back t' mah honey lambs I'd be so glad I wouldn't mind de bacon," said the fat cook. "But I don't reckon no dog took it, Mistah Bobbsey. I t'ink it war' a two-legged robber dat——"
"Never mind that now, Dinah!" said Mrs. Bobbsey quickly. "Come here and finish making the beds, I want to walk down to the lake with Mr. Bobbsey," and she nodded to her husband. "One piece of bacon won't matter," she went on. "We have plenty more."
"Yes, I knows dat," said Dinah, who was puzzled. "But if no 'count folks is gwine t' come t' dish yeah camp an' walk off wif vittles dat way——"
"It's time it was stopped, isn't it?" asked Bert, as he walked toward the fat cook. "Say, Dinah," he went on as he saw his father and mother stroll down to the shore of the lake, "did you hear a queer noise in the night?"
"Did I heah a queer noise around de camp las' night?" repeated Dinah. "Well, I suah did, honey lamb! I done heard a owl hoot, an' dat's a suah sign ob bad luck."
"No, I don't mean that kind of noise, Dinah. Did you hear anything else?"
"Yas. I done heah mah man Sam snore suffin' terrible! It were 'most like thunder. Did you all heah dat, honey lamb?"
"No, I didn't hear that, Dinah," answered Bert, with a laugh. "But something or somebody brushed past our tent in the night, and woke up Freddie. Then my father went outside and saw some one sneaking away."
"Oh, mah good lan' ob massy!" cried Dinah. "Dat's where mah bacon went to! Wait until I tells your fader, honey lamb, an'——"
"No! Hold on! Wait a minute!" cried Bert, catching Dinah by her apron as she was hurrying away. "Dad knows it already, and so does mother. I guess they don't want to scare us children, but I'm not afraid. I'll tell you what I think, Dinah."
"I think there are gypsies on this island, and that they're after Flossie and Freddie!"
"Oh, mah goodness! Oh, mah goodness! Oh, mah goodness!" cried Dinah quickly. It seemed she could think of nothing else to say.
"But I'm not afraid," went on Bert. "We'll just have to keep a good watch, and not let those two little twins out of our sight. Don't tell my mother or father that you know this. You and I and Nan will keep watch."
"Dat's what we will!" exclaimed the fat cook. "An' if dem gypsies lays so much as a fingernail on mah honey lambs I'll pull de gold rings offen dere ears an' frow dish water on 'em—dat's what I'll do to dem gypsies!"
"I wish we had Snap back, or that Whisker were a dog instead of a goat," said Bert. "But maybe if I let Whisker roam around the camp at night he'll be as good as a watch dog."
"He can butt wif his horns," said Dinah.
"Yes, and he can make a bleating noise. That's what I'll do," said Bert. "I'll use Whisker as a watch dog. Now don't say anything to father or mother about our knowing there're gypsies here," went on Bert.
"I won't—I won't say a word," promised Dinah. "But I'll keep mah ole eyes skinned fo' Flossie an' Freddie, an' so will Sam. It's got 't be mighty smart gypsies dat'll take away mah honey lambs!"
Bert was really much excited by what he had seen and heard. The smashing of the box, what his father and mother thought about it, the taking of the bacon and the scare the night before—all this was quite a surprise.
"Are you sure it's gypsies?" asked Nan when her older brother told her what had happened.
"I'm sure of it," said Bert. "Now what you and I've got to do is to keep a good watch over Flossie and Freddie. Course we're too big for the gypsies to take, but they could easy walk away with those little twins."
"What d'you s'pose they'd do with 'em, Bert, if they did take Flossie and Freddie?"
"Oh, they wouldn't hurt 'em, of course. They'd just black up Flossie's and Freddie's faces with walnut juice to make 'em look dark, like real gypsies, and they'd keep 'em until dad paid a lot of money to get the twins back."
"How much money?"
"Oh, maybe a thousand dollars—maybe more."
"Oh!" exclaimed Nan. "Then we must be sure never to let Flossie or Freddie out of our sight. We've got to watch them every minute."
"Of course," agreed Bert. "We'll fool those gypsies yet."
Carrying out their plan to be very careful of their little brother and sister, Bert and Nan took the small twins in the boat with them when they went fishing an hour later. Bert would not go out far from the shore of Blueberry Island—indeed, his mother had told him he must not, for the lake was deep in places—and the older twins did about as much watching the bushes along the bank for signs of gypsies as they did fishing.
Flossie and Freddie, however, not worrying about any trouble, had lots of fun tossing their baited hooks into the water, and Freddie yelled in delight when he caught the first fish. Flossie also caught one, but it was very small, and Bert made her put it back in the lake.
The children caught enough fish for a meal, though when they started out neither their father nor mother thought they would. But the worms proved to be good bait.
"We'd have caught bigger fish if we'd had my tin bugs for bait," said Freddie.
"I don't want my bugs put on a hook," said Flossie. "When will you find them, Freddie, and make them go around and around?"
"I don't know," he answered.
The tents were put in good order and for two or three days the children had great sport playing, going fishing and taking walks in the woods with their father and mother, or going for trips on the lake. There were no more night scares.
"Maybe it wasn't gypsies after all," said Nan to her brother one day.
"Yes, it was," he said. "They were here, but they went away when they found out we knew about them. But they'll come back, and then they may try to take Flossie or Freddie. We've got to keep a good watch."
It was about a week after they had come to Blueberry Island that the Bobbsey twins—all four of them—went for a ride in the goat wagon. There was a good road which ran the whole length of the island, and Whisker could easily pull the wagon along it.
The twins had taken their lunch and were to have a sort of picnic in the woods. They rode under the green trees, stopped to gather flowers, and Nan made a wreath of ferns which she put over Whisker's horns, making him look very funny, indeed. Then the twins found a nice grassy spot near a spring of water, and sat down to eat the good things Dinah had put up for their lunch.
Freddie had taken one bite of a chicken sandwich when, all of a sudden, there was a noise in the bushes near him, and a queer face peered out. Freddie gave one look at it, and, dropping his piece of bread and chicken, cried:
"Oh, it's a blueberry boy! It's a blueberry boy! Oh, look!"
THE DRIFTING BOAT
At first Nan and Bert did not know whether Freddie was playing some trick or not. Flossie had gone down to the spring to get a cupful of water, and so was not near her little brother when he gave the cry of alarm.
But Bert looked up and had a glimpse of what had startled Freddie. Certainly there was a queer, blue face staring at the three twins from over the top of the bushes. And the face did not go away as they looked at it.
"A blueberry boy! What in the world is a blueberry boy?" asked Nan.
"There he is!" cried Freddie, pointing. "He's been picking blueberries. That's why I call him a blueberry boy."
"Yes, and he's been eating them, too, I guess," added Bert. "Did you want anything of us?" he asked of the stranger.
By this time Flossie had come back with the water—that is, what she had not spilled of it—and she, too, saw the strange boy.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"My name's Tom," was the answer. "What's yours?"
"Flossie Bobbsey, an' I'm a twin an' we're campin' on this island, and we had some bugs that went around and around and——"
"Flossie, come here," called Nan. She did not want her little sister to talk too much to the strange boy. Nan had an idea the boy might belong to the gypsies.
"I saw him first," put in Freddie. "I saw his face all covered with blueberries, and I dropped my standwich—I did."
He began looking on the ground for what he had been eating, but finding, when he picked up the bread and bits of chicken, that ants were crawling all over the "standwich," he tossed it away again.
"Aw, what'd you do that for?" asked Tom, the blueberry boy. "That was good to eat! Ain't you hungry?"
"Yes, but I don't like ants," returned Freddie. "'Sides, there's more to eat in the basket!"
"Cracky!" exclaimed Tom. "That's fine! There isn't anything in my basket but blueberries, and not many of them. You get tired of eatin' 'em after a while, too."
"Are you—are you hungry?" asked Bert. As yet no one else had appeared except the boy. He seemed to be all alone. And he was not much larger than Bert.
"Hungry? You'd better believe I'm hungry!" answered the boy with a laugh that showed his white teeth with his blueberry-stained lips and face all around them. "I thought I'd have a lot of berries picked by noon, so I could row back to shore, sell 'em and get somethin' to eat. But the berries ain't as ripe as I thought they'd be—it's too early I guess—so I've got to go hungry."
Nan whispered something to Bert who nodded.
"We've got more sandwiches here," Bert said to the blueberry boy. "Would you like one?"
"Would I like one?" asked the boy, who seemed to answer one question by asking another like it. "Say, you just give me a chance. I ain't had nothin' since breakfast, and there wasn't much of that."
With a bound he jumped through the bushes and stood in the little grassy glade where the Bobbsey twins were having a sort of picnic by themselves. They saw that Tom had on ragged clothes and no shoes. Indeed, he looked like a very poor boy, but his face, though it was stained with the blueberries he had eaten, was smiling and kind. The Bobbsey twins thought they would like him.
"Here—eat this," and Bert held out some sandwiches. Dinah had put in plenty, as she always did.
"And he can have some cake, too," said Freddie. "I don't want but two pieces, and I told Dinah to put in three for me."
"Oh, what a hungry boy!" laughed Nan.
"And the blueberry boy can have one of my pieces of cake," said Flossie. "Where did you get the blueberries?" she asked, looking into his basket.
"I didn't get many—that's the trouble," he said. "It's a little too early for them. But the earlier they are the better price you can sell 'em for. So I came over alone to-day."
"Where do you live?" asked Bert, as the boy was hungrily eating the sandwich.
"Over in Freedon," and Tom Turner, for such he said was his name, pointed to a village on the other side of the lake from that where the Bobbsey twins had their home. "Our folks come here every year to pick blueberries, but never as early as this. I guess I've had my trouble for nothing. I've eaten more berries than I put in my basket, I guess. But I was so hungry I had to have something. I didn't find many ripe ones at that, and I guess I got as much outside of me as I did inside," and he laughed again, showing his white teeth.
"Where do you folks live?" Tom asked, as he took a piece of cake Nan offered him.
"We're camping on this island."
"You don't mean to say you are gypsies, do you?" asked the blueberry boy in surprise.
"No, of course not!" Bert answered. "We live in Lakeport—Bobbsey is our name and——"
"Oh, does your father have a lumberyard?"
"Oh! Well, then you're all right! My father drives one of your father's lumber wagons. He just got that job this week—been out of work a long while. I heard him say he had a place in the Bobbsey lumberyard, but I never thought I'd meet you. I thought maybe you was gypsies at first."
"That's what I thought you were," said Nan.
"We're going to be gypsies when we get older—Freddie and me," announced Flossie.
"No, we're not, Flossie. We're going to be in a circus."
"Oh, yes! And I'm going to ride a horse standing up."
"And I'm going to be a clown——"
"And he'll have his little fire engine——"
"And squirt water on the other clowns and——"
"And the folks'll holler and laugh. And I'm going to have a glittery——"
"Dear me, Flossie and Freddie, we've heard all about that at least a dozen times lately," protested Bert.
"But Tom hasn't heard about it. He's int'rested," declared Freddie.
"I knew a feller once that had been in a circus," said Tom. "He said they had to work awful hard. There's the show every afternoon and every night and the parade in the mornin' and the practisin' and gettin' ready. He said too that the fellers at the head of the show was awful strict about how everybody behaved themselves. It wasn't much fun, he said, and it was lots of work."
"My!" gasped Freddie. "I—I guess we'll be gypsies. I don't like to work—much."
"That is, not very much," agreed Flossie.
"Are there any gypsies here?" asked Bert, for he thought it would be a good chance to find out what he wanted to know.
"Yes, there are some," was Tom's unexpected answer. "They had a camp on the lower end of the island last week. I expected to see some of 'em to-day. They're great blueberry pickers, and that's one reason I came early. Most always the gypsies get the best of the blueberries 'fore we white folks have a chance."
"Are there gypsies on this island now?" asked Nan, looking over her shoulder into the bushes, as though she feared a dark-faced man, with gold rings in his ears, might step out any moment and make a grab for Flossie or Freddie.
"Well, I guess they're here now, 'less they've gone," said Tom. "I saw some of the men and women here day before yesterday. They had been over to the mainland buyin' things from the store, and they rowed over here. I'd come to look for blueberries, but there wasn't as many ripe as there is to-day, though that isn't sayin' much. But the gypsies are here all right."
"Then we'd better go," said Nan to Bert.
"Why?" Tom asked.
"Because," said Nan slowly, "we don't like gypsies. They might take——"
"They took Helen's talking doll!" exclaimed Flossie. "She cried about it, too. I would if they'd take my doll, only I got her hid under my bed. You won't tell the gypsies, will you?"
"No, indeed!" laughed Tom. "You're afraid of them, are you?" he asked Nan.
"Yes—a little," she said slowly.
"They won't hurt you!" Tom said. "They're not very fond of workin', and they'll take anything they find lyin' around loose, but they won't hurt nobody."
"They took Helen's doll," said Freddie, who had finished his two pieces of cake, "and maybe they got my bugs that go around and around——"
"And around! They go around three times," put in Flossie.
"I was going to say that, only you didn't wait!" cried Freddie. "But we've got a goat!" he went on, "and he's almost as good as Snap, our dog, and maybe the gypsies got him."
"My, you don't think of anything but gypsies!" said Tom with a laugh. "I'm not worried about them. If I see any of 'em on the island I'll ask 'em if they have your dog and bugs."
"And Helen's doll," added Flossie. "She wants Mollie back."
"I'll ask about that," promised Tom. "You've been awful good to me, and I'd like to do you a favor. I know some of the gypsy boys."
"I guess I'll tell my father they're camping on this island," said Bert.
"Let's go tell him now," suggested Nan. "We've stayed here long enough."
"And I guess I'll row back to the mainland," added Tom. "There's no use waiting here for the blueberries to get ripe. I'll come next week."
He walked back a little way with the Bobbsey twins to where he had left his boat. Then he was soon rowing across the lake, waving his hand to his new friends, his white teeth showing between his berry-stained lips.
"He's a nice boy—that blueberry boy," said Freddie. "I saw him first, I did!"
Mr. Bobbsey nodded his head thoughtfully when the twins, taking turns, told him what Tom had told them.
"Gypsies on the island, eh?" remarked Mr. Bobbsey. "Well, I suppose they think they have a right to camp here. But I'll see about it. Maybe some of them are all right, but I don't like the idea of staying here if the place is going to be overrun with them. I must see about it."
For the next few days and nights a close watch was kept about Twin Camp, but no gypsies were seen. Nor did any more blueberry-pickers come. Indeed, the fruit was not ripe enough, as the Bobbseys could tell by looking at some bushes which grew near their tents.
It was about a week after this, when Mr. Bobbsey had gone to Lakeport one morning on business, that Flossie and Freddie went down to the shore of the lake not far from their camp.
As they looked across the water they saw drifting toward the island an empty rowboat. There was no one in it, as they could tell, and the wind was sending it slowly along.
"It's got loose from some dock," said Freddie, who knew more about boats than most boys of his age.
"Maybe it'll come here and we can get it," said Flossie. "Let's throw stones at it."
"No, that would only scare it away," said Freddie. "Wait till it gets near enough, and then I'll wade out and poke it in with a stick."
So the two little twins waited on shore for the drifting boat to come to them.
IN THE CAVE
"Look out, Freddie! Don't you go wadin' too far!" cried Flossie, as she saw her little brother kick off his low shoes, quickly roll off his stockings, and start out toward the boat which now a strong puff of wind had blown quite close to the island shore.
"I'll be careful," he answered. "Mother said I could wade up as far as the wig-wag cut on my leg, and I'm not there yet."
Freddie had several scars and scratches on his legs, reminders of accidents he had suffered at different times. One scar was from a cut which he had got when he had fallen over the lawn mower about a year before. It was the biggest cut of all, and was near his right knee. He called it his "wig-wag" cut, because it was a sort of wavy scar, and when he wanted to go in wading his mother always told him never to go in water that would come above that cut, else he would get his knickerbockers wet.
So now he was careful not to go out too far. He watched the water rising slowly up on his bare legs as he waded along on the sandy bottom of the lake toward the drifting boat.
"If you took a stick you could reach it now," called Flossie.
"I guess I could," Freddie said.
"I'll hand you a stick," Flossie offered, looking for one along the shore. There were many dead branches, blown from the trees, and she soon handed Freddie a long one. With it the little boy was able slowly to pull the boat toward him, and he had soon shoved the "nose," as he sometimes called the bow, against the bank of the island.
"Now I can get in!" laughed Flossie. "And I won't have to take off my shoes and stockings either," and into the boat she scrambled.
"Oh!" exclaimed Freddie. "Are you going to get in the boat?"
"I am in," answered his sister. "Aren't you comin' in, too?"
Freddie looked at the boat, at his sister, at the lake, and at his shoes and stockings on the shore. Then he said:
"Well, it doesn't belong to us—this boat don't."
"I know," said Flossie. "But you pulled it to shore and we can keep it till somebody comes for it. And we can make-believe have a ride in it. Momsie won't care as long as it's fast to the shore. Come on, Freddie!"
It seemed all right to Freddie when Flossie said this, especially as the boat was close against the shore. He put on his shoes and stockings, drying his feet in the grass, and then he took his seat in the boat beside his little sister.
"Now we'll play going on a long voyage," she said. "We'll take a trip to New York and maybe we'll be shipwrecked."
"Like Tommy Todd's father," added Freddie.
"Yep. Just like him," said Flossie, "only make-believe, of course."
"And I'll be captain of the ship, and you can be a sailor," went on Freddie. "It'll be lots of fun!"
Bert and Nan had gone riding in the goat wagon to the other end of the island, Mr. Bobbsey was at his office and Mrs. Bobbsey, with Dinah, was working about Twin Camp, so there was no one to watch Flossie and Freddie. Mrs. Bobbsey supposed they were playing safely at the lake shore, and, as a matter of fact, they were on shore, though in the boat.
"I wonder whose it is?" said Freddie, when they had made a make-believe voyage safely to New York, after having been shipwrecked at Philadelphia—a place the little twins remembered, as one of their aunts lived in that city.
"Maybe it's a gypsy boat," said Freddie.
"Or else it's the one the blueberry boy had," added his sister.
"Oh, yes, maybe it is his!" cried Freddie. "And if it is, didn't we better ought to take it to him?"
"How?" asked Flossie.
"Why, we can push it along the shore with sticks, 'cause there's no oars in it, and when we see him picking blueberries we can holler to him to come an' get his boat."
Flossie thought this over a few seconds. Then she said:
This meant she would do as Freddie said. The twins did not stop to consider whether they were doing something they ought not to do. They planned to keep near shore, and that was as much as they remembered of what their mother had told them—that they were not to go out on the lake in any boat without her permission or their father's.
"But paddling along the shore isn't going out," said Freddie. "Anyhow, mother and father would want us to give back the boat to the blueberry boy, wouldn't they?"
"Course," said Flossie. "Get another stick, Freddie, and we can poke the boat along, and we won't have to go far out at all."
In a little while the two twins were shoving the drifted boat along the shore by pushing the ends of their sticks into the soft bank. The boat was of good size, and it was flat-bottomed, which meant it would not easily tip over. Flossie and Freddie each knew how to row, though they had to have oars made especially for them. But they knew how to keep in the middle of a boat, and never thought of rocking it or changing seats, so they were much safer than most children of their age would have been.
Having lived near Lake Metoka all their lives, they knew more about boats and water than perhaps some of you small boys and girls do; and they could both swim, though, of course not very far, nor were they allowed to try it in deep water.
"Oh, this is lots of fun!" cried Flossie, as she and Freddie poled the boat along. "This is real trav'lin'!"
"But we mustn't go too far," said Freddie, not quite sure whether or not his mother would think what he and his sister were doing was just right. "As soon as we see the blueberry boy we must give him his boat and go back home."
"If he wants to row us back, can't we let him?" asked Flossie.
"Yes, but he can't row, 'cause there are no oars in the boat," said Freddie.
"Maybe he has 'em with him. I guess that's what happened," went on the little girl. "You know we take the oars out of our boat and put them up on shore. And then maybe the blueberry boy forgot to tie his boat."
"And it blew away and we found it," finished Freddie. "Come on, push hard, Flossie. Let's go fast and make believe we're a steamboat."
That suited Flossie, and they were soon pushing the boat along the shore quite fast. They went out past a little point on the island, some distance away from their own camp, the white tents of which they could see.
"Oh, how nice the wind is blowing!" cried Flossie, after a bit. "I don't hardly have to push at all, Freddie."
"That's good," he said. "We'll be a sailboat instead of a steamboat. If we only had a sail now!"
"Maybe you could hold up your coat," suggested his sister. "Don't you remember that shipwreck story mother read us. The men in the boat held up a blanket for a sail. We haven't any blanket, but if you held one end of your coat and I held the other it would be a sail."
"We'll do it!" cried Freddie, as he slipped off his jacket. It was small, but when he and his sister held it crosswise of the boat, the wind, which had begun to blow harder, sent the boat along faster than the children had been pushing it.
"Oh, this is fine!" Freddie cried. "I'm glad we played this game, Flossie."
"So'm I. But look how far out we are, Freddie!" Flossie suddenly cried. "We can't reach shore with our sticks."
Freddie looked and saw that this was so.
"I wonder if we can touch bottom out here," he said. "I'm going to try."
He let go of his coat, and as it happened that Flossie did the same thing, the little jacket was blown into the water.
"Oh!" cried Flossie. "Oh! Oh!"
"I can get it!" excitedly shouted Freddie. "I'll reach it with my pushing stick."
He managed to do this, taking care not to lean too far over the edge so the boat would not tip. Then he caught the coat on the end of the stick and pulled his jacket into the boat.
"Oh, it's all wet!" cried Flossie.
Freddie did not stop to tell her that every time anything fell into the water it got wet. Instead, he began to search in his pockets.
"What's the matter—did you lose something?" asked Flossie.
"I guess we can eat 'em after they dry out," said Freddie, after a bit, pulling out some soaked sugar cookies.
Freddie spread them out on one of the boat-seats where the sun would dry them, and then he wrung from his coat as much water as he could. Next he spread the jacket out to dry, Flossie helping him.
All this time the children failed to notice where they were going, but when they had seen that the soaked cookies were getting dry and had eaten them, Freddie looked about and, pointing to shore, cried:
"Oh, look, Flossie!"
"We're going right toward a big, dark hole!" said the little girl.
"That isn't a hole—it's a cave," Freddie said. "Maybe it's a pirate cave, and there'll be gold and jewels in it. The wind is blowing us and our boat right into it!"
And that was what was happening. The wind had changed, and, instead of blowing the boat away from the island, was blowing it toward it. And directly in front of Flossie and Freddie was a big hole in the steep bank of the island shore. As Freddie had said, it was a cave. What was in it?
While the two children sat in the drifting rowboat, which was being slowly blown toward the island shore again, Flossie suddenly gave a little jump, which made the boat shake.
"What's the matter?" asked Freddie. "Did something bite you?" for his sister had started, just as you might do if a fly or a mosquito suddenly nipped your leg.
"No, nothing bit me," she answered. "But I felt a splash of rain on my nose and—— Oh, Freddie! Look! It's going to be a thunder-lightning storm!"
Freddie, whose eyes had seen nothing but the cave, now looked up at the sky. The blue had become covered with dark clouds, and in the west there was a dull rumble.
"I—I guess it is going to rain," said Freddie slowly.
"I know it is!" Flossie answered. "There's 'nother drop!"
"I felt one, too," said her brother. "It went right in my eye, too!" and he winked and blinked.
"And there's another one on my nose!" cried Flossie. "Oh, Freddie! What are we going to do? I haven't an umbrella!"
For a moment the little boy did not know what to do. He looked at his coat, but that was still wet, though it had been spread out on the seat to dry. He could not wrap that around Flossie, as he thought at first he might.
The wind, too, was blowing harder now, and there were little waves splashing against the side of the boat. But the wind did one good thing for the children—it blew the boat toward shore so much faster, and shore was where they wanted to be just now. They knew they had drifted out too far, and they were beginning to be afraid. The shore of the island looked very safe and comfortable.
"We can get under a tree—that will be an umbrella for us," said Flossie. "Aren't you glad we're going on shore, Freddie?"
"Yes, but I guess we can get in a better place out of the rain than under a tree, Flossie."
"Then we'd better get," she said, "'cause it's rainin' hard now. I've got about ten splashes on my nose."
The big drops were beginning to fall faster. The clouds had quickly spread over the sky, which was now very dark, and the wind kept on blowing.
"Where can we go out of the storm?" asked the little girl.
"Where we goin', Freddie?"
"In there," answered her brother, pointing.
"What! In that dark hole?"
"It isn't a hole—it's a cave. An' maybe we'll find gold and diamonds in there, like in the book Momsie read to us. Come on. We can go into the cave, and we won't get wet at all. I'll take care of you."
"I—I'm not afraid," said Flossie slowly. "But I wish Snap was with us; or Whisker. I guess Whisker would like a cave."
"So would Snap," said Freddie. "But we can't get 'em now, so we've got to go in ourselves. Come on. And look out, 'cause the boat's goin' to bump."
And bump the boat did, a second later, against the shore of the island, close to the open mouth of the black cave. It was raining hard now, and Freddie helped Flossie out of the boat, and then, holding each other by the hand, the children ran toward the cavern. No matter what was in it, there they would be sheltered from the rain they thought.
The cave, as Freddie and Flossie saw, could be entered from either the land or the water. At one side it was so low that a boat could be rowed into it for a little way. On the other one could walk into it by a little path that led through the trees. The water of the lake splashed into the cave a short distance, and then came to an end, making a sort of little bay, or cove, large enough for two or three boats. And the cave, as the children could see when their eyes became used to the darkness, was quite a large one.
"I wonder if anybody lives here," whispered Flossie, as she kept close to her brother.
"We live here now," he said. "Anyhow, we're going to stay here till the rain stops."
"Maybe a bear lives here," said Flossie in a whisper.
"Pooh!" laughed Freddie. "There are no bears on Blueberry Island, or daddy would have brought a gun. And he said I didn't even need my popgun, 'cause there wasn't a thing here to shoot. But I did bring my popgun."
"You haven't got it here now, though," said Flossie.
"I know I haven't. I left it in the tent by the go-around bugs. I mean before the go-around bugs got away. But my popgun is there. I saw it. Only I haven't it now, so I can't shoot anything. But there's nothing to shoot, anyhow." Freddie added the last for fear his sister might be frightened in the dark cave.
It was very dark, especially back in the end, where Flossie and Freddie could see nothing. But by looking toward the place where they had come in, they could see daylight and the lake, which was now quite rough on account of the wind. They could also see the rain falling and splashing.
"I'm glad we're in here," said Flossie. "It's better than an umbrella."
"Lots better," agreed Freddie. "If we had some cookies to eat we could stay here a long time, and live here."
"We couldn't sleep, 'cause we haven't any beds," declared Flossie.
"We could make beds of dried grass the way Bert told us to do if we went camping."
"But have you any more cookies?" asked Flossie, going back to what her brother had first spoken of. "I'm hungry!"
"Only some crumbs," Freddie said, as he put his hand in the pockets of his coat, "and they're all soft and wet. We can't eat 'em."
"Well, we can go home when it stops raining," said Flossie, "an' Dinah'll give us lots to eat."
The two children were not frightened now. They stood in the cave, and looked out at the storm. It was raining harder than ever, and the thunder seemed to shake the big hole in the ground, while the lightning flashes lighted up the cave so Freddie and Flossie could look farther back into it.
But they could not see much, and if there was any one or anything in the cave besides themselves, they did not know it. They saw the boat blown inside the cave, and it came to rest in the little cove, which was a sort of harbor.
Then, almost as quickly as it had started, the storm stopped. The wind ceased blowing, the rain no longer fell, the thunder rumbled no more and the lightning died out. For a few minutes longer Flossie and Freddie stayed in the cave, and then, as they were about to go out, the little girl grasped her brother by the arm and cried:
"Hark! Did you hear that?"
"What?" asked Freddie.
"A noise, like something growling!"
Freddie looked back over his shoulder into the dark part of the cave. Then, speaking as boldly as possible, he answered:
"I didn't hear it. Anyhow, I guess it was the wind. Come on, we'll go home!"
"Are we going back in the boat?" Flossie asked.
"I guess not," Freddie replied. "It'll be rough out on the lake—it always is after a storm. We can walk down the path to our camp. Besides, this isn't our boat. Maybe it belongs here and we'd better leave it."
"Then you'd better tie it," said Flossie. She and her brother had been told something of the care of boats, and one rule their father had given them was always to tie a boat when they got out of it. In the excitement of the storm the children had forgotten this at first, but now Flossie remembered it.
"Yes, I'll tie the boat," Freddie said, "and then whoever owns it can come and get it."
It did not take him long to scramble around to the edge of the little cove. Once there, he tied the rope of the boat fast to a large stone that was half buried in the ground. Making sure it would not slip off, Freddie came back to where Flossie waited for him.
She was quite ready to leave the cave, and soon the two children were outside under the trees that still were dripping with rain.
The sun was now shining. Flossie and Freddie had had an adventure, they thought, and that was fun for them.
"Which way is home—I mean where our camp is?" asked Flossie, as she and Freddie walked along together.
"Down this way," he said. "See the path?"
Certainly there was a path leading away from the cave, but Freddie did not stop to think it might lead somewhere else than to Twin Camp. It was a nice, smooth path, though, and he and Flossie set out along it not at all worried.
"I'm hungry," said the little girl, "and I want to get home as soon as I can."
"I'm hungry, too," Freddie said. "We'll soon be home."
But the children might not have reached the camp soon, only that a little later they heard their names called in the wood, and, answering, they found Nan and Bert looking for them in the goat wagon drawn by Whisker.
"Where in the world have you been?" asked Bert of his little brother and sister.
"Oh," answered Freddie, "we've been out in a boat and in a cave and we only had cookies to eat and they were wet and——"
"We heard a noise in the cave. Maybe it's a bear, an' if it is Freddie can take his popgun the next time we go there. Can't you, Freddie?"
"Dear me!" laughed Nan. "What's it all about?"
Then the two small twins told more slowly what had happened to them, and Nan and Bert told their small brother and sister that, coming back from their little trip, they had found Mrs. Bobbsey much worried because she could not find Flossie and Freddie.
"Then it began to rain," said Nan, "and we were all as worried as could be. We looked at our boats, and when we found they were tied at the dock we didn't think you were out on the water. Then when it stopped raining Bert and I started out to find you and so did Sam, though he went a different way."
"And we called and called to you," said Bert. "Didn't you hear us shouting?"
"Maybe that was the noise we heard in the cave," said Freddie to his sister.
"What about this cave?" asked Bert. "Tell us where it is."
Then, riding back to camp in the goat wagon, the two small twins told again of the big hole in which they had taken refuge from the storm.
"I'd like to see that," Bert said. "We'll go there to-morrow."
"We can walk there, or Whisker can take us," said Freddie. "And then we can come home in the boat, but you'll have to take some oars, Bert."
"That's so—there is a boat!" exclaimed the older Bobbsey boy. "I wonder whose it can be?"
But they did not learn at once, for the next day, when they all went to the cave—including Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey—the boat was not there.
"Somebody untied it and took it away," said Freddie, as he pointed out the rock to which he had made fast the rope.
"Are you sure you tied it tightly?" asked his father.
"Yep. I made the same kind of knot you showed me," and Freddie told how he had done it. Flossie, too, was sure her brother had fastened the boat properly.
"Well, then somebody's been here in the cave," said Bert. "Say, it's a big place, Daddy! Can't we get a lantern and see where it goes to back there," and he motioned to the dark part.
"Some time, maybe, but not now," said Mr. Bobbsey, who, with his wife, had walked along the island path to the cave while the children rode in the goat wagon. "I didn't know there was a cave on Blueberry Island. I don't believe many persons know it is here. But the boat might belong to some of the berry pickers, and they hunted for it until they found it."
"Did the blueberry pickers make the funny noise in the cave?" asked Flossie.
"I don't know," replied her father. "I don't hear any noise now. I presume it was only the wind."
Mr. Bobbsey and Bert, lighting matches, went a short way back into the cave, but they could see very little, and the children's father said they would look again some other day.
"But, Flossie and Freddie, you mustn't come here alone again," said Mr. Bobbsey.
"If it rains and we're near here can't we come in if we haven't an umbrella?" asked Freddie.
"Well, yes, perhaps if it rains. But you mustn't go out in a drifting boat again, rain or no rain," ordered Mr. Bobbsey.
Flossie and Freddie promised they would not, as they always did, and then the camping family started back for their tents.
"What do you think of that cave, the boat's being taken and all that's happened?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey in a whisper of her husband, as they walked toward camp together.
"I don't know what to think," he said slowly.
"Do you suppose the gypsies could be in there?"
"Well, they might. But don't let the children know. They are having a good time here and there's no need, as yet, to frighten them."
For the next few days there were happy times in Twin Camp. The children went on many rides in the goat wagon and had other fun. Then, one afternoon when they were all sitting near the tents waiting for Dinah to get dinner, they saw a steamer heading toward the little dock.
"Oh, maybe it's company!" cried Flossie, clapping her hands.
And so it proved, for when the boat landed Mrs. Porter and her little girl, Helen, got off.
"We came to see how you were," said Mrs. Porter. "Helen wanted a trip on the water, so we came on the excursion boat. We're going back this evening. How are you?"
"Very well, indeed," said Mrs. Bobbsey, "and glad to see you. Helen can play with Flossie and Freddie."
"Did you see any of the gypsies, and did they have my talking doll?" asked Helen as soon as she had taken off her hat in the tent and had gone outside to play with the two small Bobbsey twins.
THE DOLL'S DRESS
"Haven't you got your lost doll back yet?" asked Freddie, as he moved over on a board, nailed between two trees, to make room for Helen to sit down between him and Flossie.
"No, I haven't found Mollie," answered the little girl, who had come to visit her friends. "I guess she's a gypsy by this time."
"Helen, are you sure a gypsy man took your doll?" asked Nan, who had been sent out by her mother to see if the little ones were all right.
"Yes, I'm sure," answered Helen. "I left her in the yard; and, besides, didn't Johnnie Marsh and me both see the gypsy man runnin' off with her?"
"Well, maybe it did happen that way," said Nan. "But what makes you think we might have seen that gypsy man here, Helen?"
"'Cause Johnnie Marsh said gypsies were camped on Blueberry Island."
"We haven't seen any yet," remarked Bert, who had come out to ask the little girl visitor about some of his boy friends in Lakeport.
"Maybe they're hiding 'cause they've got Helen's doll," said Flossie. "And maybe they're in the cave Freddie and I found."
"Did you find a cave?" asked Helen. "My mamma read me a story once about a cave and a giant that lived in it. Did your cave have a giant inside?"
"It had a noise!" answered Flossie excitedly. "Me and Freddie heard it! But we didn't go see what it was. Are you hungry, Helen?" she asked, suddenly changing the subject.
"Yes, I am. I only had some cake and ice-cream on the boat."
"We're goin' to have ice-cream!" Freddie cried. "Sam chopped up the ice this morning and I heard him turning the freezer. I wish dinner would hurry up and be ready."
It was not long after this that fat Dinah rang the gong which told that the meal was cooked, and soon they were all seated in the dining tent making merry over it. Mrs. Porter told how Helen had been teasing, ever since the Bobbseys had come to Blueberry Island, to be brought for a visit.
"She says that maybe the gypsies who took her doll are here," went on Mrs. Porter; "though I tell her she will never see Mollie again. But Helen begged hard to come, and so—here we are."
"And we're very glad to see you," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "Can't you stay longer than just until this evening?"
"No, not this time, as we didn't bring any extra clothes with us. But Helen might come later for a visit of a few days."
"Oh, yes, please let her come!" begged Flossie.
"We'll see," said Mrs. Porter. "Did you find Snap?" she asked Bert.
"No, we haven't heard anything of him. I was going to ask if you had," and he looked anxiously at Helen's mother.
"No, I haven't heard a word about your pet," answered Mrs. Porter, "though I've asked all your boy friends, and so has Helen. Tommy Todd and the others say they are keeping watch for Snap, and if they see him they'll let you know. Has anything else happened since you've been here?" she asked Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Nothing much," answered Nan's mother. "We have had a lovely time camping, and——"
"Flossie's and my go-around bugs broke out of their box!" cried Freddie, and then he begged his mother's pardon for interrupting her when she was speaking. His mother smiled, excused him, and then she let him and Flossie, in turn, tell about the missing bugs.
"Come on, we'll play hide-and-go-to-seek," proposed Flossie after dinner, while her father and mother and Mrs. Porter were still sitting about the table talking. "Do you and Nan want to play, Bert?" she asked her older brother.
"No, Flossie," he answered with a smile. "I'm going to help Sam cut wood for the campfire. We're going to have a marshmallow roast to-night."
"Oh, I just wish I could stay!" cried Helen. "I love roast marshmallows!"
"We'll roast some when you come again," said Nan, who was going to do some sewing, so she could not play with the smaller children just then. Soon the game of hide-and-go-to-seek began.
Freddie said he would hide first, and let both girls hunt for him. He thought he could hide so well that he could fool them both, and still get "home safe" before they spied him.
So while Flossie and Helen "blinded" by hiding their faces in their arms against a tree, Freddie stole quietly off to hide. He found a good place behind a pile of brush-wood, and there he cuddled up in a little bunch and waited, after calling "coop!", until he heard the two girls searching for him.
By peeping through the brush Freddie could see Helen and his sister looking all about for him—behind trees, down back of fallen logs, and in clumps of ferns.
Then Freddie saw the girls go far enough away from "home," which was a big oak tree, so that he thought he would have a chance to run in "free."
This he did, and how surprised Flossie and Helen were when they saw him dash out from the pile of brush-wood!
"I'll blind now and let you hide," said Freddie, though if the game was played by the rules it would be his turn to hide again, as he had not been caught.
So this time the little boy hid his head in his arms and began counting up to a hundred by fives, and when he had called out loudly: "Ninety-five—one hundred! Ready or not, I'm coming!" he opened his eyes and began searching.
Freddie had to be more careful about going away from the "home" tree than had the two little girls. Either one of them could have spied him and have run to touch "home" before he did. But Freddie was all alone hunting for his sister and Helen, and when he had his back turned one or the other might run in ahead of him.
"But I'll find 'em," he told himself. "I'll spy 'em both and then it will be my turn to hide again."
Meanwhile, Flossie and Helen were well hidden. Flossie had found two logs lying on a pile of leaves, not far from the "home" tree, and she had crawled down in between them pulling leaves over her. Only her nose stuck out, so she could breathe, and no one could have seen her until they were very close.
Helen had picked out a hollow stump in which to hide. It was deep enough for her to get inside, and the bottom was covered with old leaves, so it was soft and not very dirty. Helen had been given an old dress of Flossie's to put on to play in, so she would not soil her own white one.
"I'm going to have a good place to hide," thought Helen, as she climbed up on a pile of stones outside the old stump and jumped down inside, crouching there.
Then she waited for Freddie to come to find her, and as there was a crack in the stump, she could look out and see where he was. As soon as he got far enough away from "home," Flossie, who was nearer the oak tree, would run in free,—and then she would try to reach it.
Meanwhile she crouched in the hollow stump, trying not to laugh or cough or sneeze, for if she did that Freddie would hear and know where she was. Helen saw something white in the stump with her. At first she thought it was a piece of paper, but when she picked it up she knew it was cloth. And as she looked at it her eyes grew big with wonder.
Without stopping to think that she was playing the hide-and-go-to-seek game Helen suddenly stood up in the hollow stump, her head and waist showing above the edge like a Jack-in-the-box. In her hand she held the white thing she had found.
Flossie, from her hiding place between the two logs, could look over and see what Helen was doing. Seeing her standing up in plain sight Flossie, in a loud whisper, called to her friend:
"Get down! Get down! Freddie will see you and then you'll be it! Get down!"
"But look! Look at what I found! In the hollow stump!" answered Helen. "Oh, I must show you!"
"No! Get down!" cried Flossie, pulling more leaves over herself. "Here comes Freddie. He'll see you!"
The little boy was coming from the "home" tree. He caught sight of Helen, and cried:
"Tit-tat, Helen! Tit-tat, Helen! I see her in the hollow stump!"
"I don't care if I am it," Helen answered. "Look what I found!"
"What is it?" asked Flossie, sitting up amid the leaves.
"It's the dress Mollie wore when the gypsy took her away!" exclaimed Helen. "Oh, my doll must be somewhere on this island!" and holding the white object high above her head she ran toward Flossie.
SNOOP IS MISSING
The children suddenly lost interest in the game of hide-and-go-to-seek. Freddie thought no more of spying Flossie or Helen. Flossie no longer cared about hiding down between the two logs, and Helen did not care about anything but the white dress she was holding up as she scrambled out of the hollow stump.
"It's my doll's dress!" she said over and over again. "It's my lost doll's dress!"
"Are you sure?" asked Flossie, as she shook the leaves from her dress and hair, and came over to her friend.
"Course I'm sure!" answered Helen. "Look, here's a place where I mended the dress after Mollie tore it when she was playing with Grace Lavine's dollie one day."
Mollie hadn't really torn her dress. Helen had done it herself lifting her pet out of the doll carriage, but she liked to pretend the doll had done it.
"Let's see the torn place," said Flossie, and Helen showed where a hole had been sewed together.
"I 'member it," Helen went on, "'cause I sewed it crooked. I can sew better now. It's my doll's dress all right."
"It's all wet," said Freddie, who, though a boy, was not too old to be interested in dolls, though he did not play with them. "Maybe the gypsies live around here," he went on, "and they washed your doll's dress and hung it on the stump to dry."
"Maybe!" agreed Helen, who was ready to believe anything, now that she had found something belonging to her doll.
"No gypsies live around here," said Flossie, "'cause we haven't seen any. But maybe they live in the cave."
"The cave's far off," said Freddie. "But it's funny about that dress."
"I—I found it when I hid in the stump," explained the little visiting girl. "First I thought it was a piece of paper, but as soon as I touched it I knew it wasn't. Oh, now if I could only find Mollie!"
"Maybe she's in the stump, too," Freddie said. "If the gypsies washed her dress they'd have to cover her up with leaves or bark so she wouldn't get cold while her dress was drying."
"The gypsies didn't wash her dress," said Helen.
"How do you know?" asked Flossie.
"'Cause nobody washes dresses an' makes 'em all up in a heap an' puts 'em in a hollow stump," Helen went on. "You've got to hang a dress straight on a line to make it dry."
"That's so," added Flossie. "You only roll a dress up the way this one was rolled when you sprinkle it to iron, don't you, Helen?"
"Yep. Oh, I do wish I could find my Mollie!"
"Well, she must be somewhere around here if she isn't in the stump," insisted Freddie. "If the gypsies took off her dress they must have dropped the doll. Let's look!"
This was what the two little girls wanted to do, so with Freddie to help they began poking about with sticks in the leaves that were piled around the stump. They searched for some time, but could find no trace of the lost doll.
"We'd better go and tell my mamma and your mamma," said Flossie. "Maybe they'll get a policeman and he'll find the gypsies and your dollie, Helen."
"All right—come on!"
Out of breath, the children ran to the tents where Mrs. Porter was just thinking about going in search of her little girl, as it was nearly time for the steamboat to come back for them.
"Oh, I found Mollie's dress! I found Mollie's dress!" cried Helen, waving it over her head.
"It was in a stump!" added Freddie.
"And it was all wet from bein' rained on, I guess," said Flossie, for indeed the doll's dress was still damp, and very likely it had been out in the rain. That stump would hold water for some time, like a big, wooden pitcher.
Mrs. Porter was very much surprised to hear the news, and thought perhaps her little girl was mistaken. But when she had looked carefully at the dress, she knew it was one she herself had made for Helen when that little girl was a baby.
"But how did it come on this island?" she asked.
"It must have been dropped by the gypsies," said Mr. Bobbsey. "In spite of what they said to us some one of them must have picked up the doll and carried her away for some little gypsy girl. And the gypsies must have been on this island. Some of the blueberry pickers said they saw them, but when I looked I could not find them. By that time they must have gone away."
"And did they take my doll with them?" asked Helen.
"Well, I'm afraid they did," said Mr. Bobbsey. "If they wanted your pet badly enough to take her away so boldly, as they did from the yard, they'd probably keep her, once they had her safe. It isn't every day they can get a talking doll, you know."
"I wish there was some way of getting Helen's doll back," said Mrs. Porter. "She does nothing but wish for her every day. She has other dolls——"
"But I liked Mollie best," Helen said. "I want her. If she only knew I had her dress she might come to me," she added wistfully.
"She might, if she were a fairy doll," said Mrs. Bobbsey, as she patted Helen on the head. "But we'll look as carefully as we can for your little girl's pet, Mrs. Porter. If Mollie is on this island we'll find her."
"And I'll leave this dress here," said Helen, "so you can put it on her when you do find her. Then she won't take cold."
"I'll wash the dress and have Dinah iron it for you," promised Flossie. "I can't iron very well."
"Thank you," said Helen. "Oh, I'm so glad I came here, for I found part of Mollie, anyhow."
Helen and her mother left Blueberry Island, promising to come again some day, and Flossie and Freddie said they would, in the meanwhile, look as well as they could for the lost doll.
That night, in front of the tents, there was a marshmallow roast. The Bobbsey children, with long sticks, toasted the soft candies over the blaze, until the marshmallows puffed out like balloons and were colored a pretty brown. Then they ate them.
Flossie and Freddie dropped about as many candies in the fire as they toasted, but Bert and Nan at last showed the small twins how to do it, and then Freddie toasted a marshmallow for his father and Flossie made one nice and brown for her mother.
"I dropped mine in the dirt, after I cooked it," said Freddie to his father, as he came running up with the hot candy, "but I guess you can eat it."
"I'll try," laughed Mr. Bobbsey, and he brushed off all the dirt he could, but had to chew the rest, for Freddie stood right in front of his father, to make sure the marshmallow was eaten.
"Is it good?" asked the little boy.
"Fine!" cried Mr. Bobbsey. "But I can't eat any more," he said quickly, "because I might get indigestion."
"Then I'll eat 'em," said Freddie. "I'm not afraid of id-idis-idisgestion."
It was jolly fun toasting candies at the campfire, but as everything must come to an end some time, this did also, and the children went to bed and the camp was quiet, except that now and then Whisker gave a gentle "Baa-a-a-a!" from his resting place under a tree, and Snoop, the black cat, purred in his sleep.
The next day it rained, so the twins could not go to look for the doll, as they wanted to. They had to stay around the tents, though when the shower slackened they were allowed to go out with their rubber coats and boots on.
Toward night the sun came out, and they all went down to the dock to meet the steamboat, for Mr. Bobbsey had gone over to the mainland after dinner, to attend to some business at the lumber office, and was coming back on the last boat.
It was after supper that Dinah, coming into the dining tent to clear away the dishes, caused some excitement when she asked:
"Has any ob you all seen Snoop?"
"What? Is our cat gone?" asked Bert.
"Well, I hasn't seen 'im since Flossie an' Freddie was playin' hitch him up like a hoss to a cigar box wagon," went on Dinah. "He come out to me an' I gib 'im some milk, an' now, when I called 'im t' come an' git his supper, he ain't heah!"
Flossie and Freddie looked at each other. So did Nan and Bert. Even Mr. Bobbsey seemed surprised. But he said:
"Oh, I guess he just went off in the woods for a rest after Flossie and Freddie mauled him when they were playing with him. Go call him, Bert."
So Bert went out in front of the tent and called: "Snoop! Snoop! Hi, Snoop, where are you?"
But no Snoop answered. Then Flossie and Freddie called, and so did Nan, while Sam went farther into the woods among the trees. But the big black cat, that the children loved so dearly, was missing. Snoop did not come to his supper that night.
FREDDIE IS CAUGHT
"Hark! Wasn't that Snoop?"
Bert and Nan suddenly made these exclamations as they, with the rest of the Bobbsey family, were sitting in the main tent after supper. The lanterns had been lighted, the mosquito net drawn over the front door, or flap of the tent, to keep out the bugs, and the camping family was spending a quiet hour before going to bed.
Bert thought he heard, in the woods outside, a noise that sounded like that made by the missing cat Snoop, and Nan, also, thought she heard the same sound.
They all listened, Mr. Bobbsey looking up from his book, while Flossie and Freddie ceased their play. Mrs. Bobbsey stopped her sewing.
"There it is again!" exclaimed Nan, as from the darkness outside the tent there came a queer sound.
"What is it?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey. "It doesn't sound like Snoop."
"Maybe it's Snap!" exclaimed Freddie. "He used to howl like that."
"It did sound a bit like a dog's howl," admitted Bert. "May I go out and see what it is, Daddy?"
"I'll take a look," said Mr. Bobbsey. He stepped to the flap of the tent and listened. The queer sound came again, and he went outside, while Bert went near the tent opening to listen. He, as well as his father, then heard another noise—that made by some one walking across the ground, stepping on and breaking small sticks.
"Who's there?" suddenly called Mr. Bobbsey, exactly, as Bert said afterward, like a soldier sentinel on guard. "Who's there?"
"It's me—Sam," was the answer. "I done heard some queer noise, Mr. Bobbsey, an' Dinah said as how I'd better git up and see what it was."
"Oh, all right, Sam. We heard it too. Listen again."
Sam stood still, and Mr. Bobbsey remained quietly outside the big tent. Sam and his wife lived in a smaller tent not far away, and they usually went to bed early, so Sam had had to get up when the queer noise sounded.
Suddenly it came again, and this time Bert, who had stuck his head out between the flaps of the tent, called:
"There it is!"
"Who! Who! Who!" came the sound, and as Mr. Bobbsey heard it he gave a laugh.
"Nothing but an owl," he said. "I should have known it at first, only I couldn't hear well in the tent. You may go back to bed, Sam, it's only an owl."
"Only an owl, Mr. Bobbsey! Yas, I reckon as how it is; but I don't like t' heah it jest de same."
"You don't? Why not, Sam?"
"'Cause as how dey most always ginnerally bring bad luck. I don't like de sound ob dat owl's singin' no how!"
"He wasn't singing, Sam!" laughed Bert, after he had called to the rest of the family inside the tent and told them the cause of the noise.
"Ha! Am dat yo', Bert?" asked the colored man. "Well, maybe an owl don't sing like a canary bird, but dey makes a moanful soun', an' I don't like it. It means bad luck, dat's what it means! An' you all'd better git t' bed!"
"Oh, I'm not afraid, Sam. We thought it was Snoop mewing, or Snap howling, maybe. You didn't see anything of our lost dog, did you?"
"Not a smitch. An' I suah would like t' hab him back."
"Ask him if he or Dinah saw Snoop," called Flossie.
Bert asked the colored man this, but Sam had seen nothing of the pet cat either.
"Oh, dear!" sighed Freddie. "Both our pets gone—Snap and Snoop! I wish they'd come back."
"Maybe they will," said his mother kindly. "It's time for you to go to bed now, and maybe the morning will bring good news. Snap or Snoop may be back by that time."
"That's what we've been thinking about poor Snap for a long while," grumbled Nan.
"Well, I'm afraid Snap is lost for good," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "He never stayed away so long before. But Snoop may be back in the morning. He may have just wandered off. It isn't the first time he has been away all night."
"Only once or twice," said Bert, who came back to the book he was reading. "And both times it was because he got shut by accident in places where he couldn't get out."
"Maybe that's what's happened this time," suggested Nan. "We ought to look around the island."
"We will—to-morrow," declared Bert.
"And look in the cave Flossie and I found," urged Freddie. "Maybe Snoop is there."
"We'll look," promised his brother.
When Flossie and Freddie were taken to their cots by their mother, Flossie, when she had finished her regular prayers, added:
"An' please don't let 'em take Whisker."
"What do you mean by that, Flossie?" asked her mother.
"I mean I was prayin' that they shouldn't take our goat," said the little girl.
"I want to pray that, too!" cried Freddie, who had hopped into bed. "Why didn't you tell me you were going to pray that, Flossie?"
"'Cause it just popped into my head. But you stay in bed, an' I'll pray it for you," and she added: "Please, Freddie says the same thing!"
Then she covered herself up and almost before Mrs. Bobbsey had left the sides of the cots both children were fast asleep.
"Poor little tykes!" said the mother softly. "They do miss their pets so! I hope the cat and dog can be found, and Helen's doll, too. It's strange that so many things are missing. I wonder who Flossie meant by 'they,' I must ask her."
And the next morning the little girl, when reminded of her petition the night before and asked who she thought might take the goat, said:
"They is the gypsies, of course! They take everything! Blueberry Tom said so. And I didn't want them to get Whisker too."
"Who in the world is Blueberry Tom?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey.
"He's the boy who was so hungry," explained Freddie. "He came to the island to pick early blueberries only there wasn't any."
"Oh, now I remember," Mrs. Bobbsey said with a laugh. "Well, I don't believe there are any gypsies on this island to take anything. Snoop must have just wandered off."
"Then we'll find him!" exclaimed Nan.
During the next few days a search was made for the missing black cat. The twins, sometimes riding in their goat wagon, and again going on foot, went over a good part of the island, calling for Snoop. But he did not answer. Sam, too, wandered about getting firewood, and also calling for the lost pet. Mr. Bobbsey made inquiries of the boatmen and the man who kept the soda-water stand, but none of them had seen the children's pet.
Bert printed, with a lead pencil, paper signs, offering a reward for any news of Snoop, and these were tacked up on trees about the island so the blueberry pickers might see them. But though many read them, none had seen Snoop, and, of course, Snap was missing before the Bobbseys came to camp, so, naturally, he would not be on the island.
But in spite of the missing Snap and Snoop, the Bobbsey twins had lots of fun in camp. During the day they played all sorts of games, went on long walks with their father and mother, or for trips on the lake. Sometimes they even rowed to other islands, not far from Blueberry Island, and there ate their lunch.
The fishing was good, and Freddie and Bert often brought home a nice mess for dinner or supper. Whisker, the big white goat, was a jolly pet. He was as gentle as a dog and never seemed to get tired of pulling the twins in the wagon, though the roads of the island were not as smooth as those in Lakeport.
But though the twins had fun, they never gave over thinking that, some day, they would find Snap and Snoop again.
"And maybe Helen's doll, too," said Flossie. "We'll hunt for her some more."
"But it's easier to hunt for Snoop," said Freddie, "'cause he can holler back when you holler at him."
"How can a cat holler?" asked his sister.
"Well, he can go 'miaou,' can't he?" Freddie asked, "an' ain't that hollerin'?"
"I—I guess so," Flossie answered. "Oh, Freddie, I know what let's do!" she cried suddenly.
"What? Make mud pies again? I'm tired of 'em. 'Sides, Momsie just put clean things on us."
"No, not make mud pies—I'm tired of that, too. Let's go off by ourselves and hunt Snoop. You know every time we've gone very far from camp we've had to go with Nan and Bert; and you know when you hunt cats you ought to be quiet, an' two can be more quiet than three or four."
"That's right," agreed Freddie, after thinking it over.
"Then let's just us two go," went on Flossie. "We won't get lost."
"Nope, course not," said Freddie. "I can go all over the island, and I won't let you be lost. Snoop knows us better than he does Nan and Bert anyhow, 'cause we play with him more."
"And if we find him," went on Flossie, "and he's too tired to walk home we'll carry him. I'll carry his head part an' you can carry his tail."
"No, I want to carry his head."
"I choosed his head first!" said Flossie, "The tail is nicest anyhow."
"Then why don't you carry that?"
"'Cause it's so flopsy. It never stays still, and when it flops in my face it tickles me. Please you carry the tail end, Freddie."
"All right, Flossie, I will. But we had better go now, or maybe Momsie or Nan or Bert or Dinah might come out and tell us not to go. Come on!"
So, hand in hand, now and then looking back to make sure no one saw them to order them back, Flossie and Freddie started out to search for the lost Snoop. They wandered here and there about the island, at first not very far from the camp. When they were near the tents they did not call the cat's name very loudly for fear of being heard.
"We can call him loud enough when we get farther away," said Freddie.
"Yep," agreed his sister. "Anyhow he isn't near the tents or he'd've come back before this."
So the two little twins wandered farther and farther away until they were well to the middle of the island, and out of sight of the white tents.
"Snoop! Snoop! Snoop!" they called, but though they heard many noises made by the birds, the squirrels and insects of the woods, there was no answering cry from their cat.
After a while they came to a place where a little brook flowed between green, mossy banks. It was a hot day and the children were warm and tired.
"Oh, I'm goin' in wading!" cried Freddie, sitting down and taking off his shoes and stockings.
"You hadn't better," said Flossie. "Mamma mightn't like it."
"I'll tell her how nice it was when I get home," said the little fellow, "and then she'll say it was all right. Come on, Flossie."
"No, I've got clean white stockin's on and I don't want to get 'em all dirty."
"Huh! They've got some dirt on 'em now."
"Well, they aren't wet and they'd get wet if I went in wading."
"Not if you took 'em off."
"Yes they would, 'cause I never can get my feet dry on the grass like you do. You go in wading, Freddie, and I'll sit here an' watch you."
So Freddie stepped into the cool water and shouted with glee. Then he waded out a little farther and soon a queer look came over his face. Flossie saw her brother sink down until the brook came up to the lower edge of his knickerbockers, wetting them, while Freddie cried:
"Oh, I'm caught! I'm caught. Flossie, help me! I'm caught!"
FLOSSIE IS TANGLED
Flossie Bobbsey, who had been sitting on the cleanest and dryest log she could find near the edge of the stream to watch Freddie wade, jumped up as she heard him cry. She had been wishing she was with him, white stockings or none.
"Oh, Freddie, what's the matter?" she cried. "What's happened?"
"I—I'm caught!" he answered. "Can't you see I'm caught?"
"But how?" she questioned eagerly. "You aren't caught in a trap like Snap was, are you?"
"No, it isn't a trap—it's sticky mud," Freddie said. "My feet are stuck in the mud!"