BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON AN AUTO TOUR
BY LAURA LEE HOPE
THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES, THE BOBBSEY TWINS SERIES, THE OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES, ETC.
Florence England Nosworthy
GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS
Made in the United States of America
By LAURA LEE HOPE
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12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.
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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 BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE IN THE BIG WOODS BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON AN AUTO TOUR
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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
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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
GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS
Copyright, 1917, by GROSSET & DUNLAP
Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue on an Auto Tour.
CHAPTER PAGE I. THE BOY NEXT DOOR 1 II. AN OFFER OF HELP 11 III. READY FOR THE TRIP 21 IV. BUNNY AT THE WHEEL 33 V. WHERE IS SPLASH? 44 VI. TWO DOGS 54 VII. DIX IN TROUBLE 64 VIII. DIX AND THE COW 72 IX. TWO DISAPPEARANCES 87 X. DIX COMES BACK 98 XI. IN THE FLOOD 108 XII. AT THE FIRE 115 XIII. DIX AND THE CAT 129 XIV. THE MEDICINE SHOW 138 XV. WAS IT FRED? 149 XVI. IN THE DITCH 157 XVII. ON TO PORTLAND 166 XVIII. CAMPING OUT 177 XIX. AT THE LAKE 185 XX. DIX TO THE RESCUE 194 XXI. THE CIRCUS 205 XXII. A LION IS LOOSE 212 XXIII. THE SCRATCHED BOY 221 XXIV. THE BARKING DOG 230 XXV. FOUND AT LAST 238
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON AN AUTO TOUR
THE BOY NEXT DOOR
"Oh, mother!" cried Bunny Brown, running up the front steps as he reached home from school. "Oh, something's happened next door!"
"What do you mean, Bunny? A fire?"
"No, it isn't a fire," said Sue, who was as much out of breath as was her brother. "It's sumfin different from that!"
"But, children, what do you mean? Is some one hurt?" asked Mrs. Brown.
"It sounds so," answered Bunny, putting his books on the table. "I heard Mrs. Ward crying."
"Oh, the poor woman!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown. "She must be in trouble. They have only just moved here. I'd better go over and see if I can help her"; and Mrs. Brown laid down her sewing.
"I guess it must be about their boy Fred," suggested Bunny.
"What happened to him?" asked Mrs. Brown. "Was he hurt at school? He goes to school, doesn't he?"
"Yes, but he wasn't there to-day," went on Bunny. "And it's Fred who's in trouble I guess, for I heard his mother speak his name, and then Mr. Ward said something else."
"Oh, dear, I hope nothing has happened," said Mrs. Brown, looking up at the clock to see if it were not time for her husband to come home from his boat and fishing pier. "We must do what we can to help, Bunny. Now tell me all about it. Not that I want to interfere with my neighbors' affairs, but I always like to help."
"And I think Mrs. Ward needs some help," said Sue, "'cause she was crying real hard."
"Then I'll go right over and see what is the matter," said kind Mrs. Brown.
"Oh, and may we go too?" asked Bunny.
"Please let us," begged Sue.
Their mother thought for a minute. Sometimes, she knew, it was not good for children to go where older persons were crying, and had trouble. But Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue were two wise little children, wiser than many of their age, and their mother knew she could depend on them. So, after a few seconds, she said:
"Yes, you may come with me. We shall see what the matter is with Mrs. Ward."
"And we'll help her too, if we can," added. Bunny, bravely.
Mrs. Brown, followed by Bunny and Sue, started for the home of Mrs. Ward. A wide lawn was between the two houses, and on this lawn Bunny and Sue, with their dog Splash, had much fun.
The Wards were a family who had lately moved to the street where the Browns had lived for years. As yet Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Ward had gotten only as far as a "nodding acquaintance." That is, Mrs. Brown, coming out into her yard, would see Mrs. Ward, and would say:
"Good morning. It's a fine day; isn't it?"
"Yes, indeed it is," Mrs. Ward would answer.
Sometimes it would be Mrs. Ward who would first speak about the fine weather and Mrs. Brown would answer. Both women would soon become better acquainted.
Mr. Brown had seen Mr. Ward several mornings on his way to work, and, knowing him to be the man next door, had nodded, and said: "Good morning!" And Mr. Ward had said the same thing. They, too, would soon be better acquainted.
"I know the Wards are nice people," said Sue, as she trotted along beside her mother.
"What makes you think so?" asked Mrs. Brown, as she walked slowly across her lawn toward the house next door.
"'Cause they have a nice dog named Dix, and he and Splash are good friends. First they sort of growled at each other, and then they smelled noses and now they always wag their tails when they meet."
"Well, that's a good sign," laughed Sue's mother.
"But I wonder what can be the matter with the boy next door," said Sue to her brother. "Are you sure you heard Mr. and Mrs. Ward talking about Fred?"
"Yes, I'm sure," answered Bunny.
"Well, I didn't hear that part," said Sue. "But we'll soon find out what the matter is."
As the Browns walked across the lawn, a dog came running out of the house where lived "the boy next door," as Bunny and Sue called Fred Ward, even though they knew his name. They had spoken several times to him.
"Is that dog savage?" asked Mrs. Brown.
"No, Momsie," replied Sue. "He's just as nice as he can be. He and Splash are good friends. Here Dix!" she called.
With a joyful bark the dog bounded toward Sue. He evidently knew the children, and soon made friends with Mrs. Brown.
"He's a strong dog," she said to the children.
"And he's good, too!" exclaimed Bunny. "I was talking to Fred one day and he told me that his dog Dix saved him from drowning when they lived in another city, near a river."
"That was fine!" cried Mrs. Brown. "I think I shall like Dix."
By this time they were under the dining-room windows of the Ward house, and Mrs. Brown and the children heard the sound of a woman sobbing, and a man trying to comfort her.
"Now don't worry, Martha," said the man. "Everything will come out right, I'm sure, and we'll find Fred."
"Oh, I hope so!" moaned the woman. And she kept on crying.
"Excuse me," said Mrs. Brown, calling in through the open window. "But I fear you have trouble, and I have come over to see if I may not help you."
Mr. Ward looked out of the window.
"It's Mrs. Brown," he said, evidently speaking to his wife in the room behind him.
"I have been intending to come over to see you," went on Mrs. Brown. "But you know how it is I suppose, Mrs. Ward," for now the other lady had come to the window. "We keep putting such things off. And really I have been so busy since we came back from our camp in the big woods that I haven't had time to set my house to rights."
"I know how it is, Mrs. Brown," replied Mrs. Ward, wiping the tears from her eyes, "and I am glad to see you now. Won't you come in?"
"I really don't know whether I ought to or not. My children, on coming home from school, said they heard sounds of distress in here, and knowing you were strangers I thought perhaps you might not know where to apply for help in case you needed it. My husband is one of the town officials, and if we can do anything——"
"It is very kind of you," said Mrs. Ward. "Thank you so much for coming over. We are in trouble, and perhaps you can give us some advice. Please come in."
She went to the front door and let in Bunny, Sue and their mother, the two children wondering what could have happened to the boy next door, for they did not see him, and it seemed the trouble was about him.
"It won't take long to tell you what has happened," said Mrs. Ward, placing chairs for Mrs. Brown and the two children. "Our boy Fred has run away from home!"
"Run away from home!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown.
"Yes, that's what he's done," said Mr. Ward. "I never thought he'd do such a thing as that, even though he is quick tempered. Yes, Fred has run away," and he turned over and over in his hand a slip of paper he had been reading.
"Perhaps he only went off in a sort of joke," said Mrs. Brown sympathetically. "I know once Bunny——"
"Yep. I ran away, I did!" exclaimed Bunny. "I got away down to the end of the street. I saw a man and a hand organ and he had a monkey. I mean the man did. And I wanted to be a hand-organ man so I ran away and was going off with him, only Bunker Blue chased after me, so I didn't run far, though I might have."
"Bunker Blue is a boy who works on Mr. Brown's fishing pier," explained Mrs. Brown. "Yes, Bunny did run away once, but he was glad to run back again."
"And I was lost!" cried Sue. "I was out walking with my daddy, and I went down a wrong street, and I couldn't see him and I didn't know what to do so I—I cried."
"Yes, Sue was lost a whole morning before a policeman found her and telephoned to us," put in Mrs. Brown. "She was glad to get back. Undoubtedly your boy will be the same."
"No," said Mr. Ward slowly, "I don't believe Fred will come home soon. He has gone off very angry."
"Are you sure he didn't go to the home of some neighbor or of a relative?" asked Mrs. Brown. "Children often do that, never thinking how worried their fathers and mothers are."
"No, Fred is too old to do that," said Mrs. Ward, wiping the tears out of her eyes. "He has gone, intending to stay a long while."
"What makes you think so?" asked Mrs. Brown.
"Because of this note he left," answered the father of the boy next door. "You see, Mrs. Brown, I had to correct Fred for doing something wrong. He spent some money to buy a banjo that he had promised—I had told him I would get him a fine banjo next year, but——
"Well, he disobeyed me, and I felt I had to punish him. So I sent him up to his room to stay all day. He went to his room, and that is the last we have seen of him. He left this note, saying he was never coming back."
"Read Mrs. Brown the note," suggested Mrs. Ward. "Maybe she can think of some plan to get Fred back."
Mr. Ward was about to read the note when Mr. Brown's voice was heard under the dining-room windows saying:
"Hello, Mother, and Bunny and Sue! Mary told me you had come over here, so I thought I'd come to pay a visit too. I've news for you."
"Oh, it's daddy!" cried Sue, and she ran to let her father in through the front door.
"I wonder what news it is," said Bunny to himself. "I wonder if he has found Fred."
AN OFFER OF HELP
As Mr. Brown walked into the home of the Ward family he saw at once, by a look at his wife, and by the expressions on the faces of Mr. and Mrs. Ward, that something had happened.
"Oh, I beg your pardon," Mr. Brown said. "Perhaps I shouldn't have come in. I'll call another time. But——"
"What about the good news you have, Daddy?" asked Bunny.
"I didn't say it was good news, Son."
"Yes, it is. I can tell by your eyes!" exclaimed Sue.
"Whatever it is, it will keep a little while," said Mrs. Brown, with a look at her husband, which he understood. "Our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Ward," she continued, "are in great distress. Their only son, Fred, has run away from home."
"Oh, that's too bad!" exclaimed Mr. Brown. "I shouldn't have come in. I'll——"
"No, stay, we'll want your advice," said Mrs. Brown. "Mr. Ward was just going to read a letter his son left. I want you to listen to it and tell us what is best to do. You know you are on the police board."
"Of course I'll do all I can," said Mr. Brown. "First let me hear the letter. You can sometimes tell a good deal of what's in a person's mind by the way he writes."
And while Mr. Brown is listening to the letter left by the runaway boy, I'll tell my new readers something more about Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue, and the things that happened to them in the books before this.
The first volume is named "Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue," and it tells of what happened to the two children in their home town of Bellemere, on Sandport Bay, near the ocean. There the little boy and girl had fine times, and they took a trolley ride to a far city, getting lost.
The second book told of "Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue on Grandpa's Farm," and you can imagine the fun they had there, getting lost in the woods and going to picnics. After that the two children played Circus in the book of that name, and they had real animals in their show, though you could not exactly call them wild.
"Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue at Aunt Lu's City Home," is the name of the fourth book, and in the big city Bunny and Sue had stranger adventures than ever.
After that Mr. Brown took the whole family to "Camp Rest-a-While." It was a lovely place in the woods and they lived in tents. Uncle Tad went with them, and ever so many things happened to the children there. Their dog Splash had good times too.
Camp Rest-a-While was near the edge of the big woods, and in the book called "Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue in the Big Woods," which is just before this one, you may read of the adventures with Bunny's train of electric cars, and of the fun Sue had with her electrical Teddy bear, which could flash its eyes when a button was pressed in his back—or rather, her back, for Sue had named her Teddy bear Sallie Malinda, insisting that it was a girl bear.
And now the Brown family was home again from the big woods, ready for other happenings. And that they were going to have adventures might be guessed from what Mr. Brown started to say about some news. But just now he was reading the letter Fred Ward had written to his parents.
"Hum! That is a strange note for a boy to leave," said Mr. Brown slowly. "He evidently doesn't intend to come home very soon."
"Oh dear!" exclaimed Mrs. Ward, and commenced to weep once more.
"I tell her he may come home soon, for he has no money—or at least very little to live on," said the missing boy's father. "You see Fred has a high spirit, and he did not like it when I had to punish him. But I did it for his good. He must learn the value of money, and he must not spend when I tell him not to."
"No, that is not right," said Mr. Brown thoughtfully. He handed the note to his wife. She read this:
"Father and Mother: I am not coming back for a long while. I do not think you treated me right. I am more than fifteen years old and I have a right to have a banjo if I want it. I want to be a player and play in the theater. That is what I am going to do. I am not going to be treated like a baby by my father. I am too old."
"I did not mean to treat him like a baby," said Mr. Ward. "But our children must be made to obey in things that are right."
"That is true," agreed Mrs. Brown.
"We mind sometimes," said Bunny. "Don't we, Momsie?"
"Yes, once in a while. But please run away and play now, until we call you. There comes Splash over to have a game with Dix. You children can go out with the dogs."
Bunny and Sue were eager enough to do this. They thought they had heard enough about the missing boy. They were to hear more in a short time.
"And so Fred has run away," said Mr. Ward, speaking to Mr. and Mrs. Brown. "How can I get him back? It is not good that he should be away. I will talk about the banjo to him, and if I find he really thinks it is the best instrument for him to play I may let him have it. But where can I find him?"
"Perhaps I can help," said Mr. Brown. "I am a member of the town police committee. That is, I and other men look after the policemen. We can tell them to be on the lookout for Fred."
"Oh, that is kind of you!" cried Mrs. Ward.
"And I can also send word to the police of other cities and towns," went on Mr. Brown. "We work together on cases like this."
"I shall be greatly obliged to you," said Mr. Ward. "I want Fred to come back."
"When did you find out he was gone?" asked Mr. Brown.
"Just a little while ago," answered Mr. Ward. "I sent him up to his room this morning. He did not come down to dinner, for I said he should not eat until he said he was sorry for what he did. Perhaps I was wrong, but I meant to do right."
"You did it for the best," said his wife. "When I went up to Fred's room this afternoon, he was gone, and there was this note. It was then I cried," she went on, turning to the parents of Bunny and Sue.
"I am so sorry," said Mrs. Brown. "But I think it will all come right. My husband will help find your boy."
"I'll get the police to help, too," said Mr. Brown. "They will search for him."
"And we'll help!" exclaimed Bunny and Sue, coming in just then from having a romp on the lawn with the two dogs. "We'll try to find Fred for you."
"Bless their hearts!" cried Mrs. Brown, as the children ran out again. "They get into all sorts of mischief, but they manage to get out somehow. Bunny is ready for anything, and Sue is generally ready for whatever follows."
"But they are learning a good deal," said Mr. Brown. "Their life in the woods and on the farm was good for them—as good as the time they spend in school."
"Yes," said Mr. Ward. "Sometimes I think I may have kept Fred too much at his books. I wish I had him back."
"Oh, we'll find him," said Mr. Brown.
"I hope so," sighed Mrs. Ward. "It is very kind of you to offer to help us."
"Why shouldn't we?" asked Mrs. Brown. "That is what neighbors are for—to help one another. We'll go, now. But Mr. Brown will come back and get you to tell him what Fred looks like, and how he was dressed, so the police will know him if they see him. They will send you word where he is if they find him."
"I will give you his photograph," said Mr. Ward.
As Mr. and Mrs. Brown walked across the lawn, they saw Bunny and Sue playing with the two dogs. Bunny was on Splash's back as though the dog were a horse, and Sue was doing the same thing with Dix.
"Gid-dap! Gid-dap!" cried the two little ones, holding to the dogs' long ears so they would not fall off—I mean so the children would not fall off, not the dogs' ears.
"Aren't they having a good time?" asked Mrs. Brown smiling.
"They certainly are," agreed her husband.
"I'm glad it is neither of our children who is away."
"I can't bear even to think of that!" said Mrs. Brown, with a shudder.
"Look out! They'll run us down!" she went on, for the children, on their dog-horses, were rushing right at them.
"Clear the track! Clear the track!" cried Bunny, wildly.
"Yes! All aboard for the north pole!" yelled Sue.
"Bow-wow!" barked the two dogs, as happy as the children.
"Oh, Daddy! Do you know how to find Fred?" asked the little girl as she fell off her dog into the soft grass.
"Well, we are going to try," answered her father.
"And we'll help," cried Bunny. Then, as he happened to think of something, he exclaimed:
"Oh, Daddy! What about the good news you were going to tell us?"
"We want to hear it now," added Sue.
"You did say something about a surprise," added Mrs. Brown. "So much has happened to-day that I had forgotten."
"Maybe you won't think it such news after all," observed Mr. Brown. "But it occurs to me that there is going to be some warm weather yet, as the Fall is not yet over. So I was thinking we could take the big automobile—the one we used when we went to Grandpa's farm—and have a tour in it. I have to go to a distant city on business, but there is no hurry in getting there. We might all go in the big car. Shall we go?"
"Shall we go? Of course!" cried Bunny, dancing about.
"That's what I say!" added Sue, also capering wildly. "Oh, Bunny!" she cried, "haven't we got just the bestest daddy in the whole world?"
"We have! We have!"
"Then let's both kiss him at once!" proposed Sue, and they made a rush for Mr. Brown, who pretended to be much afraid.
READY FOR THE TRIP
"Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Go and love your mother for a change!" laughed Mr. Brown as he squirmed away from Bunny and Sue, who had hugged him and kissed him half a dozen times. "You've mussed my hair all up! Isn't my hair sticking up seven ways, Mother?" he asked his wife.
"Indeed it is. If you children muss mine that way I shall have to comb it again before supper, and I'll hardly have time if father is to explain about the auto tour. This is as much news to me, Bunny and Sue, as it is to you."
"Oh, Mother made a rhyme! Now we'll have a good time!" cried Bunny. "Come on, Sue, we'll kiss her easy-like, and then we'll hear about the trip. When are you going, Daddy?"
"And where?" asked Sue.
"One is about as important as the other," laughed Mr. Brown. "But I think you will have to wait a while. I want to telephone to the chief of police, and have him start the search for Fred Ward. We have to work quickly in the cases of runaway boys, or they get so far away that it makes them harder to find."
"What makes boys run away?" asked Bunny.
"Well, it's hard to tell," said Mr. Brown. "Sometimes it's because they feel ashamed at being punished, just as Fred was, and as you might be, Bunny, if I scolded you for being bad. Not that you are often naughty, but you might be, some time."
"But I wouldn't run away," Bunny said, shaking his head very earnestly. "I like it here too much. I read a story once, about a boy who ran away, and he had to sleep in a haymow and eat raw eggs for breakfast."
"Oh! I'd never do that!" cried Sue. "I wouldn't mind playing with the little chickens that came out of the eggs, but I wouldn't run away," she said earnestly. "I wouldn't want to sleep in a haystack lessen Bunny was with me."
"Well, when you two make up your minds to run away," said Mrs. Brown with a laugh, "tell us, and we'll come for you when night falls and bring you home. Then you can sleep in your own beds and run away the next day.
"That will be great!" cried Bunny. "We'll do it that way, Sue."
"That's what we will!" said she.
They were at the Browns' house now, and Dix, the dog that belonged to the runaway boy, turned to go back home. Splash barked at him as much as to say:
"Oh, come on, old fellow, stay and have a good time. Maybe I can find a choice bone or two."
But Dix wagged his tail and barked, and if one had understood dog language, of which I suppose there must be one, he would, perhaps, have heard Dix say:
"No, old chap. I'm sorry I can't come to play with you now. Some other time, perhaps. There's trouble at home you know, and I'd better stay around there."
Then Splash and Dix looked at each other for a little while, saying never a word, as one might call it, only looking at each other. They seemed to understand, however, for, with a final wagging of their tails, away they ran, Dix back to the Ward home where the mother and the father were grieving for their lost boy, and Splash on to the happy home of the Browns.
"Now, Daddy, you can tell us about that auto trip we are going to take, while mother is seeing to the supper," called Bunny as he pulled his father toward a big armchair, while Sue clung to her father on the other side.
"Not until after the meal," insisted Mr. Brown. "I want to tell it to mother and you all at the same time. That will save me from talking so much. Besides, I haven't yet told the police about missing Fred Ward."
Mr. Brown soon called the chief on the telephone wire. Being the president of the police board, Mr. Brown often had to give orders.
In this case he told the chief about Fred running away, how long the boy had been gone, and about the note saying he was going to join a theater company.
"We'd better get some circulars printed, with the boy's picture on them," said Mr. Brown to the chief. "These we can send to other cities. And we'll notify the police by telephone. I'll be down to see you this evening."
"All right," answered the chief. "I'll get right after this boy."
"And tell whoever catches him to be good and kind to him," said Mr. Brown. "Fred is not a bad boy. He feels that he has not been treated well, and he'll do his best to hide away. But a boy with a banjo, who is crazy to play in a show, ought not be very hard to find."
"No, I think we'll soon pick him up," the chief said.
"Well, pick him up as soon as you can," said Mr. Brown.
"Pick him up!" repeated Bunny, who had been listening to his father's side of the conversation. "Did Fred fall down?"
"No. 'Pick him up' is a police expression," explained Mr. Brown. "It means find him, or learn where he is."
"Oh, I see," murmured Bunny. "Well, I hope they'll soon find Fred."
The talk at supper time drifted from the running away of the boy next door, and what might happen to him, to the trip the Browns were to take in the big car.
"Well, now are you ready to tell us?" asked Bunny, as he saw his father finish his cup of tea.
"Yes, I'll tell you a little now, and more when the time comes, as I have soon to go down to the police station with Fred's picture. But I'll tell you enough so you can sleep easy," said Mr. Brown with a laugh. Then he sat thinking for a while as to the best way to tell his news.
"In the first place——" began Mr. Brown, only to have Bunny interrupt him with:
"Oh, it starts off just like a story!"
"No," cried Sue. "A story begins: 'Once upon a time.'"
"Well, never mind about that now," said Mr. Brown with a laugh. "Let me get on with what I have to tell you. The first part is that I have to go to a city called Portland, about three hundred miles down the coast. I have to go there on business, but there is no particular hurry. That is, I can take my time on the road. Just what the business is about needn't worry your heads, except that I'm going to look at a big motor boat which I may buy."
"And may I have a ride in it?" cried Bunny.
"I want to ride myself," cried Sue, "and I want to learn how to steer."
"Well, we'll talk that over later," said her father. "Just now I am going to tell you about our auto tour. We are going, as I said, to the city of Portland. It is three hundred miles there, but the roundabout roads we will take may make it longer."
"Can we stop over a day or so here and there?" asked Mrs. Brown.
"Yes, several days, if we like," said her husband. "We are going in the big enclosed auto, in which we went to grandpa's farm."
"That will be lovely!" cried Sue.
"Just dandy!" exclaimed Bunny Brown. "And I'm going to sit on the seat and steer, just as I did when Bunker Blue took us to grandpa's."
"I don't know that Bunker is going this time," said Mr. Brown, speaking of the boy who worked for him and ran some of the motor boats when parties of men and women wanted to go out in the bay fishing.
"Oh! Bunker not going?" cried Bunny, somewhat disappointed.
"But we'll take your dog Splash and Uncle Tad," said Mr. Brown.
"That will be all right," agreed Bunny. "Go on, Daddy. Tell us some more."
"Well, I don't know that there is any more to tell. We are going in the big automobile, have a nice trip, and come back when we get ready. It will be Indian Summer most of the time, the nicest part of the year, I think, so we ought to have good weather. Now the rest is in your hands and your mother's—getting ready for the trip."
Those who have read the book telling about the time spent on grandpa's farm will remember the big automobile in which the Browns traveled to the farm.
It had been a furniture moving van, and you know how big and strong they are. Inside they are just like a big room in a house, only they move about by a motor in the front, just as does a small automobile.
But this moving van was very different from the kind usually seen. The inside had been made over into several rooms. There were little bunks, or beds in which to sleep, a combined kitchen and dining room, and a little sitting room where, in the evenings after the day's travel, the children could sit and read, for the traveling automobile was lighted by electric lights, from a storage battery carried in it.
On bright, sunshiny days the little table was moved out of the van to the ground beside it and there the meals were served. Sometimes cooking was done out-of-doors, also, on a gasolene stove. A tent was carried, and if any company came they could sleep in that if there was not room in the auto-van.
When the Browns wanted to travel through the rain they could do so without getting wet, for there was a stout roof on the automobile.
Windows had been cut in the sides of the van so the children could sit beside them in stormy weather and look out, just as if they were in a railroad car. And in the big car was a place for some of the children's toys.
There was room for plenty of food to be carried, and even a small ice-box that could be filled with ice whenever they stopped in a city.
"Well," said Mr. Brown, after he had told Bunny, Sue and their mother about his plan, "do you think you'll like it?"
"I'll just love it!" cried Sue.
"So will I," said Bunny. "Let's hug and kiss daddy and momsie!"
"No, I'll have to beg off!" cried Mr. Brown. "Just one kiss each, and don't muss my hair for I've got to go to the police station to take Fred's picture. I'm sure his father would feel bad about doing a thing like that so I'll do it for him. I'll be back soon."
"And we'll talk about the trip while you're gone," said Mrs. Brown.
Bunny and Sue were in bed when their father returned. The next morning their mother told them, after Mr. Brown had gone to work, that he had asked the police to do all they could to find Fred Ward.
"And now we must get ready for our trip," went on Mrs. Brown. "I must get both of you some new clothes, for you wore out many suits while we were at Camp Rest-a-While and in the Big Woods."
"But don't get too many. It will take too long to get 'em," remarked Bunny. "We want to get started on our auto tour."
Not long after this Mrs. Brown announced that she was ready for the trip—that she had bought the new clothes, and had arranged for the food they were to take with them.
"Then I'll bring the big auto around here to the house to-morrow morning and let you look at it," said Mr. Brown. "I have made a few changes in it. I hope you will like it."
"Oh, we'll be sure to," said Mrs. Brown.
That night, when Bunny and Sue were ready for bed, Bunny looked out of the window toward the Ward house. There was a bright moon.
"I see Dix and Splash playing together on the lawn," he said.
"And I see something else," added Sue.
"What?" asked Bunny.
"I see Fred Ward coming home. There he is, going up the back steps now."
Sue pointed, and Bunny saw a tall lad, who did look very much like the runaway boy, at the back door of the Ward home.
"Oh, let's tell daddy and momsie!" cried Bunny, as he and his sister, in their bare feet, pattered their way downstairs.
BUNNY AT THE WHEEL
Bunny and Sue raced downstairs and burst into the sitting room where their mother and father were sitting.
"Oh, Daddy!" cried Bunny.
"Oh, Momsie!" exclaimed Sue.
They were both out of breath.
"Well, what's the matter now?" asked Mrs. Brown. "Why aren't you in bed?"
"We saw something—anyhow Sue did," explained Bunny.
"But first Bunny saw Splash and Dix playing on the lawn in the moonlight," said Sue, breathing fast.
"And then Sue saw Fred coming home—in by the back way," added Bunny, his eyes big with wonder.
"What's that?" cried Mr. Brown, almost as excited as the two children.
"You say you saw Fred Ward?" asked Mother Brown.
"Well, it looked like him," replied Bunny, not quite so sure now that questions were being asked of him and his sister.
"And he was going very carefully and quietly around the back way," added Sue. "Who could it be but Fred? He's getting tired of sleeping in haystacks and eating raw eggs, and he's come home, I guess."
"Look here, Sue and Bunny," said Mr. Brown, a bit firmly but still kindly. "Did you both see this? Or did you make it up or dream it?"
"We didn't dream," said Sue, "'cause we hadn't gone to sleep yet."
"And we didn't make it up, for we weren't playing make-believe," added Bunny.
"Then you must have seen something," said their father; for when Bunny and his sister spoke in this serious way their parents could tell they were in earnest.
"What could it be?" asked Mrs. Brown, with a wondering look at her husband.
"I'll run over and see," he replied. "You children hop back into bed. You'll catch cold."
"Oh, Daddy! It's Summer yet, and we're even going to sleep out in the tent when we're on the auto tour," said Bunny. "Let us wait up and see if Fred really has come home. I hope he has!"
"I hope so, too," said Mother Brown. "Let them lie awake in bed, Daddy, until you come back from the Ward home."
"All right, I will," Mr. Brown agreed, and as he started across the moonlighted lawn Bunny and Sue, with many whisperings, noddings and giggles went back upstairs to their room.
But they did not go to bed. This was one of the times when they did not do as they were told. But it was only once in a while they did anything like that. Bunny and Sue were, as a rule, very good.
Well, instead of going to bed they stood by the window where they could watch the lawn on which Splash and Dix were still playing.
"We mustn't catch cold," said Sue. "We'd better wrap a blanket around us, Bunny, if we stand by the window, though it isn't cold at all."
"Yep," grunted Bunny, who was so interested in watching his father cross the grass plot that he did not feel like talking much.
Sue brought a light blanket from her bed and one from Bunny's, and in these the children wrapped themselves, and stood by the window.
"There he is!" cried Bunny, as he saw the tall figure of his father, accompanied by a bigger shadow in the moonlight, appear on the lawn.
"Hush!" cautioned Sue. "Don't talk so loud or mother will come up and make us go to bed."
Bunny "hushed," and then the two children watched. They saw their father go up the side steps of the Ward house and very soon come out again.
"It didn't take him long to find out," said Bunny in a low voice.
"I hope Fred has come back," whispered Sue.
But it was not, as they learned a little later when their mother came upstairs to tell them. The children had quickly scampered back to their beds when they heard their mother coming up, and she found two anxious faces peering at her over the blankets.
"Was it Fred?" they asked excitedly.
"No, I am sorry to say it was not," answered Mrs. Brown. "It was one of the boys Fred used to play with, and he went around the back way because he did not want any one to see him going in the front door."
"Does he know where Fred is?" asked Bunny.
"No. But he went to tell Mr. Ward about him. He had seen some of the police circulars, or printed papers which were scattered about, showing Fred's picture and telling how he looked and how much his father wanted him to come home again."
"And is he coming?" asked Sue.
"We don't know, dear. Mr. Ward told us this boy, whose name is George Simpson, knew that Fred was going to run away, for Fred had told him."
"Why didn't George come and tell Fred's father so he could stop him?" asked Bunny.
"Because Fred made George promise not to tell. But after George had seen the police circulars he made up his mind he must say something, so he came to-night. He said Fred had told him he was going to run away to Portland and try to get work in a theater playing a banjo."
"Portland!" cried Bunny. "Why that's where we're going!"
"And maybe we'll see Fred!" added Sue.
"It may be," said their mother. "But now you two must go to sleep. The big auto will be here in the morning, and you will wish to see the new things daddy has put in."
"May I ask just one more question?" begged Bunny.
"Yes, and only one."
"How did Fred come to go to Portland? Did he know we were going there?"
"No, dear. But he knew a man in a theater there who had promised to give him a trial at banjo playing if ever he wanted it. So, when Fred ran away, he decided to go there. At least so he told George."
"Oh, Mother, when we get to Portland may we——" began Sue, but Mrs. Brown laughed and cried:
"No more questions until morning!"
Bunny and Sue talked in whispers for a little while, and then fell asleep. They were awakened by the honking of an automobile horn, and Bunny, hopping out of bed and running to the window, cried to his sister:
"Oh, Sue, it's the big car we're going touring in, and Bunker Blue has brought it up the hill. Come on down to see it."
"Oh what fun!" cried Sue.
She and Bunny dressed quickly, and without waiting for breakfast they ran out to look at the automobile.
Bunker Blue, the boy who worked at the dock for Mr. Brown and who had gone on the first trip in the Brown's big car, smiled at Bunny and Sue.
"Well, you've got a fine car now!" he cried.
"Is it different?" asked Sue.
"A lot different. Come inside."
"Breakfast, children!" called their mother.
"Oh, Mother, just a second—until we see how the auto is fixed different?" begged Bunny.
Mrs. Brown nodded, and Bunker Blue helped the little boy and his sister inside.
There were many things changed. The electric lights were bigger and brighter, so they could see to read or play games better at night; a new cookstove had been put in; an extra bunk had been made, so five persons could sleep in the auto-van; a new tent had been bought; and in one corner of the tiny kitchen was a little sink, with running water which came from a tank on the roof. This tank was filled by a hose and pump worked by the motor. Whenever the water ran low the automobile could be stopped near a brook or lake, one end of the hose dipped in the water and the other stuck in the tank. Then the pump could fill the tank, and the tank, in turn, could let the water down into the sink whenever needed.
"Your mother'll like that," said Bunker Blue.
"Indeed she will!" cried Sue.
"Is there anything else new?" asked Bunny.
"Indeed there is!" cried Bunker Blue. "The auto-van's got a self-starter on. That's the best of all, I think. You don't have to get out to crank up now. It's great. See, I'll show you."
While the children stood on the ground near the automobile, Bunker Blue climbed to the seat near the steering wheel and pulled a lever. All at once there was a grinding noise and the van started slowly off.
"That's the self-starter," explained Bunker. "I didn't throw in the gears. The self-starter is strong enough to run the auto a little while all by itself, if it isn't too heavily loaded. That's a big improvement."
"That's what!" cried Bunny. His sister did not know much about electric starters and such things, but Bunny, through having asked Bunker Blue many questions, had come to learn considerable about the machinery.
"Hurry, children! You must come to breakfast!" called Mrs. Brown. "You may look at the auto another time. After breakfast we'll have to pack it and get ready for the trip."
"We're coming!" cried Bunny and Sue, and with last looks at the big car, which was to be their home for some time to come, the children ran in to breakfast.
"Now, Bunny and Sue," said Mr. Brown, as he made ready to go to his office, "one thing I want you to do is to pick out what toys you want to take with you. They can not be very many, so pick out those you like best."
"Oh, Bunny!" cried Sue. "You take your 'lectricity train that you got back from the hermit, and I'll take my Teddy bear, Sallie Malinda with her 'lectric-light eyes."
"No," said Bunny, shaking his head. "My electric train takes up too much room. I'm going to take my popgun that shoots corks, and maybe I can scare away any cows that get in front of our auto."
"All right. But I'm going to take Sallie Malinda," declared Sue.
While she was getting it out from among her playthings, Bunny went out to look at the big automobile again. He climbed up to the seat. Bunker Blue, after bringing it up to the Brown house so Mrs. Brown could pack in it the things she wanted, had gone back to the dock.
"I wish I could steer this machine," murmured Bunny as he took his seat at the wheel. "I could, too, if they'd only let me. I wish they would."
He twisted the steering wheel to and fro, playing that he was guiding the big car. Suddenly he heard a grinding sound, as when Bunker Blue had been on the seat, and, to Bunny's astonishment, the big van, the wheel of which he held, began to move slowly around the drive which circled the Brown home.
WHERE IS SPLASH?
"Oh! Oh! Oh!" cried Bunny Brown, as he felt himself being carried along in the automobile. "What has happened?"
The automobile kept on moving, and Bunny held his hands on the steering wheel. He knew this must be done whenever any machine, like an automobile, was moving.
"I've either got to stop it, or—or steer it along the curved path so it won't run into anything," whispered Bunny Brown to himself. "I don't know what makes me go but I'm going, and I'm keeping going, so I've got to steer."
And steer Bunny did. Fortunately though the car was large, it was easily steered, for Mr. Brown had it made that way so his wife could take the wheel when she cared to.
Mrs. Brown could drive an ordinary automobile and she could steer well. So while Mr. Brown was having the big auto-van made over he had the steering part changed so that the steering wheel turned from side to side very easily. And as Bunny was a sturdy chap he had no trouble about this part.
The auto-van kept on moving and Bunny noticed that it was going up a little hill in the driveway that went all the way around the house.
"I don't see what makes it go uphill all by itself," said Bunny to himself, giving the steering wheel a little turn, as there was a curve in the pathway just ahead of him. "If I were running downhill I'd know what made it go—the same thing that makes my sled slide downhill in Winter. But if this auto stood on the level I don't see what started it, nor why it keeps on going uphill. Bunker Blue must have left the brakes off."
Bunny looked at the handle brake and at the one worked by the foot pedal. Both were off, for Bunker had released them when he left the car, since it stood on a level bit of the driveway.
"But what makes it go?" asked Bunny again. Then, as he heard the low grinding noise, he remembered the self-starter, which Bunker had spoken of.
"I must have kicked the handle or touched it," thought Bunny, "and that started the machine. I don't know how to stop it. I guess I'd better—Oh, whee! There's a tree I'm going to smash into!" cried Bunny Brown.
The thought of getting out of the way of the tree drove from Bunny's mind, for the time being, every other thought. He must not hit the tree which grew a little over the side of the driveway.
"I've got to steer out of the way, that's what I've got to do!" thought Bunny in a flash. "I've got to steer out of the way!"
Once he had made up his mind to that, he did not think so much about the motion of the automobile. That could be taken care of later.
"Let's see, which way do I turn the wheel to get out of the way of the tree," thought Bunny. He had often been in boats with his father and Bunker Blue, and sometimes, when the way was clear, he had been allowed to steer. Once or twice, while out with his mother in her car, she had let him steer along a quiet road.
He was closer to the tree now. The automobile was not moving very fast, and perhaps if it had hit the tree it would not have done much damage. But Bunny did not know that, and then, too, he might be hurt in case the big car hit the tree. So he was going to do his best to avoid it.
Like a flash it came to Bunny.
"I must turn the steering wheel the way I want the auto to go!"
No sooner said than done. Bunny gave the wheel a twist. Then he saw the auto slowly move that way, and away from the tree. It went past with a few inches to spare, but Bunny had not acted any too soon.
Now he was on the straight part of the driveway again, at the back of the house, and all he had to do was to hold the steering wheel steady, and the automobile would move itself along.
"But there's another curve by the kitchen door," thought Bunny. "I wonder if I'll get around that all right."
On went the automobile. As it rolled slowly past the kitchen, Mary, the cook, looked out and saw the small boy at the steering wheel, which seemed almost as large as he was.
"Oh, Bunny! Bunny! Sure an' what in the world are ye doin'?" she cried.
"Please don't make me look at you," begged Bunny. "I've got to steer straight until I get to the curve and then I've got to twist around, an' that's very, very hard to do, Mary. So please don't interrupt me."
But Mary had seen enough to cause alarm. She rushed to the sitting room where Mrs. Brown was looking at a pile of toys Sue had brought down to take on the trip.
"Oh, Mrs. Brown! Mrs. Brown! Sure, an' the likes of a little boy like him runnin' the big car! Sure, it's kilt he'll be intirely!"
"What do you mean, Mary?"
"What do I mean? Sure, an' I mean that Bunny, the darlin' boy, has gone off in the big movin' van auto!"
"Bunny in that auto? Impossible!"
"Look for yourself!" exclaimed Mary, pointing to the window.
At that moment the auto went rolling past, with Bunny at the wheel, as brave as life.
"Bunny Brown!" exclaimed his mother, dashing for the door.
"I—I got around the curve all right, Momsie!" he shouted in glee, and he raised one hand from the wheel to wave it to her.
But at that instant the auto gave a wobble, and Bunny had to bring his waving hand back on the wheel to keep the car straight.
"Bunny! Bunny!" cried his mother, running down the drive after the machine. "Where are you going?"
"I—I don't know," he called back to her. "The auto got started and I can't stop it!"
"Oh, what shall I do?" cried Mrs. Brown. For the seat of the car was very high, and though Bunny had managed to reach it, for he was a good tree-climber, it would hardly have been possible for Mrs. Brown to try to get up with her skirts on and when the auto was moving. It had been still when Bunny climbed to the seat.
"Oh, Bunny!" wailed his mother. "Mary! Telephone for Mr. Brown to come home—quick!"
"I won't be hurt!" called Bunny. "All I've got to do is to keep going on around and around and around the driveway until the storage battery gives out. That's what's running the car now."
"Oh, but you must be stopped," cried Mrs. Brown, who managed to keep alongside the slowly moving auto. "You might hit something!"
"I steered out of the way of a tree, all the same," said Bunny proudly. "I was 'most going to run into it, but I didn't. I 'membered which way to steer."
"Oh, I'm so frightened," moaned Mrs. Brown. Then seeing Bunker Blue coming up the path with a message on which he had been sent by Mr. Brown, Bunny's mother called to him:
"Oh, Bunker, stop the auto! Bunny started it somehow. He's ridden nearly all around the drive, but he can't stop!"
"It's running on the battery," said Bunker, after listening a moment to the electric hum. Then he swung himself up on the seat of the moving car beside Bunny, shut off the electric starter and put on the brakes.
"There you are, Bunny!" cried Bunker. "Right as can be!"
"I steered her nearly all the way around the house," said the small boy with pride.
"But you must never do it again," commanded his mother. "Never! Oh, how you frightened me, Bunny!"
"I'm sorry! I won't do it again," said the little fellow; and he really meant it.
"How did you come to do it?" asked Bunker.
"It just did itself," said the small boy. "I climbed up on the seat, and made believe I was steering, just like you or daddy, when, all of a sudden, off she went. I 'most busted down a tree, but I didn't really. And I went all around the house. I guess now daddy will let me steer the car out on the road."
"Not for a few days yet," said Bunker Blue with a laugh.
"Mr. Brown told me to tell you," he went on to Mrs. Brown, "that he would go a day earlier than he counted on, if you could get ready."
"It won't take me long to pack," said Mrs. Brown. "But why didn't he telephone?"
"Our machine is out of order. The men are fixing it, and anyhow I had to come up this way."
"Well, I'm glad you came in time," said Mrs. Brown, as she led Bunny back to the house. "You are very good, Bunker."
"Yes, and I want you to show me how to stop that electric starter when it starts to start," said Bunny.
"Some day—maybe," promised Bunker, smiling.
"Well, if we're going sooner, I'll have to hurry up and get my things packed," said Bunny. "Have you got yours, Sue?"
"Most of 'em. You ought to see how bright my Teddy bear's eyes shine since daddy put new batteries inside Sallie Malinda," rattled on Sue. "I can 'most see to read my Mother Goose by them in the dark."
"Well, I'm going to get my things ready," said Bunny.
The next few days were busy ones in the Brown home. The big automobile was packed with bed clothes and with things for the children, their father and mother and Uncle Tad to wear, and also with things to eat.
At last, one morning, all was ready for the start.
"Good-bye," waved Mary, the cook, who was to have a vacation, while the Browns were away.
"Good-bye!" called Bunny and Sue, and then Mr. Brown, who was at the steering wheel, while Uncle Tad, Bunny, Sue and their mother rode inside, started the car, and Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue were off on an auto tour.
Merrily they rode along, Bunny and Sue talking happily, when, all at once Bunny cried:
"Wait! Hold on! Where is Splash?"
Mr. Brown as soon as he heard Bunny's cry of "Wait!" at once shut off the power from the big automobile, and brought it to a stop. He turned to look through the little window at the back of the front seat against which he leaned, and asked:
"What's the matter?"
"Oh, Daddy, we've forgotten Splash!" wailed Bunny.
"We've left him behind," chattered Sue. "I saw him and Dix—that's Fred Ward's dog—playing together, and I thought of course Splash would come with us. I forgot, and left one of the funny clown dresses for Sallie Malinda up in my room, so I went to get it, and then Splash and Dix were away down at the end of the yard and I didn't think any more about our dog."
"I didn't either," said Bunny. "But he always has come with us and I thought he would this time."
"Are you sure he isn't somewhere in the auto, under one of the cots asleep?" asked Mr. Brown.
"I'll look," said Uncle Tad, and he did, but without finding Splash.
"I forgot all about him," admitted Mrs. Brown, and her husband said the same thing.
"Well, what are we going to do?" asked Mr. Brown, as soon as every one was satisfied that the dog was not in the big auto-van.
"Do? Why, we've got to go back after him, of course!" cried Bunny.
"We couldn't go without Splash," announced Sue. "He'd be so lonesome for us that he'd cry, and then he'd start out to find us and maybe get lost and we'd never find him again. Go back after him, Daddy! It isn't very far."
"All right," said good-natured Mr. Brown. "I'm glad we're not in a hurry. Still I'd like to keep going, now that we've started. But please, all of you, make sure nothing else is forgotten. For we don't want to go back another time. All ready to turn around and march backward," and he backed the big automobile at a wide place in the road, for it needed plenty of room in which to turn.
Slowly the big car made its way back to the Brown home. Mary, the cook, was the first to see it, and, running to the door, she cried:
"Oh, whatever you do, come in and sit down if only for a minute, some of you! Oh, do come in and sit down!"
"What for, Mary?" asked Mrs. Brown. "Has anything happened?"
"No, but 'tis easy to see you've forgotten somethin'; and when that happens if you don't sit down, or turn your dress wrong side out, bad luck is sure to foller you when you start off again. So come in and sit down, as that's easier than turning a dress."
"Oh, let me turn my knickerbockers outside in!" cried Bunny. "That will be as good as you or Sue, Momsie, turning your dresses. It's easy for me. Then I can make-believe I'm a tramp, and I'll run on ahead and beg for some bread and butter for my starving family," and he imitated, in such a funny way, the whine of some of the tramps who called at the Brown kitchen door, that his mother laughed and Sue said:
"Oh, Momsie, let me turn my dress wrong-side out, too, and I can play tramp with Bunny. That will be fun!"
"No, you mustn't do that," said Mrs. Brown. "While we're hunting for Splash—who isn't in sight. Where can he be?—we'll go in and sit down a moment to please Mary."
"Would we have bad luck if we didn't?" asked Bunny.
"Not at all. But some persons, like Mary, believe in them; and Mary is very fond of us. Even if we do not believe in some of the things those we like believe in, as long as it does no harm to our beliefs, we can do them to please a friend."
Even Mr. Brown, because he liked Mary, went in and sat down for a minute with the others.
"Now you've done away with the bad luck," said the cook with a smile. "What was it you came back for?"
"Splash," answered Bunny.
"He didn't come with us," added Sue.
"Well, it's no wonder, the funny way he's cuttin' up with that dog next door," said Mary.
"What did he do?" asked Bunny. "Was it funny? Please tell us, Mary."
"Well, it might have been funny for him, but it wasn't for me," said the cook, though she could not help smiling. "The two dogs was playin' tag on the lawn. I had some napkins spread out on the grass to bleach, and what did that dog Dix do but run down in the brook, and then come back with his feet all mud and run over my napkins. Sure, I had to wash 'em all again. That's what them two dogs did. The bad luck was just startin' in when you come back, an' it's good you did, to sit down a bit an' take it off."
"But we must get on again," said Mr. Brown. "So hurry, Bunny and Sue. Find Splash. If he's muddy make him swim through the brook and clean himself off. A run along the sunny road will soon dry him."
"But don't let him splash your clean clothes, children," called their mother after them, as the two ran off together to find the missing dog.
"I hear them barking!" called Bunny, as he and his sister hurried toward the end of the yard.
"So do I." Then, a moment later, the little girl added: "There they are!" and she pointed to the two dogs playing on the green lawn not far from a little brook that ran through Mr. Brown's grounds.
"Here, Splash! Splash!" called Bunny.
The dogs stopped their playing, and looked toward the children. As soon as Splash saw his little master and mistress he came rushing toward them as fast as he could.
"Don't let him jump on me and get my dress muddy!" cried Sue. "He's been in the mud just awful!"
"So he has," said Bunny Brown. "Down, Splash! Down!" he called, as the dog neared Sue. Splash made all the signs he knew to show how glad he was to see Bunny and Sue, but he did not get up on his hind legs and put his paws on Sue's shoulders, as he sometimes did.
"Oh, Splash, you're awful dirty!" cried Sue. "You must run in the brook, where the water is clean, and where there are white pebbly stones instead of mud on the bottom, to wash yourself. You've got to go in too, Dix."
Dix barked "bow-wow," to show he did not mind, I suppose.
"Go on in, Splash!" cried Bunny, snapping his fingers and pointing at the brook. "Go in and wash!"
But though the Browns' dog was usually ready for a frolic in the water he did not seem to be so just now. He ran back and forth, down to the edge of the stream and back again, getting his paws wet, but nothing else.
"Oh, you must go in and have your bath if you are to come with us!" cried Sue. "Go on in, Splash!"
But not even for Sue would Splash go in, until finally Bunny cried:
"Oh, I know a way to make him!"
"How?" asked Sue.
"Just throw a stick into the water, and he'll go after it and bring it back. We'll throw it far out."
"Oh, that's right!" cried Sue. "We'll do that."
No sooner had the children picked up sticks than the two dogs, who had started to play "tag" themselves, knew what was up. They both loved to go into the water after sticks.
"Throw 'em far out now!" cried Bunny. He tossed his to the middle of the brook, and Sue flung hers nearly as far, for she was a good thrower—almost as good as Bunny.
Dix swam after Sue's stick, and Splash went for Bunny's. In a minute they had brought them ashore and dropped them at the children's feet, looking up into their faces as much as to say:
"Do it again! We love to chase sticks!"
And then, just as dogs always do when they come from the water, they gave themselves big shakes.
"Look out, Sue!" called Bunny.
But he was too late. A shower of drops from Splash went all over Sue's dress, and some of the drops were not clean water, either.
"Oh dear!" she cried. "Now I'll have to change my dress!"
"Never mind," said Bunny. "You run up to the house and get that done, and I'll throw the two sticks into the water. Then Splash and Dix will go in again, and when they come out they'll be cleaner. I won't come back to the house with them until they are good and clean."
Once more Bunny tossed the sticks, as Sue went up to change her dress. When her mother saw her she cried:
"Oh dear, Sue! How did that happen?"
Sue told her.
"Well, I hope Bunny gets the dogs clean this time," said Mrs. Brown as she took Sue upstairs to put another dress on her. This did not take long, and a little while afterward Bunny came running up from the brook with the two dogs, dripping wet from their baths.
"Quick, Momsie and Sue!" he called to his mother and sister. "Get in the auto before the dogs shower you again with water. I've got 'em good and clean now. I made 'em go in four times after the sticks."
"Did they shake any water on you?" asked Mr. Brown.
"Not much," said Bunny. "Besides, my clothes are dark and the mud on them won't show. Now don't go away again, Splash, 'cause we're going on a long auto tour, and you want to come with us."
All were soon in the auto again, and as they started off, with more "good-byes" and "good lucks," Bunny and Sue made sure that this time Splash followed.
"Now he's started he won't turn back," said Mr. Brown. "He just missed us before, thinking, I suppose, if he saw us go, that we would come back."
The big automobile traveled on for about an hour, and they were several miles from the Brown home when Bunny, looking out of the rear door of the auto-van cried:
"Why there's Dix, Fred Ward's dog, following us along with Splash! Look!"
"So he is," said Mrs. Brown. "Oh, dear! These dogs! What are we going to do?"
DIX IN TROUBLE
"Is Dix really following us?" asked Mr. Brown, as, once more, he stopped the big automobile.
"He seems to be," answered Mrs. Brown. "He and Splash are trotting along together as happy as two clams."
"Clams can't trot," said Bunny quickly.
"No, but they can be happy," said his mother. "And Splash and Dix seem to be happy, now, trotting along together after us."
"They're altogether too happy," said Mr. Brown. "I wonder how we're going to get Dix back home? Mr. and Mrs. Ward think as much of him as we do of Splash, and they'll be sorry to have him run away."
"We must try to send him home some way," said Mrs. Brown. "Bunny, you have a pretty good way with dogs, suppose you get out and try to drive Dix back home. Tell him we love him, think he's a nice dog and all that, but we believe it isn't best for him to come with us now."
"All right, I will," said Bunny, and he hopped down from the automobile, which had a little set of steps at the back to make getting in and out easy. Though Bunny, it is true, generally jumped out, not using the steps at all.
While the big automobile had been traveling on, Splash, knowing he was a member of this party, had gone along as a matter of course. And, perhaps, in some kind of dog language (which I am sure there must be) he had said to his friend Dix something like this:
"Come along, old chap. The folks are going for a little excursion into the country. I know they are, for once before we traveled like this, and it was jolly fun. There'll be good things to eat, and no end of cats to chase, too, if you like that."
"Well, I used to like it," Dix said—perhaps.
"Then come along," urged Splash. "I'm sure the folks will be glad to have you."
"All right, I will," Dix may have answered.
And so it was he had run along, playing beside the road with Splash. And it was not until the automobile had gone several miles that the family noticed that another dog besides their own was following them.
"Drive him back home as your mother told you, Bunny," said the little boy's father.
Bunny ran back to where Dix and Splash were rolling over and over on the grass. They seemed to be enjoying themselves.
"Go on home! Go on home!" cried Bunny.
At once Splash and Dix stopped playing and ran to the little boy. As his mother had said, Bunny knew how to talk to dogs in a way they could understand.
"Go on home!" said the little boy again, very earnestly.
Splash looked up in surprise. He was not used to being sent home.
"Oh, I don't mean you," said Bunny. "I mean you, Dix! Mother says we like you very much, and would like to have you with us, but your folks want you home with them. So go on back. Go home, I say!"
Bunny stamped his foot, spoke as sternly as he could without being too cross, and pointed back toward Bellemere.
Dix looked into Bunny's face a minute, and then slowly the dog's tail drooped between his legs and he slunk off, with what was really a sad face looking at Bunny and Splash. It was as if he said:
"Say, look here, Splash! I thought you invited me on this excursion, and now that boy of yours goes and drives me home."
"Well, I can't help it," Splash seemed to say. "There is something wrong somewhere."
Bunny felt sad at having to drive Dix back home.
"I'm sorry, old fellow," he said, and his voice was so kind that Dix turned and came running back.
"No! No! You mustn't do that!" cried Bunny, seeing what his kind words had done. "Go on back home, Dix!"
Once again Dix's tail drooped between his legs, and he turned back. He went on for some distance, never turning to look back.
"There, I guess he'll not follow us any more," said Bunny. "Come on, Splash. You get up in the automobile and ride with us. Then Dix won't see you, and want to come along."
Bunny led his own dog back to the big car, Splash going willingly enough, though once or twice he looked back at Dix, who was walking slowly the homeward road.
Again the auto started off.
"This is two delays we've had," said Mr. Brown. "If we have another I'll begin to think there is something in Mary's idea of bad luck, after all."
It was Sue who discovered Dix the next time. As the automobile was about to go around a curve the little girl gazed out of the back window and saw the Ward dog trotting happily along toward the moving automobile.
"Oh, Daddy, look there!" cried Sue. "Dix is coming after us again! What are we going to do?"
"Is that dog following us once more?" asked Mr. Brown, as he stopped the automobile.
"Yes, he is; and he seems happy."
"Oh dear!" said Mrs. Brown. "What trouble these dogs are giving us to-day!"
"Well, this is the third trouble, and let us hope it will be the last," said Mr. Brown.
"Are you going to send Dix back again?" asked Bunny.
"No, I don't think it would do any good. Besides, we are now about ten miles from home. He might not find his way."
"That would be too bad," said Mrs. Brown. "The Wards would not want to lose their dog."
"I presume the only thing for us to do is to turn around and carry him back again," said Mr. Brown slowly.
Just then Splash, who had been lying inside under one of the sleeping cots, awoke, and, looking out of the rear door of the auto, saw his friend Dix trotting merrily along.
"Bow-wow!" barked Splash.
"Wow-wuff-wow!" answered Dix.
That meant in dog language I suppose:
"Well, I'm glad to see you again, old fellow."
"And I'm glad to see you," said Dix. "I hope they don't drive me back again. But I went only to the first turn in the road. There I waited awhile and then came on. I could easily tell which way you came by the big wheel-marks."
"Well, I guess there's no hope for it," said Mr. Brown, as the two dogs stopped barking. "It's turn around again and take Dix back with us to his home. It's a good thing we're not in a hurry."
He was about to turn the big car, and Dix had come to a stop a short distance away from it when Bunny suddenly cried:
"Oh, I've thought of a way to do it!"
"A way to do what?" his father asked.
"Take care of Dix."
"Do you mean to ask somebody going past in another automobile to take Dix to Bellemere?" asked Mrs. Brown.
"No. But in that house," and Bunny pointed to one not far away, "is a telephone. I can see the wires, and they're just like our telephone wires. Why can't we call up Mr. Ward and ask him if we can take his dog along with us?"
"Take Dix with us!" cried Mrs. Brown. "What would we do with two dogs?"
"Well, they'll be company for each other," said Sue, who had taken a great liking to Dix.
"And Dix wants to come," added Bunny. "You see how hard it is to drive him back."
"But we don't need him, and two dogs are harder to look after than one," said Mr. Brown. "Dix has made trouble enough to-day, though part of it was Splash's fault."
It was then Bunny had his fine idea.
"Oh, I know the best reason in the world for taking Dix with us!" he cried. "Wait and I'll 'splain it all to you. Just let Dix and Splash play together until I get through talking."
"Well, let's hear your idea, Bunny," said Mr. Brown with a smile, as he leaned back in his seat and rested his back. Splash, seeing his dog friend, leaped from the car and the two were soon playing together in the road as merrily as ever.
DIX AND THE COW
"Now," said Bunny, as he sat down on a little stool in the auto to talk to his father and mother—and Sue, of course, and Uncle Tad, who were all listening. "Now it wouldn't hurt an awful lot to take Dix with us, would it?"
"What do you mean?" asked his mother.
"I mean Dix wouldn't eat much more than Splash, would he?"
"Oh, I guess if it comes to feeding dogs, two come about as cheaply as one," said Mr. Brown with a laugh. "But what's the idea, Bunny?"
"Well, I'd like to have Dix come along with us then. It will save time now in taking him back."
"Yes, it will do that," said Mr. Brown. "And it's quite a way back home this time."
"And Splash will have company to play with all the while," went on Bunny. "Two dogs are happier than one, aren't they?" he asked. "If two dogs eat more than one then two must be happier than one."
"It's a new way of looking at it, but I guess it may be true," laughed Mrs. Brown. "But are you doing all this talking, Bunny, just to have company for Splash?"
"No indeedy I'm not!" exclaimed Bunny. "I haven't 'splained it all."
"What else is there?" asked Mr. Brown, laughing.
"Well, if Mr. Ward will let us take Dix along—and you can find out about that over the telephone—then maybe we can find Fred."
For a moment no one spoke after Bunny had announced his plan. His father and mother looked sharply at him, and so did Sue and Uncle Tad.
"How can Dix find Fred?" asked Sue.
"'Cause didn't the bloodhounds find the runaway slaves in Uncle Tom's Cabin?" demanded Bunny.
"Yes," answered Sue. "I 'member that."
"Well then, won't Dix find Fred the same way?" went on Bunny. "He can smell his tracks along the road and we'll find that runaway boy a lot quicker than if we didn't have his dog along. Fred and Dix were always together, and I guess Fred couldn't have run away if Dix had seen him. So if we take Dix along, and have to look for Fred in big crowds, Dix'll come in 'specially handy."
"Oh, won't that be fun!" cried Sue, clapping her hands. "Do let's take Dix along!"
"I believe Bunny's plan is a good one," said Mr. Brown, after thinking about it a while. "We don't know Fred very well, and he may look different, now that he has gone away from home, from what he did before. His dog would know him, however, no matter how Fred dressed."
"He'd know him even if he had on a Hallowe'en false face, wouldn't he?" asked Sue.
"I guess so," answered Daddy Brown. "Well, I'll go and telephone to Mr. Ward and see what he says."
The people in the house into which the telephone wires ran were very willing Mr. Brown should use the instrument, and he was soon talking to Mr. Ward back in Bellemere.
"Surely you may take Dix with you," said Mr. Ward over the telephone wire. "I only hope he will not be a trouble to you. I know he will make a fuss just as soon as he comes anywhere near Fred. So, in that way, you may be able to trace my boy. I hope you will. His mother hopes so too. She is beside me here as I am talking, and she sends you her thanks. Take Dix with you if you wish."
"Oh, I'm so glad!" cried Sue, when she heard the news. "Aren't you, Bunny? Now we have two dogs!"
"Yes, one will be yours and one mine, until we get back home with Dix. Then we'll each own half of Splash, as we've always done."
This suited Sue, and, now that the dog question was settled, the automobile started on again.
For a little while everything was peaceful and quiet in the big automobile. Bunny went outside on the front seat with his father, and looked down the road along which they were running. It was a pleasant road, with trees arching across overhead from one side to the other.
Inside the big car Mrs. Brown and Uncle Tad "got things to rights," as the children's mother called it, while Sue took out some of her toys, including the big Teddy bear with the electric eyes, whose adventures have been told in the book just before this one.
Bunny and his father talked together on the seat in front. Bunny was interested in whether or not they would find Fred.
"Well, we may and we may not," said Mr. Brown. "It is true Fred said he was going to run away to Portland, the city where we are going. But we will not be there for some time, and before then Fred may think he does not like it there and go somewhere else."
"Well, I think Dix will help find him, don't you?" asked Bunny.
"Yes, I hope so, Son."
Just then came a call from inside the automobile.
"Who's ready for dinner?"
"I am!" cried Bunny, the first one.
"So am I," added Sue.
"Then come on! Rations are served," said Uncle Tad who had been in the army.
He and Mrs. Brown had cooked their first meal on the gasolene stove in the little kitchen and dining room combined, and it was now ready to serve.
Bunny clambered in by way of the front seat and took his place at the little table.
"I think we had better stop beside the road while we eat," said Mr. Brown. "This automobile is all right for traveling, but the roads are so rough here that I may spill my tea. So we'll anchor and eat."
"Daddy thinks we're in a boat I guess, when he talks about anchoring," said Sue, who, more than once, had been out in the big fishing boat with her father.
Then the meal began. There was some cooked meat, for they could carry meat in the ice box, baked potatoes, and, best of all, some pie.
It was while he was eating his pie and drinking his milk that Bunny suddenly cried:
"What about them?" asked Mrs. Brown quickly. "Are they fighting? Where are they, Bunny?"
"Just over in that field playing. But we didn't call Splash and Dix to dinner."
"Oh, is that all? I think they can wait a bit," said Mrs. Brown with a laugh. "By the way you spoke I thought something had happened."
"Well, this pie tasted good, that's part of what happened," said Bunny, with a laugh. "And then I got to wishing Dix and Splash could have some."
"I'll feed them when the rest of you have finished," promised Mrs. Brown.
When the meal was over Mrs. Brown gathered up a big plateful of scraps from the table, and gave it to Bunny to feed Dix and Splash.
"Here Dix!" called Bunny, inviting the "company" dog first, which was proper, I suppose. "Here, Dix and Splash!"
The two dogs heard and must have known that they were being called to dinner, for they came with a rush, each one trying to see which would be the first to reach Bunny with the plateful of good food.
"You'd better put the dish on the ground and get away," said Mr. Brown with a laugh. "Otherwise they'll be so glad to see you, Bunny, that they'll knock you down and roll over you."
"I guess they will," said the little boy. So he put the plate of meat, bread and potato scraps on the ground near the big automobile and then stepped back out of the way.
Dix and Splash did not take long to finish the food on the plate, and then they looked up at Bunny and wagged their tails, as if asking for more.
"No more!" called Mrs. Brown to them, for she understood the feeding of dogs. "That will do you until supper."
Seeing they were going to get no more, Dix and Splash ran off together again to have more fun rolling about in the grass.
"Where do you think we shall stop for the night?" asked Mrs. Brown of her husband as they set off once more.
"Just outside the town of Freeburg," he answered. "We'll sleep in the auto, of course, for if we are making a tour this way it's the proper thing to do. But we'll be near enough a town for supplies or anything we may need."
"Goodness! We don't need anything this soon, nor have we a place to put another thing away," protested Mrs. Brown.
Her husband laughed. "However, it's well to be near a town overnight," he said.
So the big automobile chugged on. Mrs. Brown and Uncle Tad washed the dishes and put them away, and then they sat looking out at the side windows and enjoying the trip. Now and then Mr. Brown would talk in through the open window against which the steering wheel seat was built. Bunny and his sister sometimes rode inside, and again outside with Daddy Brown.
"This is lots of fun, I think," said Bunny, as he sat beside his father, and the auto went rather fast down a hill.
"It's just great! My Sallie Malinda Teddy bear likes it, too," put in Sue, who was also on the front seat. Both of them together took up no more room than one grown person, and the front seat was built large enough for two.
Dix and Splash raced on together, sometimes playing a game like wrestling, trying to see which could throw the other, and again rushing along as fast as they could go, sometimes behind, and sometimes in front of the automobile.
At the foot of the hill, down which the automobile had gone rather fast, a man stepped out from a fence beside the road and held up his hand.
"What does that mean?" asked Sue.
"It means to stop," said her father, as he slowed up the machine.
"What for?" Bunny inquired.
"Well, he may be a constable—that is a kind of a policeman," said Mr. Brown. "He wants us to stop, thinking, maybe, that we were running too fast. But I know we weren't."
"Will he 'rest us?" asked Sue. "If he does I'm going to hide Sallie Malinda. I'm not going to have her locked up!"
"Nothing will happen," said Mr. Brown with a laugh. "I have run an automobile long enough to know what to do."
Mr. Brown brought the big machine to a stop near the spot where the man was standing with upraised hand.
"What's the matter?" asked Mr. Brown good-naturedly. "Were we going too fast?"
"Oh, nopey!" exclaimed the man with a laugh. "I jest stopped you to see what kind of a show you was givin'."
"What kind of show we are giving?" repeated Mr. Brown in surprise.
"Yep! I thought maybe you was one o' them patent medicine shows that goes 'round in big wagons and stops here and there, and a feller sings, or plays, or somethin', then the head man or woman sells medicine what'll cure everything you ever had in the way of pain or ever expect to have. I thought I'd see what kind of a show you've got."
"We haven't any," laughed Mr. Brown. "You may look in the auto if you like, and see how we live in it. We are traveling for pleasure."
"I see you be, now," said the man after a look. "Wa'al, I'm right sorry I stopped you."
"That's all right," said Mr. Brown pleasantly. "This is a heavy machine, and I don't like to get it to going too fast downhill. It's too hard to stop. So it's just as well we slowed up."
"You see I'm the inspector of all them travelin' shows," went on the man. "Ribbans is my name, Hank Ribbans. Every medicine show or other show that comes to town has to git a permit from me, else they can't show. But you're all right, pass on."
An idea came into Mrs. Brown's head.
"Do you have many shows passing through here, with musicians who play to draw a crowd?" she asked.
"Oh, sartin, surely. 'Bout one once a week as a rule. There was one that showed here two or three nights ago—no, come to think of it now, it was last night. There was a young feller—nothin' but a boy—dressed up in the reddest and bluest suit you ever see. And say, how he could play that old banjo!"
"Oh, a banjo! Maybe it was Fred!" cried Bunny.
The same thought came to his father and mother.
"Tell us about this boy," requested Mr. Brown. "We are looking for one who plays the banjo," and he described Fred Ward.
"Well, this can't be the one you're lookin' for," said Mr. Ribbans. "'Cause this feller was a negro."
"Maybe he was blacked up like a minstrel," said Bunny.
"I couldn't say as to that," returned the inspector. "Anyhow they paid for their license all right, and they sold a powerful lot o' Dr. Slack's Pain Killer. Then they went on out of town. That's all I know. Well, you don't need a license from me; so go ahead, folks!"
He waved good-bye to them as they went off again.
Bunny and Sue were eager to ask questions about the colored boy who played the banjo for the medical show.
"Do you think he could have been Fred?" asked Bunny.
"It is possible," answered his father.
"Maybe we can find him," added Sue.
"We'll make inquiries about this show in the next town we come to," said Mr. Brown.
But as the next town was the one outside of which they were to spend the night, they decided to put off until the next day asking questions about the colored banjo player.
Uncle Tad and Mr. Brown helped Mrs. Brown get the supper. When it was over there was a large platter full of good things left for the two dogs. They were hungry, for they had run far that day, and they ate up every scrap.
Then they stretched out for a while near a campfire Mr. Brown made under some trees, for it was a little cool in the evenings. As the children had been up early that morning, Mrs. Brown told them they must be early in bed, and after watching the fire until their eyes began to shut of themselves, Bunny and Sue started for their little bunks.
Just as they were getting undressed, though it was scarcely dark, the barking of dogs was heard down the road.
"That's Dix and Splash!" exclaimed Bunny. "And something must have happened. Splash wouldn't bark that way if there was nothing the matter."
"Here comes Dix now," said Sue, looking out of the automobile window. "And oh, Bunny! Look what he's brought home with him!"
"What is it?" asked Bunny, whose bunk was on the other side of the big car.
"It's a cow. Dix is leading home a cow on the end of a rope!" exclaimed Sue.
For a moment the two children looked out of the automobile windows at the strange sight. Then, unable longer to think of going to bed when there was likely to be some excitement, they both came out from behind the curtains that screened off their cots, and cried together:
"Dix has got a cow!"
"Dix has got a what?" asked Mrs. Brown, thinking she had not understood.
"Dix has got a cow!" went on Bunny. "He's leading her by a rope. I guess he thinks it's our cow."
"Well, what will those dogs do next?" asked Mr. Brown, who was reading a newspaper he had purchased from a passing boy, who rode his route on a bicycle.
"It's true enough—about the cow," said Uncle Tad, who was outside the automobile putting out the last embers of the campfire, that there might be no danger during the night. "One of the dogs is leading home a 'cow critter,' as some farmers call them.
"It's Dix," he went on a moment later as the two dogs, both barking excitedly, came close to the big moving van, Dix having hold of the rope that was tied fast to the cow's neck. He was leading her along, and the cow did not appear to mind. "Dix must have found the cow wandering along the road," went on Uncle Tad, "and, thinking we might need one, he just brought her home."
"Very thoughtful of Dix, I'm sure," said Mr. Brown, who had come outside as had his wife, while Bunny and Sue remained in their pajamas in the doorway. "He probably meant it kindly, but what will the man think whose cow she is? Well, what's the matter with you, Splash?" asked Mr. Brown, for that dog, too, was barking very loudly. "Did you see the cow first, and wouldn't Dix let you have a share in bringing her here? I guess that was it. Never mind, you shall lead the cow home, if we can find out where she belongs."
He patted Splash's head as he spoke, and talked to the dog almost as he would have talked to a small boy. And I think Splash understood, for he wagged his tail, and seemed pleased.
Dix led the cow up to Mr. Brown, and there, dropping the end of the rope, wagged his tail, barked once or twice and looked up as though he were saying:
"Well, didn't I do pretty well for the first day? I found a cow for you. That will more than pay my board. I'll try and find something else to-morrow."
Then, as if satisfied that he had done his duty, Dix went off to hunt for a bone he had buried after his supper, and Splash went with him.
"Well, what in the world are we going to do with it?" asked Mrs. Brown. "We can't keep this cow; that's sure!"
"We might tie her to one of the auto wheels," said Mr. Brown.
"No, thank you!" exclaimed his wife. "She'd moo all night, and keep us awake."
"But we can't turn her loose," said Mr. Brown. "She might wander off and be stolen, and then the owner would blame us, though it might not be our fault. Since Dix has brought the cow to us, no matter whether we wanted her or not, we've got to look after her somehow."
"Couldn't Dix take her back?" asked Bunny, from where he stood in the doorway with Sue.
"That's perhaps a good idea," replied Mr. Brown. "Though I don't know that Dix could exactly take her back. I think I'd better do it myself. It's early yet, and probably the farmer who owns the cow is out looking for her. I'll let Splash lead the cow back along the road, and I'll go with him. We may meet the farmer."
"Well, don't be gone too long," begged Mrs. Brown. "The first day is always hard and we want to get to bed early."
"I'll do my best," promised Mr. Brown. "Come on, Splash! It's your turn now to lead the cow!"
Splash barked joyfully, and seemed glad that he was to have something to do with the big horned animal, who was contentedly chewing her cud, lying down beside the automobile. She appeared quite contented wherever she was.
"Oh, let us come!" begged Bunny and Sue, as they saw their father go off down the road with Splash leading the cow by the rope.
"No, indeed! You youngsters get to bed!" said Mrs. Brown. "You ought to be glad of the chance. You must be tired."
"We're not—a single bit!" declared Bunny, but though he and Sue begged hard, and teased to go to see the cow taken home, their mother would not let them.
It was quite dark when Mr. Brown came back. The children were asleep, but Mrs. Brown and Uncle Tad were sitting up reading.
"Well?" asked Mrs. Brown, as she noticed how tired her husband looked. "Did you have far to go?"
"About two miles, and mostly uphill. But I found the cow's owner."
"Did you? That's good! How did you manage?" asked Uncle Tad.
"Well, I was going along, Splash leading the cow as proud as a peacock, when, all of a sudden, I saw a man hurrying toward me. He seemed very much excited, and asked me if that was my cow the dog was leading.
"I told him it was not; that one of the dogs that was with us on our auto trip had brought her in; and that I was bringing her back, looking for the owner."
"'I'm him,' he said. 'And I can soon prove the critter's mine.'"
"I told him I hoped she was, for I was tired of walking with her. So he stopped at two or three farmers' houses, and they all said the cow belonged to Mr. Adrian Richmond, who was the man that met me. So I left the cow with him and came on home, for this does look like home," he added, as he gazed around the small but cozy room in the auto-van.
"Did the farmer tell you how Dix came to lead off his cow?" asked Uncle Tad.
"No, he only guessed that the animal must have pulled loose from her stake and wandered off down the road. She was used to being led home every night by the farmer's dog, so she didn't make any objections."
"Then Dix must be a sort of a cow dog," remarked Mrs. Brown, and later it was learned that Dix had once been on a western ranch and had helped the cowboys with their work.
So with the cow disposed of, and the two dogs asleep on some old blankets under the automobile, the little party of travelers settled down for the night. They all slept soundly, and in the morning the first thing Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue wanted to know about was the cow. Their father told them all that had happened.
"That Dix is a great dog!" cried Bunny. "I'm glad we brought him with us."
"So'm I!" echoed Sue. "And maybe to-day he'll find Fred."
"How can he?" asked Bunny.
"Because you know the funny old man who stopped us, to see if we were a traveling show, said that boy banjo player was to come to this town. And even if the one he saw was colored it might be Fred blacked up."
"That's so," agreed Bunny. "We'll get daddy to ask."
A breakfast was cooked in the auto and eaten out-of-doors, because it was such a lovely morning. More than once as they ate in the shadow of the big car other autoists, passing, waved a merry greeting to the happy little party, and as horse-drawn carts and wagons passed along the road on their way into town, many curious glances were cast at the travelers.
It was rather a strange way of making a journey, but it suited the Browns, and they preferred their big automobile to any railroad train they could have had.
After breakfast they set off again, passing through the city.
Mr. Brown asked several persons there about the traveling medicine show with the colored banjo player. Many had seen it, but some were sure the banjo-playing boy was a real negro, while others said he was only blackened up. At any rate the show had traveled on, and no one knew where it would be next met with.
"Well, it may have been Fred, and it may not," said Mr. Brown. "I must write and ask Mr. Ward if his son could imitate a negro, singing and playing the banjo, and whether he ever dressed up and did that sort of thing."
The progress of the big automobile through the town attracted many persons, not a few of whom believed it to be a traveling show, and they were disappointed when some sort of performance was not given.
The Browns were soon out in the sunny country again, traveling along a shady level road. Bunny and Sue played with their toys, and at noon, when they stopped for lunch, they had a romping game of tag in the woods and fields near-by.
After the noon rest they went on again, the two dogs running along, sometimes ahead of the automobile and sometimes behind it.
"I'm going to put darling Sallie Malinda to sleep," said Sue after a while. "And I'm going to let her sleep near the back door of the car."
"Why?" asked Bunny, who was very fond of asking questions.
"She isn't feeling very well, and the air will do her good," answered Sue, who made her "make-believe" very real to herself.
So, having made a nice bed of rags for her Teddy bear, Sue put Sallie Malinda to sleep near the rear door of the auto and got out one of her books to look at the pictures. Bunny was building some sort of house with some new blocks his father had bought for him, but he was not having very good luck, for the motion of the auto made the house topple over almost as soon as Bunny had it built.
After a while Sue thought her Teddy bear had had enough sleep near the auto door, so she went to take her in. But when she reached the rag bed Sallie Malinda was not there.
"Oh, my Teddy bear is gone!" cried Sue. "Oh, Bunny, do you think she falled out? Daddy! Daddy! Stop the auto! My Teddy bear is lost!"
Mr. Brown stopped the car at once, though he did not understand all of what Sue said. The little girl told him what had happened.
"Sallie Malinda gone!" cried Mother Brown. "That's too bad! She must have been jostled off when the auto went over a bump. I think we'll have to go back and look for her," she said to her husband.
Then Bunny gave some more news.
"Dix is gone too!" he cried. "I've been watching a long while and I haven't seen him. And Splash is acting awful funny—just as if Dix had run away."
"Hum! This is rather strange!" exclaimed Mr. Brown. "Two disappearances at once."
"What's disappearcesses?" asked Sue.
"It means going away—the word your father used does," explained Mrs. Brown with a smile. "But it certainly is strange that Dix and the Teddy bear should go away together."