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    Chapter IX. The Five-Pin Show

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    Chapter 9
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    "Hush, Flossie, don't cry, dear!" begged Nan, putting her arms around her little sister.

    "But--but I--I can't help it," stammered Flossie. "Freddie's losted!"

    "We'll find him!" said Bert. "He's somewhere inside the barn, that is sure. He'd never go out in all this rain," for the big drops were now coming down thick and fast.

    "Freddie isn't afraid of water--he's a fireman--papa's little fat fireman, and I'm papa's little fat fairy, and Freddie's losted--and-- and--oh, dear!" sobbed Flossie, as she thought of her missing brother.

    "Come on, let's start in all together and find him," suggested Harry. "He must be hid somewhere around here."

    "Away down under the hay," suggested Tom Mason.

    "Hush! Don't say that," spoke Bert in a low tone. "You'll scare the girls!"

    "Maybe we'd better go tell papa and mamma," said Nan.

    "Let's try by ourselves, first," suggested her brother. "We'll find Freddie, never fear."

    The children began a search of the barn, now almost filled with sweet- smelling hay. Up and down in the mow they looked to find where Freddie might have hidden himself away. They called and shouted to him, but no answer came.

    "I don't see why he doesn't reply to us," said Nan to Bert. "He wouldn't keep quiet when we've told him he could come in free. Freddie is too fond of playing hide and go seek to stay away, unless he had to. I am afraid something has happened to him, Bert."

    "What could happen to him?" he asked.

    "Oh, I don't know, but--" and Nan hesitated and looked worried.

    Where could Freddie have hidden himself away in the hay, and stranger, still, why did he not answer the many calls made for him? For the children kept shouting as they searched.

    Bert had made up his mind, after looking about for some time, that perhaps, after all, he had better go into the house and tell his father what had happened. Just then Tom Mason slid down from a high part of the haymow to a little hollowed-out place. As he landed, a crackling sound was heard, and then Tom cried:

    "Oh, my! Now I have done it! Oh, dear! What a mess! Oh! Oh!"

    "Have you found him? Is Freddie there?" asked Flossie from where she stood in the middle of the barn floor.

    "No, but I slid right into a hen's nest, and I've broken all the eggs!" cried Tom. "Oh, me! Oh, my!"

    He managed to get to his feet, and there he stood, his hands held out in front of him, for they were dripping with the whites and yolks of the broken eggs. Tom's clothes were pretty well splashed up.

    "What a sight I am!" he murmured. "And I've broken all the eggs!"

    "Never mind! You couldn't help it," said Harry kindly. "The old hen oughtn't to have laid her eggs in here, and they wouldn't have been smashed. Hens like to steal away, and lay their eggs in hay."

    "Oh, but you do look so funny!" cried Nan, then she laughed in spite of her worry about lost Freddie.

    "He--he looks like a cake before it's baked!" giggled Mabel.

    They all laughed heartily at Tom's sorry plight.

    "Please lend me a handkerchief, somebody," he begged. "I can't reach in my pocket to get mine, and there's some egg running in my eye."

    "I'll wipe it for you," offered Bert, laughing so heartily that he could hardly stand up.

    "Hark! What's that?" suddenly asked Nan.

    They all stopped laughing at once. From somewhere down in the hay, near the smashed nest of eggs, came a voice, asking:

    "What's the matter? Isn't anybody going to find me?"

    "It's Freddie!" cried Nan.

    "Freddie!" shouted Bert. "Where are you?"

    "Oh, Freddie is found! Freddie isn't lost any more!" exclaimed Flossie, jumping up and down in delight.

    And then, from a little nest in the hay, crawled Freddie himself, rubbing his eyes, and pulling wisps from his tousled hair.

    "Have you been there all the while?" asked Harry.

    "I--I guess so," answered Freddie, as if he hardly knew himself.

    "Well, then, why didn't you answer us?" asked Nan. "We were so frightened about you, Freddie. Why didn't you answer when we called?"

    "I--I guess I was asleep," he said. "I didn't hear you until you all began to laugh. Then I woke up."

    And that was what had happened. Freddie had found a good hiding place in a hole in the hay, and, while waiting for Harry to come and look for him, the little chap had dozed off, it was so warm and cozy in his hay-nest. And he had slept all through the search made for him, not hearing the calls. But when Tom rolled into the hen's nest, and the others laughed so heartily at him, that awakened the sleeping "little fat fireman."

    "My! But you gave us a fright!" said Nan. "But it's all right now, dear," and she helped Freddie pull the hay out of his hair.

    "I guess we've had enough of this game," suggested Harry. "Let's do something else."

    "I'm hungry," announced Freddie. "Can't we play an eating game?"

    "I think so," said Bert. "Dinah and Martha were starting to bake cookies before we came out to the barn, and they ought to be done now. Let's go in."

    Into the house, through the rain, tramped the children, and soon, eating cookies, they were telling about Freddie going to sleep in the hay, and Tom trying to make an omelet of himself in the hen's nest.

    "Well, this certainly was a nice day, even if it did rain," said Nan, as they were ready to go to bed that night. "I wonder what we can do to-morrow?"

    "I know," answered Bert. "Harry and I have a fine plan."

    "Oh, tell me what it is," begged his sister.

    "It's a secret," he laughed as he went upstairs.

    After breakfast next morning Nan, who did not get up very early, looked for Harry and her brother.

    "Where are the boys?" she asked her mother.

    "Out in the barn," was the answer. "They took some big sheets of paper with them."

    "They must be going to make kites," Nan said.

    But when she saw what Bert and Harry were doing, she knew it was not a kite game they were planning. For in letters, made with a black stick on the sheets of paper, Nan read the words:


    "Oh, what is it?" she cried. "Please tell me, Bert!"

    "We're going to have a show," said Harry, "and we're going to charge five pins to come! in."

    "Oh, may I be in it?" asked Nan. "I'll do anything you want me to. Mayn't I be in it?"

    "Shall we let her?" asked Bert of his country cousin.

    "Sure," said Harry kindly. "We boys won't be enough. We'll have to have the girls."

    "Where's it going to be?" asked Nan.

    "Here in the barn," her brother said. "We're going to make a cage for Snap--he's going to be the lion."

    "Can Snoop be one of the animals, too?" she inquired.

    "Yes, Snoop will be the black tiger," decided Harry. "I only hope he keeps awake, and growls now and then. That will make it seem real."

    "Snoop sometimes growls when he gets a piece of meat," suggested Nan.

    "Then we'll give him meat in the show," decided Bert.

    He and Harry finished making the show bills, and then began to get ready for the performance. With some old sheets they made a curtain across one corner of the barn, in front of the haymow. Nan helped with this, as she could use a needle, thread and thimble better than could the boys.

    Then Tom Mason, Mabel Herold and some other of the country boys and girls came over, and they were allowed to be in the show. Bert was to be a clown, and he put on an old suit, turned inside out, and whitened his face with starch, which he begged from Martha.

    Harry was to be the wild animal trainer, and show off the black tiger, which was Snoop, and the fierce lion in a cage, which lion was only Snap, the dog.

    The show was not to take place until the next day, as Bert said the performers needed time for practice. But some of the "show bills" were fastened up about the village streets, and many boys and girls said they would come if they could get the five pins.

    Finally all was ready for the little play. Flossie was made door- keeper and took up the admission pins. Freddie wanted to be a fireman in the show, so they let him do this. His mother made a little red coat for him, and he had his toy fire engine that pumped real water.

    "But you mustn't squirt it on anyone in the audience," cautioned Bert.

    "No, I'll just squirt it on the wild animals if they get bad," said the little fellow.

    Nan was to be a bare-back rider, and Harry had made her a wooden steed from a saw-horse, with rope for reins. Nan perched herself up on the saw-horse, and pretended she was galloping about the ring.

    A number of boys and girls came to the show, each one bringing the five pins, so that Flossie had many of them to stick on the cushion which was her cash-box.

    Bert was very funny as a clown, and he turned somersaults in the hay. Once he landed on a hard place on the barn floor, and cried:


    Everyone laughed at that, and they laughed harder when Bert made a funny face as he rubbed his sore elbow.

    Harry exhibited Snoop and Snap as the wild animals, but Snoop rather spoiled the performance by not growling as a black tiger should.

    "This tiger used to be very wild, ladies and gentlemen," said Harry, "and no keeper dared go in the cage with him. But he is a good tiger now, and loves his keeper," and Harry put his hand in, and stroked Snoop, who purred happily.

    "Oh, I think this is a lovely show!" exclaimed Nellie Johnson. "I'm coming every day."

    A little later, near the box which had been made into a cage for Snoop, there came a loud noise. Snoop meowed very hard, and hissed as he used to do when he saw a strange dog. At the same time something went:

    "Gobble-obblcobble!" Then came a great crash, more cries from Snoop and out into the middle of the barn floor dashed the black cat with a big, long-legged, feathered creature clinging to poor Snoop's tail.

    "Oh! Oh! Oh!" cried Flossie. "The wild animals are loose!"
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