The Bobbsey Twins/chapter20
ST. VALENTINE'S DAY
St. Valentine's Day was now close at hand, and all of the children of the neighborhood were saving their money with which to buy valentines.
"I know just the ones I am going to get," said Nan.
"I want some big red hearts," put in Freddie. "Just love hearts, I do!"
"I want the kind you can look into," came from Flossie. "Don't you know, the kind that fold up?"
Two days before St. Valentine's Day the children gathered around the sitting-room table and began to make valentines. They had paper of various colors and pictures cut from old magazines. They worked very hard, and some of the valentines thus manufactured were as good as many that could be bought.
"Oh, I saw just the valentine for Freddie," whispered Nan to Bert. "It had a fireman running to a fire on it."
There were a great many mysterious little packages brought into the house on the afternoon before St. Valentine's Day, and Mr. Bobbsey had to supply quite a few postage stamps.
"My, my, but the postman will have a lot to do to-morrow," said Mr. Bobbsey. "If this keeps on he'll want his wages increased, I am afraid."
The fun began early in the morning. On coming down to breakfast each of the children found a valentine under his or her plate. They were all very pretty.
"Where in the world did they come from?" cried Nan. "Oh, mamma, did you put them there?"
"No, Nan," said Mrs. Bobbsey.
"Then it must have been Dinah!" said Nan, and rushed into the kitchen. "Oh, Dinah, how good of you!"
"'Spect da is from St. Valentine," said the cook, smiling broadly.
"Oh, I know you!" said Nan.
"It's just lubby!" cried Freddie, breaking out into his baby talk. "Just lubby, Dinah! Such a big red heart, too!"
The postman came just before it was time to start for school. He brought six valentines, three for Flossie, two for Freddie and one for Bert.
"Oh, Nan, where is yours?"' cried Bert.
"I—I guess he forgot me," said Nan rather soberly.
"Oh, he has made some mistake," said Bert and ran after the letter man. But it was of no use—all the mail for the Bobbseys had been delivered.
"Never mind, he'll come again this afternoon," said Mrs. Bobbsey, who saw how keenly Nan was disappointed.
On her desk in school Nan found two valentines from her schoolmates. One was very pretty, but the other was home-made and represented a girl running away from a figure labeled ghost. Nan put this out of sight as soon as she saw it.
All that day valentines were being delivered in various ways. Freddie found one in his cap, and Bert one between the leaves of his geography. Flossie found one pinned to her cloak, and Nan received another in a pasteboard box labeled Breakfast Food. This last was made of paper roses and was very pretty.
The letter man came that afternoon just as they arrived home from school. This time he had three valentines for Nan and several for the others. Some were comical, but the most of them were beautiful and contained very tender verses. There was much guessing as to who had sent each.
"I have received just as many as I sent out," said Nan, counting them over.
"I sent out two more than I received," said Bert.
"Never mind, Bert; boys don't expect so many as girls," answered Nan.
"I'd like to know who sent that mean thing that was marked ghost," went on her twin brother.
"It must have come from Danny Rugg," said Bert, and he was right. It had come from Danny, but Nan never let him know that she had received it, so his hoped-for fun over it was spoilt.
In the evening there was more fun than ever. All of the children went out and dropped valentines on the front piazzas of their friends' houses. As soon as a valentine was dropped the door bell would be given a sharp ring, and then everybody would run and hide and watch to see who came to the door.
When the Bobbsey children went home they saw somebody on their own front piazza. It was a boy and he was on his knees, placing something under the door mat.
"I really believe it is Danny Rugg!" cried Nan.
"Wait, I'll go and catch him," said Bert, and started forward.
But Danny saw him coming, and leaping over the side rail of the piazza, he ran to the back garden.
"Stop," called Bert. "I know you, Danny Rugg!"
"I ain't Danny Rugg!" shouted Danny in a rough voice. "I'm somebody else."
He continued to run and Bert made after him. At last Danny reached the back fence. There was a gate there, but this was kept locked by Sam, so that tramps might be kept out.
For the moment Danny did not know what to do. Then he caught hold of the top of the fence and tried to scramble over. But there was a sharp nail there and on this his jacket caught.
"I've got you now!" exclaimed Bert, and made a clutch for him. But there followed the sound of ripping cloth and Danny disappeared into the darkness, wearing a jacket that had a big hole torn in it.
"Was it really Danny?" questioned Nan, when Bert came back to the front piazza.
"Yes, and he tore his coat—I heard it rip."
"What do you think of that?"
Nan pointed to an object on the piazza, half under the door mat. There lay a dead rat, and around its neck was a string to which was attached a card reading, "Nan and Bert Bobbsey's Ghost."
"This is certainly awful," said Bert.
The noise on the piazza had brought Mrs. Bobbsey to the door. At the sight of the dead rat, which Freddie had picked up by the tail, she gave a slight scream.
"Oh, Freddie, leave it go!" she said.
"It won't hurt you, mamma," said the little boy. "The real is gone out of it."
"But—but—how did it get here?"
"Danny Rugg brought it," said Bert "Look at the tag."
He cut the tag off with his pocket-knife and flung the rat into the garbage can. All went into the house, and Mrs. Bobbsey and her husband both read what Danny Rugg had written on the card.
"This is going too far," said Mr. Bobbsey. "I must speak to Mr. Rugg about this." And he did the very next day. As a result, and for having torn his jacket, Danny received the hardest thrashing he had got in a year. This made him more angry than ever against Bert, and also angry at the whole Bobbsey family. But he did not dare to do anything to hurt them at once, for fear of getting caught.
Winter was now going fast, and before long the signs of spring began to show on every hand.
Spring made Freddie think of a big kite that he had stored away in the garret, and one Saturday he and Bert brought the kite forth and fixed the string and the tail.
"There is a good breeze blowing," said Bert. "Let us go and fly it on Roscoe's common."
"I want to see you fly the kite," said Flossie. "Can I go along?"
"Yes, come on," said Bert.
Flossie had been playing with the kitten and hated to leave it. So she went down to the common with Snoop in her arms.
"Don't let Snoop run away from you," said Bert. "He might not find his way back home."
The common was a large one with an old disused barn at one end. Freddie and Bert took the kite to one end and Freddie held it up while Bert prepared to let out the string and "run it up," as he called it.
Now, as it happened, the eyes of Snoop were fixed on the long tail of the kite, and when it went trailing over the ground Snoop leaped from Flossie's arms and made a dash for it. The kitten's claws caught fast in the tail, and in a moment more the kite went up into the air and Snoop with it.
"Oh, my kitten!" called out Freddie. "Snoop has gone up with the kite!"