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The Bobbsey Twins at Home/Chapter 9


CHAPTER IX


NAN BAKES A CAKE


"Come on, Snoop! Come on out!" called Flossie to the pet, black cat.

Snoop tried to raise first one paw, and then the other to come to her little mistress, but the sticky varnish held her fast.

"You'll have to pull her loose, Mother," said Bert. "It's the only way."

"I guess she's stuck so fast that if you pulled her up you'd pull her paws off and leave them sticking to the floor," observed Nan.

"Oh, don't do that!" begged Freddie. "We don't want a cat without any paws."

"Don't worry, dear," his mother said. "I'll not pull Snoop's paws off. But I wonder how I'm going to get her loose. I don't want to step in there and make tracks with my shoes all over the newly varnished floor.

"Snoop has made some marks as it is," went on Mrs. Bobbsey, "but perhaps the painter can go over them with his brush in the morning so they won't show. We ought to have shut Snoop up, I suppose. Let me see now, how can I get her loose?"

"Telephone to papa," suggested Bert. "He'll know of a way."

"I believe I will do that," Mrs. Bobbsey said.

Mr. Bobbsey had gone down to the office that evening to look over some books and papers about his lumber business, and he had not yet come back. In a few minutes Mrs. Bobbsey was talking to him over the telephone.

"What's that?" cried Mr. Bobbsey. "Snoop stuck fast on the varnished floor? I'll be home at once. It won't hurt her, but of course we must get her loose. Don't worry, and tell the twins not to worry. I'll make it all right."

And this is how Mr. Bobbsey did it. When he got home he found a can of turpentine which had been left by the painter. Turpentine will soften varnish or paint and make it thin, just as water will make paste soft. Mr. Bobbsey laid a board on the floor from the door-sill over close to where poor Snoop was held fast. Then he poured a little turpentine around each of the four feet of the cat, where her paws were held fast in the varnish.

In a little while the varnish had softened, and Mr. Bobbsey could lift Snoop up and hand her to his wife. Then he took up the board, and washed from Snoop's paws what remained of the varnish. She was all right now, and purred happily as Flossie and Freddie took turns holding her.

"But the floor is spoiled—or that part is where you poured the turpentine," said Mrs. Bobbsey.

"The painter will varnish that part over when he comes in the morning," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Then we must keep Snoop out of the way until it dries."

And this was done. The floor was gone over again with the varnish brush, and the marks of Snoop's paws did not show. Nor did the cat again go into the parlor until the floor was hard and dry.

"Mother," asked Nan one day, about a week after Snoop had been stuck fast in the varnish, "may I have a little party?"

"A party, Nan?"

"Yes, just a few boys and girls from my class in school. The parlor looks so nice now, with the new floor, that I'd like to give a party. May I?"

"Well, yes, I guess so," answered Mrs. Bobbsey. "How many would you invite?"

"About a dozen. We could have sandwiches, ice cream and cake. I could bake a cake myself."

"Well, you might try. I have showed you how to make a simple cake, that is not too rich for little stomachs. You might bake a sponge cake, and put icing on top. Yes, I think you may have a party, Nan."

"Oh, thank you, Mother. Now I'll write the invitations."

"I'll help you," offered Flossie.

"I'm afraid, dear, you can't write quite well enough," said Nan with a smile. "But you may seal the envelopes for me, and put on the postage stamps."

"Oh, I like to do that!" cried Flossie. "The sticky stuff on the stamps tastes so nice on your tongue."

"It is better to wet the envelope flaps and the sticky side of the stamps with a damp cloth or a sponge than with your tongue," said Mother Bobbsey. "I'll show you the way."

So when Nan had written out the invitations on some cards, she and Flossie put them in envelopes. Then Mrs. Bobbsey gave them each a little sponge, which they dampened in water, and with that they moistened the sticky places, both of the stamps and the envelopes. And so the invitations were made ready to mail.

"Have you invited any boys to the party?" asked Bert.

"Yes, some," answered Nan. "But only a few."

"Then I'll come," he said. "I don't like a party with just nothing but girls."

"And I'll help Nan bake her cake," offered Flossie.

"So will I," added Freddie. "I like to clean out the cake dishes, and eat the sweet dough and the icing."

"Oh, I want to do some of that, too!" cried Flossie.

"I can see what kind of a time you're going to have making your cake!" laughed Bert, "with those two youngsters hanging around."

"Oh, I'll take care of them," said Nan, smiling.

"Goin' t' bake a cake, is yo'?" asked Dinah, when Nan came out in the kitchen the next Saturday, which was the date of the party. "Don't yo' all t'ink yo'd bettah let me make it fo' yo'?"

"No, thank you, Dinah, I want to make it myself," said Nan. "I want to show the girls and boys that I know how to make a cake almost, if not quite, as well as you and mother make them."

"Well, honey, ef yo' makes a cake as good as yo' ma, den yo' will suttinly be a fine cook," returned Dinah. "Fo' yo' ma is suah a prime cake-maker!"

"Oh, I don't suppose the cake will be as good as mother's," said Nan, "but still I'll never learn if I don't try."

So Nan began her cake. Flossie and Freddie were playing out in the yard, but when they saw Nan in the kitchen, in they came, running.

"I'm going to help!" cried Freddie.

"So'm I," added his sister.

"Well, there's not much you can do," said Nan, "except to hand me the things I need. First I'm going to get everything together on the table, and then I won't have to fuss around, and get in Dinah's way."

"Oh, yo' won't be in mah way, honey-lamb!" said the loving old colored woman. "Jest make yo'se'f right t' home."

Nan got from the pantry the eggs, the flour, the sugar, and the other things that were needed to make a sponge cake. Then when she had the brown bowl ready in which the cake batter would be mixed she sat down on a high stool at the table, with Flossie on one side and Freddie on the other.

"Now, Flossie, you hand me an egg," said Nan, and Flossie picked one up from the dish. She was handing it over to her sister, but her chubby fingers slipped and—crack! went the egg down on the floor, breaking, of course.

"Oh dear!" cried Flossie. "Now the cake is spoiled!"

"Oh, no, not because one egg is broken," said Nan. "But still we must be more careful. Perhaps I had better handle the eggs myself."

"You had if you want any cake," called Bert, looking in through the window on his way to play ball with Ned Barton and Charley Mason.

"Oh, I guess we'll make out all right," laughed Nan. She broke the eggs into the dish, and then she let Flossie and Freddie take turns in handing her the flour, sugar, and other things she needed; things that could not be broken if little hands dropped them. But nothing more was dropped, though Nan herself did spill a little flour on the floor.

"Is this batter right now, Dinah?" Nan asked, when she had stirred up the cake mixture with a long spoon. The cook looked in the brown bowl.

"Jest a leetle mo' flour," she said, "den it'll be stiff enough an' ready fo' de oven. An' after it's baked yo' kin mix up de sugar-icin' t' go on de top."

Nan stirred in more flour and then poured the batter into a pan to be baked in the oven of the stove. She carried the pan carefully across the kitchen.

"Don't fall and spill it," called Flossie.

"I'll try not to," Nan said.

Just then into the kitchen with a rush came Snap. He saw Nan with a pan in her hands, and he must have thought she had something for him to eat, for with a joyful bark he made straight for her.

"Oh, hold him back! Don't let him come near me or I'll spill my cake before it's baked!" cried Nan. "Hold Snap, Flossie—Freddie!"

"We will!" cried the smaller twins.

Both of them made a rush for Snap, and caught him by the collar. But the dog thought this was some funny game, and, wagging his tail, he pulled the two children across the slippery oilcloth of the kitchen floor.

"Hold him back! Hold him!" begged Nan. She was almost at the oven now. If she could get the cake safely in it she would be all right, for Snap would not go near the stove.

"We—we can't hold him!" panted Freddie. "He's pulling us too—too hard!"

Snap, indeed, was dragging the little Bobbsey twins right across the room toward Nan, who was moving slowly toward the stove. She could not move fast for fear of spilling the cake batter, or dropping the pan.

"Dinah! Dinah!" called Flossie, to the colored cook who had gone into the dining room for a moment. "Come quick, or Nan won't have any cake. Snap wants it!"

I don't suppose that the dog really wanted the cake batter, though he liked sweet things. But he thought Nan had his dinner in the pan.

However, before he could get near enough to her to "jiggle" her arm, and make her drop the pan, Dinah came in.

"Heah, you Snap!" cried the cook with a laugh. "Yo' done got t' git outen dish yeah kitchen when cake-bakin' am goin' on!"

She reached for Snap's collar, and, as Dinah was very strong, she managed to hold the big dog, who was barking and wagging his tail faster than ever. He thought they were all playing with him.

"Hurry, honey!" called Dinah to Nan. "Snap's pullin' away from me a little."

Nan reached the oven, and put the cake in, closing the door.

"There!" she cried. "Now it's all right, and you can let go of Snap!"

"An' he'd bettah git outdoors where he kin romp around t' suit hisse'f," added Dinah. "Kitchens ain't no place fo' dogs when bakin's goin' on."

So Snap was put outside, with a nice bone to gnaw, and he did not feel unhappy. Flossie and Freddie cleaned out the brown bowl, on the sides and bottom of which were bits of the sweet cake batter. And after Nan had mixed up sugar and water to make icing to go on top of the cake, the two little twins cleaned out that dish also.

Finally Nan's cake was done. It was taken from the oven, being a lovely brown in color, and, after it had cooled, the icing was put on top. Then the cake was put away for the party.

Everyone, whom Nan had invited, came that night. There were more than a dozen, counting the Bobbsey twins, and they all had a good time. They played a number of games, ending with hide-and-go-seek.

Freddie wanted to "blind" and look for the others, so they let him do it. One after another the others stole away on tiptoe, while Freddie stood with his head in a corner that he might not see where they hid. Each boy and each girl picked out a place where he thought Freddie would not see him.

"Ready or not I'm coming," called the little boy at last.

Then he opened his eyes and started to look for the hidden children. The piano in the parlor stood out a little way from the wall, and Freddie thought that would be a good place for some one to hide. He thrust his head behind it, to see if any one was back of it, there being just about room enough for him to do his. No one was there, but when Freddie tried to pull his head out again it would not come.

"Oh! oh!" he cried, and his voice sounded queer, coming from behind the piano. "Oh. I'm stuck! I'm caught fast just like Snoop, only worse! Papa! Mamma! Come and get me out of the piano!"