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The Bobbsey Twins at Home/Chapter 5


CHAPTER V


TOMMY'S TROUBLES


"Oh, there's Johnnie Wilson!" cried Freddie Bobbsey. "I'm going to call to him to come into our yard."

"Yes, and there's Alice Boyd," added Flossie. "I'm going to play with her. She's got a new doll. Come on over, Alice!" she called.

"And you come over, too, Johnnie!" shouted Freddie.

A boy and a girl came running across the street to the Bobbsey house. The two smaller twins and their little friends were soon having a good time in the yard. It was the morning after the family had come home from Meadow Brook.

"Did you have a good time in the country?" asked Alice of Flossie.

"Oh, didn't we just though! It was—scrumptious!"

"And false-face robbers stopped the train coming home," added Freddie. "Only it was make-believe."

"I wish I'd been there," said Johnnie, after Freddie had told about it. "We went up to a lake this Summer. Nothing much happened there except I fell in and most drowned."

"I call that something," said Freddie. "I fell in a brook, but it wasn't deep."

"The lake's awful deep," went on Johnnie. "It hasn't any bottom."

"It's got to have a bottom, or all the water would drop out, and then it wouldn't be a lake," said Freddie.

"Well, maybe it has," admitted his friend. "Anyhow, the bottom's awful far down. I didn't get to it and I was in the water a good while. It's a awful deep lake."

"It isn't as deep as the ocean," Freddie said, "and I'm going on the ocean in a ship."

"Are you? When?" asked Johnnie.

"When Tommy Todd and I start to look for his father. His father is lost at sea on a desert island, like Robinson Crusoe, and we're going to find him."

"Take me along!" begged Johnnie. "I'm not afraid of the ocean, even if it's deeper'n the lake. Take me with you."

Freddie thought about it carefully.

"Well, you may come if the ship is big enough," he said. "I promised to let Flossie come. She's going to cook. Oh, no, Dinah's going to cook. I forgot about that. We'll have to get a bigger ship, I guess, so's to make room for Dinah. I guess you may come, Johnnie. I haven't counted how much money I've saved up, but I will soon."

"Is Tommy Dodd going to help buy the ship?" asked Johnnie.

"His name isn't Dodd, it's Todd," explained Freddie. "But he can't put in much money I guess, 'cause he's poor. He's a fresh air boy, but he's nice. He runs errands for Mr. Fitch, the grocer. We met Tommy on the train."

"Then if you put in the most money to buy the ship more'n half of it will be yours," said Johnnie, "and you can take as many as you like."

"No, half of the ship is going to be Tommy's," insisted the little Bobbsey twin. "'Cause it's his father we're going after, you see."

"That's so," admitted Johnnie. "Well, I'm coming anyhow. I'll put in some money to buy things to eat."

"That'll be nice," said Freddie. "I forgot about eating. I'm hungry now. I think Dinah is making cookies. Let's go 'round to the kitchen to see."

Flossie and Alice were up on the side porch, playing with their dolls, when Freddie and Johnnie ran around to the back door. Surely enough, Dinah was making cookies, and she gave the boys some.

"Do you think we'd better save any of these for the time when we go on the ship?" asked Johnnie, as he took a bite out of his second cookie.

"No, I don't guess so," replied Freddie. "We won't go for a week or two anyhow, and the cookies wouldn't keep that long. Anyhow, Dinah will make more. Say, I'll tell you what let's do!"

"What?"

"Go down to the lake and sail our boats."

"All right. But I don't want to fall in."

"We'll go down to my father's lumber yard, and if we fall in, near the edge, we can yell and some of the men will pull us out. Come on!"

Mrs. Bobbsey said Freddie might go, if he would be sure to be careful. He was often allowed to visit his father's lumber yard, for it was known he would be safe there. And Johnnie's mother said he might go also. So the little fellows trudged away, leaving the girls to play dolls on the porch.

Freddie and Johnnie had fun at the edge of the lake. They each had a small sailboat, and, holding the strings, which were fast to the toy vessels, the boys let the wind blow the boats out a way and then hauled them in again.

After a while, however, they grew tired of this, and Freddie said:

"Let's go up to the office to see my father. He likes me to come to see him, and maybe he'll give us five cents for ice cream cones."

"That'll be nice," said Johnnie.

Mr. Bobbsey was very busy, for he had a great deal of work to do after having spent so much time in the country that Summer. But he was glad to see the boys.

"Well, how's my little fireman this morning?" he asked, catching Freddie up in his arms. "Have you put out any fires yet?"

"Not yet. We've been playing boats."

"And how are you, Johnnie?" went on Mr. Bobbsey, as he patted Freddie's playmate on the back.

"Oh, I'm all right. I'm going in the ship with Freddie to help find Tommy Todd's father who's on a desert island."

"Oh, you are; eh? Well speaking of Tommy, that looks like him out there now."

Mr. Bobbsey pointed to the outside office. There stood the boy Freddie and Flossie had talked to on the train. He was speaking to one of the clerks, who did not seem to want to let him inside the railing.

"That's all right," called Mr. Bobbsey. "He may come in. What is it, Tommy?" he asked kindly, as the clerk stepped aside.

"I've come to do the errands, to earn the quarter you gave me yesterday," said the fresh air boy, as he came in.

"Oh, there's no hurry about that," returned Mr. Bobbsey. "I don't know what errands I want done to-day."

"Well, I'd like to do some," Tommy said. "I'd like to earn that money, and then, maybe, you'd have some more errands for me to run, afterward, so I could earn more money. I need it very much, and Mr. Fitch hasn't any work for me to-day. I want to do all I can before school opens," Tommy went on, "'cause it gets dark early in the afternoon now, and my grandmother doesn't like to have me out too late."

"That's right. How is your grandmother, Tommy?"

"She—she's sick," was the answer, and Tommy's voice sounded as though he had been crying, or was just going to do so.

"Sick? That's too bad!"

"That's why I want some more errands to do, so I can earn money for her. She was hungry when I got home yesterday, and I spent that money you gave me—all but the five cents for car fare—to buy her things to eat. There wasn't anything in the house."

"Oh, come now! That's too bad!" said Mr. Bobbsey. "We must look into this. Here, Freddie, you and Johnnie and Tommie go down to the corner and get some ice cream. It's a hot day," and he held out some money to Tommy. "I'll let you carry it," he said, "as the other boys might lose it. Get three ten cent plates of cream."

Tommy seemed to hang back.

"Could I have this one ten cent piece all for myself?" he asked.

"Why, of course you may. There is a dime for each of you. Don't you like ice cream?"

"Oh, yes indeed. But I'd rather save this for my grandmother. I'm not very warm."

"Now look here!" said Mr. Bobbsey with a laugh. "You spend that money for yourself and for Freddie and Johnnie. I'll see that your grandmother is taken care of. I'm going to telephone to my wife, now, to go down to see her."

"Oh, all right, thank you!" cried Tommy. And then, when he had hurried off down to the ice cream store with Freddie and Johnnie, Mr. Bobbsey called up his wife at home and asked her to see Mrs. Todd.

Mrs. Bobbsey went to the little house on Lombard Street at once. She found Tommy's grandmother to be a nice woman, but quite ill from having worked too hard during the hot weather. She was very feeble.

"But I must keep a home for Tommy," she said to Mrs. Bobbsey. "His father, my son, was lost at sea, and Tommy is all I have now. I don't mind the hard work when I'm well, but I don't feel good now."

"Don't worry," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "We'll get you well and strong again, and then you can keep a home for Tommy."

Mrs. Todd told very much the same story Tommy had told—that her son, Tommy's father, had sailed away to sea, and after many days a passing vessel had sighted the wreck of his. Broken lifeboats were floating about the surface of the ocean, but no one alive was found in them. As there was no trace of Captain Todd or any of the sailors, every one believed they had all been drowned.

"Tommy seems to think his father may be alive," said Mrs. Bobbsey.

Mrs. Todd sighed.

"I sometimes used to think that myself," she said. "But now I have given up hope. It is over five years, and if my son were alive he would have sent me some word before now. I wish he would come back, for then he would look after Tommy and me."

It was not a nice place where Tommy lived with his grandmother, but Mrs. Todd did her best to keep the house neat and clean. Mrs. Bobbsey called in a doctor, and also sent a woman to nurse Mrs. Todd until she grew better, which she did in a few days.

Then she could keep on with her sewing, by which she earned enough for her and Tommy to live on. But it was not a very good living they made, and they often did not have enough to eat.

"I'll give you some of my sewing to do," promised Mrs. Bobbsey, "and so will some ladies I know."

So, for a time at least, Mrs. Todd was to be taken care of. When she grew better she had as much work as she could do.

But this was some time after the day when Tommy called at Mr. Bobbsey's office. That day, after the three boys had eaten their ice cream, Tommy went back to the lumber yard, and Mr. Bobbsey told him that Mrs. Bobbsey had gone to see Mrs. Todd.

"And haven't you any errands I could do for you to-day?" asked Tommy.

"Not to-day, Tommy. But I may have later. Don't worry about working out that twenty-five cents. I won't forget you, and you'll find your grandmother being taken care of when you get home."

"I'll not forget about the ship we're going to buy either," promised Freddie, as he and Johnnie parted company from Tommy.

"All right; and thank you."

Nan and Bert, that day, had gone over to play with Ned Barton and Ellen Moore, children who lived near them, and they had a good time.

"We want to have all the fun we can while we're at home here," said Nan, "for school will soon open."

"Yes, and I'll be sort of glad," said Bert. "We're going to have a football team this year."

"We'll come to see you play; won't we, Ellen?" said Nan.

"Yes, but I like baseball better than football."

As Nan and Bert reached home, after visiting with their little friends, they heard screams from the side porch where Flossie and Alice had been playing dolls.

"Oh, make him come back with it! Make him come back!" cried Flossie.

"Something has happened!" exclaimed Bert, running around to the side of the house, followed by Nan.