The Bobbsey Twins at Home/Chapter 22
"This is better," said the man, as he closed the door to keep out the wind and snow. "This isn't exactly a warm house, but it will do until we get our breath. Now tell me how you came to be lost."
"We were out taking some things to a poor lady," said Freddie, "and she told us some nice stories."
"One was about a little red hen," put in Flossie.
"Yes," went on Freddie. "And when we saw it was snowing we came out in a hurry and took the wrong turn, I guess. We couldn't see any houses, and we hollered and nobody heard us, and then I saw this meadow grass and I knew where we were."
"So this is the meadows?" asked the strange man.
"Yes, sir, this is the meadows," said Freddy.
"We know we're on the meadows but we don't know where our house is," said Flossie. "We live in Lakeport, and we're the Bobbsey twins."
"The Bobbsey twins; eh?" returned the man. "Well, that's a nice name, I'm sure."
"And there are two more twins at home," went on Freddie. "They are Nan and Bert, and they're older than we are."
"They aren't lost," explained Flossie, carefully.
"I'm glad of that," the man said. "And I don't believe you'll be lost much longer."
"Do you know where our house is?" asked Freddie.
"No, not exactly," the man answered.
"Didn't you say you were lost, too?" asked Flossie.
"Yes, I did, little girl. I was lost. But now that you have told me where I am, I think I am found. And I think, too, that I can help you find your home. So you live in Lakeport. That's where I'm going."
"How did you come to get out on these meadows?" asked Freddie.
"Well, this is how it happened," the man said. "I was on my way to Lakeport, but, by mistake, I got off the train at Belleville. That's the station just below here. I did not want to wait for the next train so I hired a man with an automobile to take me on to Lakeport. But about a mile from here one of the tires of the automobile burst so the man could not take me any farther. Then I said I'd walk, as I thought I knew the road. I used to live in Lakeport about five years ago. I started off, but the storm came up, and I lost my way. The first I knew I found myself out in this big field which you say is the meadows."
"That's what they call it," Freddie said.
"Well then, now I know where I am and I know what to do. Do you think you can walk along with me?"
"Oh, we're not tired now," said Freddie. "We've had a nice rest in here. But do you know the way to our house?"
"I know the way to Lakeport. I had forgotten about these meadows. You see it was a good many years ago and I did not live in Lakeport long before I went away. But now I know where I am. When I lived in your city I used to come out here to hunt muskrats. If I am not mistaken this shed is near a path that leads to a road by which we can get to a trolley car. I don't know whether or not the trolleys are running, but maybe we can find an automobile."
"If you could find a telephone and telephone to my father's lumber yard office he would come in his automobile to get us," said Flossie.
"Well, perhaps I can do that," the man said. "Come along now, we'll start."
Out into the storm again went the Bobbsey twins. It was snowing as hard as ever, but they were not afraid now, for they each had hold of the man's hands, and they felt sure he would get them safely home.
"Are you all right now?" asked the man, as he walked along in the snow, kicking away the flakes in a cloud such as a plow might throw on either side.
"Yes, we're all right now," Freddie said. "But we'll be righter when we get home."
"So mamma won't worry," added Flossie. "Mothers worry when their children are lost."
"That's too bad," said the man. "It isn't good for mothers to worry. But I'll get you home as soon as I can. You two youngsters have had quite a time of it, but I am glad to see you are brave and did not cry."
"Flossie's got some tears on her face," reported Freddie, looking over at his sister.
"I have not!" cried Flossie. "Those are melted snowflakes. I wanted to get some in my ear, so they'd make a funny, tickly feeling," she went on, "but there wouldn't any fall in. Some sat on my cheeks, though, and melted, and it's those what you see, Freddie Bobbsey, and not tears at all! I hardly ever cry, so there!"
"You cried when I busted your doll," Freddie said.
"Well, that was a good while ago," Flossie insisted, "and I was only a little girl. I hardly ever cry since I've growed up."
"No, I guess that's right," Freddie said. "She's 'bout as brave as me," he went on to the man.
"I'm sure she is, and I'm glad to hear that. You are both brave little tots, and I'm glad I found you. Whew!" he exclaimed, as the wind blew a cloud of snowflakes into his face, "this storm is getting worse. I'll have some melted-snow tears on my own cheeks, I think."
The strays kept on through the drifting snow, and, all the while, it was getting harder and harder for Flossie and Freddie to walk. The piles of snow were up to their knees in some places, and though the man easily forced his way through them, because he was big and strong, it was not so easy for the little Bobbsey twins to do so.
Pretty soon they came again to the rounded pile of snow that the two tots had mistaken for a little house. The white flakes had covered the hole Freddie had made with his stick.
"Let's stop and see if the muskrat is home yet," proposed the little boy.
"What muskrat?" asked the man.
"The one that lives in here. I started to dig in so Flossie and I could get out of the storm, and the muskrat put his head out and looked at us. I guess he was surprised."
"We were surprised, too," said Flossie. "At first I thought it was a little bear."
"Ha! Ha!" laughed the man. "And so you dug into a muskrat's meadow-house to get out of the storm? Well, that was a good idea, but I guess if you had gone in the muskrats would have run out. But it was a good thing you found the shed, and I'm glad I also found it. We will soon be home, I hope."
They lingered a moment, as Freddie wished to see if the muskrat would come out; but the creature was, very likely, away down deep in his house of sticks and mud, eating the sweet, tender roots of the plants he had stored away before Winter set in.
Once more the man led the Bobbsey twins onward.
Pretty soon Flossie began to lag behind. Her little feet went more and more slowly through the piles of snow, and once she choked back a sob. She wanted to cry, but she had said she was brave and scarcely ever shed tears, and she was not going to do it now. Still, she was so tired and cold and altogether miserable that she did not know what to do. Freddie, too, was hardly able to keep on, but he would not give up.
At last, however, the man looked down at the two little ones, and he noticed that they were really too tired to go farther. He stopped and said:
"Come! this will never do. I must carry you a bit to rest your legs. Wouldn't you like that?"
"Yes, I would," answered Flossie. "But you can't carry both of us; can you?"
"Well, I can try," said the man. "Let me think a minute, though. I think I will strap one of you on my back with my belt, and take the other in my arms in front. That will be the best way."
"Oh, I want to ride on your back!" cried Flossie.
"No, little girl, I think it will be best for your brother to do that. I will carry you in my arms in front. That will rest you both."
The man had a wide, big belt around his waist, and, taking this off, he put it over his shoulders, buckling it so that there was a loop hanging down his back. He put Freddie in this
loop, astride, so the little boy could clasp his arms around the man's neck. Then, telling him to hold on tightly, and picking Flossie up in his arms, the man started off once more through the snow.
"This is fun!" cried Freddie, as he nestled his head down on the man's neck, keeping the snowflakes out of his eyes.
"I like it, too," Flossie said, cuddling up in the man's strong arms.
"Are we too heavy for you?" asked Freddie. "'Cause if we are you only need to carry us a little way, until we're rested, and then we can walk."
"But I'm not rested yet," Flossie said quickly. She liked to be carried this way. It made her think of the time when her father used to carry her when she was a little tot.
"Don't be afraid. I can carry you for some time yet," the man said with a laugh, as he walked on through the drifts.
"You can put me down now, if you like," Freddie said, after a bit. "I'm kinder cold, and if I walk I'll be warmer."
"Well, perhaps you will," the man replied.
"And I can walk, too," added Flossie. "My legs are all right now."
"I don't believe you will have to walk much farther," went on the man. "I think the path is near here, and then it will be easier for you."
The man soon found the path, though it was not easy to see, and, walking along that, they came to a road. A little later the Bobbsey twins and the man heard a bell ringing.
"That's a trolley-car!" cried the man. "Now we're all right."
And so they were. The trolley was one that ran between Belleville and Lakeport, and a little later the two children and the kind man were sitting in the warm electric car, speeding toward their home.
"I think I'd better get out at the nearest telephone, to let your folks know you are all right," the man said. "They will be worrying, and if we can't get another car we may find an automobile."
The car conductor knew where there was a telephone in a drug store that they passed a little later, and the man called up Mr. Bobbsey at the lumber office.
Mr. Bobbsey and the strange man talked a while over the telephone, and then the man, coming back to where the twins were just finishing their glasses of hot chocolate which he had bought for them, said:
"Your father is going to send the automobile for you, so we will stay here until it comes. I told him where we were."
"Was he worried?" asked Flossie.
"Yes, very much," the man answered. "Bert, your brother, went out to look for you but could not find you, and your father was just about to start out."
"Well, we're all right now," said Freddie, "and we thank you very much."
"Oh, that's all right," said the man, with a laugh. "In finding you I found myself, for I was lost, too."
In about half an hour Mr. Bobbsey's automobile came along, he himself being in it. He jumped out and hurried into the drug store.
"Flossie! Freddie!" he cried. "We were so worried about you! What happened?"
"Oh, we just got lost," said Freddie, calmly, "and this nice man found us."
"We found each other," said the stranger, with a smile, "and now that I have done all I can, I think I will go on my way. I came to Lakeport to find my mother and my son. They'll be surprised to see me for they think that I am dead."
"You don't say so!" cried Mr. Bobbsey. "Where does your mother live?"
"Somewhere in Lakeport. At least she and my son did the last I heard, though they may have moved. Perhaps you can direct me. My name is Henry Todd, and I am looking for a Mrs. James Todd and her grandson, Tommy Todd. I am a sea captain, and I was wrecked a number of years ago. It was on a lonely island and—"
"Say!" cried Freddie, so excited that he slipped right off the soda-water counter seat. "Say! Are you—are you Tommy Todd's father?"
"Yes, that's who I am," the man said. "But what do you know of Tommy?"
"Why, we'd been leaving a basket of things at his house—with Tommy's grandmother. Then we went out in the storm and got lost," Freddie cried in much excitement. "Oh, if you are Tommy's father we won't have to buy a ship and go off to the desert island looking for you, like Robinson Crusoe. Oh, how glad he'll be that you have come back!"
"And how glad I'll be when I see him and my mother!" cried Mr. Todd. "But you spoke of taking her some food. Is my mother poor, and in want?" he asked Mr. Bobbsey.
"She is poor, but not exactly in want. My wife and I and some friends have been looking after her. Your boy, Tommy, runs errands for me."
"Well, well! Tommy must be getting to be quite a boy now. And to think it was your children whom I found and who told me where I was, so none of us were lost. It is very strange! And can you tell me where my mother lives?"
"I can, and I'll take you there. It is not a very nice house, but we have a better one for her. Only she did not want to move in this cold weather."
"I can not thank you enough for being kind to my mother and my son," said Mr. Todd. "But now I shall be able to look after them. I have plenty of money and they need want for nothing now."
In the automobile, going back to Lakeport through the storm, Mr. Todd told Mr. Bobbsey and Flossie and Freddie his story.
He had sailed away, just as Tommy Todd had said, some years before. The vessel of which he was captain was wrecked, and he and some other sailors got to an island where the natives were kind to them.
But for many years no other ship came that way. So Mr. Todd could not get home nor could he send any word, though he very much wanted to do so. In that time he found some pearls which were very valuable. So, when finally a ship did pass the island and take off the wrecked sailors, Mr. Todd had more money than he had when he started out. For the pearls were very valuable.
As soon as Mr. Todd reached a place where he could send word to his aged mother that he was alive and safe he did so. But in some manner the message was never received.
As soon as he had sent the message Mr. Todd started out himself to get home. Finally, he reached the United States and took a train for Lakeport. But, as he had told Flossie and Freddie, he got off at the wrong station, and had come on in an automobile. Then came the accident to the tire and the storm, and the rest you know—how Mr. Todd and the Bobbsey twins met at the old shed on the meadows.
"Well, that is quite a wonderful story," said Mr. Bobbsey. "I'm sure your mother and son will be wild with joy to see you again. They have long thought you dead."
"I suppose so," said Mr. Todd. "The papers said my vessel was lost with all on board, and it did seem so when I could send no word."
"Only Tommy and I thought maybe you might be like Robinson Crusoe," said Freddie, "and we were going in a ship to look for you on the island, only I haven't money enough saved up in my bank."
"Bless your heart!" said Mr. Todd.
"I think this is what we will do," said Mr. Bobbsey. "We will stop at your mother's house, get her and Tommy, and bring you all to my house."
"Oh, that is too much trouble!" said Mr. Todd.
"No, not at all. I want you to have a happy time, and we shall be happy with you."
The automobile was stopped at the house by the dumps.
"I will go in first," said Mr. Bobbsey, "and tell your mother and boy that I have good news for them. If she were to see you too suddenly, your mother, who has not been well, might be taken ill again. I will prepare her for the good news."
You can imagine how happy Tommy and his grandmother were when they learned that Mr. Todd was alive. And when the shipwrecked sailor entered the house Tommy fairly threw himself into his father's arms, while Mr. Todd kissed him and kissed his mother in turn. Oh! they were very happy.
"We found him!" cried Freddie. "And he found us! And now everybody found everybody else and nobody's lost!" Freddie was very much excited.
"Only I'm hungry," said Flossie.
The Todds and Mr. Bobbsey and the twins were soon at the Bobbsey home, talking over what had happened. Mrs. Bobbsey became worried when Flossie and Freddie did not come home after the storm started, and she sent Bert to Mrs. Todd's house after them. But they had already left, and had become lost.
"Well, now Freddie and I won't have to get a ship and go looking for you," said Tommy, as he sat close to his father.
"No, indeed. All our troubles are over now."
And so they were. Mr. Todd had plenty of money to look after his mother and son and a few days later he rented a nice house into which they moved. He said he was never going to sea again. Then began happy days for those who had spent so many unhappy ones.
Tommy no longer had to run errands for Mr. Bobbsey, to get money to help support his grandmother. He often came to play with Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie, and the Bobbsey twins never grew tired of hearing Mr. Todd tell of how he was shipwrecked.
The Winter wore on. Christmas came. And what a happy one it was for the Todd family, as well as for the Bobbsey twins!
"We had as much fun at home this Winter as we did in the Summer at Meadow Brook," said Nan.
"Better," said Freddie, "'cause we found Mr. Todd."
"And he found us," added Flossie.
Snap, the big dog, thumped his tail on the floor in front of the fire. Snoop, the black cat, purred in her sleep. Outside the snow was falling and Freddie cried:
"Now we can have more coasting!"
"And there'll be more skating, too," said Bert.
"But I'm not going to fall in again," said Tommy Todd.
And now, as every one is happy, we will say good-bye to the Bobbsey twins.