BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE PLAYING CIRCUS
LAURA LEE HOPE
Author of The Bunny Brown Series, The Bobbsey Twins Series, The Outdoor Girls Series, etc.
Illustrated by Florence England Nosworthy
New York Grosset & Dunlap Publishers
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By LAURA LEE HOPE
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12mo. Cloth, Illustrated. Price, per volume, 50 cents, postpaid.
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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
THE BOBBSEY TWINS SERIES
For Little Men and Women
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
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THE OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS OF DEEPDALE THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT RAINBOW LAKE THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN A MOTOR CAR THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN A WINTER CAMP THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN FLORIDA THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT OCEAN VIEW THE OUTDOOR GIRLS ON PINE ISLAND
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Grosset & Dunlap Publishers New York
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Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue Playing Circus
CHAPTER PAGE I. BUNNY IS UPSIDE DOWN 1 II. LET'S HAVE A CIRCUS! 10 III. THE POOR OLD HEN 21 IV. A STRANGE BOY 30 V. SOMETHING QUEER 40 VI. BEN HALL HELPS 48 VII. BUNNY HAS A FALL 56 VIII. THE DOLL IN THE WELL 65 IX. THE STRIPED CALF 73 X. THE OLD ROOSTER 82 XI. PRACTICE FOR THE CIRCUS 93 XII. THE LITTLE CIRCUS 102 XIII. THE WILD ANIMALS 111 XIV. BUNNY AND SUE GO SAILING 121 XV. SPLASH IS LOST 131 XVI. GETTING THE TENTS 142 XVII. BUNNY AND THE BALLOONS 152 XVIII. THE STORM 163 XIX. HARD WORK 174 XX. THE MISSING MICE 185 XXI. THE BIG CIRCUS 194 XXII. BUNNY'S BRAVE ACT 206 XXIII. BEN DOES A TRICK 215 XXIV. BEN'S SECRET 227 XXV. BACK HOME AGAIN 238
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE PLAYING CIRCUS
BUNNY IS UPSIDE DOWN
"Grandpa, where are you going now?" asked Bunny Brown.
"And what are you going to do?" asked Bunny Brown's sister Sue.
Grandpa Brown, who was walking down the path at the side of the farmhouse, with a basket on his arm, stood and looked at the two children. He smiled at them, and Bunny and Sue smiled back, for they liked Grandpa Brown very much, and he just loved them.
"Are you going after the eggs?" asked Sue.
"That basket is too big for eggs," Bunny observed.
"It wouldn't be—not for great, great, big eggs," the little girl said. "Would it, Grandpa?"
"No, Sue. I guess if I were going out to gather ostrich eggs I wouldn't get many of them in this basket. But I'm not going after eggs. Not this time, anyhow."
"Where are you going?" asked Bunny once more.
"What's a—a ockstritch?" asked Sue, for that was as near as she could say the funny word.
"An ostrich," answered Grandpa Brown, "is a big bird, much bigger than the biggest Thanksgiving turkey. It has long legs, and fine feathers, and ladies wear them on their hats. I mean they wear the ostrich feathers, not the bird's legs."
"And do ockstritches lay big eggs?" Sue wanted to know.
"They do," answered Grandpa Brown. "They lay eggs in the hot sand of the desert, and they are big eggs. I guess I couldn't get more than six of them in this basket."
"Oh-o-o-o!" exclaimed Bunny and Sue together, with their eyes wide open.
"What big eggs they must be!" went on Bunny.
"And is you going to get hens' eggs or ockstritches' eggs now, Grandpa?" asked Sue.
"Neither one, little brown-eyes, I'm going out in the orchard to pick a few peaches. Grandma wants to make a peach shortcake for supper. So I have to get the peaches."
"Oh, may we come?" asked Sue, dropping the doll with which she had been playing.
"I'll help you pick the peaches," offered Bunny, and he put down some sticks, a hammer and nails. He was trying to make a house for Splash, the big dog, but it was harder work than Bunny had thought. He was glad to stop.
"Yes, come along, both of you," replied Grandpa Brown. "I don't believe you can reach up to pick any peaches, but you can eat some, I guess. You know how to eat peaches, don't you?" he asked, smiling again at Bunny Brown and his sister Sue.
"Oh, I love peaches!" said Sue.
"And I do, too—and peach shortcake is awful good!" murmured Bunny.
"Well, come along then. It's nice and shady and cool in the peach orchard."
Grandpa Brown put the basket over his arm, and gave Bunny one hand to clasp, while Sue took the other. In this way they walked down the path, through the garden, and out toward the orchard.
"Bunny! Sue! Where are you going?" called their mother to the children. Mrs. Brown had come out on the side porch.
"With Grandpa," answered Bunny.
"I'll look after them," said Grandpa Brown.
Bunny and his sister, with their papa and mamma, were spending the summer on the farm of Grandpa Brown away out in the country. The children liked it on the farm very much, for they had good fun. A few days before they had gone to the circus, and had seen so many wonderful things that they talked about them from morning until night, and, sometimes, even after they got to bed.
But just now, for a little while, they were not talking or thinking about the circus, though up to the time when Grandpa Brown came around the house with the basket on his arm, Bunny had been telling Sue about the man who hung by his heels from a trapeze that was fast to the top of the big tent. A trapeze, you know, is something like a swing, only it has a stick for a seat instead of a board.
"I could hang by a trapeze if I wanted to," Bunny had said to Sue.
"Oh, Bunny Brown! You could not!" Sue had cried.
"I could if I had the trapeze," he had said.
Then along had come Grandpa Brown.
"How many peaches do you think you can eat, Bunny?" asked Grandpa, as he led the children toward the orchard.
"Oh, maybe seven or six."
"That's too many!" laughed Grandpa Brown. "We should have to have the doctor for you, I'm afraid. I guess if you eat two you will have enough, especially with shortcake for supper."
"I can eat three," spoke up Sue. "I like peaches."
"But don't eat too many," said Grandpa. "Now I'll see if I can find a little, low tree, with ripe peaches on it, so you children can pick some off for yourselves."
They were in the orchard now. It was cool and shady there, and the children liked it, for the sun was shining hot outside the orchard. On one edge of the place, where grew the peach trees, ran a little brook, and Bunny and Sue could hear it bubbling as it rippled over the green, mossy stones. The sound of running water made the air seem cooler.
A little farther off, across the garden, were grandpa's beehives, where the bees were making honey. Sue and her brother could hear the bees buzzing as they flew from the hives to the flowers in the field. But the children did not want to go very close to the hives, for they knew the bees could sting.
"Now here's a nice tree for you to pick peaches from," said Grandpa Brown, as he stopped under one in the orchard.
"You may pick two peaches each, and eat them," went on the childrens' grandfather.
"And don't you want us to pick some for you, like ockstritches' eggs, an' put them in the basket?" asked Sue.
"Well, after you eat your two, perhaps you can help me," answered Grandpa Brown with a smile. But I think he knew that by the time Bunny and Sue had picked their own peaches he would have his basket filled. For, though Bunny and Sue wanted to help, their hands were small and they could not do much. Besides, they liked to play, and you cannot play and work at the same time. But children need to play, so that's all right.
Leaving Bunny and Sue under the tree he had showed them, where they might pick their own peaches, Grandpa Brown walked on a little farther, looking for a place where he might fill his basket.
"Oh, there's a nice red peach I'm going to get!" exclaimed Sue, as she reached up her hand toward it. But she found she was not quite tall enough.
"I'll get it for you," offered Bunny, kindly.
He got the peach for Sue, and she began to eat it.
"Oh, Bunny!" she cried. "It's a lovely sweet one. I hope you get a nice one."
"I will," Bunny said. Then as he looked at his sister he cried: "Oh, Sue! The juice is running all down your chin on your dress."
"Oh-oh-o-o-o!" said Sue, as she looked at the peach juice on her dress. "Oh-o-o-o!"
"Never mind," remarked Bunny. "We can wash it off in the brook."
"Yes," said Sue, and she went on eating her peach. "We'll wash it."
Bunny was looking up into the tree for a peach for himself. He wanted to get the biggest and reddest one he could find.
"Oh, I see a great big one!" Bunny cried, as he walked all around the tree.
"Where is it?" asked Sue. "I want a big one, Bunny."
"I'll get you another one. I see two," and Bunny pointed to them up in the tree.
"You can't reach 'em," asserted Sue. "They're too high, Bunny."
"I—I can climb the tree," said the little boy. "I can climb the tree and get them."
"You'll fall," Sue said.
"No, I won't, Sue. You just watch me."
The peach tree was a low one, with branches close to the ground. And, as Bunny Brown said, he did know a little bit about climbing. He found a box in the orchard, and, by standing on this he got up into the tree.
Up and up he went, higher and higher until he was almost within reach of the two peaches he wanted. Grandpa Brown was busy picking peaches at a tree farther off, and did not see the children.
"Look out, Sue. I'm going to drop a peach down to you," called Bunny from up in the tree.
"I'll look out," said Sue. "I'll hold up my dress, and you can drop the peach in that. Then it won't squash on the ground."
She stood under the tree, looking up toward her brother. Bunny reached for one of the two big, red peaches, but he did not pick it. Something else happened.
A branch on which the little boy was standing suddenly broke, and down he fell. He turned over, almost like a clown doing a somersault in the circus, and the next moment Bunny's two feet caught between two other branches, and there he hung, upside down, his head pointing to the ground.
LET'S HAVE A CIRCUS!
"Bunny! Bunny! What are you doing?" cried Sue, as she saw her brother hanging, head down, in such a funny way from the peach tree branches. "Don't do that, Bunny! You'll get hurt!"
"I—I didn't mean to do it!" cried Bunny, and his voice sounded very strange, coming from his mouth upside down as it was. Sue did not know whether to laugh or cry.
"Oh, Bunny! Bunny, is you playing circus?" she asked.
"No—no! I'm not playing circus!" and Bunny wiggled, and wiggled again, trying to get his feet loose. Both of them were caught between two branches of the peach tree where the limbs grew close together.
And it is a good thing that Bunny could not get his feet loose just then, or he would have wiggled himself to the ground, and he might have been badly hurt, for he would have fallen on his head.
"Oh, Bunny! Bunny! You is playing circus!" cried Sue again. She had finished her first peach, and now, dropping the stone, from which she had been sucking the last, sweet bits of pulp, she stood looking at her brother, dangling from the tree.
"No, I'm not playing circus!" and Bunny's voice sounded now as though he was just ready to cry. "Run and tell grandpa to help me down, Sue!" he begged. "I—I'm choking—I can't hardly breathe, Sue! Run for grandpa!"
Bunny was almost choking, and his face, tanned as it was from the sun and wind, was red now—almost as red as the boiled lobster, the hollow claw of which Bunny once put over his nose to make himself look like Mr. Punch, of the Punch and Judy show. For when boys, or girls either, hang by their feet, with their heads upside down, all the blood seems to run there if they hang too long. And that was what was happening to Bunny Brown.
"Are you sure you isn't playin' circus?" asked Sue.
"No—I—I'm not playing," answered Bunny. "Hurry for grandpa! Oh, how my head hurts!"
"You look just like the circus man," said Sue. For one of the men in the circus Bunny and Sue had seen a few days before had hung by his toes from a trapeze, upside down, just as Bunny was hanging, with his head pointing toward the ground, and his feet near the top of the tent.
But of course the circus man was used to it, and it did not hurt his head as it did Bunny's.
"Hurry, Sue!" begged the little boy.
"All right. I'll get grandpa," Sue cried, as she ran off toward the tree where Grandpa Brown was picking peaches.
"Oh, Grandpa!" cried the little girl. "Come—come hurry up. Bunny—Bunny—he——"
Sue was so out of breath, from having run so fast, and from trying to talk so fast, that she could hardly speak. But Grandpa Brown knew something was the matter.
"What is it, Sue?" he asked. "What has happened to Bunny? Did a bee sting him?"
"No, Grandpa. But he—he's like the circus man, only he says he isn't playin' he is a circus. He's upside down in the tree, and he's a wigglin' an' a wogglin' an' he can't get down, an' his face is all red an' he wants you, an'—an'——"
"My goodness me!" exclaimed Grandpa Brown, setting on the ground his basket, now half full of peaches. "What is that boy up to now?"
For Bunny Brown, and often his sister Sue, did get into all sorts of mischief, though they did not always mean to do so. "What has Bunny done now, I wonder?" asked grandpa.
"He—he couldn't help it," said Sue. "He slipped when he went up the tree, and now he's swinging by his legs just like the man in the circus, only Bunny says he isn't."
"He isn't what?" asked Grandpa Brown, as he hurried along, taking hold of Sue's hand. "What isn't he, Sue? I never did see such children!" and Grandpa Brown shook his head.
"Bunny says he isn't the man in the circus," explained Sue.
"No, I shouldn't think he would be a man in the circus," said grandpa.
"He looks just like a circus man, though," insisted Sue. "But he says he isn't playin' that game."
Sue shook her head. She did not know what it all meant, nor why Bunny was hanging in such a queer way. But Grandpa Brown would make it all right. Sue was sure of that.
"There he is! There's Bunny upside down!" cried Sue, pointing to the tree in which Bunny was hanging by his feet.
"Oh, my!" cried Grandpa Brown. Then he ran forward, took Bunny in his arms, and raised him up. This lifted Bunny's feet free from the tree branches, between which they were caught, and then Grandpa Brown turned the little boy right side up, and set him down on his feet.
"There you are, Bunny!" cried grandpa. "But how did it happen? Were you trying to be a circus, all by yourself?"
"N—n—no," stammered Bunny, for he could hardly get his breath yet. "I—I slipped down when I was reaching for a big, red peach for Sue. But I didn't slip all the way, for my feets caught in the tree."
"Well, it's a good thing they did, or you might have been hurt worse than you were," said Grandpa Brown. "But I guess you're not hurt much now; are you?"
Bunny looked down at his feet. Then he felt of his own arms and legs. He took a long breath. His face was not so red now.
"I—I guess I'm all right," he answered, at last.
"Well, don't climb any more trees," said Grandpa Brown. "You are too little."
Bunny thought he was quite a big boy, but of course grandpa knew what was right.
"I—I won't climb any more peach trees," said Bunny Brown.
"No, nor any other kind!" exclaimed his grandfather. "Just keep out of trees. Little boys and girls are safest on the ground. But now you had better come over where I can keep my eyes on you. I have my basket nearly filled. We'll very soon go back to the house."
Bunny Brown was all right now. So he and Sue went over to the tree where grandpa was picking. They helped to fill the basket, for some of the peaches grew on branches so close to the ground that the children could reach up and pick them without any trouble.
Bunny Brown and his sister Sue had been on grandpa's farm since early summer. Those of you who have read the first book in this series do not need to be told who the children are. But there are some who may want to hear a little about them.
In the first book, named "Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue," I told you how the children, with their father and mother, lived in the town of Bellemere, on Sandport bay, near the ocean. Mr. Brown was in the boat business, and many fishermen hired boats from him.
Aunt Lu came from New York to visit Mrs. Brown, the mother of Bunny and Sue, and while on her visit Aunt Lu lost her diamond ring. Bunny found it in an awfully funny way, when he was playing he was Mr. Punch, in the Punch and Judy show.
In the second book, "Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue on Grandpa's Farm," I told you how the Brown family went to the country in a big automobile, in which they lived just as Gypsies do. They even slept in the big automobile van.
And when Bunny and Sue reached grandpa's farm, after a two days' trip, what fun they had! You may read all about it in the book. And Bunny and Sue did more than just have fun.
The children helped find grandpa's horses, that had been taken away by the Gypsies. The horses were found at the circus, where Bunny and Sue went to see the elephants, tigers, lions, camels and ponies. They also saw the men swinging on the trapeze, high up in the big tent.
Bunny Brown and his sister Sue always wanted to be doing something. If it was not one thing it was another. They often got lost, though they did not mean to. Sometimes their dog Splash would find them.
Splash was a fine dog. He pulled Sue out of the water once, and she called him Splash because he "splashed" in so bravely to get her.
In Bellemere, where Bunny and Sue lived, they had many friends. Every one in town loved the children. Even Wango, the queer monkey pet of Mr. Winkler, the old sailor, liked Bunny and Sue.
But they had not seen Wango for some time now; not since coming to the farm in the country. They had seen a trained bear, which a man led around by a string. The bear climbed a telegraph pole, and did other tricks. Bunny and Sue thought he was very funny. But they did not like him as much as they did the cunning little monkey at home in Bellemere.
Carrying the basket of peaches on his arm, and leading the children, Grandpa Brown walked back to the house. Mrs. Brown, the mother of Bunny and Sue, watched them come up the walk.
"Oh, Sue!" cried her mother. "Look at your dress! What did you spill on it?"
"I—I guess it's peach juice, Mother. It dripped all over. But Bunny hung upside down in the tree, just like the man in the circus, only he wasn't."
I guess Sue was glad to talk about something else beside the peach juice stains on her dress.
"What—what happened?" asked Mother Brown, looking at grandpa. "Did Bunny——?"
"That's right," he said, laughing. "Bunny was hanging, upside down, in a tree. But he wasn't hurt, and I soon lifted him down."
"Oh, what will those children do next?" asked their mother.
"I—I didn't mean to do it," said Bunny. "It—it just—happened. I—I couldn't help it."
"No, I suppose not," said his mother. "But you must go and wash now. Sue, I'll put a clean dress on you, and then I'll see if I can get the peach stains off this one. You ought to have on an old apron."
A little later, Bunny and Sue, now nice and clean, were sitting on the side porch. It was almost time for supper.
"Bunny," asked Sue, "did it hurt when you were playin' you were a circus man only you weren't?"
"No, it didn't exactly hurt," he said slowly. "But it felt funny. Did I really look like a circus man, Sue?"
"Yep. Just like one. Only, of course, you didn't have any nice pink suit on, with spangles and silver and gold."
"Oh, no, of course not," agreed Bunny. "But did I swing by my feet?"
"Yes, Bunny, you did."
For a moment the little chap said nothing. Then he cried out:
"Oh, Sue! I know what let's do!"
"Let's have a circus! It will be lots of fun! We'll get up a circus all by ourselves! Will you help me make a circus?"
THE POOR OLD HEN
Sue looked at Bunny with widely-opened eyes. Then she clapped her hands. Sue always did that when she felt happy, and she felt that way now.
"Oh, Bunny!" she cried. "A circus? A real circus?"
"Well, of course not a real, big one, with lions and tigers and all that," said the little boy. "We couldn't get elephants and camels and bears. But maybe grandpa would let us take his two horses, that he got back from the Gypsies. They have lots of horses in the circus."
"I'd be afraid to ride on a horse," objected Sue, shaking her head.
"You wouldn't if Bunker Blue held you on; would you?"
"No, maybe not then."
"Well, we'll get Bunker Blue to hold us on the horse's back," said Bunny.
Bunker Blue was a big, red-haired boy—almost a man—and he worked for Mr. Brown. Bunker was very fond of Bunny and Sue. Bunker had steered the big automobile in which the Brown family came to grandpa's farm, and he was still staying in the country.
"Do you think we could really get up a circus?" asked Sue, after thinking about what Bunny had said.
"Of course we can," answered the little boy. "Didn't we get up a Punch and Judy show, when I found Aunt Lu's diamond ring?"
"Yes, but that wasn't as big as a circus."
"Well, we need only have a little circus show, Sue."
"Where could we have it, Bunny?"
The little boy thought for a moment.
"In grandpa's barn," he answered. "There's lots of room. It would be just fine."
"Would you and me be all the circus, Bunny?"
"Oh, no. We'd get some of the other boys and girls. We could get Tom White, Nellie Bruce, Jimmie Kenny, Sallie Smith and Ned Johnson. They'd be glad to play circus."
"Yes, I guess they would," said Sue. "It will be lots of fun. But what can we do, Bunny? You haven't any lobster claw to play Mr. Punch now, 'cause it's broke."
"No, we don't want to give a Punch and Judy show, Sue. We want to make this just like a circus, with trapezes and wild animals and——"
"But you said we couldn't have any lions or tigers, Bunny. 'Sides, I'd be afraid of them," and Sue looked over her shoulder as if, even then, an elephant might be reaching out his trunk toward her for some peanuts.
"Oh, of course we couldn't have any real wild animals," said Bunny.
"What kind, then?" Sue wanted to know.
"Make believe kind. I could put some stripes on Splash, and make believe our dog was a tiger, Sue."
"How could you put stripes on him, Bunny?"
"No!" cried Sue, shaking her head. "Splash is half my dog, and I don't want him all painted up. You sha'n't do it, Bunny Brown!"
"All right, then. I'll only paint my half of Splash," said the little boy. "My half can be a striped tiger, and your half can be just a plain dog."
"That would be a funny wild animal," Sue said. "A half tiger and half dog."
"Lots of folks would like to see an animal like that," Bunny said. "I'll just stripe my half of Splash, and leave your half plain, Sue."
"All right. But is you only going to have one wild make-believe animal, Bunny?"
"No, Ned Johnson has a dog. We can make a lion out of him."
"But Ned's dog hasn't any tail," said Sue. "I mean he has only a little baby tail, like a rabbit. Lions always have tails with tassels on the end."
"Well," said Bunny, slowly. "We could make believe this lion had his tail bit off by an elephant."
"Oh, yes," said Sue.
"Or else maybe I could tie a cloth tail on Ned's dog," went on Bunny.
"And lions have manes, too. That's a lot of hair on their neck, like a horse," went on Sue.
"Well, we could take some carpenter shavings and tie them on Ned's dog's neck," said Bunny. "We could make believe that was the lion's mane."
"Yes," agreed Sue, "we could do that. Oh, I think a circus is nice, Bunny. But what else can we have besides the wild animals?"
"Oh, I can make a trapeze from the clothes-line and a broom handle. I could hang by my feet from the trapeze."
"Oh, Bunny! Wouldn't you be afraid?"
"Pooh! No! Didn't I hang in the tree? And I was only a little scared then. I'll get on the trapeze all right."
"And what can I do, Bunny?"
"Oh, you can ride a horse when Bunker Blue holds you on. We'll get mother to make you a blue dress out of mosquito netting, and you can have a ribbon in your hair, like a real circus lady."
"Oh, Bunny, do you s'pose mother will let us have the circus?"
"I guess so. We'll tell her about it, anyhow. But we'll have to get some other boys and girls to help us. And we'll have to make a cage to keep Splash in. He's going to be the wild tiger, you know."
"Oh, but I don't want Splash shut up in a cage!" cried Sue. "I sha'n't let you put my half of him in a cage! And I do own half of him, right down the middle; half his tail is mine, too. You can't put my half of him in any old cage!"
Bunny did not know what to say. It was easy enough to put make-believe tiger stripes on one side, or on half a dog, but it was very hard to put half a dog in a cage, and leave the other half outside. Bunny did not see how it could be done.
"Oh, it won't hurt Splash," said the little boy. "Come on, Sue. Please let me put your half with my half of Splash in a cage."
"No, sir! Bunny Brown! I won't do it! You can't put my half of Splash in a cage. He won't like it."
"But, Sue, it's only a make-believe cage, just as he's a make-believe tiger."
"Oh, well, if it's only a make-believe cage, then, I don't care. But you mustn't hurt him, and you can't put any paint stripes on my half."
"No, I won't, Sue. Now let's go out to the barn and look to see where we can put up the trapezes and rings and things like that, and where I can hang by my feet and by my hands."
"Oh, Bunny! Are you going to do that?"
"Sure!" cried the little boy, as though it was as easy as eating a piece of strawberry shortcake. "You just watch me, Sue."
"Well, I don't want to do that," said Sue. "I'm just going to be a pretty lady and ride a white horse."
"But grandpa hasn't any white horses, Sue. They're brown."
"Well, I can sprinkle some talcum powder on a brown horse and make him white," said the little girl. "Can't I?"
"Oh, yes!" cried Bunny. "That will be fine! But it will take an awful lot of talcum powder to make a big horse all white, Sue."
"Well, I'll just make him spotted white then. I've got some talcum powder of my own, and it smells awful good. I guess a horse would like it; don't you, Bunny?"
"I guess so, Sue. But come out to the barn."
Grandpa Brown had two barns on his farm. One was where the horses and cows were kept, and the other held wagons, carriages and machinery. It was in the horse-barn where the children went—the barn where there were big piles of sweet-smelling hay.
"I can fall on the hay, 'stead of falling in a net, like the circus men do," said Bunny.
"Anyhow, we haven't any circus net," suggested Sue.
"No," agreed Bunny. "But the hay is just as bouncy. I'm going to jump in it!"
He climbed up on the edge of the hay-mow, or place where the hay is kept, and jumped into the dried grass. For hay is just dried grass, you know.
Down into the hay bounced Bunny, and Sue bounced after him. The children jumped up and down in the hay, laughing and shouting. Then they played around the barn, trying to pretend that they were already having the circus in it.
"Oh, it will be such fun!" cried Sue.
"Jolly!" cried Bunny.
"Let's go and ask mother now," said Sue.
The children started for the house. On the way they had to pass a little pond of water. On the edge of it stood a hen, clucking and making a great fuss. She would run toward the water and then come back again, without getting her feet wet.
"Oh, the poor old hen!" cried Sue. "What's the matter? Oh, see, Bunny! All her little chickens are in the water. Oh, Bunny! We must get them out for her. Oh, you poor old hen!"
A STRANGE BOY
Bunny Brown and his sister Sue stood on the shore of the little pond, looking at the old hen, who was fluttering up and down, very much excited, clucking and calling as loudly as she could.
And, paddling up and down in the water in front of her, where the hen dared not go, for chickens don't like to get wet you know, paddling up and down in front of the hen were some soft, fluffy little balls of downy feathers.
"Oh, her chickens will all be drowned!" cried Sue. "We must get them out, Bunny. Take off your shoes and stockings and wade in. I'll help you save the little chickens for the poor old hen."
Sue sat down on the ground, and began to take off her shoes.
Bunny began to laugh.
"Why, what—what's the matter?" asked Sue, and she seemed rather surprised at Bunny's laughter. "Don't you want to save the little chicks for the hen?" Sue went on. "Maybe somebody threw them in the water, or maybe they fell in."
"Those aren't little chickens, Sue!" exclaimed Bunny, still laughing.
"Not chickens? They aren't? Then what are they?"
"Little ducks! That's the reason they went into the water. They know how to swim when they're just hatched out of the eggs. They won't get drowned."
Sue did not know what to say. She had never before seen any baby ducks, and, at first, they did look like newly hatched chickens. But as she watched them she saw they were swimming about, and, as one little baby duck waddled out on the shore, Sue could see the webbed feet, which were not at all like the claws of a chicken.
"But Bunny—Bunny—if they're little ducks and it doesn't hurt them to go in the water, what makes the old hen so afraid?" Sue asked.
"I—I guess she thinks they are chickens. She doesn't know they are ducks and can swim," said Bunny. "I guess that's it, Sue."
"Ha! Ha! Yes, that's it!" a voice exclaimed behind Bunny and Sue. They looked around to see their Grandpa Brown looking at them and laughing.
"The old hen doesn't know what to make of her little family going in swimming," he went on. "You see, we put ducks' eggs under a hen to hatch, Bunny and Sue. A hen can hatch any kind of eggs."
"Can a hen hatch ockstritches' eggs?" Sue wanted to know.
"Well, maybe not the eggs of an ostrich," answered Grandpa Brown. "I guess a hen could only cover one of those at a time. But a hen can hatch ducks' or turkeys' eggs as well as her own kind."
"So as we don't always have a duck that wants to hatch out little ones, we put the ducks' eggs under a hen. And every time, as soon as the little ducks find water, after they are hatched, they go in for a swim, just as if they had a duck for a mother instead of a hen.
"And, of course, the mother hen thinks she has little chickens, for at first she can't tell the little ducks from chickens. And when they go into the water she thinks, just as you did, Sue, that they will be drowned. So she makes a great fuss. But she soon gets over it."
"I guess she's over it now," said Bunny.
Indeed, the old mother hen was not clucking so loudly now, nor was she rushing up and down on the shore of the pond with her wings all fluffed up. She seemed to know that the little family she had hatched out, even if they were not like any others she had taken care of, were all right, and very nice. And she seemed to think that for them to go in the water was all right, too.
As for the little ducklings, they paddled about, and quacked and whistled (as baby ducks always do) and had a perfectly lovely time. The old mother hen stood on the bank and watched them.
Pretty soon the ducks had had enough of swimming, and they came out on dry land, waddling from side to side in the funny way ducks do when they walk.
"Oh! How glad the old hen is to see them safe on shore again!" cried Sue.
And, indeed, the mother hen did seem glad to have her family with her once more. She clucked over them, and tried to hover them under her warm wings, thinking, maybe, that she would dry them after their bath.
But ducks' feathers do not get wet in the water the way the feathers of chickens do, for ducks feathers have a sort of oil in them. So the little ducks did not need to get dry. They ran about in the sun, quacking in their baby voices, and the mother hen followed them about, clucking and scratching in the gravel to dig up things for them to eat.
"They'll be all right now," said Grandpa Brown. "The next time the little ducks go into the water the old hen mother won't be at all frightened, for she will know it is all right. This always happens when we let a chicken hatch out ducks' eggs."
"And I thought the little chickens were drowning!" laughed Sue, as she put on her shoes again.
"Well, that's just what the mother hen thought," said Grandpa Brown. "But what have you children been doing?"
"Getting ready for a circus," answered Bunny Brown.
"A circus!" exclaimed grandpa, in surprise.
"Yes," explained Sue. "Bunny is going to get a trapeze, and fall down in the hay, where it doesn't hurt. And he's going to paint his half of our dog Splash, so Splash will look like a tiger, and we're going to have a horse, and Bunker Blue is going to hold me on so I can ride and—and——"
But that was all Sue could think of just then.
Grandpa Brown looked surprised and, taking off his straw hat, scratched his head, as he always did when thinking.
"Going to have a circus; eh? Well, where abouts?"
"In your barn," said Bunny. "That is, if you'll let us."
Grandpa Brown thought for a little while.
"Well," he said slowly, "I guess I don't mind. I s'pose it's only a make-believe circus; isn't it?"
"Yes," answered Bunny. "Just pretend."
"Oh, well, go ahead. Have all the fun you like, but don't get hurt. Are you two going to be the whole circus?"
"Oh, no!" exclaimed Bunny. "We're going to have Tom White and Ned Johnson——"
"And Nellie Bruce and Sallie Smith," added Sue.
"All the children around here; eh?" asked grandpa. "Well, have a good time. I used to have a trained dog once. He would do finely for your circus."
"What could he do?" Bunny wanted to know.
"Oh, he could pretend to say his prayers, make believe he was dead, he could turn somersaults and climb a ladder."
"Oh, if we only had him for our circus!" cried Bunny.
"Where is that dog now, Grandpa?" asked Sue.
"Oh, he died a good many years ago. But I guess you can get your dog Splash to do some tricks. Have a good time, but don't get into mischief."
"We won't!" promised Bunny Brown and his sister Sue. And they really meant what they said. But you just wait and see what happens.
The rest of that day Bunny and Sue talked about the circus they were going to have. Grandma Brown, as well as father and Mother Brown, said she did not mind if a circus was held in the barn, but she wanted Bunny to be careful about going on the trapeze.
"Oh, if I fall I'll fall in the hay," said the little fellow with a laugh.
"And what are you going to use to put stripes on your half of Splash?" asked his mother.
"Paint, I guess," said Bunny.
"Oh, no. Paint would spoil Splash's nice, fluffy hair. I'll mix you up some starch and water, with a little bluing in, that will easily wash off," promised Mother Brown.
"Blue stripes!" cried Bunny. "A tiger doesn't have blue stripes, and my half of Splash is going to be a tiger."
"You can pretend he is a new sort of tiger," said Grandma Brown, and Bunny was satisfied with that.
That afternoon Bunny and Sue went to the homes of the neighboring children to tell them about the circus. Nearly all the children said they would come, and take part in the show in the barn.
"Oh, we'll have a fine circus!" cried Bunny Brown that night when they were all sitting on the porch to cool off, for it was quite hot.
"Yes, I guess we'll all have to come and see you act," said Daddy Brown.
"Hark! What's that?" suddenly asked Grandma Brown. They all listened, and heard some one knocking at the back door.
"I'll go and look," said grandpa. "Maybe it's a tramp. There have been some around lately."
Bunny and Sue thought of the tramps who had taken the big cocoanut-custard cake, about which I told you in the book before this one. Perhaps those tramps had gotten out of jail and had come to get more cake. Bunny and Sue sat close to mother and father while grandpa went around the corner of the house to see who was knocking at the back door.
They all heard grandpa speaking to some one. And the answers came in a boy's voice.
"What do you want?" asked grandpa.
"If—if you please," said the strange boy's voice, "I—I'm very hungry. I haven't had any dinner or supper. I'm willing to do any work you want, for something to eat. I—I——"
And then it sounded as though the strange boy were crying.
"That isn't a tramp!" exclaimed Grandma Brown, getting up. "It's just a hungry boy. I'm going to feed him."
They all followed Grandma Brown around to the back stoop. There was a light in the kitchen, and by it Bunny and Sue could see a boy, not quite as big as Bunker Blue, standing beside grandpa. The boy had on clothes that were dusty, and somewhat torn. But the boy's face and hands were clean, and he had bright eyes that, just now, seemed filled with tears.
"What is it?" asked Grandma Brown.
"It's a hungry boy, Mother. A strange, hungry boy!" said grandpa. "I guess we'll have to feed him, and then we'll have him tell us his story."
"Come right in and sit down!" was Grandma Brown's invitation. And she said it in such a kind, pleasant voice that the strange boy looked around as though she were speaking to some one who had come up behind him, that he could not see.
"Come right in, and get something to eat," went on the children's grandmother.
"Do you—do you mean me?" asked the strange boy.
"Why, yes. Who else do you s'pose she meant?" asked Grandpa Brown.
"I—I didn't know, sir. You see I—I'm not used to being invited into places that way. I thought maybe you didn't mean it."
"Mean it? Of course I mean it!" said Grandma Brown.
"You're hungry; aren't you?" asked Grandpa Brown.
"Hungry. Oh, sir—I—I haven't had anything since breakfast, and then it was only a green apple and some berries I picked."
"Land sakes!" cried Grandma Brown. "Why didn't you go up to the first house you came to and ask for a meal?"
"I—I didn't like to, ma'am. I thought maybe they'd set the dog on me, thinking I was a tramp."
By this time Splash, the big pet dog, had come around the path. The strange boy looked around as though getting ready to run.
"He won't hurt you," said Bunny quickly. "Splash is a good dog."
Splash went up to the strange boy, rubbed his cold, wet nose on the boy's legs, and then Splash began to wag his tail.
"See, he likes you," said Sue. "He's going to be in our show; Splash is. He's going to be half a blue-striped tiger when we have our circus."
"Circus!" cried the strange boy. "Is—is there a circus around here?" and he seemed much surprised, even frightened, Bunny thought afterward.
"No, there isn't any circus," said Grandpa Brown. "It's only a make-believe one the children are getting up. But we musn't keep you standing here talking when you're half starved. Get him something to eat, Mother. The idea of being afraid to go to a house and ask for something!" said Grandpa Brown, in a low voice.
"That shows he isn't a regular tramp; doesn't it?" asked Mother Brown.
"I should say so—yes," answered grandpa. "But there is something queer about that boy."
By this time Grandmother Brown had gone into the kitchen. She told the strange boy to follow her, and soon she had set out in front of him some bread and butter, a plate of cold meat and a big bowl of cool, rich, creamy milk.
"Now you just eat all you want," said Grandma Brown, kindly.
Bunny and Sue had come out into the kitchen, and they now stood staring at the strange boy. He had a pleasant face, though, just now, it looked pale, and all pinched up from hunger, like a rubber ball that hasn't any air in it.
The boy looked around the kitchen, as though he did not know just what to do. In his hand he held a ragged cap he had taken off his head when he came in.
"Did you want something?" asked Grandma Brown.
"I—I was looking for a place to hang my hat. And then I'd like to wash. I'm all dust and dirt."
Grandma Brown smiled. She was pleased—Bunny and Sue could see that—for Grandma Brown liked clean and neat boys and girls who hung up their hats and bonnets, and washed their faces and hands, without being told to do so.
"Hang your cap over on that nail," said Grandpa Brown, pointing to one behind the stove. "And you can wash at the sink to-night. Now you two tots had better go to bed!" grandpa went on, as he saw Bunny and Sue standing with their backs against the wall, watching the strange boy.
"We—we want to stay and see him eat," objected Sue.
The boy smiled, and Mrs. Brown laughed.
"This isn't a circus, where you watch the animals eat," she said. "You come along with me, and, when this young man has finished his supper, you can see him again."
"Oh, but—if you please—you're very good. But after I eat this nice meal I'll—I'll be going on," said the boy.
"No you'll not!" said Grandpa Brown. "You'll just stay here all night. We can put you up. I think it's going to storm. You don't want to be out in the rain?"
"Oh, that's very good of you," the boy said, "But I don't want to be a trouble to you."
"It won't be any trouble," Grandpa Brown said. Then he went out of the kitchen with Mother Brown, Bunny and Sue, leaving Grandma Brown to wait on the strange boy. Splash stayed in the kitchen too. Perhaps the big dog was hungry himself.
"That boy isn't a regular tramp," said Grandpa Brown. "But there is something queer about him. He seems afraid. I must have a talk with him after he eats."
"He seems nice and neat," said Mother Brown.
"Yes, he's clean. I like him for that. Well, we'll soon find out what he has to tell me."
But the boy did not seem to want to talk much about himself, when Grandpa Brown began asking questions, after the meal.
"You have run away; haven't you?" Grandpa Brown asked.
"Yes—yes, sir, I did run away."
"No, I haven't had any home, that I can remember. I didn't run away from home. I was working."
"On a farm?"
"No, sir. I didn't work on a farm."
"Where was it then?"
"I—I'd rather not tell," the boy said, looking around him as though he thought some one might be after him.
"Look here!" said Grandpa Brown. "You haven't been a bad boy; have you?"
"No—no, sir. I've tried to be good. But the—the people I worked for made it hard for me. They wanted me to do things I couldn't, and they beat me and didn't give me enough to eat. So I just ran away. They may come after me—that's why I don't want to tell you. If you don't know where I ran from, you won't know what to tell them if they come after me. But I'll go now."
The boy got up from the table, as though to go out into the night. It was raining now.
"No, I won't let you go," said Grandpa Brown. "And I won't give you up to the people who beat you. I'll look into this. You can stay here to-night. You can sleep in the room with Bunker Blue. He'll look after you. Now I hope you have been telling me the truth!"
"Oh, yes, sir. It's all true. I did work for—for some people, and they half starved me and made me work very hard. I just had to run away, and I hope they don't catch me and take me back."
"Well, I hope so, too," Grandpa Brown said. "I can't imagine what sort of work you did. You don't look very strong."
"I'm not. But I didn't have to be so very strong."
"Not strong enough to work on a farm, I guess."
"Oh, I'm strong enough for that—yes, sir! Feel my muscle!" and the boy bent up his arm. Grandpa Brown put his hand on it.
"Yes, you have some muscle," he said. "Well, maybe you will be all right. Anyhow you'll be better off for a good night's sleep. I'll call Bunker and have him look after you."
The strange boy, who said his name was Ben Hall, went up stairs with Bunker Blue to go to bed. Bunny and Sue were also taken off to their little beds.
"Well, what do you think of the new boy?" Bunny heard his father ask of Grandpa Brown, just before the lights were put out for the night.
"Well, I think there's something queer about him," Grandpa Brown said. "I'd like to know where he was working before he came here. But I'll ask him again to-morrow. He seems like a nice, clean boy. But he certainly is queer!"
BEN HALL HELPS
Early the next morning Bunny and Sue jumped out of bed, and ran down stairs in their bath robes. Out into the kitchen they hurried, where they could hear their grandmother singing.
"Where is he?" asked Bunny, eagerly.
"Did he have his breakfast?" Sue wanted to know.
"Who?" asked Grandma Brown. "What are you children talking about? And why aren't you dressed?"
"We just got up," Bunny explained, "and we came down stairs right away. Where is Ben Hall?"
"Did he go away?" asked Sue, and she looked all around the kitchen.
"Bless your hearts!" exclaimed Grandma Brown. "You mean the strange, hungry boy, who came last night? Oh, he's up long ago!"
"Did he go away?" asked Sue.
"I hope he didn't," cried Bunny. "I like him, and I hope he'll stay here and play with us. He could help us with the circus."
"Did he go away?" asked Sue again, anxiously.
"Oh, no," Grandma Brown answered. "He went out to help Bunker Blue feed the chickens and the cows and horses. He is very willing to work, Ben is."
"Is grandpa going to keep him?" Bunny asked.
"For a while, yes," said his grandmother. "The poor boy has no home, and no place to go. Where he ran away from he won't tell, but he seems badly frightened. So we are going to take care of him for a little while, and he is going to help around the farm. There are many errands and chores to do, and a good boy is always useful."
"I'm glad he's going to stay," said Bunny.
"So'm I," added Sue. "Maybe he can make boats, Bunny, and a water wheel that we can fix to turn around at a waterfall."
"Maybe," agreed Bunny. "Where is Ben, Grandma?"
"Oh, now he's out in the barn, somewhere, I expect. But you two tots must get dressed and have your breakfast. Then you can go out and play."
"We'll find Ben," said Bunny.
"Yes," agreed Sue. "We'll have two boys to play with now—Ben and Bunker Blue."
"Oh, you two children mustn't expect the big boys to play with you all the while," said Grandma Brown. "They have to work."
"But they can play with us sometimes; can't they, Grandma?" asked Bunny.
"Oh, yes, sometimes."
A little later the two children, having had their breakfast, ran to the barn, to look for Ben and Bunker. They found them leading the horses out to the big drinking trough in front. The trough was filled from a spring, back of the barn, the water running through a pipe.
"Oh, Bunker, give me a ride on Major's back!" cried Sue, as she saw her father's red-haired helper leading the old brown horse.
"Put me on his back, Bunker!"
"All right, Sue! Come along. Whoa, there, Major!"
Major stood still, for he was very gentle. Bunker lifted Sue up on the animal's broad back, and held her there while he led the horse to the drinking trough.
"Do you want a ride, too?" asked Ben Hall of Bunny.
"Yes," answered the little boy.
"Here you go then. We'll both ride this horse to water."
Ben Hall did a strange thing. All at once he jumped up in the air, and before Bunny or Sue knew what he was doing the strange boy was sitting on the back of Prince, the other horse. He had jumped up as easily as a bouncing, rubber ball.
"Now then, come over here, and I'll lift you up in front of me!" called Ben to Bunny, and soon the little fellow was sitting on the back of Prince, while Ben guided him to the drinking trough.
"Say, that's a good way to get up on a horse's back, Ben!" called Bunker Blue, who had seen what Ben had done. "Where did you learn that trick of jumping up?"
"Oh, I—I just sort of learned it—that's all. It's easy when you practise it."
"Well, I'm going to practise then," said Bunker. "I'd like to learn to jump on a horse's back the way you did."
When the horses had had their water Bunker lifted Sue down from the back of Major.
"But I want to ride back to the barn," the little girl said.
"And in a minute so you shall," promised Bunker. "Only, just now, I want to see if I can jump up the way Ben did."
Bunker tried it, but he nearly fell.
"I can't do it," he said. "It looks easy, but it's hard. You must have had to practise a good while, Ben."
"Yes, I did."
"Oh, about five years!"
Bunker Blue whistled in surprise.
"Five years!" he cried. "I'll never be able to do that. Let me see once more how you do it."
Ben lifted Bunny down, and once more the strange boy leaped with one jump upon the back of the horse.
"Why, he does it just like the men in the circus!" exclaimed Sue. "Oh, Bunny, Ben will make a good jumper in our circus."
"Yes," agreed the little boy. "Do you think, Ben, you could show me how to get on a horse's back that way?" Bunny asked.
"Well, I'm afraid not—not such a little boy as you," answered Ben, as he lifted Bunny up on Prince's back once more for the ride to the barn.
The horses were tied in their stalls again, after Bunny and Sue had been lifted from the backs of the animals. Then Bunny said:
"You are going to stay here and help work on the farm, Ben. My grandmother said so. And, if you are, will you come out and look at the barn where we are going to have our circus? Maybe you and Bunker can help us put up the trapeze."
"Not now, Bunny boy," said Bunker. "We have to go and pull weeds out of the garden. We'll look at the barn right after dinner."
And this Ben and Bunker did. Bunny and Sue showed Ben the mow, and the pile of hay, into which the trapeze performers were to fall, instead of into nets.
"So they won't get hurt," Bunny explained. "We haven't any nets, anyhow."
"Do you think we could have a circus here?" Sue wanted to know.
"Why, I should think so," Ben answered, looking up toward the roof of the barn. "Yes, you could have a good make-believe circus here."
"Will you help?" asked Bunny eagerly.
Ben Hall laughed, and looked at Bunny and Sue in a queer sort of way.
"What makes you think I can help you make a play-circus?" he asked.
"Oh, I guess you can, all right," spoke up Bunker Blue. "I guess you know more about a circus than you let us think. Don't you now?"
"Oh, well, I've seen 'em," said Ben, slowly.
"And the way you jumped on the horse—why, you must have been watching pretty hard to see just how to do that," Bunker went on. "I've seen lots of circuses, but I can't jump up the way you can, Ben."
"Then he can ride a horse in our circus," said Sue.
"Can you hang on a trapeze?" asked Bunny.
"Well, maybe," the new boy answered. "But you haven't any trapeze here, have you?"
"We can make one, out of a broom stick and some clothes line," said Bunny. "I've got 'em all ready," and he showed where he had put, in a hole in the hay, the rope and stick.
"Good! That's the idea!" exclaimed Ben Hall. "Now I'll just climb up to the roof beams, and fasten the rope of the trapeze."
Up climbed Ben, and he was making fast the ropes, when, all at once Bunny, Sue and Bunker Blue, who were watching the strange boy, saw him suddenly slip off the beam on which he was standing.
"Oh, poor Ben!" sighed Sue. "He's going to get an awful hard bump, so he is!"
BUNNY HAS A FALL
Down and down, from the big beam near the top of the barn, fell Ben Hall. And, as Bunny Brown and his sister Sue watched the new, strange boy, something queer happened.
For, instead of falling straight down, head first or feet first as you would think any one ought to fall, Ben began turning over and over. Over and over he turned, first his feet and then his head and then his back being pointed toward the pile of hay on the bottom of the barn floor.
"Oh, look! look!" cried Sue.
"What—what makes him do that?" asked Bunny Brown.
"I guess he wants to," answered Bunker Blue. Bunny and his sister thought they were going to be frightened when they saw Ben slip and fall. But when the children saw Bunker Blue laughing they smiled too.
It was queer to see Ben turning over and over in that funny way.
"I guess he likes to do it," said Bunker.
"Whoop-la!" yelled Ben as he came somersaulting down, for that is what he was doing; turning one somersault after another, over and over in the air as he fell.
And then, in a few seconds, he landed safely on his feet in a soft pile of hay, so he wasn't hurt a bit.
"Oh!" exclaimed Sue.
"Oh my!" cried Bunny Brown.
"Say, that was fine!" shouted Bunker Blue. "How did you do it?"
"Oh, I—I just did it," answered Ben, slowly, for he was a little out of breath. "I slipped, and when I found I was going to fall, I began to turn somersaults to make it easier coming down."
"I should think it would be harder," said Bunny Brown.
"Not when you know how," answered Ben, smiling.
"Where'd you learn how?" Bunker wanted to know.
"Oh, a man—a man showed me how," returned Ben. "But never mind about that now. I must fasten the rope to the beam, and then we'll fix the trapeze so Bunny can do some circus acts on it."
"But not high up!" cried Sue. "You won't go on a high trapeze, will you, Bunny?"
"Not very high," he answered. "But I would like to turn somersaults in the air like you, Ben. Will you show me how?"
"Some day, when you get bigger. You're too small now."
"I wouldn't want to turn somersaults," said Sue, shaking her head.
"They aren't for girls, anyhow," flung forth Bunny.
Bunker Blue looked at Ben sharply.
"I think I can guess where you learned to turn those somersaults in the air," said the boat-boy. "It was in a—"
"Hush! Don't tell any one!" whispered Ben quickly. "I'll tell you all about it after a while. Now help me put up the trapeze."
Bunny heard what Ben and Bunker said, but he did not think much about it then. The little boy was looking up to see from what a height Ben had fallen, and Bunny was wondering what he would ever do if he tumbled down so far.
Bunker and Ben climbed the ladder to the beam far above the hay pile, and soon they had fastened up the ropes of the trapeze. They pulled hard on them to make sure they were strong enough, so Bunny would not have a fall.
Then the piece of broom handle was tied on the two lower ends of the ropes, and the trapeze was finished.
"Now you can try it, Bunny," said Bunker, after he had swung on the trapeze for a few times to make sure it was safe.
Bunny walked across the barn floor where some hay had been spread to make a sort of cushion.
"We'll use hay, instead of a net as they do in a circus," Bunny said.
"Anyhow we haven't got any net," put in Sue.
"We can make believe the hay is a new kind," said her brother.
Bunny hung by his hands from the wooden bar of the trapeze, just as he had seen the men do in the circus. Then he began to swing slowly back and forth.
"Oh, Bunny!" cried Sue. "That's fine. Now turn yourself inside out, like the circus man did."
"No, Bunny can't do that yet," said Ben. "He must first do easy things on the trapeze. Turning yourself inside out is too hard. Bunny is not strong enough for those tricks."
To and fro swung Bunny, but soon his arms began to get tired.
"I—I want to get down!" he called. "Stop the swing—I mean the trapeze," for the trapeze was very much like a swing, as I have told you, only, instead of a board, it had only a stick to which the little boy was holding by his hands. "I want to get down," Bunny called. "Stop me, Bunker."
"Let go and jump," advised Ben.
"Oh, I—I'm afraid," said Bunny.
"You won't get hurt!" exclaimed the older boy. "You must learn to jump from the trapeze into the soft hay. That's what they do in a circus. Jump while you're swinging. You won't get hurt."
"Are you sure, Ben?"
"Sure. Give a jump now, and see what happens."
Bunny wanted to do some of the things he had seen the circus men do, and one of them was jumping from the trapeze. The little boy looked down at the pile of hay below him. It seemed nice and soft, but it also looked to be a good distance off.
"Come on, Bunny, jump!" called Bunker.
"All right. Here I come!"
Bunny let go of the trapeze bar. He shot through the air, and, for a second or two, he was afraid he was going to be hurt. But, the next thing he knew, he had landed feet first on a soft pile of hay and he wasn't hurt a bit!
"Good!" cried Bunker Blue.
"You did that well!" said Ben Hall.
"Just like in a circus," added Sue.
"Did I do it good?" asked Bunny Brown.
"You surely did. For the first time it was very good for such a small boy," answered Ben. "Now try again."
"Oh, I like it!" Bunny cried. "I'm going to do it lots and lots of times, and then I'm going to turn somersaults."
"Well, not right away," advised Ben. "Try the easy part for a while yet."
Bunny swung on the trapeze some more, and dropped into the soft hay. He was not at all afraid now, and each time he did it he liked it more and more.
Sue, also, wanted to try it, and so she hung by her little hands. But Bunker Blue put his strong arms under her so, in case she slipped, she would be caught. Sue did not swing on the trapeze, nor jump, as Bunny had done.
Bunker and Ben put up more trapezes in the barn—big ones for themselves. Ben could swing and turn somersaults and drop off into the hay from away up near the roof of the barn. Bunker could not do quite as well as this, but, for all that, he was pretty good.
"Will you two act in our circus?" asked Bunny of Bunker and Ben.
"Why, yes, I guess I will, if your grandfather lets me stay here on this nice farm," Ben answered.
"Oh, he'll let you stay," Bunny said. "I'll tell him we want you in our circus."
"All right," laughed Ben. "Bunker and I will practise some trapeze acts for your show."
For a little while longer Bunny and Sue played about in the barn. Bunny found an old strawberry crate, with a cover on.
"This will make a wild animal cage," he said. "The slats are just like the bars of a cage, and the animal can look through."
"What wild animal will you put in there?" asked Bunker.
"Oh, I guess I'll put in Splash. He is going to be half a blue striped tiger."
"No! No!" cried Sue. "That crate isn't big enough for Splash. You'll squash him all up. I'm not going to have my half of Splash all squashed up, Bunny Brown!"
"Well, then I'll get a bigger cage for Splash. We can get a little dog, and put him in here."
Two or three days after this Bunny and Sue again went out to the barn to look at the circus trapezes, and play. Bunker Blue and Ben were not with them this time, as the two older boys were weeding the garden for Grandpa Brown.
Bunny swung on his little, low trapeze, and then, after he had jumped off into the hay as Ben had taught him, the little fellow began climbing the ladder to the beam on which was fastened the big and high trapeze.
"Oh, Bunny! Where you going?" asked Sue.
"Up here. I want to see how high it looks."
"Oh, Bunny Brown! You come right down, or I'll go and tell mamma! She said you weren't to climb up high."
"I—I'm not going very high, Sue."
Bunny was half way up the ladder. And, just as he spoke to Sue, his foot slipped, and down he fell, in between two rounds of the ladder.
"Oh! oh!" cried Sue. "Oh, Bunny! You're going to fall!"
But Bunny did not fall all the way. As he slipped, his hands caught hold of a round of the ladder, and there he clung, just as if he had hold of the bar of his swinging trapeze.
THE DOLL IN THE WELL
Bunny Brown hung there on the ladder, swinging to and fro. On the barn floor below him, stood his sister Sue, watching, and almost ready to cry, for Sue was afraid Bunny would fall.
"Oh, Bunny! Bunny!" she exclaimed. "Don't fall! Don't fall!"
"I—I can't help it," Bunny answered. "My fingers are slipping off!"
And indeed they were. He could not hold to the big round stick of the ladder as well as he could to the smaller broom-handle stick of his trapeze.
Bunny Brown looked down. And then he saw something that frightened him more than had Sue's cries.
For, underneath him was the bare floor of the barn, with no soft hay on which to fall—on which to bounce up and down like a rubber ball.
"Oh, Sue!" cried Bunny. "I'm going to fall, and—and—"
He did not finish what he started to say, but he wiggled his feet and legs, pointing them at the bare floor of the barn, over which he hung.
But Sue saw and understood.
"Wait a minute, Bunny!" she cried. "Don't fall yet! Wait a minute, and I'll throw some hay down there for you to fall on!"
"All—all right!" answered Bunny. He did not want to talk much, for it took nearly all his breath and strength to hold on to the ladder. But he was glad Sue had thought of the hay. He was going to tell her to get it, but she guessed it herself.
Putting her doll carefully in a corner, on a little wisp of hay, Sue ran to the edge of the mow, where there was a big pile of the dried grass, which the horses and cows eat.
With both her chubby hands, Sue began to pull the hay out, and scatter it on the barn floor under Bunny. Her brother hung right over her head now, clinging to the ladder.
"Haven't you got 'most enough hay there now, Sue?" asked Bunny. "I—I can't hold on much longer."
"Wait just a minute!" called Sue, as she ran back to the mow. This time she managed to gather up a lot of hay in her two arms. This she piled on the other, and she was only just in time.
"Look out!" suddenly cried Bunny. "Here I come!"
And down he did come. Plump! Right on the pile of hay Sue had made for him. And it was a good thing the hay was there, or Bunny might have hurt his legs by his tumble. He did not try to turn a somersault as Ben did, the time he fell. Bunny was glad enough just to fall down straight.
"Oh, Bunny! Bunny! Did you hurt yourself?" cried Sue, as she saw her brother sit down in the pile of hay.
Bunny did not answer for a minute. He looked all around, as though he did not know exactly what had happened. Then he glanced up at the ladder to which he had clung.
"That—that was a big fall," he said slowly. "I—I'm glad the hay was there, Sue. I'm glad you put it under me."
"So'm I glad," declared Sue. "I guess you won't want to be in a circus, will you, Bunny?"
"Sure I will. Men fall in circuses, only they fall in nets. But hay is better than a net, 'cept that it tickles you," and Bunny took from his neck some pieces of dried grass that made him wiggle, and "squiggle," as Sue called it.
"Hello! What happened here?" asked a voice, and the children looked up to see, standing in the door of the barn, Grandpa Brown. "What happened?" asked the farmer. "Did you fall, Bunny?"
I think he must have guessed that, from seeing the way Bunny was sitting on the little pile of hay.
"Yes, I—I slipped off the ladder," said the little boy. "But I didn't get hurt."
"'Cause I spread hay under him," said Sue. "I thought of it all by myself."
"That was fine!" said Grandpa Brown. "But, after this, Bunny, don't you climb up on any ladders, or any other high places. If you are going to use my barn for your circus, you must not get hurt."
"We won't!" Bunny promised.
"Then keep off ladders. Your little low trapeze is all right, for you will fall in the hay if you slip off that. But no more ladder-climbing!"
"All right, Grandpa." Bunny got up. Sue picked up her doll, and Grandpa Brown put back the hay into the mow, for he did not like his barn floor covered with the dried grass, though, of course, he was very glad Sue had put some there for Bunny to fall on.
Bunny and Sue went out of the barn, and walked around to the shady side. It was only a little while after breakfast, hardly time to go in and ask for something more to eat, which the children did every day about ten o'clock. At that hour Grandma Brown generally had some bread and jam, or jelly tarts, ready for them.
"What can we do until jam-time?" asked Sue, of her brother.
"I don't know," he answered. "It's pretty hot."
There was nothing more they could do about the circus just then. Bunker and Ben were to make some more trapezes, put other things in the barn, and make the seats. Several other boys and girls had been asked to take part in the "show," but they were not yet sure that their mothers and fathers would let them.
So, for a few days, Bunny and Sue could do no more about the circus.
"But we ought to do something," said Bunny. "It's so hot—"
That gave Sue an idea.
"We could go paddling in the brook, and get our feet cooled off," said Bunny's sister.
"Yes, but we wouldn't be back here in time to get our bread and jam."
"That's so," Sue agreed.
It would never do to miss "jam-time."
"My doll must be hot, too," Sue went on. "I wonder if we could give her a bath?"
"How?" Bunny wanted to know.
"Why, down in the well," suddenly cried Sue. "We could tie a string around her, and let her down in the well water. That would give her a bath. She's a rubber doll, and a bath won't hurt her. It will do her good."
"We'll do it!" cried Bunny.
The well was not far from the house. A little later, with a string he had taken from his kite, Bunny was helping Sue lower her rubber doll down the big hole, at the bottom of which was the cool water that was pulled up in a bucket.
"Splash!" went the doll down in the well. By leaning over the edge of the wooden box that was built around the water-place, Bunny and Sue could see the rubber doll splashing up and down in the water far below them.
"Oh, she likes it! She likes it!" cried Sue, jumping up and down in delight. "Doesn't she just love it, Bunny?"
"I guess so," her brother answered. "But she can't talk and tell us so, of course."
"Course not!" Sue exclaimed. "My dolls can't talk, 'ceptin' my phonograph one, and she says 'Mamma' and 'Papa,' only now she's broken, inside, and she can't do nothin' but make a buzzin' sound, but I like her just the same."
"But if a doll can't talk, how do you know when she likes anything?" asked Bunny.
"Why, I—I just know—that's all," Sue answered.
"All right," agreed Bunny. "Now it's my turn to pull her up and down, Sue."
There was a long string tied around the doll, and the two children were taking turns raising and lowering Sue's play-baby, so the rubber doll would splash up and down in the water.
"All right. I'll let you do it once, and then it's my turn again," Sue said. "I guess she's had enough bath now. I'll have to feed her."
"And we'll get some bread and jam ourselves, Sue."
Just how it happened neither Bunny nor Sue could tell afterward, but Bunny either did not get a good hold of the string, or else it slipped through his fingers.
Anyhow, just as Sue was passing the cord to him, it slipped away, and down into the well went doll, string and all.
"Oh, Bunny! Bunny Brown!" cried Sue. "You've drowned my lovely doll! Oh, dear!"
THE STRIPED CALF
Bunny Brown was so surprised at seeing the rubber doll and string slip back with a splash into the well, that, for a moment, he did not know what to do or say. He just stood leaning over, and looking down, as though that would bring the doll back.
"Oh, dear!" sighed Sue again. "Oh, Bunny!"
"I—I didn't mean to!" pleaded Bunny sadly enough.
"But I'll never get her back again!" went on Sue. "Oh, my lovely rubber doll!"
"Maybe—maybe she can swim up!" said Bunny.
"She—she can not!" Sue cried. "How can she swim up when there isn't any water 'cept away down there in the bottom of the well?"
"If she was a circus doll she could climb up the bucket-rope, Sue."
"Yes, but she isn't a circus doll. Oh, dear!"
"And if I was a circus man, I could climb down the rope and get her!" Bunny went on.
"Oh, don't you dare do that!" Sue fairly screamed. "If you do you'll fall in and be drowned. Don't do it, Bunny!" and she clung to him with all her might.
"I won't, Sue!" the little fellow promised. "But I can see your doll down there, Sue. She's floating on top of the water—swimming, maybe, so she isn't drowned.
"Oh, I know what let's do!" Bunny cried, after another look down the well.
"What?" Sue wanted to know.
"Let's go tell grandpa. He'll get your doll up with the long-handled rake."
"With the rake?" cried Sue.
"Yes. Don't you remember grandpa told us how once the bucket of the well got loose from the rope, and fell into the water. He fished the bucket up with the rake, tied to a long pole. He can do that to your doll."
"But he might stick her with the teeth of the rake," said Sue. She knew the iron teeth of a rake were sharp, for once she had stepped on a rake when Bunny had left it in the grass, after raking the lawn at home.
"Well, maybe grandpa can tangle the rake in the string around the doll, and pull her up that way. It wouldn't hurt then."
"No," agreed Sue. "That wouldn't hurt."
"Then let's go tell grandpa," urged Bunny once more.
Leaving the doll to swim in the well as best she could, the two children ran toward the house. They saw their grandpa coming from it, and at once they began to cry:
"Oh, Grandpa, she fell in!"
"Come and get her out of the well!"
"Bring the long-handled rake, Grandpa!"
Grandpa was so surprised, at first, that he did nothing except stand still and look at the children. Then he managed to ask:
"Who is it? What is it? What happened? Who fell down the well? Did Bunny fall in? Did Sue?"
Then as he saw the two children themselves standing and looking at him, Grandpa Brown knew nothing had happened to either of them.
"But who is in the well?" he asked.
"My rubber doll," answered Sue. "Bunny let the string slip when we gave her a bath."
"But I didn't mean to," Bunny said. "I couldn't help it. But you can get her out with the rake; can't you, Grandpa. Same as you did the bucket."
"Well, I guess maybe I can," Grandpa Brown answered. "I'll try anyhow. And, after this, you children must keep away from the well."
"We will," promised Bunny.
The well bucket often came loose from the rope, and grandpa had several times fished it up with the rake, which he tied to a long clothes-line pole. In a few minutes he was ready to go to the well, with Bunny and Sue. Grandpa Brown carried the rake, and, reaching the well, he looked down in it.
"I don't see your doll, Sue," he said.
"Oh, then she's drowned! Oh, dear!"
"But I see a string," went on Grandpa Brown. "Perhaps the string is still fast to the doll. I'll wind the string around the end of the rake, and pull it up. Maybe then I'll pull up the doll too."
And that is just what grandpa did. Up and up he lifted the long-handled rake. Around the teeth was tangled the end of the string. Carefully, very carefully, Grandpa Brown took hold of the string and pulled.
"Is she coming up, Grandpa?" asked Sue anxiously.
"I think she is," said grandpa slowly. "There is something on the end of the string, anyhow. But maybe it's a fish."
Grandpa smiled, and then the children knew he was making fun.
"Oh, dear!" said Sue. "I hope my doll hasn't turned into a goldfish."
But nothing like that had happened. Up came the rubber doll, safely, on the end of the string. Water ran from the round hole in the doll's back—the hole that was a sort of whistle, which made a funny noise when Sue squeezed her doll, as she did when "loving" her.
"There you are! Your doll's all right," said Grandpa Brown. "Now you children must not come near the well again. When you want to give your doll a bath, Sue, dangle her in the brook, where it isn't deep. And if you put a cork in the hole in her back, she won't get full of water and sink."
"That's so," said Bunny Brown. "The water leaked in through that hole. We'll stop it up next time, Sue."
"Oh, no!" Sue cried. "That hole is where she breathes. But I'll only wash her in a basin after this, so she can't get drowned."
It was now time for bread and jam, and Sue and Bunny were soon eating it on the shady back porch. Mother Brown told them, just as their grandpa had done, to keep away from the well, and they said they would.
Bunny and Sue then went wading in the brook until dinner time. And then they had a little sleep in the hammocks in the shade, under the apple tree.
"What shall we do now, Bunny!" asked Sue when she awoke from her little nap, and saw her brother looking over at her from his hammock. Sue always wanted to be doing something, and so did Bunny. "What can we do?" asked the little brown-eyed girl.
"Let's go out to the barn again," said Bunny. "Maybe Bunker Blue, or Ben, is out there now, making some more circus things."
But when Bunny and Sue reached the place where they were going to have their show in a few weeks, they saw neither of the big boys. They did see something that interested them, though.
This was the hired man who, with a big pot of green paint, was painting the wheelbarrow.
"Hello, Henry!" exclaimed Bunny to the man, who was working in the shade at one side of the barn.
"Hello, Bunny!" answered Henry. "How are you this afternoon?"
"Good. How is yourself?"
Henry went on putting green paint on the wheelbarrow. Then Bunny said:
"I couldn't do that; could I, Henry? I mean you wouldn't let me paint; would you?"
"No, Bunny. I'm afraid not. You'd get it all over your clothes. I couldn't let you."
"I—I thought you couldn't," returned Bunny with a sigh. "But I just asked, you know, Henry."
"Yes," said the hired man with a smile. "I know. But you'd better go off and play somewhere else."
It was more fun, though, for Bunny Brown and his sister Sue to watch Henry paint, and they stood there for some time. Finally the hired man stopped painting.
"Guess I'll go and get a drink of water," he said, putting the brush in the pot of green paint. "Now don't touch the wheelbarrow."
"We won't!" promised Bunny and Sue.
Just then, inside the barn, there sounded a loud:
"What's that, Bunny?" asked Sue.
"One of the new little calves. Want to see them?"
Of course Sue did, and soon she and Bunny were petting one of the calves. They were in little pens, by themselves, near the mother cows, and the children could reach over the sides of the pens, inside the barn, and pat the little animals.
All at once Bunny cried:
"Oh, Sue. I know what we can do!"
"What?" she asked.
"We can stripe a calf green, with the green paint, and we'll have a zebra for our circus."
"What's a zebra?" Sue wanted to know.
"It's a striped horse. They have 'em in all circuses. We'll make one for ours."
"Does zebras have green stripes, Bunny?"
"I don't know. But green paint is all we have, so we'll use that. A green striped zebra would be pretty, I think."
"So do I, Bunny. But Henry told us not to touch the paint."
"No, he didn't, Sue. He only told us to keep away from the wheelbarrow, and I am. I won't go near it. But we'll get the pot of paint, and stripe the calf green."
"All right," agreed Sue. "I'll hold the paint-pot, and you can dip your brush in."
Not meaning to do anything wrong, of course, Bunny and Sue hurried to get the pot of paint. Henry had not come back. Leaning over the edge of the calf's pen, Bunny dipped the brush in the paint, and began striping the baby cow.
"Baa-a-a-a-a!" went the little animal, and the old cow went: "Moo!"
THE OLD ROOSTER
Again and again Bunny Brown dipped the brush in the green paint the hired man had left, and stripe after stripe did the little fellow put on the calf.
"She'll be a regular circus zebra when I'm done," said Bunny Brown to his sister Sue. Both children laughed in glee.
"Are you going to paint both sides of the calf, Bunny?"
"I am if I can reach. Maybe I can't. Anyhow, a zebra ought to be painted on both sides. Not like we're going to do our dog Splash; only on one side, to make a pretend blue-striped tiger of him."
Sue seemed to be thinking of something.
"Doesn't he look nice?" asked Bunny of his sister. "Isn't he going to be a fine zebra?"
He stood back from the box-stall where the calf was kept, so Sue could see how the little animal looked.
"Doesn't he look pretty, Sue? Just like a circus zebra, only of course they're not green. But isn't he nice?"
"Yes," said Sue, "he is pretty."
The calf, after jumping around some when Bunny first put the paint on, was now standing very still, as though he liked it. Of course the calf did not know that the paint would not wear off for a long time. Then, too, the cow mother had put her head over from the next stall, where she was tied, and she was rubbing her big red tongue on the calf's head. The calf liked its cow mother to rub it this way, and maybe that is why the little calf stood still.
"It's going to look real nice, Bunny," said Sue, as she looked at the green stripes Bunny had put on. "I—I guess I'll let you put blue stripes on my half of Splash, too. Then he'll look all over like a tiger; won't he, Bunny?"
"Sure. I'm glad you'll let me, Sue. 'Cause a dog, only half striped, would look funny. Now I'll see if I can put some stripes on the other side of the calf."
Bunny tried to reach the side of the little animal he had not yet painted, but he could not do it from where he stood.
"I'm going over in the stall with it," Bunny said. "You hand me the pail of paint when I get there, Sue."
"Oh, Bunny! Are you going right in with the calf?"
"He—he'll bite you!"
"No, he won't. Calves haven't any teeth. They only eat milk, and they don't have to chew that. They don't get teeth until they're big.
"I'm not afraid," said Bunny Brown, as he climbed over into the calf's pen. Sue stood as near as she could, so Bunny could dip his brush in the green paint. Bunny was careful not to get any on his own suit, or on Sue's dress. That is he was as careful as any small boy could be. But, even then, he did splash some of the paint on himself and on Sue. But the children did not think of this at the time. They were so busy having fun, turning a calf into a circus zebra.
Bunny had put a number of green stripes on one side of the calf, and now he was ready to put some on the other. But the calf did not stand as still with Bunny inside the stall with her, as when he had been outside. The calf seemed frightened.
"Baa-a-a-a-a!" it cried. "Baa-a-a-a-a! Baa-a-a-a-a!"
And the old mother cow cried:
"Moo! Moo! Moo!"
She did not like to see Bunny so close to her baby calf, I guess. But the old cow did not try to hook Bunny with her horns. She only looked at him with her big, brown eyes, and tried to reach her tongue over and "kiss" the calf, as Sue called it.
"Stand still!" Bunny said to the calf, but the little animal did not want to. Perhaps it thought it had had enough of the green paint. It moved about, from one side of the box to the other, and Bunny had hard work to put on any more stripes.
"Isn't that enough?" asked Sue, after a bit. "It looks real nice Bunny. You had better save some green paint for the other calf."
"Yes, but I'm only going to stripe one," answered Bunny. "It's too hard. One zebra is enough for our circus. We'll make the other calf into a lion. A lion doesn't have any stripes."
"All right," agreed Sue. "Then come on out, Bunny, 'cause I'm tired of holding this paint for you."
"In a minute, Sue. I'll be right out. I just want to put some stripes on the calf's legs. They have to be striped same as the sides and back."
And that was where Bunny Brown made one of his mistakes. He should have let the calf's legs alone. For, no sooner did the little animal feel the tickling of the paint brush on its legs than it gave a loud cry, and began to kick.
Out with its hind legs it kicked, and, as Bunny happened to be stooping down, just then, near the calf's feet, the little boy was kicked over. Right over he went, spilling some of the paint on himself, but the most of it, I am glad to say, went on the straw in the calf's box-stall.
"Oh, Bunny!" cried Sue. "Oh, Bunny Brown!"
Her brother did not answer. He had fallen down on his face, and his mouth was full of straw. And when he did get up he saw that the calf had kicked open the gate of its stall, and was running around the barnyard, all green striped and spotted.
"Moo! Moo!" cried the mother cow, when she saw her little one break out. Then the old cow pushed very hard on the gate that shut her in. Open went the gate, and out ran the cow to be with her little calf.
"Oh, Bunny! Look!" cried Sue. "Our circus zebra-cow will run away!"
Bunny jumped to his feet, and, leaving the overturned pot of paint behind him, out he ran into the barnyard.
"Whoa! Whoa there, bossy-calf!" he cried.
"You don't say whoa to cows, you say that to horses!" called Sue to her brother.
"What do you say to cows?" Bunny wanted to know.
"You call 'Co boss! Co boss! Co boss'!" answered Sue. "I know 'cause I heard grandma call them to be milked. Call 'Co boss!' Bunny."
The little boy did, but there was no need to, for the little calf, once it found that the mother cow was with it, did not run any farther. The mother cow put out her red tongue and "kissed" her little calf some more. She did not seem to mind the green paint, though perhaps if she had gotten some in her mouth she might not have liked it.
"Well, anyhow," said Bunny Brown, "we have a striped zebra for our circus. And when I get some blue paint I'll paint our dog Splash, and make a tiger of him, Sue."
"Did the calf-zebra hurt you when she kicked you over, Bunny?" Sue wanted to know.
"No, hardly any. Her feet are soft, and I fell on the straw. But all the paint is spilled."
"Maybe there's a little left so Henry can finish the wheelbarrow," suggested Sue.
"I'll go and look," offered Bunny. But he did not get the chance. For just then Henry came into the barnyard.
"Have you seen my pot of green paint," he asked. "I left it—"
Then he saw the green striped calf. At first he laughed and then he said:
"Oh, this is too bad! That's one of your grandpa's best calves, and he won't like it a bit, painting him that way."
"He's a zebra," said Bunny.
"No matter what he is," and Henry shook his head, "it's too bad. I shouldn't have left the paint where you could get it. I'll have to tell Mr. Brown."
Bunny and Sue felt bad at this. They had not thought they were doing anything wrong, but now it seemed that they were.
"Will—will grandpa be very sorry?" asked Sue.
"Yes, he'll be very sorry and angry," answered the hired man, "he'll not like it to see his calf all streaked with green paint."
But Grandpa Brown was not as angry at Bunny and Sue as he might have been. Of course he said they had done wrong, and he felt bad. But no one could be angry for very long at Bunny Brown and his sister Sue. They were so jolly, never meaning to be bad. They just didn't think.
But of course you know that not thinking what you are doing often makes as much trouble as though you did a thing on purpose.
"Well, I guess I'll have to forgive you youngsters this time," said Grandpa Brown. "But don't paint any more of my farm animals without asking me. Now I'll see if we can get the green paint off the calf."
"Oh, can't you leave it on, Grandpa?" asked Bunny. "It was awful hard to make him striped like a zebra, and we want him in our circus to be one of the wild animals. Let the stripes stay on."
And grandpa had to, whether he wanted to or not, for they would not come off. The hired man tried soap and water. But the calf would not stand still long enough to let him scrub her.
"I guess we'll just have to let the green paint wear off," said Grandpa Brown. "But never do such a thing again, Bunny."
"I won't," promised the little boy.
The calf and the mother cow were put back in their stalls. Bunny and Sue were cleaned of the green paint that had splattered on them, and Henry found enough paint left in the can to finish the wheelbarrow.
"Well, we've got a start for our circus, anyhow," said Bunny to Sue a few days after he had painted the calf. The green stripes had dried now, and made the calf look very funny indeed. Some of the other cows and calves seemed frightened at the strange, striped one, but the mother cow was just as fond of her little one as before.
"You'll need other animals besides a striped calf, and your dog Splash, in the circus," said Bunker Blue to Bunny one day.
"Yes, I guess we will. I'll go and ask Sue about it."
Bunny always liked to talk matters over with his sister. He found her on the side porch, making a doll's dress.
"Sue," said Bunny, "we have to have more make-believe wild animals for our show."
"Yes?" asked Sue. "What kind?"
"Well, maybe we ought to have a camel."
"Camels is too hard to make," said Sue. "Their humps might fall off. Why don't you make a ockstritch, Bunny? An ockstritch what lays big eggs, and has tail feathers for ladies' hats. Make a ockstritch."
"How?" asked Bunny.
Sue thought for a minute. Just then the old big rooster strutted past the porch.
"He would make a good ockstritch, Bunny," said Sue. "He has nice long tail feathers. Can you catch him?"
"Maybe," hesitated Bunny. "Oh, I know what I'll do!" he exclaimed. "I'll get the clothes line for a lasso, and I'll pretend to be a Wild West cowboy. Then I can lasso the rooster and make an ostrich of him."
"Oh, fine!" cried Sue, clapping her hands. The rooster, who did not in the least guess what was going to happen to him, flapped his wings and crowed loudly.
PRACTICE FOR THE CIRCUS
Bunny Brown took a piece of clothes line that hung down from one of the posts. He was sure his grandma or his mother would not want this end, so he could take it.
"Anyhow, it isn't wash-day," said Bunny to Sue, "and as soon as I lasso the rooster I can put the line back again. I can tie on what I cut off."
Bunny had an old knife Bunker Blue had given him. It was a knife Bunker had used to open clams and oysters, and was not very sharp. That was the reason Bunker gave it to Bunny. Bunker did not want the little boy to cut himself. With this old knife Bunny cut off a bit of clothes line. He had to saw and saw back and forth with the dull blade of the knife before he could cut the line.
But at last he had a long piece of rope.
"Now I'll make a lasso just like the cowboys have in the Wild West," said Bunny.
Bunny had once seen a show like that, so he knew something of what the cowboys did with their lassos, which are long ropes, with a loop in one end. They throw this loop around the head, or leg, of a cow or a horse, and catch it this way, so as not to hurt it.
"Now see me catch the rooster, Sue!" called Bunny.
"I'll help you," offered the little girl. "You stand here by the rose bush, I'll shoo the rooster up to you, then you can lasso him."
"All right!" cried Bunny, swinging the piece of clothes line around his head as he had seen the cowboys do in the show.
"Cock-a-doodle-do!" crowed the rooster, and then he made a funny gurgling noise, as he saw Sue running toward him. The old rooster was not used to children, as, except when Bunny Brown and his sister Sue came to their grandpa's farm, there were no little ones about the place. And when the old rooster saw Sue running toward him, he did not know what to make of the little girl.
"Shoo! Shoo!" cried Sue, waving her hands. "Shoo! Scat!"
"Cock-a-doodle-do!" crowed the rooster, and it sounded just as if he said, "I don't know what to do!"
"Shoo! Shoo!" cried the little girl, and she tried to drive the rooster over toward Bunny, so he could lasso the big crowing bird.
But the rooster was not going to be caught as easily as that. He ran to one side, around the rose bush and off toward the garden.
"Get him, Bunny! Get him!" cried Sue.
"I will!" shouted the little make-believe cowboy. After the rooster he ran, swinging his lasso. "Whoa there! Whoa!" called Bunny.
"Shoo! Shoo!" exclaimed Sue.
"No—no! Don't do that!" begged Bunny.
"Don't do what?" Sue asked.
"Don't shoo him that way. That makes him run. I want him to stand still so I can catch him."
"But you said cowboys catched things when they were running, like this rooster is," objected Sue.
"Yes," agreed Bunny, "but I haven't been a cowboy very long you see. I want the rooster to stand still so I can lasso him. So don't shoo him—just whoa him!"
Then Bunny called:
"Whoa! Whoa there!"
"That's what you say to a horse—not to a rooster," said the little girl.
"I know," Bunny answered. "But I guess this rooster knows horse talk, 'cause there's horses around here. Whoa there!"
But even if the rooster did understand horse talk, he was not going to stop and let Bunny lasso him. That was sure. On and on the rooster ran, crowing and cackling. The hens and other roosters heard the noise, and crowed and cackled too, wondering what it was all about.
"Here he comes, Bunny! Here he comes!" cried Sue, as the big old rooster, having run toward a fence, until he could go no farther, had to turn around and run back again. "Get him, Bunny!"
"I will!" cried the little boy. "I'll get him this time."
But the rooster was running very fast now, for he was very much scared. Back and forth he went, from one side to the other. He did come close to Bunny, but when the little boy threw his clothes line rope lasso it fell far away from the rooster.
"Oh, you missed him!" cried Sue, much disappointed.
"But I'll get him next time," said Bunny, as he picked up his lasso and ran after the rooster.
Back and forth around the garden, under the lilac and rose bushes, ran Bunny and Sue after the old rooster. The rooster was getting tired now, and could not go so fast. Neither could Bunny nor Sue, and Bunny's arm was so tired, from having thrown his lasso so much, that he wanted to stop and rest. But still he wanted to catch the rooster.
"Here he comes now—get him, Bunny!" cried Sue, as she went around one side of the currant bush, while Bunny came around the other side. The rooster was right between the two children, and as there was a fence on one side of him, and the bush on the other, it looked as if he would be caught this time.
"Oh, get him, Bunny!" Sue called. "Get him!"
"I—I will!" answered her brother. "I'll just grab him in my arms. I can put the lasso on him afterward."
The rooster was running away from Sue who was right behind him, and the rooster was heading straight for Bunny. The little boy put out his arms to grab the big fowl, when the rooster, with a loud crow and cackle, flew up over Bunny's head, over the fence and into the meadow beyond.
And Bunny was running so fast, and so was Sue, that, before they could stop themselves, down they both fell, in the soft grass. For a moment they sat there, looking at one another. Then Sue smiled. She was glad to sit down and rest, even if she had fallen. And so was Bunny.
"Well, we didn't get him," said Bunny slowly, as he looked at the rooster, now safe on the other side of the fence.
"No," said Sue. "But you can climb over the fence in the meadow."
"I—I guess I don't want to," said the little fellow.
"Hello! What's going on here? Who's been chasing my old rooster?" asked Grandpa Brown, coming up just then, and looking at the two children.
"We—we were chasing him Grandpa," said Bunny, who always told the truth.
"We was goin' to make a ockstritch of him," Sue explained. "A ockstritch for our circus in the barn."
"Oh, an ostrich!" laughed Grandpa Brown. "Well, I'd rather you wouldn't take my best big rooster. I have some smaller, and tamer ones, you may take for your circus."
"Really?" asked Bunny. "And can we pretend they are ostriches?"
"Yes, you can put them in wooden cages and make believe they are anything you like," said Grandpa Brown. "Only, of course, you must be kind to them."
"Sure!" said Bunny Brown. "We won't hurt the roosters."
"When are you going to have your show?" asked Grandpa Brown.
"Oh, next week," Bunny answered. "Some of the boys and girls are coming over to-day, and we're going to practise in the barn."