The Bobbsey Twins at Home/Chapter 11
A QUEER PLAY-HOUSE
Freddie Bobbsey thought for a minute. He and James had played numbers of games on other days when Freddie was allowed to come to his father's lumber yard. This time Freddie wanted to think of something new.
"Do you want me to tell you a story?" asked the watchman, for this was one of the "games." James knew many fine stories, for he had used to live in the woods, and had chopped down big trees, which were afterward sawed into boards, such as were now piled about the lumber yard.
Freddie always liked to have the old watchman tell tales of what had happened in the woods, but this time the little chap said:
"Thank you, no, James. I want to do some thing else."
"All right, Freddie. Shall we play steamboat, and shall I be the whistle?"
This was another fine game, in which Freddie got upon a pile of lumber and pretended it was a steamboat, while on the ground, down below, the watchman made a noise like a whistle, and pretended to put wood on the make-believe fire to send the steamboat along.
"No, I don't want to play steamboat," Freddie said. "But this game has a boat in it. Did you ever build a ship to go sailing in?"
"No, Freddie. I never did. Do you want to play that game?"
"Yes, but I want to make a real boat. You see Tommy Todd's father is lost at sea, and we are going to look for him. So I want to make a ship. There's lumber enough, I guess."
"I guess there is," said James, looking around at the many piles of boards in Mr. Bobbsey's yards. "There's enough lumber, Freddie, but I don't know about making a ship. How big would it have to be?"
"Well, big enough to hold me and Tommy and my sister Flossie and Dinah, our cook. Dinah's very fat you know, James, and we'll have to make the ship specially big enough for her. Will you help me?"
"Why yes, I guess so, Freddie. That game will be as good as any to play, and I can do it sitting down, which is a comfort."
"Oh, but it's going to be a real ship!" declared Freddie. "I've got the nails to put it together with, and string for the sails. I can use a stone for a hammer," and he began to look about on the ground for one.
James scratched his head as he saw the bent and crooked nails Freddie had piled up on a bundle of shingles near by. Then the watchman glanced at the tangle of string.
"As soon as I find a stone for a hammer we'll start," Freddie said. "You can get out the boards."
James wanted to be kind and amuse Freddie all he could, for he liked the little boy. But to pull boards out of the neat piles in Mr. Bobbsey's lumber yard was not allowed, unless the boards were to be put on a wagon to be carted off and sold.
"I'll tell you what we'd better do, Freddie," said the watchman at last.
"What?" Freddie asked.
"We'd better make a little ship first. That will be easy and we can make it like a big one. Then we'll have something to go by—a sort of pattern, such as your mother uses when she makes a dress for your little sister."
"Oh yes!" cried Freddie. "That's what we'll do—make a little pattern ship first. It will be easier."
"Much easier," said James. "Now I'll find some small pieces of board for you, and—"
But just then one of the workmen in the yard called to the watchman to come and help him pile some lumber on a wagon.
"Wait just a minute, Freddie," said James. "I'll be back soon and help you."
"All right," answered Freddie. He sat down on a pile of shingles, and thought of the time when he and Tommy Todd should set off on their ship to find the shipwrecked Mr. Todd.
The watchman was gone longer than he expected. Freddie grew tired of waiting for him, and finally said to himself:
"I'm going to look for some wood myself. I guess I can find it." He looked for some on the ground, but, though there were many chips, and broken pieces, there was none of the kind Freddie thought would be good for a toy ship—the pattern after which the real one would be made.
"I guess I'll climb up on one of these piles of lumber," thought Freddie, "and see if there are any small pieces of board on top. It is easy to climb up."
This was true enough, and once or twice before Freddie had made his way to the top of a pile. Each stack of lumber was made in a sort of slanting fashion, so that the back of it was almost like a pair of steps. Lumber is piled this way to let the rain run off better.
Freddie went up the back part of a pile, some distance away from the bundles of shingles where he had been talking to James.
"This is an easy place to climb," Freddie said to himself. "I hope I shall find what I want on top."
Step by step he went up the pile of lumber, until he was at the top. But, to his disappointment, he found there nothing which he could bring James to use in making a small ship. The boards were all too long and wide.
"I might bring one down, and have James cut it smaller with his knife," said Freddie, speaking aloud. "That's what I'll do."
He lifted up one of the boards. As he did so the little boy noticed that the pile of lumber was swaying a little from side to side as he moved about.
"I guess I'd better get down off here," Freddie said. "This is too jiggily." He had been told to keep off "jiggily" lumber piles, as they were not safe.
Freddie dragged to the edge the board he had picked out for the watchman to make smaller. The little boy was just going to slide it over the edge of the pile to the ground, when, all at once Freddie felt himself falling.
"Oh dear!" he cried. "Something is going to happen!"
And something did happen. The lumber pile with Freddie on top, was falling over. Freddie did not know what to do; whether or not to jump. He looked down, but neither James nor any other man was in sight; and the office, where Freddie's father was working, was far on the other side of the yard.
"Oh dear!" cried Freddie again.
And then, with a crash, the top of the lumber pile slid over, carrying Freddie with it. A cloud of dust arose and the little Bobbsey chap could see nothing for a few seconds. And when he did open his eyes, after feeling himself come down with a hard bump, he found himself in a queer little house.
It really was a sort of house in which Freddie found himself—a little play-house, almost. The lumber had fallen about him in such a way that Freddie had not been hurt or squeezed by it in the least. The boards had piled up over his head, in a peak, like the peaked roof of a real house. Other boards were on the sides and in front, and there Freddie was, in a queer play-house that had made itself when the lumber slid over.
"Well!" thought Freddie, "this is funny! But I wonder how I can get out."
It was not dark in the queer play-house, for light came in between the cracks among the boards and planks. But though the cracks and openings were large enough to let in the light, they were not large enough to let Freddie get out.
The little boy pushed here and there, but the lumber was too heavy for him to move. Then he happened to think that if he did move one board it might loosen others which would fall down on his head.
"I'm in a little house," thought Freddie, "and I guess I'd better call my father to come and get me out. He'll know how to lift off the boards. I'll call daddy or James."
Freddie began to call. But as several lumber wagons were rattling up and down the yard just then, the little boy's voice was not heard. James, having finished helping the man load his wagon, came back to where he had left Freddie.
"Well, shall we start to make a little ship now?" asked the watchman. But no Freddie was in sight near the shingle pile.
"Humph! He got tired of waiting, I guess," thought James, "and went back to his father's office. Well, if he comes back I'll help him. He's a queer little chap, wanting to build a ship. A queer little chap."
And James never thought of going to look for Freddie, for the lumber pile, which had fallen and made itself into a sort of play-house was some distance away from the bundle of shingles. So James sat there in the sun, waiting, and, far off, Freddie was calling for help. For he wanted to get out, very much.