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The Bobbsey Twins at School
by Laura Lee Hope

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THE chief handed Mr. Bobbsey the half-emptied cigarette box. Mr.

Bobbsey turned it over and over in his hand, as though trying to learn

to whom it belonged.

"They are something I never use," he said. "I don't suppose we could

tell, from this, who had it?"

"No," and the chief shook his head. "It's a common kind, and a good

many of the stores sell 'em. A good many of the boys smoke 'em, too -

that's the worst of it," and he looked at Bert a bit sharply.

"Oh, you needn't be afraid for my boy!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey hastily.

"I have Bert's promise that he won't smoke until he's man, and perhaps

he won't want to then."

"Good!" exclaimed the chief heartily; "That's what I like to hear. But

it's as certain as guns is, and nothing more certain than them, that

some one was smoking in your boathouse, and set fire to it. And I wish

we could find out who it was."

"So do I!" exclaimed Mr. Bobbsey. "If only to teach them a lesson on

how dangerous it is to be careless. Well, I suppose we can't do

anything more," and he sighed, for half the beautiful boathouse was in


Mr. Bobbsey and Bert were soon at home, telling the news to the folks.

Freddie's eyes opened wide in surprise as he listened to the account of

how the firemen had put out the fire.

"Oh, I wish I could have been there!" he cried. "I could have helped."

"What caused the fire?" asked Mrs. Bobbsey of her husband, when the

children had gone to bed again.

"Some boys - or some one else smoking cigarettes, the chief thinks. We

found a half-emptied box."

In her room Nan heard the word "cigarettes" and she wondered if her

brother could be at fault, for she remembered he had told her how once

some boys had asked him to go off in secret and smoke.

Mr. Bobbsey was up early, for he wanted to see by daylight what damage

the fire had done, and he also wanted to see the insurance company about

the loss. The beautiful boathouse looked worse in the daylight than it

had at night, and the neat living room, where some of the Bobbseys had

spent many happy hours, while others of them were out in the boats, was

in ruins.

The fire chief came down while Mr. Bobbsey was there, and they talked

matters over. The chief said he would send one of his men around to the

different stores that sold cigarettes, to try and learn if boys had

purchased any that afternoon, for it was against the law to sell

cigarettes to anyone under sixteen years of age.

One afternoon Danny's father, Mr. Rugg, came home unexpectedly, and,

wanting something that was out in his barn went to get it. As he

entered the place he heard a scramble of feet, some excited whispers,

and then silence. He was sure that some one was in the place and had

run to hide.

"Who's there?" called Mr. Rugg sharply. There was no answer, but he

listened and was sure he heard some one in the little room where the

harness was kept.

He walked over to the door, and tried to open it. Some one on the

inside was holding it, but Mr. Rugg gave a strong pull, and the door

flew open. To the surprise of Mr. Rugg he saw his son Danny, and a

number of boys, hiding there, and the smell of cigarette smoke was very


"Danny!" exclaimed his father sternly, "what does this mean?"

"We - were - playing!" stammered Danny. "Playing hide and seek."

"And to play that is it necessary to smoke?" Mr. Rugg asked sharply.

"We - we aren't smoking," answered Danny.

"Not now, but you have been. I can smell it plainly. Go into the

house, Danny, and these other boys must go home. If I find them smoking

in my barn again I shall punish them. You might have set it on fire."

Danny had nothing to say, indeed, there was little he could say. He had

been caught in the act.

The other boys slunk off, and Danny went into the house, his father


"Danny, I am very sorry to learn this," said Mr. Rugg. "I did not know

that you smoked - a boy of your age!"

"Well, I never smoked much. Lots of the fellows smoke more than I do."

"That is no excuse. It is a bad habit for a boy. You may go to your

room. I will consider your case later."

From then on Mr. Rugg did some hard thinking. He began "putting two and

two together" as the old saying has it. He remembered the Bobbsey

boathouse fire. On that occasion Danny had come in late, and there had

been the smell of smoke on his clothes.

Mr. Rugg went to his son's room. A search showed a number of empty

cigarette boxes, and cigarette pictures, and the boxes were all of the

same kind - the kind that had been found in the halfburned boathouse.

Danny was accused by his father of having been smoking in the boathouse

just before the fire, and Danny was so miserable, and so surprised at

being caught in the barn, that he made a full confession. Tearfully he

told the story, how he and some other boys, finding the boat house

unlocked, for some unknown reason, had gone in, and smoked to their

heart's content.

They did not mean to cause the fire, and had no idea that they were to

blame. One of the boys was made ill by too much smoking, and they all

hurried away.

But they must have left a smouldering stump of cigarette in some corner,

or a carelessly thrown match, that started the blaze. Then, when the

fire bells sounded, and they learned what had happened, Danny and all

the boys promised each other that they would keep the secret.

"Well, Danny, I can't tell you how sorry I am," said Mr. Rugg, when the

confession was over. "Sorry not only that Mr. Bobbsey's boathouse was

burned, but because you have deceived me, and your good mother, and

smoked in secret. I feel very badly about it."

Danny did, too, for though he was not a very good boy, his heart was in

the right place, and with a little more care he might have been a

different character. There was, however, hope for him.

"You must be punished for this," went on Mr. Rugg, "and this punishment

will be that you are not to have the motor boat I promised you for next

Summer. Perhaps it will be a lesson to you.

Danny wept bitterly, for he had counted very much on having this boat.

But it was a good lesson to him. Mr. Rugg also told the fathers of the

other boys whom he caught with his son, and these boys were punished in

different ways.

Mr. Rugg also informed Mr. Bobbsey how the boathouse had been set afire,

and expressed his sorrow. And so the mystery was cleared up.



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