BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE KEEPING STORE
BY LAURA LEE HOPE
AUTHOR OF THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES, THE BOBBSEY TWINS SERIES, THE SIX LITTLE BUNKERS SERIES, MAKE BELIEVE STORIES, ETC.
ILLUSTRATED BY WALTER S. ROGERS
NEW YORK GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS
Made in the United States of America
BY LAURA LEE HOPE
12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.
THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON GRANDPA'S FARM BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE PLAYING CIRCUS BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT AUNT LU'S CITY HOME BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CAMP REST-A-WHILE BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE IN THE BIG WOODS BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON AN AUTO TOUR BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AND THEIR SHETLAND PONY BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE GIVING A SHOW BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CHRISTMAS TREE COVE BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE IN THE SUNNY SOUTH BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE KEEPING STORE
THE BOBBSEY TWINS SERIES
THE BOBBSEY TWINS THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE COUNTRY THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE SEASHORE THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SCHOOL THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SNOW LODGE THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON A HOUSEBOAT THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT MEADOW BROOK THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT HOME THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN A GREAT CITY THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON BLUEBERRY ISLAND THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON THE DEEP BLUE SEA THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN WASHINGTON THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE GREAT WEST THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT CEDAR CAMP THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE COUNTY FAIR
THE SIX LITTLE BUNKERS SERIES
MAKE BELIEVE STORIES
OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES
GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS NEW YORK
Copyright, 1922, by GROSSET & DUNLAP Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue Keeping Store
CHAPTER PAGE I A GRAND CRASH 1 II FEEDING THE ALLIGATORS 14 III SOMETHING IN A DESK 24 IV THE CORNER STORE 34 V A NEW PUPIL 44 VI A BUSY BUZZER 53 VII THE BARN STORE 65 VIII IN A HOLE 75 IX UP A LADDER 87 X THE LEGACY 96 XI THE LAST DAY 108 XII WATERING THE GARDEN 117 XIII HELPING MRS. GOLDEN 129 XIV THE CROSS MAN 138 XV THE BROKEN WINDOW 147 XVI LITTLE STOREKEEPERS 161 XVII TWO LETTERS 169 XVIII BUNNY HAS AN IDEA 178 XIX THE WINDOW DISPLAY 184 XX IN THE FLOUR BARREL 194 XXI SUE COULDN'T STOP IT 205 XXII A SHOWER OF BOXES 214 XXIII THE PONY EXPRESS 222 XXIV BAD NEWS 233 XXV GOOD NEWS 242
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE KEEPING STORE
A GRAND CRASH
Patter, patter, patter came the rain drops, not only on the roof, but all over, out of doors, splashing here and there, making little fountains in every mud puddle.
Bunny Brown and his sister Sue stood with their faces pressed against the windows, looking out into the summer storm.
"I can make my nose flatter'n you can!" suddenly exclaimed Bunny.
"Oh, you cannot!" disputed Sue. "Look at mine!"
She thrust her nose against the pane of glass so hard that it almost cracked—I mean the glass nearly cracked.
"Look at that, Bunny Brown!" exclaimed Sue. "Isn't my nose flatter'n yours? Look at it!"
"How can I look at your nose when I'm looking at mine?" asked Bunny.
He, too, had pushed his nose against the glass of his window, the children standing in the dining room where two large windows gave them a good view of things outside.
"You must look at my nose to see if it's flatter'n yours!" insisted Sue. "Else how you going to know who beats?"
"Well, I can make mine a flatter nose than yours!" declared Bunny. "You look at mine first and then I'll look at yours."
This seemed a fair way of playing the game, Sue thought. She left her window and went over to her brother's side. The rain seemed to come down harder than ever. If the children had any idea of being allowed to go out and play in it, even with rubber boots and rain coats, they had about given up that plan. Mrs. Brown had been begged, more than once, to let Bunny and Sue go out, but she had shaken her head with a gentle smile. And when their mother smiled that way the children knew she meant what she said.
"Now, go ahead, Bunny Brown!" called Sue. "Let's see you make a flat nose!"
Bunny drew his face back from the window. His little nose was quite white where he had pressed it—white because he had kept nearly all the blood from flowing into it. But soon his little "smeller," as sometimes Bunny's father called his nose, began to get red again. Bunny began to rub it.
"What you doing?" Sue wanted to know, thinking her brother might not be playing fair in this little game.
"I'm rubbing my nose," Bunny answered.
"Yes, I know. But what for?"
"'Cause it's cold. If I'm going to make my nose flatter'n yours I have to warm it a little. The glass is cold!"
"Yes, it is a little cold," agreed Sue. "Well, go ahead now; let's see you flat your nose!"
Bunny took a long breath. He then pressed his nose so hard against the glass that tears came into his eyes. But he didn't want Sue to see them. And he wouldn't admit that he was crying, which he really wasn't doing.
"Look at me now! Look at me!" cried Bunny, talking as though he had a very bad cold in his head.
Sue took a look.
"Yes, it is flat!" she agreed. "But I can flatter mine more'n that! You watch me!"
Sue ran to her window. She made up her mind to beat her brother at this game. Closing her teeth firmly, as she always did when she was going to jump rope more times than some other girl, Sue fairly banged her nose against the window pane.
Her little nose certainly flattened out, but whether more so than Bunny's was never discovered. For Sue banged herself harder than she had meant to, and a moment later she gave a cry of pain, turned away from the window, and burst into tears.
"What's the matter?" asked Mrs. Brown, hurrying in from the next room: "Who's hurt?"
Sue was crying so hard that she could not answer, and Bunny was too surprised to say anything for the moment. Mrs. Brown looked at the two children. She saw Sue holding her nose in one hand, while Bunny's nose was turning from white to red as the blood came back into it.
"Have you children been bumping noses again?" she asked. This was a game Bunny and Sue sometimes played, though they had been told not to.
"No, Mother; we weren't 'zactly banging noses," explained Bunny. "We were just seeing who could make the flattest one on the window, and Sue bumped her nose too hard. I didn't do anything!"
"No, it—it wasn't Bun—Bunny's fault!" sobbed Sue. "I did it myself! I was trying to—to flatter my nose more'n his!"
"You shouldn't play such games," said Mother Brown. "I'm sorry, Sue! Let me see! Is your nose bleeding?" and she gently took the little girl's hand down.
"Is—is—it?" asked Sue herself, stopping her sobs long enough to find out if anything more than a bump had taken place.
"No, it isn't bleeding," said Mrs. Brown. "Now be good children. You can't go out in the rain, so don't ask it. Play something else, can't you?"
"Could we play store?" asked Bunny, with a sudden idea. It was not altogether new, as often before, on other rainy days, he and Sue had done this.
"Oh, yes, let's keep store!" cried Sue, forgetting all about her bumped nose.
"That will be nice," said Mother Brown. "Tell Mary to let you have some things with which to play store. You may play in the kitchen, as Mary is working upstairs now."
"Oh, now we'll have fun!" cried Sue, clapping her hands.
"Could we have Splash in?" asked Bunny.
"The dog? Why do you want him?" asked Mrs. Brown.
"We could tie a basket around his neck," explained Bunny, "and he could be the grocery delivery dog!"
"Oh, yes!" laughed Sue.
"No," said Mother Brown, with a gentle shake of her head, "you can't have Splash in now. He has been splashing through mud puddles and he'd soil the clean kitchen floor. Play store without Splash."
There was one nice thing about Bunny Brown and his sister Sue. If they couldn't have one thing they did very well with something else. So now Bunny said:
"Oh, all right! We can take turns sending the things out ourselves, Sue."
"Yes, and we'll take turns tending store," added Sue. "'Cause I don't want to be doing the buying all the while."
"Yes, we'll take turns," agreed Bunny.
Soon the children were in the kitchen, keeping store with different things from the pantry that Mary, the cook, gave them to play with. Unopened boxes of cinnamon, cloves and other spices; some cakes of soap in their wrappers just as they had come from the real store, a few nuts, some coffee beans, other beans, dried peas and a bunch of vegetables made up most of the things with which the children played. After they had finished their fun everything could be put back in the pantry.
Bunny tore some old newspapers into squares to use in wrapping the "groceries." Mary also gave the children bits of string for tying bundles.
The store counter was the ironing board placed across the seats of two chairs in front of a table, and on the table back of this ironing board counter the different things to sell were placed.
"What are we going to do for money?" asked Bunny, when the "store" was almost ready to open.
"I'll give you some buttons," said his mother.
Bunny was given a handful of flat buttons of different sizes and colors to use for change. He placed them in his cash box. Sue also had other buttons to use as money in buying groceries.
"Now we're all ready to play," said Bunny, looking over the store. "You must come and buy something, Sue."
"Yes. And then I want to keep store," said the little girl.
"All right," her brother agreed.
Bunny took his place behind the counter and waited. Sue went out into the hall, paused a moment, and then, with a little basket over her arm, came walking in, as much like a grown-up lady as she could manage.
"Good morning, Mrs. Snifkins!" exclaimed Bunny. He always called Sue "Mrs. Snifkins" when they kept store.
"Oh, good morning, Mr. Huntley," Sue replied. She always called her brother "Mr. Huntley," when they kept store. Perhaps this was because he used to pretend to hunt for things on the make-believe shelves.
"What can I do for you this morning, Mrs. Snifkins?" asked Bunny, rubbing his hands as he had seen Mr. Gordon, the real grocer, do.
"I want some prunes, some coffee, some eggs, some sugar, some salt, some butter, some——" ordered Sue all in one breath.
"Stop! Stop! Wait a minute!" cried Bunny. "I can't remember all that! Now what did you say first?"
"Prunes," replied Sue.
There were some real prunes among the things the children were playing store with, and Bunny wrapped a few of these in a paper.
"Now some sugar," Sue ordered.
As real sugar was rather messy if it spilled on the floor, Bunny had some bird gravel, which was almost as good, and he pretended to weigh some of this out on an old castor that was the make-believe scales. Some real coffee beans were also wrapped up for Sue, and then for eggs Bunny used empty thread spools.
"Will that be all to-day, Mrs. Snifkins?" asked Grocer Huntley, when Sue had put the things in her basket.
"Yes, that's all," Sue answered, placing two large black buttons on the ironing board counter and getting back in change a small white button.
Sue went out with her "groceries," and soon came back for more. After her third trip, by which time she had bought nearly everything in the store, she said:
"Now I want to be storekeeper."
"All right," agreed Bunny.
Sue brought back the things she had pretended to buy, they were put on the shelves again, and Bunny became a purchaser while Sue waited on him.
Outside it still rained hard, as Bunny saw when he looked from the window. But it was fun in the house, keeping store. The children kept on taking turns, first one being the keeper of the store and then the other, until Bunny suddenly had a new idea.
"Oh, I know what we can do!" cried the little boy.
"What?" asked Sue.
"We'll play hardware store," Bunny said. "I'm tired of having a grocery. We'll keep hammers and nails and things like that."
"I think a grocery is more fun," said Sue.
"Nope! A hardware store is better," Bunny insisted. "I'll sell you washboilers, basins, tin pans and things like that, and knives and forks. We can have ever so many more of those things than we can have groceries."
"Well, maybe we can," Sue agreed, doubtfully.
"I'll make a high-up shelf, like those in the hardware store down town," went on Bunny. "I'll have things high up on the shelf, and I'll climb up on a ladder to get 'em, as they do down town."
"What you going to climb up on?" Sue asked.
"What you going to make a high shelf of?" Sue inquired.
"There's another ironing board down in the laundry," Bunny answered. "And I can get the washboiler and a lot of things. I'll put the other ironing board away up there, across the top of the two doors."
"That'll be awful high," said Sue, looking to where Bunny pointed. The pantry door and the one leading from the kitchen into the hall were close together on one side of the room. By opening these doors half way a board could be placed across their tops, making a high shelf. This was soon done, and on this shelf the big tin washboiler was placed, and also some tin pans from the pantry. Bunny climbed up on the stepladder to put the shelf and things in place.
Other articles for a hardware play-store were placed on the lower ironing board shelf, and then Bunny was ready for "Mrs. Snifkins" to come again. Sue had her button money all ready, the store was in order, and new fun was about to begin, when Mary, coming suddenly in from the hall and not knowing what the children were doing, pushed wider open the hall door.
Instantly there was a grand crash! Down came the upper shelf from the tops of the doors. Down came the washboiler and a lot of tin pans. My, what a racket there was!
And, worst of all, Bunny Brown himself was hidden from sight in that mess of ironing board, washboiler, and other things!
"Oh! Oh! Oh!" cried Sister Sue, dropping her basket and her button money, which rolled all over the floor. "Oh, dear!"
"Bless and save us!" cried Mary, the cook. "What has happened?"
Bunny Brown said nothing.
FEEDING THE ALLIGATORS
Mrs. Brown came hurrying into the kitchen from the living room.
"What has happened?" she asked. "What was that crash?"
It needed only one look to show her what had happened and what had caused the rattling, banging, crashing sound. On the floor, over and around the two chairs and the large ironing board, were the smaller board, the stepladder, the washboiler, two hammers, a lot of nails, many bread, cake, and pie pans, and some knives and forks.
"Where's Bunny?" asked Mrs. Brown.
Well might she ask that, for Sue's brother was not in sight, nor had he uttered a word since the accident.
"He—he's under there I—I guess," faltered Sue. She was not quite sure where Bunny had gone when that terrible crash came.
"Yes, I see his legs! I'll pull him out, Ma'am," offered Mary. "Oh, I hope nothing has happened to him!"
Mrs. Brown hurried to assist Mary in digging Bunny from under the wreckage of his hardware store. And while they are doing that I will beg a moment's time from those of you who have never before read any of these books, to tell you something of the two children who are to have some queer adventures in this present volume.
Bunny Brown and his sister Sue are well known to many of you children. Bunny and his sister lived with their father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Brown, in the town of Bellemere, on Sandport Bay, near the ocean. Mr. Brown kept a boat and fish dock, and one of his helpers was Bunker Blue, a young man who was very fond of Bunny and Sue.
In the Brown home were also Uncle Tad, who was Mr. Brown's relative, and Mary, the good-natured cook. There was also Splash, a big dog. And I might mention Toby, a Shetland pony. There were other pets to whom I will introduce you from time to time. Toby had been away from the Brown children for a while, but was now back again.
In the village were many friends of Bunny and Sue. Mrs. Redden, who kept a candy store, was a very special sort of friend, and she gave the biggest penny's worth of sweets for miles around. Mr. Gordon, as I have told you, kept a real grocery store, and then there was Mr. Jed Winkler, an old sailor who owned a parrot and a monkey named Wango. Mr. Winkler's sister, Miss Euphemia, did not like either Polly or Wango.
Charlie Star, George Watson, Mary Watson, Sadie West, Helen Newton, Harry Bentley, and fat Bobbie Boomer were all friends of the Brown children.
Now that you know the names of most of the characters who are to appear in this book, I might mention some of the other volumes. The first one was called "Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue," and told of their adventures around home. Then they went to Grandpa's farm, they played circus, they visited Aunt Lu in her city home, they went to "Camp Rest-a-While," and then they went to the Big Woods. After that they had exciting adventures on an auto tour, and you can imagine what joy was theirs when they were given a Shetland pony, that was named Toby.
Bunny Brown and his sister were always thinking up new ideas, and when they wanted to give a show few doubted but what they would succeed. They did, and made a goodly sum for a home for the blind. One of the trips the Browns made was to Christmas Tree Cove, and in the book of that name you will find their adventures set forth. They also made a winter trip to the South, and they had not long been back from that when the things happened that I have just told you about—the grand crash in the make-believe hardware store.
With the help of Mary and Mrs. Brown, Bunny was pulled from beneath the wreckage. At first the little boy could hardly speak, and his mother, no less than Mary and Sue, was beginning to get frightened. But suddenly with a gasp Bunny found his voice, and his first question was:
"Did you get hurt, Sue?"
"No," she answered. "But I guess you did."
"Only a little crack on the head," Bunny replied, rubbing the place that hurt. "But who knocked down my high shelf? Did Splash get in and wag his tail?"
Sometimes the big dog did this with funny results.
"I guess I knocked down your shelf, Bunny," said Mary. "I'm sorry, but I didn't know you had a board on top of the doors."
"Did you have that, Bunny?" asked his mother.
"Yes'm, I—I guess I did," Bunny had to admit. "It was a high shelf for our hardware store. I had the washboiler up there!"
"No wonder there was a crash!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown. "It's a wonder you weren't hurt!"
"I guess the big ironing board fell on the stepladder first, and stayed there, and the rest of the things didn't hit Bunny because he was under the board," explained Mary.
And that is about how it happened. Bunny was under a sort of arch formed by the stepladder and the two ironing boards, and so was saved from being hit on the head by the heavy things. One of the overturned chairs, however, had struck him in the stomach, and this had rather knocked his breath out, which made him unable to talk for a little while.
"Well, I'm glad it was no worse than this," said Mrs. Brown. "Mercy sakes, though, the kitchen is a sight!"
"I don't mind! I'll clean it up," offered good-natured Mary. "The children have to play something in the house when it rains out of doors."
"Yes," agreed Mrs. Brown. "But they could have kept on playing grocery store. They didn't need to make a high shelf and put the big washboiler up on it to fall down when the door was moved the least bit!"
"I did that," confessed Bunny, anxious that Sue should not be blamed for what was not her fault. "I didn't know anybody would push the door."
"Well, it's a mercy it was no worse," remarked his mother. "And now, after you have helped Mary pick up the things, go on with your playing. Can't you play grocery instead of hardware store, Bunny, my dear?"
"Oh, hardware store is nicer, and we have all the things now," Bunny replied. "But I won't make any more high shelves."
The washboiler, the pans, and the scattered knives and forks were picked up, and then Bunny and Sue went on playing, using only the low ironing board shelf, which was made over the seats of two chairs. They took turns keeping store and doing the buying, and had a great deal of fun.
But even making believe keep a hardware store gets tiresome after a while, especially if there are only two playing, and after a while Bunny Brown and his sister Sue wanted something else to interest them.
"'Tisn't raining quite so hard now," Sue observed, after a look from the window.
"That's right!" cried Bunny. "Oh, say! Maybe we can go out in the barn and feed our alligators!"
"That'll be fun," agreed Sue. "And I guess they're hungry; don't you, Bunny?"
"Yes, I guess so. Let's go ask mother if we can feed 'em."
"I know she'll say yes, so I'll get some scraps of meat from Mary," said Sue.
As the rain was slackening and as Mrs. Brown knew that the alligators might need food, she told the children they could go out to the barn if they put on their rubber boots and coats.
"Aren't you afraid the alligators will bite you?" asked Mary, as she cut up some bits of meat for the children.
"Course not; we aren't afraid!" boasted Bunny. "They're only little alligators, and they're real tame."
One of the long-tailed, scaly pets given to the children by Mr. Bunn had been brought from the South where the Browns spent part of the winter, and later Mr. Brown had gotten some others. The alligators were kept in a tank of water in the barn. Bunny and Sue wanted the alligators kept in the house, but Mrs. Brown insisted that the barn was the place for pets of that sort.
Out into the rain storm, which was now almost over, went Bunny Brown and his sister Sue to feed the alligators. There were three or four of the scaly creatures, and as the children drew near the tank the alligators came crawling out of the water up on some bits of wood and stone that made a resting place for them. For alligators cannot stay under water all the while, as can a fish. They must come out every now and then to get air.
"Oh, look at Judy!" cried Sue, dangling a piece of meat in front of the nose of one of the queer pets. "She's awful hungry!"
"And so is Jim!" said Bunny, feeding another of the creatures. They lifted up their long snouts, opened their mouths, and took in the pieces of meat.
"Where's Jumbo?" suddenly asked Sue. "I don't see him!"
"Maybe he got out!" said Bunny, for the largest of the pet alligators was not in sight. Not that Jumbo was very large, for though he was the biggest in the tank he was not more than ten inches long.
"Oh, here he comes!" cried Sue, as Jumbo swam up from the bottom of the tank. "I guess he was asleep."
"I guess so," agreed her brother. "Here, Jumbo!" he went on. "Here's some meat for you!"
"Jumbo's getting real big," said Sue, as she watched the largest of the pets.
"And Judy is growing," added Bunny. "I wish we had had these 'gators when we gave our show."
"Yes," agreed his sister. "Well, maybe we can have another show. Or we could put the alligators in a store the next time we play."
"Yes," said Bunny. "Only maybe you couldn't wrap up a 'gator in a piece of paper. He might bite his way out."
"That's so," said Sue. "Well, we could——"
But she did not finish what she was saying, for a loud barking suddenly sounded outside the barn. At this noise Bunny and Sue started on a run for the door.
SOMETHING IN A DESK
Splash, the dog, was barking loudly at something up in a tree near the barn. Bunny and Sue could not see what it was, but it was something that had caused Splash to get very much excited. He leaped up and down and ran in circles about the tree, barking loudly all the while.
"It's a cat!" exclaimed Sue.
"Can't be a cat," Bunny answered. "Splash likes all the cats around here."
"Maybe it's a strange cat," went on Sue.
"That's so," agreed Bunny Brown. "Here, Splash!" he called. "What you barking at a cat for?"
The only answer the dog made was to bark again.
Bunny and his sister, forgetting all about their pet alligators, ran to the foot of the tree, up in which was something that had caused Splash to cease his play in another part of the yard and run toward the barn. The rain had now stopped, and the sun was getting ready to shine.
"What is it, Splash? What is it?" asked Bunny, trying to peer up among the leaves of the tree.
"I see it!" suddenly cried Sue. "It's Wango, Mr. Winkler's pet monkey!"
"Oh, yes! I see it now!" called Bunny. "Here, Splash! Stop barking at Wango!" ordered the little boy. "Don't you know he's a friend of yours? Stop it, Splash!"
Splash finally ceased barking and sat down to look eagerly up into the tree. He would not have hurt the monkey, for the two animals were good friends. I suppose Splash had seen the monkey leaping from the branches of one tree into another, and, not realizing that it was his friend Wango, had given chase. Wango was a bit frightened at first, even by the barking of his dog friend Splash, and had taken refuge in the tree near the barn.
"Come on down, Wango! Come on down!" invited Bunny.
"Yes, please do," added Sue. "We won't let Splash hurt you. Don't you bark any more, Splash!" she cried, shaking her finger at the dog.
Splash whined. He really only meant to have a little fun with Wango. But the monkey did not come down. He clung to the tree branch with his hands and tail and looked at the children, whom he well knew, for they were kind to him.
"I know how to get him down," said Bunny. "You go into the house and get a piece of cake for him, Sue. Take Splash with you. Then Wango won't be afraid."
"All right," agreed the little girl. She was always ready to run errands like this when she and Bunny could have fun. "Come on, Splash!" she called, and the dog followed her, looking back once at Bunny, as if to ask why the boy, too, was not following. But Bunny stayed near the tree in which Wango still clung.
"Mother," cried Sue, tramping into the house in her rubber boots, "please may Bunny and I have some cake for Wango?"
"You can't go over to Mr. Winkler's in the rain," said Mrs. Brown. "You'd better stay out in the barn and feed your pet alligators."
"Oh, but the rain is over," Sue explained. "The sun is coming out. And Wango isn't over at his own home. He's up in one of our trees. Splash chased him up there, I guess, and barked at him. And he won't come down—I mean Wango won't. And will you please keep him in here till I take him out some cake. I mean," explained Sue, half out of breath, "you please keep Splash here in the house while I take some cake out to Bunny to feed Wango to get him down from the tree."
"My, what a lot of talk for a little girl!" laughed Mrs. Brown. "Well, I suppose Wango has run away again from Jed. You and Bunny may take the monkey back. Ask Mary to give you a bit of cake. I'll keep Splash in the house."
Sue got the cake, but it was rather difficult for Mrs. Brown to keep the dog in. He was eager to follow Sue back to the tree again. But it would be hard work to get Wango down, once the monkey was frightened, if Splash kept on barking, which he was pretty sure to do. He even barked loudly, Splash did, while he was being held in the house by Mrs. Brown.
Sue ran out with the cake to Bunny, who was waiting beneath the tree.
"Is Wango there yet?" the little girl wanted to know.
"Yes," Bunny answered. "But he's coming down a little."
And the monkey came down still farther when he saw the cake, of which he was very fond. He was soon perched on Bunny's shoulder, eating the treat, Sue feeding him little pieces one at a time.
"Let's take him back to Mr. Winkler's house," suggested Bunny, as the sun now came out bright and warm. "I guess the sailor will be looking for him."
"Yes, I guess so," agreed Sue.
Wango had a great habit of running away from his master's home, and, more than once, Bunny Brown and his sister Sue had taken back the sailor's pet. This they now did again, and as they knocked at the side door, Miss Winkler opened it.
"Here's your monkey back," said Bunny, after the first greetings.
"Huh! 'Tisn't my monkey!" declared Miss Winkler. "It's Jed's! I shouldn't ever worry if it never came home! Still, that isn't saying it's your fault, Bunny and Sue. I know you mean to be kind, and Jed will thank you, even if I don't. Wango, you rascal, why don't you stay away when you run off? I don't want you around! What with the poll parrot——"
"Polly wants a cracker! Polly wants a cracker!" shrieked the green bird.
"A fire cracker's what you ought to have!" sniffed Miss Winkler, who did not like the two pets her sailor brother had brought back with him from one of his voyages.
"Cracker! Cracker! Put the kettle on the fire! Polly wants a cracker!" yelled the bird, and Wango began to chatter, the two of them making such a racket that Miss Winkler held her hands over her ears while Bunny and Sue could not help laughing.
"Stop it! Stop it!" yelled the maiden lady, and finally the monkey and the parrot grew quiet.
"Put Wango in his cage, Sue, if you please," said Miss Winkler. "And I'll tell Jed, when he comes home, how good you were to bring Wango back—not that I want the creature, though. Well, it's cleared off, I'm glad to see. And now maybe you two will have a piece of cake for yourselves. I won't give Wango any, though!"
"Yes'm, I could eat a bit," said Bunny, with a smile.
"I like it, too," added Sue.
The children were soon having a lunch of cake and milk. Though Miss Winkler was a bit fussy over her brother's pets, yet she had a good heart, and she liked Bunny and Sue.
Through the little mud puddles, left after the rain, Bunny and Sue splashed their way back home. Their mother saw them coming, and, as Splash was making a great fuss at being kept in the house, she let the dog out. He ran to meet the children.
"What'll we do now?" asked Bunny, when they had told their mother about taking Wango home.
"Let's go down and wade in the brook," proposed Sue. "We have our boots on, and we won't have 'em on to-morrow. We'll have to go to school then, anyhow. So let's go wade in the brook now."
"All right!" agreed Bunny. "And we'll sail boats!"
With their dog, the children were soon splashing in the shallow brook, made a bit higher on account of the rain. They found some boards and made a raft, on which they pushed themselves about the wider part of the brook. Splash climbed on the raft with them, and the children pretended they were Robinson Crusoe on a voyage.
"Well, we had a lot of fun to-day," sighed Bunny in contentment, as he and Sue were going to bed that night. "Lots of fun!"
"Yes," agreed his sister. "And to-morrow we have to go to school."
"Oh, well," Bunny remarked, "maybe we'll have fun there." The children had been kept at home on account of the heavy rain.
"We won't have any fun like the hardware store shelf falling down on you," laughed Sue, as she remembered the queer accident.
"No, I don't want anything like that," said Bunny. "Once is enough."
Early the next morning the children were ready for school. But, almost at the last minute, Bunny could not find his large pencil box.
"Where did you have it last?" his mother asked him.
"Oh, I remember! I saw it in the barn!" exclaimed Sue.
"That's right—we were playing school there day before yesterday," said Bunny. "I'll get it!"
He ran to the barn, got the pencil box, thrust it into his bag with his books, and trotted along with Sue.
Having to hunt for his pencil box at almost the last moment nearly made Bunny and Sue late for school. But they slipped into their seats just as the last bell was ringing. After the morning exercises, Bunny placed his pencil box and the books he did not need to use right away in his desk and went to his reading class.
It was when Bunny was doing his turn at reading up near the front platform that Sadie West, who sat in the seat next to Bunny, gave a sudden little cry.
"What is the matter, Sadie?" asked Miss Bradley, the teacher.
"Oh! Oh, if you please, Teacher, there's something in Bunny Brown's desk making faces at me!" exclaimed Sadie.
"Something making faces at you? What do you mean, Sadie?" asked Miss Bradley in surprise. "What is it?"
"It—it's a—a mouse!" cried the little girl.
"A mouse?" repeated the teacher.
"Yes'm! A mouse in Bunny Brown's desk!" and Sadie screamed.
At this some of the other children screamed, and there was much noise and confusion in the schoolroom.
THE CORNER STORE
"Quiet, children! Quiet!" ordered Miss Bradley. "This is school, not the playground at recess. Now, Sadie," she went on, as soon as there was a little quiet in the room, "tell me again, and be careful what you say. What did you see?"
"Please, teacher, I saw a mouse in Bunny Brown's desk, and he made a face at me. I mean the mouse made a face at me—not Bunny!" Sadie made haste to explain, for she saw Bunny look at her when she made the statement about his desk and the mouse.
Sadie had left her seat beside Bunny's desk, and was now up front.
"How many other girls saw the mouse in Bunny's desk?" asked Miss Bradley.
No one answered.
"Raise your hands if you are afraid to speak," said the teacher, with a smile. She was beginning to believe that Sadie had imagined it all, or else that an edge of a book had looked like a mouse.
None of the girls raised her hands except Sadie West.
"Did any boy see the mouse?" Miss Bradley next asked.
"No, but I wish I had!" exclaimed Charlie Star. "If I'd see it I'd grab it!"
The other pupils giggled on hearing this.
"Quiet, children! Quiet!" begged the teacher again.
"Are you sure, Sadie, that you saw a mouse in Bunny Brown's desk?" asked Miss Bradley.
"Yes'm, I'm sure I did," was the answer.
"Bunny, did you bring a mouse to school?" Miss Bradley next asked. "I mean a pet mouse, for I know you and Sue have many pets. Did you bring a mouse to school, Bunny?"
"Oh, no, Teacher! I wouldn't do such a thing!" Bunny declared very earnestly.
"I didn't believe you would," said Miss Bradley, with a kind smile. "I think Sadie must be mistaken. But still, to quiet her—and all of you," she added, looking at the pupils, "I will look in Bunny's desk. I am quite sure I will find nothing more than a book or a piece of paper that may have moved, making Sadie think it was a mouse."
Miss Bradley went to Bunny's desk. All the desks in the room were of the sort with a lid that raised up and down on hinges, like the cover of a box. As Miss Bradley came near Bunny's desk she noticed that the top was raised a little way, leaving a crack of an opening. Bunny had put one of his books in hurriedly, and the desk lid rested on this.
As the teacher raised the desk lid and looked in, the room was very quiet. Some of the girls almost held their breaths. One of them covered her eyes with her hands, lest she might, by accident, see the mouse.
Sadie West leaned forward eagerly, anxious, in a way, that a mouse should be found, for that would make her story true, and she was sure, in her own mind, that she had seen a mouse. Bunny, too, looked eagerly at Miss Bradley, and so did Sue, from the other side of the room.
"Grab a book, everybody!" said Charlie Star in a hoarse whisper to the other boys. "Grab a book, and if the mouse runs out we'll bang him!"
Charlie was an active little chap, almost as lively as Bunny Brown himself.
Miss Bradley heard what Charlie said and, with the desk lid half raised, she said:
"No, boys! No throwing of books, if you please! Should there be a mouse in the desk I can call the janitor to get it out."
"Oh, let me get it out!" begged Bunny.
There was no time to say more, for now Miss Bradley had Bunny's desk lid fully raised. She looked inside for a moment, then with a queer look on her face she closed the desk again and moved away.
"Did you see it, Teacher? Did you see the little mouse—same as I did?" eagerly asked Sadie.
"No," answered Miss Bradley. "There isn't a mouse in the desk, but there is a little alligator!"
"Alligator!" cried the girls—that is, all but Sue.
"Alligator!" shouted the boys.
"Let's see it!" cried Charlie Star.
"Quiet, children! Quiet!" ordered Miss Bradley. Then, turning to Bunny she asked: "Did you bring that little alligator to school?"
"No'm," Bunny answered.
"Is it yours?" went on Miss Bradley.
"Well, I have some pet alligators home," Bunny admitted. "Half of 'em's Sue's. We got one of 'em down South, and Daddy bought the rest. But I didn't bring any to school. If you let me look I can tell if it's mine or Sue's."
"I'll help!" offered Charlie Star. "I know Bunny's alligators, too!"
"No, let Bunny manage his own pets," said the teacher. "Come here, Bunny, and see what really is in your desk. I can't understand how an alligator would get in there if you didn't bring it."
Bunny opened his desk cover, the other boys wishing they had his chance to "show off" this way right in the school room. Bunny looked inside and then laughed.
"Yes," he said, "it's Judy, the littlest alligator. She won't hurt anybody."
"But how did it get to school?" asked Miss Bradley.
"It's in my big pencil box," Bunny answered. "I brought my pencil box to school this morning, but I didn't open it and——"
"Teacher! Teacher! I know!" exclaimed Sue, raising her hand to show that she had something to tell.
"Well, how did it happen?" asked Miss Bradley.
"If you please, Teacher," said the little girl, "Bunny's pencil box was out in the barn where we keep the alligators. He left it there when we played school the other day. This morning Bunny couldn't find his pencil box, but it was out in the barn. He brought it in from there and we came to school."
"And I guess," said Bunny, finishing the story his sister had started, "that Judy climbed into my pencil box in the night and went to sleep there and I didn't see her."
This seemed to be as good an explanation as any, and was probably the way it had happened. Anyhow there was the little alligator in the pencil box inside Bunny's desk. The scaly creature had crawled in and then out, and when Bunny went up to recite the little creature had thrust its snout out beneath the partly raised lid. It was this that Sadie West had seen and thought was a mouse.
"Well, Bunny," said Miss Bradley, "I know it wasn't your fault, so we'll say nothing more about it. Only, after this, please look in your pencil boxes before you bring them to school."
"I will," promised Sue's brother.
"And now I'll excuse you from class while you take your alligator home," went on Miss Bradley.
"I can help him, Miss Bradley, if he wants me to," offered Charlie Star. "I know a lot about alligators."
"No, thank you," replied the teacher with a smile. "This alligator is so little I think Bunny can manage it alone. Now we will go on with our lessons!"
There was something like a sigh of disappointment among the children. For they had all welcomed the happening, since it gave them a sort of recess. But now they must pay attention to their books.
Bunny shut Judy up in his pencil box, as the easiest way of carrying the little alligator, and soon he was on his way home with his pet.
"Why, Bunny! what's the matter?" his mother asked, as he came into the house. "Why are you home?"
"I had to bring back one of the alligators," he explained.
"Ha! Ha!" laughed Uncle Tad. "Like Mary's lamb, the alligator followed you to school one day, did it, Bunny?"
"She didn't 'zactly follow me," Bunny explained, as he took his pet out to the tank in the barn. "I carried Judy in my pencil box, but I didn't know it."
Bunny went back to school and finished his lessons. And all the remainder of the day, when the pupils had a chance to speak, they talked of nothing but Sadie West, the "mouse" and Bunny's pet alligator. It was very exciting, all together.
When Bunny and Sue reached home that afternoon they found their mother on the steps waiting for them.
"I'll take your books," she told the children, "and I want you to go to the store for me. Mary started to bake a cake and found, at the last moment, she was out of baking powder. I want you to go for a box. You needn't go all the way to the big store. Stop at the little one on the corner—Mrs. Golden's, you know. She sometimes has the kind I want. Go to the corner store and get the baking powder."
"All right!" exclaimed Bunny, and he and Sue hurried off. They knew where Mrs. Sarah Golden's little corner store was located—just a few blocks from their home, much nearer than the big store where Mrs. Brown generally traded. Bunny and Sue had been in Mrs. Golden's store before, but not often, as it was rather out of the way, and such a small place that Mrs. Brown was afraid things would not be as fresh as at the larger grocery. Besides groceries, Mrs. Golden also kept "notions"—that is, pins, thread, hooks and eyes, and things like that. She also had candy and a few toys for sale.
"Her store isn't much bigger than our play store was, is it?" asked Bunny of Sue, as they reached Mrs. Golden's.
"Not much," agreed Sue. "Didn't we have fun when we played store?"
"Lots!" agreed Bunny. "And didn't the boiler make a big racket when it fell down?"
He and Sue laughed at remembering this, but their laughs died away as they entered the little corner store and heard groans coming from behind one of the counters. Groans and sighs greeted the children as they opened the door. No one was in sight.
"Oh, Bunny!" exclaimed Sue, frightened, "what you s'pose has happened?"
A NEW PUPIL
Though Bunny Brown and his sister Sue had not often bought things in Mrs. Golden's store, they knew the woman who kept the place, and she knew them, for she often called them by name as they passed when she was out in front. But now Mrs. Golden was not in sight, though the groans that came from behind one of the counters seemed to tell that she was there.
"Oh, Bunny, I'm afraid!" whispered Sue, standing in the opened door with her brother. "Don't let's go in!"
"Why not?" Bunny asked.
"'Cause maybe burglars have been here and maybe they've hurt Mrs. Golden!"
"Well, if they have, then we've got to help her," decided Bunny. "But burglars don't come in the daytime. They come only at night time."
"That's so," agreed Sue, growing bolder.
And then the groans stopped and the voice of an old lady said:
"Who is there, my dears? Some children, I know by your voices, but I can't see you. Don't be afraid, but come and help me."
"Where are you, and what's the matter?" asked Bunny.
"I'm down behind the notion counter," went on the voice. "I stepped up on a box to reach something from the shelf, and I slipped and fell. I'm not badly hurt, thank goodness, but I'm sort of wedged in here between the box and the wall, and I can't get up. If you can pull the box out I'll be all right."
"We'll do that!" cried Bunny, and he ran around behind the notion counter, on the side of the store where the needles, pins, and spools of thread were kept. Sue followed her brother.
There, just as Mrs. Golden had said, they found the old lady storekeeper. She was lying on the floor with a small packing box so wedged between her back and the side wall that she could not easily get up, especially as she was old and feeble.
"Oh, it's Bunny Brown and his sister Sue!" exclaimed Mrs. Golden, when she saw the children. "I'm so glad you came in! I was hoping some one would come in to help me. The breath was sort of knocked out of me when I fell, and I could only grunt and groan for a few minutes."
"We heard you," said Bunny.
"And I thought it was burglars," added Sue.
"Bless your hearts!" exclaimed Mrs. Golden. "Burglars wouldn't come to my poor, little store. Now just pull the box out and I'll be all right."
Bunny and Sue tugged at the box on which Mrs. Golden had been standing when she slipped and fell. It was hard work, but they managed to pull it out, and then Mrs. Golden, with a few more grunts and groans, could get up.
"Oh, my poor back!" she exclaimed, as she sank into a chair outside the counter.
"Is it broken?" asked Sue anxiously.
"No, not quite," was the answer, with a little smile. "But it's strained, and I expect I'll be lame for a while. Philip always told me not to stand up on things to reach the top shelves, and I guess he was right."
"Who is Philip?" asked Bunny.
"Philip is my son," was the answer. "He's a grown man, and he has to go off to work every day, though he helps me in the store as much as he can. I wouldn't want him to know I fell. It would only worry him, and he might make me give up my store. And I don't want to do that. I'm feeling better now. I'll be all right in a little while. Did you want something, my dears?" she asked, for she must not forget that she was a storekeeper.
"We wanted some baking powder," said Sue. "But we aren't in any hurry."
"We are in a little hurry," said Bunny. "'Cause Mary's got a cake partly made, but maybe——"
"Oh, I have baking powder," said Mrs. Golden quickly. "And I'll be glad to sell it to you. If I sold more things I'd make more money. Let me see now; I'm feeling sort of queer in my head on account of my tumble, but baking powder—oh, it's on one of the high shelves. I—I'm almost afraid to reach up for it."
"Oh, let me get it!" eagerly begged Bunny. "I like to climb up. I'd like to get it! I like to keep store!"
"So do I!" added Sue. "We played store the other day, and a lot of things fell down when Mary closed the door. We had a high shelf, too."
"Yes, one needs high shelves in a store," said Mrs. Golden. "But, Bunny, do you think you can reach up and get the baking powder?" she asked. "I can point it out to you."
"Sure, I can get it!" declared the little boy. "I'd love to."
"We don't want you to fall again," said Sue.
"That's very kind of you," replied Mrs. Golden. "Well, the baking powder is on the other side of my store—the grocery side. There it is," and with a bent and trembling finger she pointed out the tin boxes.
"Oh, that's an easy climb!" exclaimed Bunny, and he soon proved that it was by clambering up and getting the box of baking powder he wanted. Then he paid for it.
The children asked Mrs. Golden if they could help her further. She said she was feeling better and would soon be all right.
"But don't climb up any more," warned Sue.
"That's right," echoed Bunny. "Maybe we could help you tend store, Mrs. Golden. I'm a good climber."
"Yes, Bunny, I notice you are," said the old lady, with a smile. "And it is very kind of you, but you see I never could tell when some one might come in and want something from a high shelf. Unless you stayed here all the while it wouldn't be of much use."
"No, that's so," the little boy admitted. "I'd like to stay here all the while, though. I like to keep store!"
"So do I," added Sue.
"But children must go to school," said Mrs. Golden, with a smile. "I'll have to get my son Philip to put all the things on low shelves, I guess. Then I can reach them without climbing up. Run along now, Bunny and Sue. Your mother will be waiting for that baking powder."
Bunny and Sue told their mother what had happened at the store.
"Poor old lady!" sighed Mrs. Brown. "She is very poor, I'm afraid. We must buy more of our things there, Mary. It will be a help to her."
"Yes'm, it will," agreed the cook. "I often stop there when I want something in a hurry. She and her son are honest and hard-working."
"And I worked, too!" said Bunny. "I helped her tend store. I climbed up and got the baking powder."
"That was kind of you. But you, too, must be careful, son," his mother told him.
On their way to school the next day Bunny and Sue went past Mrs. Golden's store to ask how she was. They found her smiling and cheerful, little the worse for her tumble.
"My son Philip is going to make me some lower shelves," she said.
"Then I can help reach things down for you," exclaimed Sue, with a smile.
"Yes, dearie," murmured Mrs. Golden.
"Wouldn't it be fun if we had a little store like that?" said Sue to Bunny, as they hurried along, to school. "I mean a real store, with real things to sell, and we could take in real money."
"Yes, it would be lots of fun!" agreed Bunny. "But I don't s'pose it will ever happen."
However, something very like that was to happen, almost before the children knew it.
"Yes," went on Bunny, when they had almost reached the school, "it would be dandy to have a store like Mrs. Golden's!"
"Maybe you will have some day—when you grow up," replied Sue.
"That's a long way off," sighed Bunny, as he looked down at his little, short legs.
There was nothing to disturb the school classes that morning. No pet alligators were found in the desk of Bunny or any of the other pupils, and neither Sadie West nor any of the other girls thought she saw a mouse.
However, something happened in the afternoon. It was a warm day, early in summer, though the long vacation had not yet come. The windows were open and the bright sun streamed in.
After a period of study Miss Bradley called the first class in spelling. Bunny and Sue were in this division, and they went up to the front seats where Miss Bradley heard all recitations.
"Sadie West, please spell church," called Miss Bradley. Sadie spelled the word right.
"Sue Brown, please spell horse," called the teacher, and Sue did not make a miss.
"Now, Bunny, it is your turn," said the teacher, with a smile. "Your word is cracker."
Bunny paused a moment.
"C—r—a——" he began.
Then suddenly, sounding throughout the school room, a harsh voice cried:
"Cracker! Cracker! Give me a cracker!"
Miss Bradley hurriedly stood up beside her chair. What pupil had thus dared to speak aloud in school?
A BUSY BUZZER
Bunny, Sue and the other children were just as much surprised as was Miss Bradley when that strange, harsh voice called out. And it needed but a look at the faces of her pupils to show the teacher that none of them had broken one of the rules of the classroom.
Bunny still held his mouth open, for he was half way through the spelling of the word "cracker." He was about to keep on, when once more the voice called:
"Cracker! Cracker! Polly wants a cracker!"
The sound came from the cloak closet on one side of the classroom.
"It's a parrot!" cried Charlie Star. "A poll parrot!"
"Yes, I believe it is," said Miss Bradley.
"You didn't bring a parrot to school to-day, did you, Bunny?" she asked.
"Oh, no, Ma'am!" he exclaimed, so earnestly that of course Miss Bradley believed him.
"But I know whose parrot it is," said Sue, eagerly.
"Whose?" asked the teacher.
"Mr. Winkler's! He's got a parrot and a monkey. They're always getting loose. Maybe the monkey's in the cloakroom, too, only the monkey can't talk like Polly," went on Sue.
"Keep your seats, children!" said Miss Bradley. "I'll look in the cloakroom. There is no need to be excited. A parrot will hurt no one, nor a monkey, either. Keep your seats!"
As she opened the cloakroom door the harsh voice again sounded more loudly than before.
"Bow! Wow! Wow!" it barked. "Cracker! Cracker! Polly wants a cracker! Let's have a song! Ha! Ha! Ha!"
Then it began what I suppose the bird thought was singing.
The children laughed, and so did the teacher.
Out of the cloakroom flew the parrot, fluttering up on the teacher's desk. There it perched, preening its feathers with its big beak and thick, black tongue, now and then uttering harsh squawks and making remarks, some of which could not be understood.
"Is this the parrot you meant, Sue?" asked Miss Bradley.
"Yes'm, that's Mr. Winkler's," answered Sue. "I can take it back to him if you want me to. Polly knows me."
"And he knows me, too!" exclaimed Bunny.
"And me!" eagerly added Charlie Star. "Let me and Bunny take him home, please?" he begged.
"Is that the way to say it?" remarked the teacher, for the room was more quiet now. "What should you have said, Charlie?"
"Let Bunny and me," corrected Charlie.
"That's right. Always speak of yourself last. It is more polite. Well, I think you and Bunny may take the parrot back to Mr. Winkler," went on the teacher. "Certainly we don't want him in our class, though he seems a bright bird."
"You ought to see Wango, the monkey, climb!" cried fat Bobbie Boomer, and all the other children laughed. "He's great!"
"Well, I think a parrot is enough for one day," remarked Miss Bradley, with a smile. "Take Polly home, Bunny and Charlie."
"Just see, Teacher, he's tame and he knows me," Bunny said, stroking Polly's head, a caress the parrot seemed to like. Polly perched herself on Bunny's shoulder, and then he and Charlie went out, envied by the other pupils.
"Oh that bird! Out again!" cried Miss Winkler, when Polly was restored to her. "I declare, I'll make Jed get rid of her and Wango! They're more bother than they're worth!"
"I'll take 'em if you don't want 'em!" offered Charlie Star.
"So will I!" said Bunny.
But as Miss Winkler usually made this threat three or four times a week (or every time the monkey or parrot got loose), and as Mr. Winkler had never yet given them away, it did not seem likely that he would do so now. So Bunny and Charlie had small hopes of owning either pet.
The boys went back to school, passing, on their way, the store of Mrs. Golden.
"Let's go in," suggested Charlie. "I want to buy a top!"
"All right," agreed Bunny.
"Well, boys, what can I sell you to-day?" asked Mrs. Golden, coming out from the little back room where she generally sat when there were no customers to wait on.
"Got any tops?" asked Charlie.
"A few," Mrs. Golden answered, "but not many. I'm going to have a new lot in next week. Good day, Bunny," she went on. "Did your mother like that baking powder?"
"I guess so," Bunny answered. Then he and Charlie began looking at the tops. But the kind Charlie wanted was not in the case, and after looking at several Charlie decided not to buy any.
"Here's a tin automobile I'm selling cheap," said Mrs. Golden, taking a red toy out from another case. "It's the last one I have, and I'll sell it to you for what it cost me—twenty-five cents. The regular price would be fifty cents. See, I'll wind it up for you."
This she did, setting it down on the floor. With a whizz and a buzz the auto darted across the store, bringing up with a bang against the low part of the opposite counter.
"Say, that's a dandy!" exclaimed Charlie. "I'd like to own that!"
"So would I!" agreed Bunny. "Only I haven't twenty-five cents."
"I have!" Charlie said. "I was going to spend only ten cents for a top, but I guess I'll buy this buzzer auto for a quarter."
"It's in good order," said Mrs. Golden. "I'm not going to keep such expensive toys after this. I'm getting too old to run a toy store as well as groceries and notions. I'm giving up most of my toys. But this is a good auto, Charlie."
"Yes'm, I'll take it," said the little boy, and he bought the auto.
"You can't take it to school with you," said Bunny, as he and his chum left Mrs. Golden's store.
"Yes, I can," answered Charlie.
"If teacher sees it she'll take it away."
"Well, she won't see it. I can put it in my coat pocket." This Charlie did, after a struggle, for the pocket was rather small and the toy auto rather large.
"It sticks out and shows," Bunny said, after the toy had been crowded in.
"I'll stuff my handkerchief over it," Charlie decided, and this was done.
Then the two boys went on to school, arriving just as it was time for recess, so they did not have to go back to their lessons right away.
"And I didn't have to spell!" laughed Bunny. "Though I did know how to spell cracker."
"Come on!" called Charlie. "We'll have some fun with my new auto! I'll let it run around the yard."
This he did to the delight of the other boys. As for the girls, they gathered on the other side of the school yard for their own particular recess fun.
Sue, Mary Watson, Sadie West, Helen Newton and some others raced about, playing tag and jumping rope.
"Oh, I know what we can do!" suddenly cried Helen, when they were all tired from having romped about playing tag.
"What?" asked Sue.
"Let's go down to the end of the yard where the men are digging, and see how big the hole is," suggested Helen.
"Oh, teacher said we mustn't!" exclaimed Sadie.
"Well, we won't go very close," went on Helen. "She just told us to be careful not to fall in. But if we don't go too close we can't fall in."
This seemed a safe way of looking at it, and the girls were curious to see what the workmen had done at the far end of the school yard. The laborers had been digging for some days, fixing water pipes, and had made a deep trench, so deep that when a man stood down in it only his head showed above.
Just now none of the men was near the hole, all having gone away to get other tools, and as the boys were busy playing at the other end of the yard, or watching Charlie's auto, the girls could explore the digging by themselves.
"It's nothing but a hole!" said Sue, in some disappointment, as they approached as near as they dared and looked in.
"I'd like to go down in it!" exclaimed Helen, who was rather daring.
"Oh!" cried Sue. "Come back! Don't go too close!"
But Helen did not heed. She went up to the very edge of the long, deep trench, and was looking in when suddenly her feet slipped out from under her, and down she went, sliding right into the hole!
"Oh! Oh!" she cried.
"Oh! Oh!" screamed the other girls, and in such excited voices that Miss Bradley came running out of the classroom and the boys crowded down to the end of the yard.
"What has happened?" asked the teacher.
"Helen Newton fell into the big hole!" cried Sadie West.
"Did the dirt cave in on her?" asked Miss Bradley.
Fortunately, it had not. The walls of the trench were firm and solid, and the only thing that had happened was that Helen was down in the deep trench, and could not get up by herself. She was crying now.
"Don't cry," said Miss Bradley. "You're all right. We'll soon get you out. Now you other boys and girls keep back from the edges, or you'll cause the sides to cave in and they'll cover Helen! Keep back, Bunny, Sue, every one!"
This was good advice, and as the other children moved back away from the trench there was less danger. Miss Bradley was just going to send one of the boys to call the janitor when two workmen came back. They broke into a run as they saw the crowd about their digging place, for they had told the teacher to keep the children away from it.
"There's been an accident!" said one man.
But it was not so bad as he feared, and he and his companion soon lifted Helen out on solid ground again, a rather frightened little girl, but not in the least hurt.
"I told you to stay away from that hole!" said Miss Bradley, rather severely. "I was afraid something like this might happen. It is fortunate it was no worse. Who started it?"
There was a moment's pause, and then Helen raised her hand. She had been crying.
"If—if you please, Teacher, I went there first," she stammered.
"Well, I think your fright has been punishment enough for you," said Miss Bradley kindly, "and we will say nothing more about it. But if any of you go near that hole again he or she will be kept in after school. It isn't that I mind your seeing what the workmen are doing, it is just that it would be dangerous for even grown folks to go too near the edge of the trench, and much more so for you little folk. So keep away from the hole. I hope the pipes will be in this week, and the hole closed up. Now do you all promise to keep away?" she asked. "Raise your hands!"
Every hand went up, for the boys and girls were fond of their teacher and did not want to cause her worry.
It was a solemn moment, for they all felt that something dreadful might have happened to Helen had the dirt caved in on her.
"Hands down," said Miss Bradley, and down they went.
Just then the bell rang. Recess was over, and the lines of boys and girls marched into the schoolhouse once again.
Charlie Star reached for his handkerchief, which he had again stuffed over his toy automobile after he had crowded that toy into his pocket when going back into school after recess. As he pulled out his handkerchief the auto came with it and fell to the floor.
Suddenly there was a strange buzzing sound in the room. Neither the teacher nor the girls knew what it was, but Bunny and the boys knew it was Charlie Star's new toy automobile which he had bought from Mrs. Golden.
With a buzz the busy auto ran from Charlie's desk straight down the aisle toward Miss Bradley, who was standing in front of her platform.
THE BARN STORE
For a second or two Miss Bradley seemed to pay no attention to the buzzing sound which Bunny, Charlie, and some of the other pupils heard only too plainly. The teacher was busy thinking whether she had done enough talking to make sure her boys and girls would not again go near the deep hole in the school yard.
"I wouldn't want any of them to get hurt," thought Miss Bradley. "I had better scare them a little now than have any of them harmed the least bit."
She was thinking what else she might say, to impress on the pupils the danger of the hole, when she seemed to hear, for the first time, the buzzing of Charlie's auto.
"What's that?" asked Miss Bradley.
No one answered, except that, here and there in the room, a boy or girl snickered.
There was one queer thing about Charlie's new toy auto. It made a great deal of buzzing as the wheels whirred around when the wound-up spring made them do this, but the machine itself did not go very fast. It seemed to make a great fuss about getting anywhere, but it took its own time in doing it.
This was the reason why the auto, though it had been pulled out of Charlie's pocket with his handkerchief and had fallen into the aisle down which it ran, did not very soon get where Miss Bradley could see it. She could hear the buzzing sound, but she did not know what it was.
"Who is making that noise?" she asked again.
No one answered, for, truth to tell, neither a boy nor a girl in the room was causing the noise; though of course Charlie was to blame, in a way.
Miss Bradley was looking over the room, into the faces of her pupils. The buzzing sound kept up. It seemed to be coming nearer and nearer. The windows were open, and she thought a bee or a wasp might have flown in. But it would be a very large wasp or bee, indeed, which would make so loud a buzzing sound as this.
"Children——" began Miss Bradley, and then she suddenly stopped, for something struck her on the foot. And it was right near her foot that the buzzing noise sounded. But as she had walked a little way down from her platform, and her foot was partly under the first desk—that of fat Bobbie Boomer—Miss Bradley could not see what had struck her.
"Oh!" she cried, as she jumped back, rather startled.
Charlie Star and Bunny Brown could not help laughing right out loud. They knew what had caused all this excitement.
A moment later Miss Bradley knew also. For Charlie's buzzing auto, having struck her foot, turned aside and rolled out on the floor in front of her teaching platform, in plain sight. There the little red toy came to a stop, for its spring was fully unwound.
Charlie and Bunny stopped their laughing suddenly as the teacher looked down at them.
"Whose is this?" asked Miss Bradley, in a voice she hardly ever used in the classroom, for her pupils were generally very orderly. "Who owns this automobile?" she asked, sternly.
Timidly Charlie Star raised his hand.
"If you please, Teacher, it's mine," he said. And such a weak little voice as it was! Not at all like the loud, hearty tones Charlie used when he called to Bunny, "first shot agates!"
Miss Bradley stooped over and picked up the toy. She placed it on her desk, and then, turning to face the children, she said:
"I am very sorry about this. I thought, after what had happened to Helen, that you were going to settle down and study your lessons. Why did you bring this auto to school, Charlie? And why did you take it out?"
Charlie was silent a moment, and then he answered, saying:
"I—I didn't exactly take it out, Miss Bradley. It came out when I took out my handkerchief. I—I didn't mean to do it."
"Very well then, you didn't," the teacher agreed, with a little smile, for she knew Charlie was telling the truth. "But why did you bring the auto to school at all?"
Then Charlie told of having bought the toy that morning, on his way to school with Bunny Brown.
"I didn't have time to go home with it after I bought it," he said, "so I put it in my pocket. We played with it at recess, and I forgot and wound it up and stuck it in my pocket. I didn't mean to let it get out and run down the aisle."
Miss Bradley wanted to smile, but she knew it would not be just the thing to do. So she said:
"Well, Charlie, I will excuse you this time. But please don't bring any more toys into the schoolroom. And now, as we have lost much time from our lessons, we must study extra hard to make it up. Come to me after school, Charlie, and I'll give you back your auto."
Miss Bradley put the toy in her desk for safe keeping, and went on with the lessons. But it was rather hard for the pupils to get their minds back on their studies, because so much had happened that day from the time the parrot had screeched "Cracker! Cracker!" in the cloakroom until Charlie's auto fell out of his pocket and went buzzing down the aisle to bang into the teacher's foot.
However, the day came to an end at last, and then, talking and laughing, the boys and girls ran out of doors. Charlie stayed after the others, and walked shyly up to the desk at which Miss Bradley sat, looking over some examination papers. The room was very still and quiet after the noise and excitement of the children's outgoing.
"Yes, Charlie. What is it?" asked Miss Bradley, as she saw him standing near her desk.
"If you please—my auto——"
"Oh, yes," and she opened her desk and handed it to him. "It is a cute little toy," and she smiled at Charlie.
"You ought to see it go!" he exclaimed eagerly, for Miss Bradley was really a friend to her pupils, and she knew how to make kites and spin tops almost as good as a boy.
"Here! I'll show you!" Charlie went on. "It's a dandy!"
Quickly he wound up the auto and set it down on the floor. The wheels buzzed and the little red car spun across the schoolroom floor.
Bunny Brown and George Watson, waiting outside for Charlie, wondered what was keeping their chum. They knew he had stayed in to get his plaything.
"Maybe she's going to make him stay in half an hour," suggested George.
"She didn't say she was," replied Bunny. "But maybe she's giving him a—a leshure." What Bunny meant was lecture.
"Let's look in," suggested George.
On tiptoes they went to a window whence they could see into the room. There they saw Miss Bradley winding up Charlie's auto, and they heard Charlie saying:
"You try it now, Miss Bradley! See how nice it runs!"
And as the surprised watchers looked on, their teacher started the toy across the floor as Charlie had done. For, following the first showing of his plaything, Charlie had offered to let his teacher wind it, and she had agreed.
"Yes, it is a cute toy," said the teacher, as the auto banged into a side wall and stopped. "But we mustn't play with it in school hours."
"Oh, no'm!" agreed Charlie, and then he hurried outside, where Bunny and George were waiting for him.
"Say, you ought to see!" exclaimed Charlie, half breathless. "She ran the auto herself!"
"We saw her," said Bunny.
"She's a dandy teacher all right!" declared George.
One Saturday morning Bunny and Sue came downstairs to breakfast at the same hour as on other days. Usually this did not happen, for on Saturdays they were allowed to remain in bed a little longer than on days when they had to go to school.
"Well, what does this mean?" asked Uncle Tad, who was finishing his meal and reading the paper at the same time. "This is Saturday, isn't it? Unless I have on the wrong glasses!" he added, as he looked at the calendar on the wall.
"Yes, it's Saturday," said Bunny.
"Then why are you up so early?" asked Uncle Tad.
"'Cause a lot of the boys and girls are coming over, and we're going to play store out in our barn," explained Sue. "You can come and buy something if you want to, Uncle Tad."
"Thanks! Maybe I will!" chuckled the old soldier. "Are you going to sell any inside outside cocoanuts flavored with saltmint?" he asked.
"What are those?" Bunny inquired.
"Oh, he's only joking!" declared Sue, as she saw a twinkle in the eyes of Uncle Tad. And of course he was joking.
"Well, maybe I'll look in and see what you do have to sell in your barn store," he said, as he left the table.
Bunny Brown and his sister Sue were not long in finishing their breakfast, and then they hurried out to the barn where they were to keep store. Bunny and Sue had found some boards and boxes out there which would make fine shelves for a pretend store.
"We'll put the shelves up before the others get here," said Bunny.
"Yes," she agreed. "But what kind of store are you going to play? Are you going to have washboilers and tin pans?"
"No, I guess not," said Bunny, after thinking about it a moment. "We'll keep a store like Mrs. Golden's."
"Yes, that will be nice," agreed Sue. "Here, Splash!" she cried. "Get out of there! That box isn't for you to sleep in!" For the big dog had crawled into one of the boxes that were to form the store shelves. Splash was curling up most comfortably.
"We'll use him for a delivery dog," said Bunny. "We'll tie a basket on his neck and he can take the groceries and things to different places."
"Oh, that will be fun!" laughed Sue, clapping her hands. "Here comes Helen!" she cried a moment later, and then, with joyous shouts and laughter, a number of children came running into the Brown yard, ready to play barn store.
IN A HOLE
"What things are you going to sell?"
"Who's going to tend store?"
"I want to be cashier!"
These were some of the things the boys and girls shouted as they ran into the barn where Bunny Brown and his sister Sue were waiting for them to play store. Charlie Star, Helen Newton, fat Bobbie Boomer, Harry Bentley, George and Mary Watson and Sadie West were among the boys and girls who came crowding into the barn, for the day before Bunny and his sister had invited them to spend Saturday in having fun.
"We'll take turns tending store," explained Bunny, after he had shown his playmates the shelves and boxes that were to be used for shelves.
"And we're going to have our dog Splash deliver things with a basket on his neck," explained Sue.
"I should think it would be more fun to hitch up your pony Toby to the basket cart and have him to deliver things," remarked Helen.
"We thought of that," replied Bunny. "But Bunker Blue has taken Toby down to the boat dock. He has to do some errands for my father, so we can't have Toby."
As Bunny and his sister had played this game more than the others, they were allowed to lay out the plans. Bunny showed the boys how the boards were to be put across the boxes to make shelves, and Sue took the girls down to the brook to gather little pebbles and the shells of fresh water mussels which were to be used for money, as there were going to be so many "customers" for the barn store that Mrs. Brown's buttons would not be enough to make change.
"What things are we going to sell?" asked Charlie, as he began pulling something from his pocket.
"Oh, we'll get stones, sand, gravel, some leaves, pieces of bark, twigs, and things like that," Bunny explained. "But what you got in your pocket, Charlie?"
"My wind-up auto. I thought maybe we could use it in the store."
"Well, it could be like a cash register. You see," Charlie went on, "somebody's got to be the cashier just as in a big store. We'll have different clerks, and when anybody buys anything they must pay the money to whoever is clerk."
"Yes," agreed Bunny, who understood thus far.
"Then," went on Charlie, "the clerk must put the money the customer pays into my auto, and send it on a plank up to the cashier's desk. The cashier will make change and send it back in the auto."
"Oh, that'll be great!" cried Bunny. "And I guess you ought to be the cashier for thinking it up, Charlie."
"Well, maybe I ought, 'cause it's my auto," Charlie said. He had been hoping for this all along. "Now I'll make myself a place to be cashier," he went on, "and I'll fix up a long plank for the auto to run back and forth on. One winding will bring it up to me and back to the clerk."
When the other children heard this plan they were much delighted. Soon the store was ready for business. Boards had been placed across the boxes and a tier of shelves made, the top one so high that a long box had to be used like a stepladder to reach it. On the shelves were placed different things picked up around the barn, in the yard, and in the patch of woods not far away, or brought from the shore of the brook.
Then the boys and girls divided themselves up, some were to be customers to buy things in the store, while others were to be clerks to wait on the customers. Charlie took his place at the end of the tier of shelves to act as cashier. From the end of the shelves to his box ran a long narrow plank on which the auto change-carrier was to run.
Finally everything was ready, even to torn pieces of newspaper in which the things bought were to be wrapped. Splash was on hand with a basket tied to his neck to deliver the goods. And each customer had picked out a certain part of the barn as his or her "home" where the things were to be delivered.
"All ready!" called Bunny Brown. He and Sue were to be clerks in the store at first; afterward they would take a turn at being customers.
"I want a pound of sugar!" ordered Sadie West, coming up to Bunny, standing behind his part of the front counter.
"Yes, Ma'am. A pound of sugar!" repeated Bunny, scooping up some sand in a clam shell. "Nice day, isn't it—Mrs. er—Mrs.——"
"Snyder is my name," said Sadie. "I'm Mrs. Snyder and I live at 756 Oatbin Avenue," she added, as she looked toward the part of the barn she had picked out for her "house." It was near Toby's oat bin.
"Yes, Ma'am," answered Bunny. "I'll send it right over to Oatbin Avenue."
He wrapped up the sand-sugar in a piece of paper and took the black mussel shell which Sadie handed him as her "five-dollar bill." Bunny placed the shell in the automobile, and started it up the plank to where Charlie waited. Taking out the large shell, Charlie put in two smaller ones and a white stone. This was "change."
Back whizzed the auto down the plank until it reached Bunny, who took out the "change" and handed it to "Mrs. Snyder."
"Please send my sugar right over," she ordered.
"Yes, Ma'am, it will go on the first delivery," Bunny answered, as he had heard Mr. Gordon, the real grocer, often say.
"Here, Splash!" called Bunny, and his dog, with the basket on his neck, came running up, wagging his tail.
"Oh, look out!" cried Sue, who was acting as a clerk next to Bunny.
"What's the matter?" Bunny asked.
"Splash is wagging his tail so hard that he'll knock down my eggs!" complained Sue.
Of course the "eggs" were only pine cones from the woods near by, but when you are playing store you must pretend everything is real, or else it isn't any fun.
"Keep your tail still, Splash!" cried Bunny. But the dog seemed only to wag it the harder.
Splash might have knocked down all the "eggs" and done other damage in the store had not Bunny placed Mrs. Snyder's sugar in the basket and sent his pet to deliver the make-believe sweet stuff.
And Splash delivered it very carefully, too. Sadie had gone back to her home at "756 Oatbin Avenue" to wait for her sugar, and when it came she took it from the basket on Splash's neck. Then the dog went back to the barn store to run on more delivery errands.
This was a sample of the way Bunny, Sue, and their friends played that Saturday morning. Now and then they would change about, some who had been clerks becoming customers and the customers clerks.
Of course accidents happened. Splash wagged his tail so hard that he knocked over a box of prunes, scattering them on the barn floor. Even if the prunes were only little black stones it wasn't just the thing for Splash to do, and Sue scolded him for it. But Splash didn't seem to mind.
Another time, when the dog had been sent to deliver some ice-cream (which was really some white sand from the brook) to Mrs. Leland Sayre, who lived at 1056 Straw Terrace (Mrs. Sayre being Mary Watson), an accident happened. Splash was on his way to Mrs. Sayre's home when he heard another dog barking outside the barn.
With a bark of greeting Splash dashed out, spilling the "ice-cream" all over the barn floor.
"Oh, dear! And I wanted it for a party!" said Mrs. Sayre.
But of course it was all in fun.
More than once the change auto ran off the plank, either on its way to the cashier or coming back, and spilled the money all over the barn floor. But that could not be helped.
"Only it isn't good for my auto," said Charlie.
"We'll put some straw down on the floor so when it falls it won't get bent," said Bunny, and this was done.
All morning the children played store in the barn, selling the things over and over again. Splash got tired of being a delivery dog after a while, and Bobbie Boomer said he'd take his place. Bobbie was more to be depended on than Splash, who, try as he did, would sometimes deliver things to the wrong houses.
When noon came the neighboring children were talking of going home to lunch, but Mrs. Brown gave them all a pleasant surprise, including Bunny and Sue, by asking all the boys and girls to remain and have something to eat, served in the barn.
"Oh, what fun!" cried Sadie West.
"The best ever!" declared Charlie Star. "I'm glad I came!"
Lunch over, the playing of store went on again, until first one and then another began to tire, and it was given up. Then they put away the planks and boxes and played tag and hide and seek until it was time for supper, when the boys and girls went home.
"We've had a lovely time!" they said to Bunny and Sue.
Just before supper Mrs. Brown needed something from the store.
"I'll go get it," offered Bunny. "I'll get it at Mrs. Golden's."
"I'll go with you," said Sue, and soon they were at the little corner grocery.
"How are you to-day, Mrs. Golden?" asked Bunny, as the old woman was getting the yeast cake he had been sent for.
"Oh, pretty well," she answered, with a cheery smile on her kind but wrinkled face. "I'd like it if I wasn't so stiff, but then we can't have all we want in this world."
"We played store in our barn to-day," said Sue, looking around at the various shelves filled with many articles.
"Did you, dearie? That was nice. I guess it's easier to play store than it is to keep one really," said Mrs. Golden.
"Oh, I'd like to keep store!" declared Bunny Brown. "Only, how do you remember where everything is?" he asked. "There's such a lot of stuff!"
"Yes, there is," agreed Mrs. Golden. "And sometimes I forget. But I'm getting old, I reckon. There's your yeast cake. Now run along, and be careful when you cross the street."
"Yes'm, we will!" promised Bunny, as he took Sue's hand.
"Maybe, when vacation comes, Mrs. Golden will let us help her in her store," said Bunny to his sister, as they neared their home.
"Oh, maybe!" Sue agreed. "And it soon will be vacation, won't it?"
"Yes," said Bunny. "I wonder where we'll go this summer."
"I wonder, too," mused Sue. "If we could stay at home and have a real store it would be fun!"
Bunny agreed to this.
Several days passed. The hole in the school yard was filled up so there was no further danger of any of the boys or girls falling in. Charlie did not again bring his toy auto to school.
But something else happened.
One afternoon Charlie Star walked home with Bunny and Sue from school. Bunny had made a new sailboat, and he wanted Charlie to see it make the first voyage down the brook which ran back of the Brown home.
"May I come, too?" asked Sue, as Bunny carried his little vessel down to the stream.
"Sure, let her come," advised Charlie.
"All right," called Bunny, and Sue ran along after the boys.
But Bunny and Charlie were so interested in sailing the new boat that they did not pay much attention to Sue after reaching the brook. They watched the wind puff out the sails and Charlie was just going to ask Bunny if he would trade the boat for the toy auto when there came a loud scream from Sue, who had wandered off by herself.
"Oh, Bunny! I've falled in! I've falled in!" cried Sue.
"Oh, she is in!" exclaimed Charlie, glancing upstream.
"And there's a deep hole there!" shouted Bunny, darting away. "Come on, Charlie! Help me pull Sue out of the hole!"
UP A LADDER
Charlie Star needed no second urging. Bunny had forgotten all about his toy ship, but Charlie gave one look and saw that it had safely blown on shore. Then Charlie sped after his chum.
"We're coming, Sue! We're coming!" cried Bunny. "Don't be afraid!"
"We'll get you out!" added Charlie.
The brook that ran back of the Brown house was rather deep in places, and some of these places were near shore where the bank went steeply down into the water. It was at one of these places that Sue had fallen in.
The little girl had been looking for "sweet-flag." This is the root of a plant something like the cat-tail in looks—that is, it has the same kind of long, narrow ribbon-like leaves.
But while the root of the sweet-flag is pleasant to gnaw, though a trifle smarty, the root of the cat-tail is of no use—that is, as far as Sue could tell. She wanted some sweet-flag, but not cat-tail root, and to find out which was right she had to pull up many of the long, green streamers. If Sue had known how to tell the difference otherwise it would have been easier.
It was in bending over to pull up some of the flag roots that she had leaned too far, and suddenly she found herself in the water. She had slipped off the muddy bank at a place where it was steep and the water was deep.
Luckily Sue had slipped in feet first, and now she was standing in water over her waist, yelling for Bunny to come and help her.
Breathless, the two boys reached the little girl. They could see then, that she was in no special danger, since the water was not over her head. If Sue had fallen in head first instead of feet first that would have been sadly different.
"Come on out! Come on out!" cried Bunny, reaching his hand toward his sister.
"I—I can't!" she answered.
"Why not?" Charlie asked.
"'Cause I'm stuck. I'm stuck in the mud!" Sue answered.
"Oh!" exclaimed Bunny. "Then we have to pull you out!"
"That's right!" said Charlie Star. "I'll help!"
"Look out you don't fall in yourselves!" warned Sue, as they held out their hands to her. "It's awful slippery!"
And the bank was, as Charlie and Bunny soon found, for Charlie nearly slid in as Sue had done and Bunny almost followed. But by digging their heels in the slippery mud they held on and soon they had pulled Sue out of the hole.
But, oh, in what a sad plight was the little girl!
She was soaking wet to a line above her waist, and she was splashed with water above that, some mud spots being on her face, one on the end of her nose making her appear rather odd. Her shoes and stockings were covered with black, mucky mud.
"Oh! Oh, dear!" exclaimed Sue, looking down at her legs, and began to cry.
"Don't cry!" advised Charlie.
"I—I can't help it!" wailed Sue. "And there's something on my nose, too!"
"It's only a blob of mud," said Bunny. "I'll wipe it off," and he did, very kindly.
"Look—look at my shoo-shooes!" sobbed Sue.
"Splash 'em in the water," advised Charlie. "Sit down on the bank, Sue, and splash your feet in the water."
"What'll I do that for?" she asked, through her tears. "I'm wet enough now!"
"Yes, I know," said Charlie. "And you can't get any wetter by dabbling your feet and legs in the water. But it will wash off the mud. You might as well wash it off."
"That's right," agreed Bunny. "Your legs will dry better if they are just wet, instead of being wet and muddy, Sue. Dabble 'em in the brook."
Sue thought this must be good advice, since it came from both boys. She was about to sit down near the place where she had slid into the brook, but Charlie said:
"No, not there! That water's all muddy. Come on down to a clean place."
This Sue did, sitting on the grassy bank and thrusting her feet and legs into the water up to her knees, splashing them up and down until most of the mud was washed from her stockings and shoes.
"Now we'll take you home," said Charlie.
"No!" exclaimed Sue. "I don't want to go home!"
"You don't want to go home?" repeated Bunny. "Why not? You have to get dry things on, Sue! Mother won't scold you for falling into the brook when it wasn't your fault!"
"I know she won't," Sue said. "But—but—I'm not going in the house looking all soaking wet! There's company—some ladies came to call on mother before we went out to play—and they'll see me if I go in the front door. I'm not going to have them laugh at me!"
"We'll take you in the side door then," offered Bunny.
"That'll be just as bad," whimpered Sue. "They can see me from the window."
"Well, then we'll go in the back way," Charlie proposed.
"No!" sobbed Sue. "If I go in the back way Mary'll see me, and she'll say, 'bless an' save us!' and make such a fuss that mother'll come out and it will be as bad as the front or side door!" complained the little girl. "I don't want to go home all wet!"
"But you'll have to!" insisted Bunny. "You can't stay out here till you get dry. You must go to the house, Sue!"
"Not the front way nor the side way nor the back way!" Sue declared.
"Then how are you going to get in?" asked Bunny. "Do you want to go in through the cellar?"
"I'd have to come up in the kitchen," objected Sue, "and Mary would see me just the same and she'd say, 'bless an' save us!'"
"Well, but how are you going to get in?" Bunny demanded. "There isn't any other way."
"Yes, there is!" suddenly exclaimed Charlie.
"How?" asked Bunny Brown.
"Up the painter's ladder," went on Charlie. "They're painting the roof of your sun parlor. And the ladder's right there. We can get Sue up the ladder to the roof of the sun parlor, and there's a second-story window she can get in so nobody can see her, and change her things."
"Oh! A ladder!" gasped Sue, when she heard how Charlie and her brother planned to get her into the house unseen by company. "A ladder!"
"Sure!" cried Bunny. "That's the best way! Charlie and I'll help you up."
"You won't let me fall?" asked Sue.
"Course not!" declared Charlie. "I've climbed lots of ladders!"
"So have I!" boasted Bunny Brown. "And so have you, Sue Brown!"
"And can't anybody see me if I go up the painter's ladder?" asked Sue, who was feeling most uncomfortable, being clammy and wet.
"Nobody'll see you!" declared Charlie. "The ladder's away off on one side of the sun parlor. Mary can't see you from the kitchen, and your mother and the company can't see you."
"Is the painter there?" Sue went on. She was asking a good many questions and making a number of objections, I think.
"No, the painter isn't there," Charlie said. "I saw him going back to the shop after more paint when we came down here."
"All right then!" sighed Sue. "Help me up the ladder!"
Cautiously the children approached it. There the ladder stood, a big one, on a long slant leading from the ground to the roof of the one-story sun parlor. From the roof of this extension were several windows Sue could climb into, one opening from her own room.
No one was in sight, and the painter had not come back. Sue was just starting up the ladder, with Bunny going before her and Charlie following her, when the little girl happened to think of something else.
"S'posin' the roof's just been painted?" she asked. "How can I walk on it?"
This was a poser for a moment until Charlie exclaimed:
"If it is I'll get some boards and we can lay them down to walk on."
Sue had no further excuse for not going up the ladder, and she began to climb. She reached the top, and it was found that the painter had spread his red mixture on only part of the roof. There was room enough to walk on the unpainted part to her room window.
She was just climbing in, with the help of the boys, when she suddenly noticed something that made her exclaim:
"Oh, look! How did that happen?"
"What's the matter? What's happened?" asked Bunny Brown. "Are you going to fall, Sue?"
He was helping his sister on one side to climb in the window, and Charlie was on the other side of the little girl.
"No, I'm not going to fall," Sue answered. "But look at my dress! It's all red paint!"
And so it was! In addition to being wet and muddy her skirt was now covered with big blotches of red paint—the same kind of paint that was being put on the roof.
"How did it happen?" went on Sue, almost ready to cry again. "I didn't step in any paint, did I?"
"Even if you did I don't see how it got on your dress," said Charlie Star.
"There's some on me, too!" cried Bunny Brown. "There's some on my pants!"
"And I'm daubed just like you!" cried Charlie. "We're all three painted!"
And they were, only Sue had more of it on her dress than the boys had on their clothes.
"It must have been on the ladder," decided Charlie. "The painter man got some of his red stuff on the ladder and we got it on us."
"Oh, dear!" sighed Sue. "Now after my dress is dry and I brush the mud off mother will see the red paint. Course I'd tell her, anyhow, but I wish she wouldn't see it first!"
However, there seemed no help for it. All three of the children had red paint on their clothes, and paint, you know, can't be brushed off. When it's on it stays, unless turpentine, or something like that, is used to take it off.
Sue, and the boys, too, had hoped that Mrs. Brown would not know what had happened. It wasn't that they wanted to deceive, or fool, her, but Sue wanted to tell of the accident at the brook in her own way and time. She really did not want to cause her mother worry when Mrs. Brown had company. And Mrs. Brown would certainly begin to ask questions when she saw those red spots on Sue's dress.
"Oh, dear!" sighed Sue again, and she seemed about to burst into tears. Neither Bunny nor Charlie knew what to do.
"Oh, dear!" sighed Sue for the third time.
Suddenly the three children saw the upper end of the ladder—the part that was raised up over the roof of the sun parlor. They saw this part of the ladder moving.
"Oh, somebody's coming up!" exclaimed Charlie.
"Maybe it's mother!" wailed Sue. "Oh, help me get in the window! I don't want her to see me this way!"
"Mother wouldn't be coming up the ladder!" declared Bunny. "What would she be coming up the ladder for?"
"That's so!" agreed Charlie. "I guess she wouldn't."
"But somebody's coming up!" declared Sue, and this was very plain to be seen. The ladder shook more and more.
Wonderingly the children watched it, and then there came into sight, above the roof of the sun parlor, the head and shoulders of the painter. He looked surprised as he saw the children, and then a cheerful smile spread over his face as he said:
"Well, you've been getting daubed up, I see!"
"Ye-yes," faltered Bunny. "We got some of your paint on us!"
"'Tisn't my paint!" laughed the painter. "It's your father's, Bunny. I got this paint down at his boat dock to paint the roof of this sun parlor. I don't mind how much of it you daub on yourselves. 'Tisn't my paint, you know!"
"But we don't want it on us!" exclaimed Sue. "Oh, I fell in the brook and I got all muddy and now I'm all covered with paint! Oh, dear!"
Sue was almost crying again, and the painter who at first had thought the children were merely playing, now began to understand that something was wrong.
"What's the matter?" he asked.
Then the story was told, of why the boys had helped Sue climb up the ladder to get into her room so her mother and the company would not see her in her soiled dress.
"But now we're all paint!" wailed Sue.
"Well, never mind!" said the good-natured painter. "I can take those paint spots out for you, if that's all you're worrying about."
"Oh, can you?" eagerly cried Sue.
"How?" asked Charlie Star, who was a rather curious little chap.
"Will you?" asked Bunny Brown, which was more to the point.
"I can and will!" said the painter. "Wait until I get some clean rags and my turpentine."
He want back down the ladder, but soon came up again, with a can of something with a strong, but not unpleasant smell. Bunny remembered that smell. Once when he was little, and had a bad cold, his mother had rubbed lard and turpentine on his chest.
"This turpentine will take the paint out when it's fresh," said the painter. "Stand still now."
He wet the rag in some turpentine, which, as you know, is the juice, or sap, of the pine and other trees. It is used to mix with paint, which it will dissolve, or melt away after a fashion. It also helps the paint to dry more quickly when spread on a house or bridge.
With the turpentine rag the painter rubbed at the red spots on Sue's dress, and then, having taken those out, he began on Bunny and Charlie. But the boys wanted to take out their own paint spots, and the painter let them do it.