The Bobbsey Twins at Home/Chapter 2
A SUDDEN STOP
"I don't remember my father very well," said Tommy Todd. "I was real little when he went away. That was just after my mother died. My grandmother took care of me. I just remember a big man with black hair and whiskers, taking me up in his arms, and kissing me good-bye. That was my father, my grandmother told me afterward."
"What made him go away from you?" asked Flossie. "Didn't he like to stay at home?"
"I guess maybe he did," said Tommy. "But he couldn't stay. He was a sea captain on a ship, you know."
"Of course!" cried Freddie. "Don't you know, Flossie? A sea captain never stays at home, only a little while. He has to go off to steer the ship across the ocean. That's what I'm going to do."
"I don't want you to," returned Flossie, as she nestled up closer to her brother. "I want you to stay with me. If you have to go so far off to be a sea captain couldn't you be something else and stay at home? Couldn't you be a trolley-car conductor?"
"Well, maybe I could," said Freddie slowly. "But I'd rather be a sea captain. Go on, Tommy. Tell us about your father."
"Well, I don't know much," went on Tommy Todd. "I don't remember him so very well, you know. Then my grandmother and I lived alone. It was in a better house than we have now, and we had more things to eat. I never get enough now when I'm home, though when I was on the fresh air farm I had lots," and, sighing, Tommy seemed sad.
"My father used to write letters to my grandmother—she is his mother," he explained. "When I got so I could understand, my grandmother read them to me. My father wrote about his ship, and how he sailed away up where the whales are. Sometimes he would send us money in the letters, and then grandma would make a little party for me.
"But after a while no more letters came. My grandmother used to ask the postman every day if he didn't have a letter for her from my father, but there wasn't any. Then there was a piece in the paper about a ship that was wrecked. It was my father's ship."
"What's wrecked?" asked Flossie.
"It means the ship is all smashed to pieces; doesn't it?" asked Freddie of Tommy.
"That's it; yes. My father's ship was in a storm and was smashed on the rocks. Everybody on it, and my father too, was drowned in the ocean, the paper said. That's why I like the country better than the ocean."
"I used to like the ocean," said Flossie slowly. "We go down to Ocean Cliff sometimes, where Uncle William and Aunt Emily and Cousin Dorothy live. But I don't like the ocean so much now, if it made your father drown."
"Oh, well, there have to be shipwrecks I s'pose," remarked Tommy. "But, of course, it was awful hard to lose my father." He turned his head away and seemed to be looking out of the window. Then he went on:
"After grandmother read that in the paper about my father's ship sinking she cried, and I cried too. Then she wrote some letters to the company that owned the ship. She thought maybe the papers were wrong, about the ship sinking, but when the answers came back they said the same thing. The men who owned the ship which my father was captain of, said the vessel was lost and no one was saved. No more letters came from my father, and no more money. Then grandmother and I had to move away from the house where we were living, and had to go to a little house down by the dumps. It isn't nice there."
"Does your grandma have any money now?" asked Flossie.
"A little. She sews and I run errands for the groceryman after school, and earn a little. But it isn't much. I was glad when the fresh air folks took me to the farm. I had lots to eat, and my grandmother had more too, for she didn't have to feed me. She is going to the fresh air farm some day, maybe."
"That will be nice," said Flossie. "We're going to Uncle Dan's farm again next year, maybe, and perhaps your grandma can come there."
"I don't believe so," returned Tommie. "But anyhow I had fun, and I weigh two pounds more than 'fore I went away, and I can run errands faster now for Mr. Fitch."
"Why, he's our grocery man!" cried Freddie. "Do you work for him, Tommy?"
"Sometimes, and sometimes I work for Mr. Schmidt, a butcher. But I don't earn much. When I get through school I'll work all the while, and earn lots of money. Then I'm going to hire a ship and go to look for my father."
"I thought you said he was drowned in the ocean!" exclaimed Flossie.
"Well, maybe he is. But sometimes shipwrecked people get picked up by other vessels and carried a long way off. And sometimes they get on an island and have to stay a long time before they are taken off. Maybe that happened to my father."
"Oh, maybe it did!" cried Freddie. "That would be great! Just like Robinson Crusoe, Flossie! Don't you remember?"
"Yes, mother read us that story. I hope your father is on Robinson Crusoe's island," she whispered to Tommy.
"I'll tell you what we'll do," said Freddie to the new boy. "When I get home, I'll take all the money in my bank, and help you buy a ship. Then we'll both go off together, looking for the desert island where your father is; will you?"
"Yes," said Tommy, "I will, and thank you."
"I'm coming, too," said Flossie.
"No. Girls can't be on a ship!" said Freddie.
"Yes they can too! Can't they, Tommy?"
"Well, my mother was once on the ship with my father, I've heard my grandma say."
"There, see!" cried Flossie. "Of course I'm coming! I'll do the cooking for you boys."
"Oh, well, if you want to cook of course that's different," said Freddie, slowly, as he thought about it.
"I'm going to ask my father how much I got saved up," he went on to Tommy. "And how much it costs to buy a ship. He'll know for he sells lumber. You wait here and I'll ask him."
Freddie slipped from the seat into the aisle of the car. Flossie stayed to talk to Tommy. Bert and Nan were looking at a magazine which Mrs. Bobbsey had bought for them, and she and her husband were still talking to the fresh air lady. Scattered about the car, the fresh air children were talking and laughing, telling each other of the good times they had had in the country. All of them were sorry to go back to the city again.
"Papa," began Freddie, as he reached the seat where Mr. and Mrs. Bobbsey sat, "how much money have I saved up? And how much does a ship cost? 'Cause Tommy Todd and I are going off to look for his father who is lost on a desert island, and we want to bring him home. Does it take much money?"
Mr. Bobbsey looked at his little boy, wondering what he meant, and he was just going to answer him, and say it took much more money than Freddie had saved to buy a ship, when, all at once, the train came to such a sudden stop that Freddie was nearly thrown off his feet. His father caught him just in time.
"Oh!" cried Mrs. Bobbsey. "I hope there has been no accident!"
"If dey is I'se gwine t' git out quick!" cried Dinah. "Come on, chilluns. I'se got de cat!" and she started to run for the door, carrying the basket holding Snoop.
"Be quiet," said Mr. Bobbsey. "Nothing much seems to have happened. We didn't hit anything, anyhow."
Some of the fresh air children were excited, and the two ladies in charge hurried here and there quieting them.
Bert Bobbsey, who was with his sister Nan, looked out a window.
"Oh, see!" he cried. "A lot of men with guns are standing along the track. They stopped the train, I guess. They must be robbers! I'm going to hide my money!"
Several women heard Bert speak of robbers, and they screamed.
"Bert, don't be foolish!" said Mr. Bobbsey. "I dare say it isn't anything. I'll go out and see what it means."
"I'll come with you," said a man in the seat behind Mr. Bobbsey. Several other passengers also left the train. And while they are out seeking the cause of the sudden stop I'll tell my new readers something about the Bobbsey twins, so that they may feel better acquainted with them.
Those of you who have read the other books in this series, beginning with the first, "The Bobbsey Twins," know enough about the children already. But others do not.
There were two sets of Bobbsey twins. Bert and Nan were about ten years old. Both were tall and slim, with dark hair and eyes. Flossie and Freddie, who were about five years of age, were short and fat, and had light hair and blue eyes.
The Bobbseys lived in an Eastern city called Lakeport, near Lake Metoka, on the shore of which Mr. Bobbsey had a large lumber yard. Once this had caught fire, and Freddie had thought he could put the blaze out with his little toy fire engine. Ever since then Mr. Bobbsey had called the little chap "fireman."
Dinah Johnson was the Bobbsey's cook. She had been with them many years. And Sam, her husband, worked around the house, carrying out ashes, cutting the grass, and such things as that.
Besides these, the Bobbsey family consisted of Snap, the big dog who once had been in a circus and could do tricks, and Snoop, the black cat.
These pets were taken along wherever the Bobbsey twins went on their Summer vacations. For the Bobbseys used to spend each Summer either in the mountains or at the seashore. The second book tells about the good time they had in the country while the third one tells of their adventures at the shore.
"The Bobbsey Twins at School," is the name of the fourth book, and in that I had the pleasure of telling you the many good times they had there. Later on they went to "Snow Lodge" and helped solve a mystery, while on the houseboat, Bluebird, where they spent one vacation, they found a "stowaway," and, if you want to know what that is, I advise you to read the book.
"The Bobbsey Twins at Meadow Brook," is the name of the book just before this present one. On the farm of Uncle Daniel Bobbsey the twins had had a most glorious time, and they were on their way home in the train when the fresh air children got aboard, and Tommy Todd told the story about his lost father. Then had come the sudden stop, and Bert had seen the men with guns outside the train.
"I tell you they are robbers, Nan," Bert whispered to his sister. "Look, one of 'em has a mask on his face."
"That's so," agreed Nan. "Oh, I wonder what it is!"
"Don't be afraid!" exclaimed Bert. "I guess they won't come in this car. Father won't let them."
By this time Flossie and Freddie had also seen the masked men with their guns standing along the track, and Freddie cried:
"Oh, look! It's just like Hallowe'en. They've got false faces on!"
Many in the car laughed at this.