BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE GIVING A SHOW
BY LAURA LEE HOPE
AUTHOR OF THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES, THE BOBBSEY TWINS SERIES, THE OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES, ETC.
NEW YORK GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS
By LAURA LEE HOPE
12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.
THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON GRANDPA'S FARM BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE PLAYING CIRCUS BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT AUNT LU'S CITY HOME BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CAMP REST-A-WHILE BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE IN THE BIG WOODS BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON AN AUTO TOUR BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AND THEIR SHETLAND PONY BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE GIVING A SHOW
THE BOBBSEY TWINS SERIES
THE BOBBSEY TWINS THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE COUNTRY THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE SEASHORE THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SCHOOL THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SNOW LODGE THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON A HOUSEBOAT THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT MEADOW BROOK THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT HOME THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN A GREAT CITY THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON BLUEBERRY ISLAND THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON THE DEEP BLUE SEA THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN WASHINGTON
THE 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 THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN WAR SERVICE THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT THE HOSTESS HOUSE
GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS NEW YORK
Copyright, 1919, by GROSSET & DUNLAP
Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue Giving a Show
I. "LOOK AT THE SKYLIGHT!" 1
II. "LET'S GIVE A SHOW!" 13
III. TALKING IT OVER 24
IV. THE CLIMBING BOY 33
V. A COLD LITTLE SINGER 45
VI. GENERAL WASHINGTON 55
VII. "DOWN ON THE FARM" 64
VIII. THE SCENERY 74
IX. BUNNY DOES A TRICK 83
X. GETTING READY 93
XI. THE STRANGE VOICE 108
XII. A SURPRISE 116
XIII. "THEY'RE GONE" 124
XIV. SPLASH HANGS ON 131
XV. TICKETS FOR THE SHOW 137
XVI. UPSIDE DOWNSIDE BUNNY 145
XVII. SUE'S QUEER SLIDE 154
XVIII. MR. TREADWELL'S WIG 162
XIX. UNCLE BILL 171
XX. THE DRESS REHEARSAL 181
XXI. "WHERE IS BUNNY?" 197
XXII. ACT I 206
XXIII. ACT II 220
XXIV. ACT III 231
XXV. THE FINAL CURTAIN 239
AND HIS SISTER SUE
GIVING A SHOW
"LOOK AT THE SKYLIGHT!"
With a joyful laugh, her curls dancing about her head, while her brown eyes sparkled with fun, a little girl danced through the hall and into the dining room where her brother was eating a rather late breakfast of buckwheat cakes and syrup.
"Oh, Bunny, it's doing it! It's come! Oh, won't we have fun!" cried the little girl.
Bunny Brown looked up at his sister Sue, holding a bit of syrup-covered cake on his fork.
"What's come?" he asked. "Has Aunt Lu come to visit us, or did Wango, the monkey, come up on our front steps?"
"No, it isn't Mr. Jed Winkler's monkey and Aunt Lu didn't come, but I wish she had," answered Sue. "But it's come—a lot of it, and I'm so glad! Hurray!"
Bunny Brown put down his fork and looked more carefully at his sister.
"What are you playing?" he asked, thinking perhaps it was some new game.
"I'm not playing anything!" declared Sue. "I'm so glad it's come! Now we can have some fun! Just look out the window, Bunny Brown!"
"But what has come?" asked the little boy, who was a year older than his sister Sue. He was a bright chap, with merry blue eyes and they opened wide now, trying to see what Sue was so excited about.
"What is it?" asked Bunny Brown once more.
"It's snow!" cried Sue. "It's the first snow, and it's soon going to be Thanksgiving and Christmas and all like that! And we can get out our sleds, and we can go skating and make snow men and—and—and——"
But she just had to stop. She was all out of breath, and she didn't seem to have any words left with which to talk to Bunny.
"Oh! Snow!" exclaimed Bunny, and he said; it in such a funny way that Sue laughed.
Just then in came her mother from the kitchen where she had been baking more cakes for her little boy.
"Oh, it's you, is it, Sue?" asked Mrs. Brown. "Do you want some more breakfast?"
"No, thank you, Mother. I had mine. I just came in to tell Bunny it's snowing. And we can have a lot of fun, can't we?"
"Well, you children do manage to have a lot of fun, one way or another," said Mrs. Brown, with a smile.
"Is it snowing, Mother?" asked Bunny, too excited now to want to finish his breakfast.
"Yes, it really is," answered Mrs. Brown. "I was so busy getting enough cakes baked for you that I didn't notice the snow much. But, as Sue says, it is coming down quite fast."
"Hurray!" cried Bunny, even as Sue had done. "Do you think there will be lots of the snow?"
"Well, it looks as though there might be quite a storm for the first snow of the season," replied the mother of Bunny Brown and his sister Sue. "It's a bit early this year, too. It's almost two weeks until Thanksgiving and here it is snowing. I'm afraid we're going to have a hard winter."
"With lots of snow and ice, Mother?" asked Bunny.
"Yes. And with cold weather that isn't good for poor folks."
"Oh, I'm glad!" cried Bunny. "Not about the poor folks, though," he added quickly, as he saw his mother look at him in surprise. "But I'm glad there'll be lots of ice. Sue and I can go skating."
"And there'll be lots of ice for ice-cream next summer," added Sue.
Mrs. Brown laughed. Then, as she saw Bunny racing to the window with Sue, to push aside the curtains and look out at the falling white flakes, she said:
"Come back and finish your breakfast, Bunny. I want to clear off the table."
"I want to see the snow, first," replied the little boy. "Anyhow, I guess I've had enough cakes."
"Oh, and I just brought in some nice, hot, brown ones!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown.
"I'll help eat 'em!" offered Sue, and though she had had her breakfast a little while before, she now ate part of a second one, helping her brother.
It was Saturday, and, as there was no school, Mrs. Brown had allowed both children to sleep a little later than usual. Sue had been up first, and, after eating her breakfast and playing around the house, she had gone to the window to look out and wish that Bunny would get up to play and have fun with her.
Then she had seen the first snow of the season and had run into the dining room to find her brother there eating his late meal.
"May we go out in the snow and play?" asked Bunny, when he had finished the last of the brown cakes and the sweet syrup.
"Yes, if you put on your boots and your warm coats. You don't want to get cold, you know, or you can't go to the play in the Opera House this afternoon."
"Oh, we've got to see that!" cried Bunny. "I 'most forgot; didn't you, Sue?"
"Yes," replied the little girl, "I did. Maybe it will snow so hard that they can't have the show, like once it rained so hard we couldn't play circus in the tent Grandpa put up for us in the lot."
"Yes, it did rain hard," agreed Bunny. "And it's snowing hard," he added, as he squirmed into his coat and again looked out of the window. "Will it snow so hard they can't give the show, Mother?" he asked.
"Oh, I think not," answered Mrs. Brown. "This play isn't going to be in a tent, you know. It's in the Opera House, and they give shows there whether it rains or snows. I think you may both count on going to the show this afternoon."
"Oh, what fun!" cried Bunny.
"Lots of fun!" echoed Sue.
Then out they ran to play amid the swirling, white flakes; and it is hard to say whether they had more fun in the first snow or in thinking about the play they were to see in the Opera House that afternoon.
At any rate Bunny Brown and his sister Sue certainly had fun playing out in the yard of their house and in the street in front. At first there was not snow enough to do more than make slides on the sidewalk, and the little boy and girl did this for a time. They made two long slides, and men and women coming along smiled to see the brother and sister at play. But these same men and women were careful not to step on the slippery slides made by Bunny Brown and his sister Sue, for they did not want to slip and fall.
As for Bunny and Sue, they did not mind whether they fell or not. Half the time they were tumbling down and the other half getting up again. But they managed to do some sliding, too.
"Come on!" cried Bunny, after a bit. "There's enough now to make snowballs!"
"Could we make a snow house, too?" asked his sister.
"No, there isn't enough for that. But we can make snowballs and throw 'em!"
"Don't throw any at me!" begged Sue. "'Cause if you did, an' the snow went down my neck, it would melt and I'd get wet an' then I couldn't go to the show an' you'd be sorry!"
This was rather a long sentence for Sue, and she was a bit out of breath when she had finished.
"No, I won't throw any snowballs at you," promised Bunny.
"Oh, here come Harry Bentley and Charlie Star!" exclaimed Sue.
"I'll throw snowballs at them!" decided Bunny. "Hi!" he called to two of his boy chums. "Let's throw snowballs!"
"We're with you!" answered Charlie.
"I'm not going to play snowball fight," decided Sue. "I see Mary Watson and Sadie West. I'm going to play with them."
So she trotted off to make little snow dolls with her girl friends, while Bunny, with Charlie and Harry, threw soft snowballs at one another. The children were having such fun that it seemed only a few minutes since breakfast when Mrs. Brown called:
"Bunny! Sue! Come in and get washed for lunch. And you have to get dressed if you're going to the play!"
"Oh, we're going, sure!" exclaimed Bunny. "Are you?" he asked Charlie and Harry.
"Yes," they replied, and when Sue ran toward her house with Bunny she told her brother that Sadie and Mary were also going to the play that afternoon in the town Opera House.
"Oh, we'll have a lot of fun!" cried Bunny. "Will it be a funny play?" he asked Uncle Tad, who had promised to take the two children.
"Well, I guess it'll be funny for you two youngsters," was the answer of the old soldier. "But I guess it isn't much of a theatrical company that would come to Bellemere to give a show so near the beginning of winter. But it will be all right for boys and girls."
"It's a show for the benefit of our Red Cross Chapter," said Mrs. Brown. "That's why I asked you to take the children, Uncle Tad. I have to be with the other ladies of the committee, to help take tickets and look after things."
"Oh, I'll look after Bunny and Sue!" exclaimed Uncle Tad. "I'll see that they have a good time!"
Bunny Brown and his sister Sue were so excited because of the first snow storm and because of thinking of the play they were to see, that they could hardly dress. But at last they were ready, and they set off in the family automobile, which Uncle Tad drove. Mrs. Brown went along also, but Mr. Brown had to stay at the office. The office was at the dock where he owned a fish and boat business.
It was still snowing, and the ground was now quite white, when the automobile drew up at the Opera House, which was where all sorts of shows and entertainments were given in Bellemere, the home of the Brown family.
"We can have a lot more fun in the snow to-morrow!" whispered Sue, as she and her brother passed in, Uncle Tad handing the tickets to Mrs. Gordon, who smiled at them. She was one of the committee of ladies who, like Mrs. Brown, were helping with the entertainment. There were to be speeches by some of the men of Bellemere, but what would be more enjoyable to the young folks was the performance of a number of vaudeville actors and actresses, said to come all the way from New York.
"There's a jiggler who holds a cannon ball on his neck," whispered Charlie Star to Bunny, when the Brown children had found their seats, which were near those of some of their friends.
"He means a juggler," said George Watson.
"Yes, that's it—a juggler," agreed Charlie.
"And there are a little boy and girl who do tricks and sing," added Mary Watson. "I saw their pictures."
"Oh, it'll be lovely!" sighed Sue. "I wish it would begin!"
The boys, girls and grown folks were still coming in and taking their seats. The curtain hid the stage. And how the children did wonder what was going on behind that piece of painted canvas! The musicians were just beginning to "tune up," as Uncle Tad said. The ushers were hurrying to and fro, seating the late-comers. One of the men who worked in the Opera House, sweeping it out, attending to the fires in winter, and sometimes selling tickets, got a long pole to open a skylight ventilator, to let in some fresh air.
Just how it happened no one seemed to know, but suddenly the long pole slipped and there was a crash and tinkle of glass. Nearly every one jumped in his or her seat, and some one cried:
"Look at the skylight! It's going to fall!"
Bunny Brown, his sister Sue, and every one else looked up. True enough, something had gone wrong with the skylight the man had tried to open. It seemed to have slipped from its place in the frame where it was fastened in the roof, and the big window of metal and glass looked as though about to fall on the heads of the audience directly under it.
"Oh, Bunny, let's run!" cried Sue. "It's going to drop right on us!"
And truly it did seem so. Slowly the big skylight was slipping from its fastenings, and several in the audience screamed.
"LET'S GIVE A SHOW!"
Just when it seemed as if a bad accident would happen and that some one would be hurt by the fall of the roof-window, the man who had been using the long pole thrust it under the edge of the sliding skylight and held it there. Then he called:
"I have it! I can keep it from falling until somebody gets up on the roof and fixes it. Hurry up, though!"
"I'll go up and fix it!" said another usher. "Guess the first snow was too heavy for the skylight! Keep still, everybody!" he added. "There's no danger now!"
The man had to shout to be heard above the screams of the frightened and excited people, but he made his voice carry to all parts of the Opera House, and finally it became more quiet. Then a man stepped from behind the curtain and stood on the front part of the stage. He held up his hand to make the people know he wanted them to be quiet, and when his voice could be heard he said:
"There is no danger now. There was some, but it has passed. The man will hold the skylight in place until it can be fastened. And while he is doing that I wish those who are sitting under it would move quietly out into the aisles. Don't crowd or rush. You children can pretend it is like the fire drill you have at school."
"Oh, we do have fire drill at our school, don't we, Bunny?" cried Sue, in a rather loud voice. Her words carried to all parts of the theater and many laughed. This laugh was just what was needed to make the people forget their fright, and soon the place directly under the loosened skylight was clear. Bunny and Sue, with Uncle Tad and their boy and girl chums, moved out into the aisle, and soon the men began the work of fastening the skylight back in place. And you may be sure they fastened it tight.
While this is being done I will take a few moments to tell my new readers something about the two Brown children. As you may have guessed, there are other volumes which come before this one. The first is called "Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue."
Bunny and Sue lived with their father and mother in a pretty house in the town of Bellemere. Bellemere was on the seacoast and also near a small river. Mr. Brown was in the boat and fish business, and he owned a dock, or wharf, on the bay and had his office there. He had many men to help, and also a big boy, who was almost a man. The big boy's name was Bunker Blue, and he was very good to Bunny and Sue. Living in the same house with the Browns was Uncle Tad. He was Mr. Brown's uncle, but Bunny and Sue thought they owned just as much of the dear old soldier as did their father. Besides Uncle Tad, the children had other relations. They had a grandfather and a grandmother, and also an aunt, Miss Lulu Baker, who lived in a big city.
Bunny and Sue Brown had many friends in Bellemere. Besides the few boys and girls I have mentioned there were many others. And there was also Jed Winkler, an old sailor who owned a monkey, and, lately, he had bought a green parrot from an old shipmate of his. Jed Winkler had a sister, a rather cross maiden lady who did not like the monkey very much. And the monkey, whose name was Wango, seemed to know this, for he was always playing tricks on Miss Winkler.
The second volume of the series is called "Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue on Grandpa's Farm." There, you can easily imagine, the little boy and girl had lots of fun. During their visit to the farm they got up a circus, and there is a book telling all about it. They had a real tent, which their grandfather got for them, and in it they and some of their friends gave a very funny performance.
When Bunny and Sue went to Aunt Lu's city home they had many wonderful times, and when they went on a vacation to Camp Rest-a-While so many things happened near the beautiful lake that the children never tired talking about them.
It was after the children had spent such a happy time in the camp that they went to the "Big Woods," as Bunny and Sue called them, and, after that, their father and mother took them on an auto tour, when many strange things happened. "Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue and Their Shetland Pony" is the name of the book just before the one you are reading now, and after many adventures with the little horse the two children planned for winter fun. Going to the show in the Opera House was part of this fun.
It did not take very long for the man who had gone up to the roof to fix the broken skylight. The children could see him away up above their heads as they sat in the theater, or stood there, for those who had places directly under the skylight would not use the seats until the roof-window was fixed.
"There! It's all right now," said the man on the stage. "There is no more danger. Take your seats and the show will begin."
From all over the Opera House you could have heard delighted "Ohs!" and "Ahs!" from the children. There was a rustling of programs, a swish of skirts, several coughs, and one or two sneezes. Then the fiddles squeaked, there was rumble and boom of the drums, and the orchestra played the Star-Spangled Banner.
Every one stood up until the national air was ended and then the musicians began to play a dance tune which was so lively that the feet of every one, old and young, seemed to be tapping the floor.
Then came a pause, the lights in the Opera House were turned low, and at last the curtain went up. Bunny Brown and his sister Sue held tightly to the arms of their seats, lest they might slip out during the excitement that was to follow. And it was exciting for the children, as you may easily guess.
The first act was the juggler, or the "jiggler," as one of the boys had called him. He placed a pole on his chin, and on top of the pole a glass of water. Then with three balls he did a number of odd tricks.
"And all the while, mind you!" exclaimed Bunny, telling his father about it afterward, "the man held the water, on the pole on his chin and he didn't drop it once."
"Yes, that must have been wonderful," said Daddy Brown. "If he had dropped the pole he'd have broken the glass, wouldn't he?"
"And he would have spilled the water, too!" exclaimed Bunny's sister. "And it was real water!"
"No!" cried Mr. Brown, in fun, making believe he didn't believe this.
"Yes it was, really!" declared Sue, and Bunny nodded his head also.
The juggler did many other tricks, even tossing balls up into the air and letting them fall in a tall silk hat he wore. The hat had no crown to it, but it had a funny little door, or opening, cut in front, and as fast as the juggler would toss the rubber balls into his hat, they would roll out of the little door in front. My, how the children did laugh! But the juggler never even smiled.
The next act was that of an old man who, on the programme, was called an "Impersonator."
"What's that mean?" asked Bunny of Uncle Tad. "Does he do juggles too?"
"No, he dresses up like some persons you may have seen in pictures. He pretends he's General Washington, or the President, or some great soldier. He tries to look as much like these persons as he can, so they call him an impersonator. Watch, and you'll see."
When the "Impersonator" came out on the stage he did not look like any one but himself. He made a few remarks, but Bunny and Sue did not pay much attention. They were more interested in what he was going to do. The man, who wore a black suit, "like the minister's," as Mary Watson whispered to Sue, suddenly stepped over to a little table, on which were two electric lights and a looking glass.
The children could not see exactly what the man did. They noticed that his hands were working very quickly, but he had his back toward them. All at once his black hair seemed to turn white, and in a moment he caught up from a chair a coat of blue and gold; he slipped this on. Then he turned suddenly and faced the audience.
"Oh, it's George Washington!" cried a boy, and the audience laughed. And, to tell the truth, the man on the stage did look a great deal like our first president, as you see him in pictures. The man had put a white wig on over his black hair, and had put on the kind of coat George Washington used to wear.
I wish I had time to tell you all the different persons this actor made up to appear like, but I can mention only a few. From Washington he turned himself into Lincoln, and then into Roosevelt. Then he made up like some of the French and English generals, and afterward he made himself look like General Grant, smoking a cigar.
Every one applauded as the man bowed himself off the stage. There was a thrill of excitement when the next number was announced. A little girl was shown on the stage. She did not seem much older than Sue, but of course she was. She began to sing in a sweet, childish voice, and in the midst of her song a boy dressed in a suit of bright spangles suddenly appeared from the side. Without a word the boy began turning handsprings and somersaults and doing flipflops in front of the girl.
Suddenly she stopped her song, stamped her little foot, and in pretended anger cried:
"What do you mean by coming out here and spoiling my singing act?"
"Why, the man back there," said the boy, pointing behind the scenes, "told me to come out here and amuse the people," and he seemed, to smile right at Bunny Brown and Sue.
"He told you to come out and amuse the people, did he? Well, what does he think I'm doing?" demanded the girl.
"I don't know. I guess he thinks maybe you're making 'em cry!" was the boy acrobat's grinning answer.
"Well, I like that! The idea!" exclaimed the girl. "I'm going right back and tell him I won't sing another song in this show! The idea!" and she hurried off the stage.
"Oh, won't she sing any more?" whispered Sue to Uncle Tad.
"Yes," answered the soldier with a smile. "That's just part of the act—to make it more interesting."
"Now that she is out of the way I'll have more room to do my flipflops," said the boy acrobat, and he started to do all sorts of tricks. But, just as Uncle Tad had said, the girl was only pretending, for pretty soon she came back again with a prettier dress on, and she danced and sang while the boy did handsprings to the delight of Bunny Brown, his sister Sue, and all the others in the audience.
I haven't room to tell you all that happened at the show that afternoon, for this story is to be about a show Bunny and Sue gave. But I will just say every one liked the entertainment, and when Bunny was coming out, walking behind Sue, he suddenly said:
"I know what we can do!"
"What?" asked the little girl.
"Let's give a show ourselves—like this!" Bunny pointed toward the stage.
Sue looked at Bunny to make sure he was not joking. Then she answered and said:
"We will! We'll give a show ourselves!"
TALKING IT OVER
One evening two or three days after the performance in the Opera House, where Bunny and Sue had so much enjoyed the impersonator, the juggler, the boy acrobat, and the girl singer, a number of ladies called at the home of Mrs. Brown. As it was early Bunny and Sue had not yet gone to bed so they could hear the talk that went on.
"I think we did very well, Mrs. Brown," said Mrs. West, the mother of Sue's playmate, Sadie. "We cleared nearly two hundred dollars for our Red Cross Chapter from the Opera House show."
"That's splendid!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown. "I didn't think we would make quite so much. But we could use still more money."
"Yes, if we had more money we could do more good," said Mrs. Bentley. "I don't suppose we could have another performance soon. The people would not come."
Bunny and Sue, who were in another room looking at picture books, glanced at one another. Then they smiled. Bunny slid down off his chair, followed by Sue.
"Shall we tell 'em?" asked Bunny.
"Yes," nodded Sue.
So the two children walked slowly into the room where their mother and the other ladies were talking about the Red Cross Society. Mrs. Brown was just saying something.
"No," she remarked, "I hardly believe we could arrange to give another show right away. It would be too much like——"
"Mother!" interrupted Bunny, speaking in a low voice.
"Yes, Son!" answered Mrs. Brown. "But run away now, dear. Mother is very busy. I'll speak to you in just a minute."
"But we want to talk about the show, Mother," persisted Bunny.
"Oh, but I haven't time," said Mrs. Brown with a smile. "You saw the show, and that's enough. Now run away, like a good boy. And you and Sue must soon get ready for bed."
"But it's about another show, Mother!" insisted Bunny. "We heard what you said, Sue and I did—and we want to help you get more money."
"Isn't that sweet of them!" exclaimed Mrs. Bentley.
"Well, our Red Cross Chapter certainly needs money," remarked Mrs. Brown, with a sigh; "but I'm afraid you can't help us any, Bunny."
"Oh, yes we can!" said Sue.
"Why, what are you children thinking of?" asked Mrs. Brown, in some surprise. "How can you help us get money for the Red Cross?"
"By a show!" cried Bunny, and he almost shouted the words he was so excited. "That's what we're going to do, Mother—give a show—me and Sue—I mean Sue and I," he added quickly, as he saw his mother look strangely at him, for she had often told him he must learn to speak correctly.
"What do the children mean?" asked Mrs. Newton.
"I'll tell you!" went on Bunny, speaking very fast, for he feared he and Sue would be sent to bed before they had a chance to explain. "We thought of it after we saw the show in the Opera House. We boys and girls can get up a show, and we can charge money to come in. We had a circus once, in a tent, didn't we, Mother?" and Bunny appealed to Mrs. Brown.
"Yes, they once gave a show in a tent at their Grandpa's farm," said Mrs. Brown. "And it was quite good, too, for children. But I'm afraid a show like that, given in town here, wouldn't bring in much money for the Red Cross, my dears," and she smiled at Bunny and Sue.
"Oh, we weren't going to give a show like the circus one!" declared Bunny. "This will be different! We'll have some singing, like the girl did in the Opera House—I guess Sue can sing. And I can do some somersaults, like those the boy did."
"And maybe we could get Uncle Tad to dress up like General Grant or Washington," added Sue.
"They have it all thought out!" exclaimed Mrs. West, with a smile.
"Oh, but that isn't all!" said Bunny. "There's lots of other things we can do. We told some of the boys and girls about it and they want to be in it. Please, Mother, couldn't Sue and I get up a show?"
"No, my dears, I don't believe you could," Mrs. Brown answered with another smile. "It is very good of you to want to help the Red Cross, but getting up a show is very hard work. I hardly think little boys and girls could do it."
"If ever we big folks get up another show we'll let you children have part in it," promised Mrs. Star.
"Oh, but we want to give a show of our own!" said Bunny. "And I guess we can, too. How much does it cost to buy the Opera House?" he asked.
"Oh, you don't have to buy it to give a show," said Mrs. West. "It can be hired for one or two nights. But when are you going to give your show?" she asked Bunny.
"Maybe 'bout Christmas," he said. "Folks have more money then, and we could get more for your Red Cross. Please, Mother, mayn't we give a show?"
"Oh, well, I'll see about it," said Mrs. Brown, more with the idea of getting Bunny and his sister off to bed than because she really thought they could ever give a show. She had an idea they would forget all about it by morning.
"Oh, goodie!" cried Sue, for when her mother said: "I'll see about it," it generally meant that something would happen. But of course giving a show was different, even though Bunny and Sue had once held a circus. You may read about that in the book of which I have spoken.
"Well, trot along to bed now, my dears," said Mrs. Brown. "We ladies have business to attend to. We'll talk about your show to-morrow."
"It's going to be a fine one," declared Bunny. "I'm going to learn how to do some back somersaults like that boy's on the stage."
"Well, be careful you don't get hurt," begged Mrs. West.
"Cute little dears, aren't they," said Mrs. Bentley, as Bunny and his sister Sue went out of the room.
"I should think they would keep you busy trying to guess what they will do next, Mrs. Brown," remarked Mrs. Star.
"They do," sighed the mother of Bunny Brown and his sister Sue. But she smiled as she sighed, for her little boy and girl never made her any real trouble.
"Do you think they really will give a show?" asked Mrs. Bentley.
"You never can tell," was Mrs. Brown's answer. "We didn't think they'd actually give a circus performance, but they did. However, a show in a real theater is quite different, and I hardly believe Bunny and Sue will go on with the idea."
But Bunny and Sue did—at least they started talking it over the first thing next day, and when school was over quite a gathering of boys and girls assembled in a room over the Brown garage.
"Now, girls and fellows," said Bunny, as he stood in front of the crowd of his playmates, who were seated on old boxes, broken chairs, and other things stored away in the garage, "we're going to get up a show to make money for the Red Cross."
"Do you mean a make-believe show, and charge five pins to come in?" asked Harry Bentley.
"No, I mean a real show, like in a theater, and charge real money," went on Bunny. "Pins aren't any good for the Red Cross. They get all the pins they want. They need money—my mother said so. Now we could get up a regular acting play—like that one we saw at the Opera House. We could have some singing in it, and some jiggling and some of us could do tricks and stand on our heads."
"Going to have any animals in it?" one boy wanted to know.
"Yes, we could," answered Bunny. "They have animals on the stage just like in a circus, only it's different, of course. We could have our dog and cat in it."
"I've got a goat!" cried another boy. "He butts you with his horns, only maybe I could cure him of that."
"We could use Toby, our Shetland pony," added Sue. "He eats sugar out of my hand."
"And we could have my trained white mice," said Charlie Star.
"If you have mice in it I'm not going to play!" exclaimed Sadie West. "I don't like mice at all!"
"Neither do I!" added Jennie Harris.
"Well, we could get Mr. Jed Winkler's parrot, maybe," suggested Bunny.
"And his monkey!" some one added.
"Oh, yes!" cried all the children.
Suddenly the door of the room opened and in burst Tom Milton.
"Say!" he cried, "Mr. Jed Winkler's monkey is loose in Mr. Raymond's hardware store, and you ought to see the place! Come on! Mr. Jed Winkler's monkey is loose again!" and he jumped up and down he was so excited.
THE CLIMBING BOY
Tom Milton had been invited by Bunny Brown to come to the meeting in the room over the garage and talk about the play which Bunny and his sister wanted to give. But, for some reason or other, Tom had not come with the other children. Many, including Bunny, had wondered what kept Tom away, but now, when Tom rushed in with the news that Mr. Jed Winkler's monkey was loose, none of the children thought of anything but the long-tailed animal with his funny, wrinkled face.
"How'd he get loose?" asked Bunny Brown, as he jumped down off a box on which he had been standing.
"Did he hurt any one?" asked Sue.
"Is he smashing everything in Mr. Raymond's store?" Charlie Star wanted to know.
"I should say so! You ought to see!" cried Tom. "I was coming past on my way here when I heard a lot of yells and saw a big crowd in front of the store. I looked in, and the monkey was banging a frying pan on a coffee grinder and making a big racket. Mr. Raymond was trying to get him down off a high shelf, but Wango wouldn't come. Then I ran on here to tell you about it."
"I'm glad you did," said Bunny Brown.
"We'll have this meeting again after we see the monkey," he said. "The meeting is—it's—er—well, I don't know what it is my mother says when her meetings are stopped, but this meeting about the show we're going to give, is stopped while we go to see Mr. Jed Winkler's monkey."
"Oh, won't it be fun to see him drum with a frying pan!" exclaimed Sue.
"Maybe he won't be doing that when we get there," said Tom Milton. "But I guess he'll be doing something just as good."
"That monkey is always doing something," declared Charlie Star. "How'd he get loose, Tom?"
"Maybe Miss Winkler let him loose," suggested Sadie West. "She doesn't like Jed's monkey."
"And I guess she doesn't like his parrot very much, either. It makes a lot more noise than her canary bird," said Mary Watson. "I was in there the other day, and the parrot screeched like anything!"
"Well, come on, we'll go see the monkey!" called Sue.
There was a scramble among the children for hats and coats, for the weather was cold, though there had been no more snow storms since the first one. As Bunny, Sue, and the others passed along the side of the house on their way out of the yard, Mrs. Brown called to them.
"Where are you going, children?" she asked.
"To see Mr. Jed Winkler's monkey," answered Bunny.
"Are you going to have him in your show?" Mrs. Brown wanted to know, for she had not forgotten the circus the children once gave.
"We were talking about it," explained Sue, "when Tom Milton come and told us the monkey was loose."
"And he is in the hardware store," added Bunny. "We're going to see him!" he cried, his eyes shining.
"Well, button up your coats, for it's cold," warned Mrs. Brown. "I guess this will be the end of the show business," she added to Mrs. Watson who had stopped in for a few minutes' talk. "The children will forget all about their play after they see the monkey. And I shall be just as well pleased. Their circus was fun, but it meant a lot of work, and if they give a show, as Bunny and Sue talk of doing, it will mean more work."
"I don't believe they'll do it," answered Mrs. Watson.
But she hardly knew Bunny Brown and his sister Sue.
On to the hardware store hurried the group of children. As soon as they turned the corner of the street leading to Mr. Raymond's place they saw a crowd in front of the store.
"Oh, come on! Hurry!" cried Bunny. "Maybe he'll be all through doing things when we get there! Hurry!"
The boys and girls began to run, and when they reached the store they heard, from inside, a clanging and crashing sound.
"I guess Wango is doing things yet!" cried Sue.
"I guess so," agreed Tom Milton. "Come on, let's go in the side door and we can see better," he proposed.
Tom seemed to know the best way to this "free show," and he led the others. Bunny, his sister, and their boy and girl friends went down a little alley, and thus into the store by a side entrance.
As they stepped into the hardware place there was another crash of pots and pans, and Sue cried:
"Oh, I see him! He's got an egg beater now in one paw!"
"And some pie pans in the other!" exclaimed Bunny.
"Where is he? I don't see him!" said Mary Watson.
"Right up on the shelf by the cans of paint," replied Bunny, pointing. "Say, if he opens any cans of paint and splashes that around won't it be fun!" he laughed.
"Hi there, Bunny Brown!" called Mr. Raymond, the hardware man, when he heard the little boy say this. "Don't be suggesting such things! That monkey might hear you and try it. I don't want my store all splashed up with red and green paint. Come on down now, Wango!" he called, snapping his fingers at the old sailor's queer pet. "Come on down, and I'll give you a cookie."
"I guess he'd rather have a cocoanut," suggested Sue. "My mother has some cocoanut for a cake, and there's a picture of a monkey on the paper, and he's eating cocoanuts."
"But I haven't any cocoanut to offer him," said Mr. Raymond. "I wish Jed Winkler would come and get his old monkey down! Wango would come to him."
"How'd the monkey get in here?" asked Bunny.
"I don't know," confessed Mr. Raymond. "First I knew, I heard the lady I was selling a coffee strainer to exclaim, and I looked up and there was Wango skipping around on the shelves. I guess Jed must have left a window open and the monkey got out, though he doesn't generally skip around outdoors in cold weather. Then he must have come along the street until he got to my place, and, when he saw the door open, in he popped. Jed's house is only a few steps from here. But I wish Jed would come and get his Wango."
"Here he is now!" cried a chorus of children's voices, and, looking toward the front of his store, Mr. Raymond saw the old sailor coming in.
"What's all the trouble here?" asked Mr. Winkler.
"It's your monkey again, Jed," answered Mr. Raymond. "Lucky my place isn't a china store, or you'd have a lot of damages to pay for broken dishes. As it is, Wango can't break any of my pots and pans, though he certainly is mussing them up a lot!"
Well might this be said, for, as the hardware man spoke, the monkey leaped from one shelf to another and, in so doing, knocked down a lot of tin pans which fell to the floor with a clatter and a bang.
"Can't you do something to stop him?" cried Mr. Raymond.
"Well, yes, I suppose I can," said Mr. Winkler slowly. "I didn't know he was loose till a minute ago, when some one came and told me. I was down on the fish dock, talking with Bunker Blue. But I'll get Wango down. I'm real glad he isn't in a china store, for he surely would break things! Here, Wango!" he called, holding out his hand to the monkey, now perched on a high shelf. "Come on down, that's a good chap! Come on down!"
"He doesn't seem to want to come," suggested a man with a red moustache.
"Oh, I'll get him. He needs a little coaxing," returned the old sailor. "Come on down, Wango!" he went on.
Wango looked at the egg beater he held in one paw, and then, seeing the little handle which turned the wheel, he began to twist it. To do this he dropped the pie pans he held in the other paw and they fell to the floor with a crash.
"Land goodness, he certainly makes noise enough!" said one of the women in the store, covering her ears with her hands.
Perched above the heads of the crowd, and paying no attention to the calls of Jed Winkler, the monkey began turning the egg beater. He seemed to like that most of all.
"Maybe he thinks it's a hand organ," suggested Bunny Brown, and the people in the store laughed.
"Come on, Wango! Come down!" cried Mr. Winkler, but the monkey would not leap down from the high shelf.
"Guess you'll have to climb up and get him yourself, Jed," suggested Mr. Reinberg, who kept the drygoods store next door. He had run in, together with other neighboring shopkeepers, to see what the excitement was about.
"I could get him down if I had something to coax him with," returned the old sailor.
"I promised him a cookie," said Mr. Raymond.
"He'd rather have a piece of cake—cocoanut cake would be best," went on Mr. Winkler.
"I'll go home and get some," offered Bunny Brown. "My mother baked a cocoanut cake yesterday, and I guess there's some left."
"You don't need to go all the way back to your house after the cake," said Mrs. Nesham, who kept a bakery across the street from the hardware store. "I'll get one from my shelves."
She hurried across the way, and soon came back with a large piece of cocoanut cake.
"If the monkey doesn't take it I wish she'd give it to me," said Tom Milton.
"Oh, Wango will take this all right," said Jed Winkler. "Here you are, you little rascal!" he called to his pet. "Come down and see what I have for you." He held up the piece of cake. Wango saw it and this seemed to be just what he wanted. He dropped the egg beater, which fell to the floor with another clatter and clang, and then the monkey began climbing down the shelves.
He had almost reached the old sailor, his master, when the front door of the hardware store opened to allow a new customer to come in. Whether this frightened Wango, or whether he thought he had not yet had enough fun, no one knew. But instantly he snatched the piece of cake from Mr. Winkler's hand, and, holding it in his paw, skipped out the door.
"There he goes!" cried Bunny Brown. "He's loose again!"
"And he's up in a tree out in front!" added Tom Milton, who had rushed out ahead of the others in the store.
Surely enough, when the crowd got outside, there was Wango perched high in a big, leafless tree, eating cake.
"Well, how are you going to get him down out of there?" asked Mr. Snowden.
"Looks as if I'd have to climb after him," said Mr. Winkler. "When I was a sailor on a ship, and had Wango for a pet, he used to climb up the mast and rigging and I'd go after him. That was when I was younger. I don't believe I could climb that tree and get him now."
"Do you want me to do it for you, mister?" asked a new voice.
Bunny, Sue, and the other children turned to see who had spoken. They saw a boy about twelve years old, with bright, shining eyes standing beside Mr. Winkler and pointing up at the monkey in the tree. The strange boy seemed to have arrived on the scene very suddenly.
"Do you want me to climb the tree and get your monkey for you?" asked the boy. "I'll do it, if he doesn't bite."
"Oh, he doesn't bite—Wango is very gentle," said Mr. Winkler. "But can you climb that high tree?"
"I've climbed higher ones than that," was the answer. "And ropes and poles and the sides of buildings. I can climb almost anything if I can get a hold. I'll go up and get the monkey for you!"
As he spoke he took off his coat; and though the day was cold Bunny noticed that the strange boy wore no overcoat. Hanging his jacket on a low limb of the tree which held Wango, the boy began to climb. And, as he did so, Sue pulled her brother's sleeve.
"Do you know who that is?" she whispered.
"Who?" asked Bunny Brown.
"That boy climbing the tree. Don't you 'member him?"
"No. Who is he?"
"Why, he's the boy who turned somersaults in the Opera House show!"
A COLD LITTLE SINGER
Bunny Brown was so excited in watching to see how the strange boy would climb up and get the monkey that, at first, he paid little attention to what Sue said. The boy by this time was beginning to scramble up the trunk of the tree. Sitting on a branch, high above the lad's head, was Wango the monkey, eating the piece of cake.
"It's the very same boy, I know it is!" declared Sue.
"What same boy?" asked Sadie West, while the other boys and girls watched the climber.
"The same one who was with the little girl that sang songs in the Opera House show. Don't you remember, Bunny?" asked Sue.
This time Bunny not only heard what his sister said, but he paid some attention to her. And, noting that the climbing boy was half way up the tree now, Bunny turned to Sue and asked her what she had said.
"This is the number three time I told you," she answered, shaking her head. "That's the boy from the show in the Opera House!"
Bunny looked closely at the climbing lad.
"Why, so it is!" he cried. "Look, Charlie—Harry—that's the acrobat from the show!"
The boy in the tree was in plain sight now, over the heads of the crowd, as he made his way upward from limb to limb, and several of Bunny's chums were sure he was the same lad they had seen in the show.
"But what's he doing here?" asked Bunny. "Mother read in the paper that the same show we saw here was traveling around and was in Wayville last night. I wonder why that boy is here?"
"And where's his sister that sang such funny little songs?" inquired Sadie West.
"We'll ask him when he comes down," suggested George Watson, who used to be a mean, tricky boy, making a lot of trouble for Bunny and Sue. But, of late, George had been kinder.
Higher and higher, up into the tree went the "show boy," as the children called him. Wango still was perched on the limb of the tree, eating his cake. He did not climb higher or try to leap to another tree, as Jed Winkler said he was afraid his pet might do.
Up and up went the boy, and a moment later he was calling in a kind and gentle voice to the monkey and holding out his hands.
"Come on, old fellow! Come on down with me!" invited the climbing boy. "They want you down below! Come on!"
Whether Wango was tired of his tricks, or whether he had eaten all his cake and thought the only way he could get more was by coming down as he was invited, no one stopped to figure out. At any rate the old sailor's pet gave a friendly little chatter and then advanced until he could perch on the boy's shoulder, which he did, clasping his paws around the lad's neck.
"That's the way! Now we'll go down!" said the boy.
"He's got him! He's got your monkey, Mr. Winkler!" cried the children standing beneath the tree.
"He's a good climber—that boy!" said the old sailor. "He's as good a climber as I used to be when I was on a ship."
Down came the boy with the monkey on his shoulder. Of course Wango himself could have climbed down alone had he wished to, but he didn't seem to want to do this—that was the trouble.
"There you are!" exclaimed the boy, as he slid to the ground, and walked over to Mr. Winkler, with Wango still perched on his shoulder. "Here's your monkey!"
"Much obliged, my boy," said the old sailor. "It was very good of you. Do you—er—do I owe you anything?" and he began to fumble in his pocket as if for money, while Wango jumped from the lad's back to the shoulder of his master.
"No, not anything. I did it for fun," was the laughing answer. "I'm used to climbing and that sort of thing. I like it!"
"Didn't you used to be in the show that was in the Opera House here last week?" asked Harry Bentley.
"Yes," answered the boy, as he put on his coat. "I was with the show."
"Why aren't you with it now?" asked Bunny.
"And where's your sister—the one that sang?" added Sue.
The boy's face turned red, and he seemed to be confused.
"Well, we—er—I—that is we left the show," he said. "Maybe I ought to say that the show left us. It 'busted up,' as we say. There wasn't enough money to pay the actors, and so we all had to quit."
"That's too bad," said Jed Winkler. "It was a pretty good show, too. But say, my boy, I feel that I owe you something for having gotten my monkey down out of the tree. If you haven't been paid by the show people, perhaps—maybe——"
"Oh, no, thank you! I don't take pay for doing things like climbing trees after pet monkeys," was the answer. The boy started to laugh, but he did not get very far with it. "You don't owe me anything. And now I must go and get my sister," he added.
"Where did you leave her?" asked Mrs. Newton, one of the ladies who had been in the store when the monkey began "cutting up."
"I left her sitting on a bench in the little park down near the river front," answered the boy.
"That's a cold place!" exclaimed Mrs. Newton. "Why don't you take her where it's warm?"
"Well, to tell you the truth, I don't know where to take her," said the boy. "We just had money enough left to pay our trolley fare from a place called Wayville, where we played last night, to this town. We thought we'd come back here."
"To give another show?" asked the hardware man.
"No, I guess our show is gone for good," was the boy's answer. "But I sort of liked this place, and so did my sister. I thought I might get work here, at least until I could make money enough to go back to New York."
"Got any folks in New York?" asked Mr. Winkler, as he stroked the head of his pet monkey.
"Well, no, not exactly folks," replied the show boy, as he brushed some bits of bark from his trousers. "But it's easier to get a place with a show if you're in New York. They all start out from there."
"That boy looks to me as though the best place for him, right now, would be at a table with a good meal on it," said Mrs. Newton. "He looks hungry and cold."
"He does that," agreed Mrs. Brown, who had followed Bunny and Sue to see that they did not get into mischief. "I'm going to invite him to our house." She stepped up closer to the lad who had got the monkey down out of the tree, and asked: "Wouldn't you like to come home with me and have something to eat?"
The boy's face flushed and his eyes brightened.
"Thank you," he said. "I really am hungry. I'll be glad to work for a meal. There wasn't money enough for breakfast and car fare too, but I thought there was a better chance for work here than in Wayville, and so my sister and I came on."
"And where did you say she was?" asked Mrs. Brown.
"I left her sitting in the little park down by the water front, while I came up into the town to look for work. Then I saw the crowd around the tree and——"
"Poor little girl!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown. "Now, you two are coming home with me!" she went on. "We'll talk about work later. Come along, my boy. I've got children of my own, and I know what's good for 'em. Take me to where you left your sister. And don't all of you come, or you might bother the poor child," she added, as she saw the crowd about to follow. "I'll tell you all about it later."
"Can't we come, Mother?" asked Bunny Brown.
"Yes, you and Sue come with me. Mrs. Newton," she went on, turning to a fat lady, "I wish you'd go to my house and start to get something ready for these starved ones to eat. I'll be right along with them."
"And I'll take my monkey back home," said Jed Winkler. "My sister might be worried about him," and he smiled as the crowd laughed, for it was well known that Miss Winkler did not like Wango, though she was not unkind to him.
"Now show me where your sister is," said Mrs. Brown to the boy, as she walked along with him and her own two children. "By the way, what's your name?"
"Mart Clayton," he answered. "That's my real name, but my sister and I sometimes have stage names. Her real one is Lucile."
"That's a nice name," said Sue. "I like it better'n mine. Your sister sings, doesn't she?"
"Yes," answered the boy. "There she is, now!" he added, pointing to a bench in a little park that was not far from Mr. Brown's boat and fish dock.
"The poor, cold little singer!" murmured Mrs. Brown. "I must take care of them both!"
When they approached the bench the girl, who was about a year younger than her brother, looked up in surprise.
"Did you find any work?" she asked Mart eagerly.
"Well, no, not exactly," he answered.
The girl seemed much disappointed.
"But we're going to eat!" he added. "This lady has invited us to her house. After that I'll have a chance to look around and get a job to earn money to pay her and take us back to New York."
"Oh, you are the guests of Bunny and Sue for the meal. Guests don't pay," Mrs. Brown said, smiling at the strangers.
"Oh!" exclaimed Lucile. "That is—it's very kind of you," she said.
"You poor thing! You're cold!" exclaimed Bunny's mother. "No wonder, sitting here without a jacket! Where's your cloak?"
"I—I guess it's with our other baggage," was the girl's answer. "The boarding house kept it because we couldn't pay the bill when the show failed!" and tears came into her eyes.
"Never mind! We'll look after you," said motherly Mrs. Brown. "Come along, Bunny and Sue. Mrs. Newton will be at our house by this time."
As the five of them started down the street Bunny stopped suddenly.
"What's the matter?" asked his mother.
"I—I forgot something," he said. "I've got to see Mr. Winkler!" and he started off on a run.
Mart Clayton, the boy who had climbed the tree to get down Mr. Winkler's monkey, looked first at funny Bunny Brown, who was trotting downstreet, and then he looked at Bunny's mother.
"Shall I run after him and bring him back?" asked Mart.
"O, no. Bunny will come back if I call him," was the answer. "But I wonder why he is in such a hurry to see Mr. Winkler? I'll find out," she went on. Then, making her voice louder, she called: "Bunny, come back here, please, come back."
"But, Mother, I've got to see Mr. Winkler!" exclaimed Bunny, as he paused and turned around. "It's about our show."
"That will keep until later," said Mrs. Brown with a smile. "I want you to come back with me now and help entertain the company," and she smiled and nodded to Mart and Lucile Clayton.
"Oh, yes. I—I didn't mean to be impolite," said Bunny, as he walked slowly back. "But I wanted to ask Mr. Winkler if we could have his monkey in our show."
"Oh, are you going to have a show?" asked Lucile, as she walked along with Sue, while Mrs. Brown, Bunny and Mart followed.
"Yes!" exclaimed Bunny, who heard the question. "We had a circus once, and we made some money. And after we saw the Opera House show you were in, we wanted to have one ourselves. So we're going to get one up. Sue can sing and I can turn somersaults. Not as good as you, of course," he said to Mart. "And one boy has some trained white mice and if we could get Mr. Winkler's monkey and——"
"And his parrot! He's got a parrot, too!" exclaimed Sue.
"Yes, if he'll let us have the parrot we could have a dandy show!" agreed Bunny.
"I hope it will be a better show than the one we were in," said Mart, with a sad little smile. "It isn't any fun to go traveling with a troupe and then have it 'bust up' on the road as ours did."
"Aren't you children very young to be traveling alone?" asked Mrs. Brown. "Haven't you any—well, any folks at all?"
She did not like to mention "father or mother," for fear both parents might be dead and to speak of them might cause sorrow to Mart and Lucile. But surely, Mrs. Brown thought, the boy and girl ought to have some one to look after them.
"Oh, we weren't exactly alone," said Lucile, who was not as old as her brother. "We were like one big family until the show failed. Mr. and Mrs. Jackson were in charge, and Mrs. Jackson was very good to us. But people didn't seem to like our performance, and we didn't make enough money to keep on playing."
"I liked your show," said Bunny.
"So did I!" exclaimed his sister Sue. "It was grand."
"Yes, if we had done as well everywhere as we did in this town I guess we'd have been all right," said Mart. "But we didn't. We got stranded in Wayville—that's the next largest town to this, I heard some one say, and we couldn't go any farther. Some of our baggage had to go to pay bills. Mr. and Mrs. Jackson left us at a boarding house while they went to New York to see if they could raise money."
"But I guess they couldn't," added his sister. "Anyhow they didn't come back, and we didn't have any money. So the boarding house lady kept what few things we had left, and Mart and I came away."
"I made up my mind I'd have to do something," went on the climbing boy, as Bunny and Sue thought of him. "I'm strong, and if I could get work I'd soon earn enough money to take me and my sister back to New York. Perhaps you could tell me where I could get a job," he added to Mrs. Brown.
"We'll talk about that after you get warm and have had something to eat," said she.
"Yes, maybe that would be better," agreed Mart. "It makes you feel sort of funny not to eat."
"I know it does," put in Bunny. "Once Sue and I went to Camp Rest-a-While, and we got lost in the woods, and we didn't have anything to eat for a terrible long while."
"It was 'most all day," sighed Sue. "And we were terrible glad when daddy and mother found us!"
"I should say you were—well, very glad," laughed her mother. "But here we are at our house. Now come in, Lucile and Mart, and make yourselves at home."
"And after you get warm, and have had something to eat, maybe you'll tell us about how to get up a show in a theater—not one in a tent like a circus," suggested Bunny.
"Yes, we'll help you all we can," promised Lucile.
Mrs. Newton, coming to the Brown house ahead of the others, had got a nice lunch ready, and from the way Mart and his sister sat down to it and ate it was evident that they were very hungry. It was nice and warm in the Brown house, too, and the children from the vaudeville troupe seemed to like to be near the fire.
"Now if you have had enough to eat, perhaps you will tell me a little bit more about yourselves," suggested Mrs. Brown, when the two visitors were ready to leave the table. "I want to help you," she went on, "and I can best do that if I know more about you. My husband is in the boat and fish business here in Bellemere," she said, "and though he is not as busy in winter as he is in summer, he may find work for you," she added to Mart.
"I hope he can!" said the boy. "Well, I'll tell you about myself and my sister. You see we come of a theatrical family. Our father and mother were in the show business up to the time they died."
"Oh, then your father and mother are dead?" asked Mrs. Brown kindly.
"Yes," went on Lucile. "We hardly remember them as they died when we were little. We were brought up by our uncle Simon and Aunt Sallie. They were in the show business, too, and they traveled under several different names.
"Sometimes we traveled with them, and again we'd be off on the road by ourselves. But whenever we went alone that way Uncle Simon would always get some one, like Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, to look after us and take charge of us. So we didn't have it so hard until Uncle Simon and Aunt Sallie went away."
"Went away!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown. "Where did they go?"
"That's what we can't find out," answered Mart "They left their address for us with Mr. Jackson, but he lost it, and now we don't know where our uncle and aunt are."
"But surely some one knows!" said Mrs. Newton.
"Well, yes, I guess Uncle Bill knows, but we can't find him," said Mart.
"You seem to belong to a lost family!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown, with a smile. "Who is Uncle Bill, and where is he?"
"We don't know where he is, but he's blind," put in Lucile. "The last we heard of him he was going to some Home for the Blind, or to some hospital to be cured. But we don't know where he is. If we could find him he'd have Uncle Simon's address, for Uncle Simon used to always write to Uncle Bill. Of course Uncle Bill had to get some one to read the letters to him. But we haven't seen either of our uncles for a long time."
"You poor children!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown. "This is too bad! We must see what we can do to help you. Where do you think your Uncle Simon and Aunt Sallie went to?" she asked.
"It was over to England or France, or some place like that," answered Mart. "It was just before the war started, and maybe their ship was sunk. Anyhow, we haven't heard from them since then, and Mr. Jackson lost their address," he added.
"But your Uncle Simon knew where Mr. Jackson was, didn't he?" asked Mrs. Newton with interest.
"Well, maybe he did and maybe he didn't," answered Mart. "You see Mr. Jackson and his wife travel about a lot. Lots of times letters get lost, so Uncle Simon may have written about us, and Mr. Jackson might never have got the letter."
"Yes, that's so," agreed Mrs. Brown. "Well, when my husband comes home we'll talk with him and see what is best to do. You had better stay here until then and make yourselves at home. Hark! There's the doorbell."
"Who do you suppose that is, Mother?" asked Sue.
"I can't tell that, Sue, from here."
"I'll go and see who it is, Mother," offered Bunny, as he ran through the hall. The others heard the front door open and the sound of a man's voice mingling with that of Bunny's. In a moment the little fellow came running back.
"Who is it?" asked his mother.
"General Washington," was the surprising answer.
"DOWN ON THE FARM"
For a moment Mrs. Brown did not know whether to laugh at Bunny for playing a joke or to tell him he must not do such things when there were visitors at the house. But Bunny looked so serious that his mother thought perhaps he did not mean to be funny.
"Who is it?" she asked again.
"General Washington," replied the little boy.
"Bunny Brown!" cried Mrs. Newton, "what do you mean?"
"Well, it's the man who made believe he was General Washington in the Opera House show, anyhow!" declared Bunny. "'Course he doesn't look like General Washington now, but——"
Lucile and Mart did not wait for Bunny to finish. Together they ran to the front door.
"Bunny Brown, you aren't playing any jokes, are you?" asked his mother.
"No'm! Honest I mean it!" cried Bunny, his eyes shining with excitement. "It's the same man who was General Washington and General Grant and a lot of other people at the show in the Opera House! He's at our front door now, and he wants to know if the Happy Day Twins are here."
"The Happy Day Twins?" exclaimed Mrs. Brown.
"That's the name the boy and girl went under on the programme, you know," explained Mrs. Newton. "The same children you have been so kind to—Lucile and Mart Clayton. They took the name of the 'Happy Day Twins' on the stage you know. Did the impersonator want them, Bunny?" she asked.
"I didn't see any 'personator," answered the little boy. "He was General Washington, I tell you, only he wasn't dressed up."
"I must go and see," declared Mrs. Brown.
As she went down the hall she met the brother and sister coming back. They seemed much excited.
"It's our friend, Mr. Treadwell," explained Mart. "He heard we had started for this town, and he followed us. He heard about my climbing the tree after the monkey, and some one told him my sister and I had come to your house, Mrs. Brown. May I ask him in? It's Mr. Samuel Treadwell, and he's a good friend of ours."
"Certainly, ask him in," said Mrs. Brown, with a smile. "Perhaps he is hungry, too," she said to her friend Mrs. Newton, Mart having gone back to the front door. "I've heard that actors are often hungry."
"But he's General Washington, too, isn't he?" demanded Bunny, following Mart.
"Yes, he pretends to be all sorts of famous people—on the stage," kindly explained Mart to Bunny. "You'll like him, he can do lots of tricks."
"Can he jiggle—I mean juggle?"
"Yes, but not as good as the other man in the play."
By this time Mrs. Brown had reached the door. On the steps stood an elderly man, with a pleasant smile on his face. Mrs. Brown recognized him at once as the impersonator, though of course he had on no wig or costume now. He looked just like an ordinary man, except that his face was rather more wrinkled.
"I'm sorry to trouble you, madam," said the man, "but I have been looking for my little friends, the 'Happy Day Twins,' as they are billed. Their real names are—well, I suppose they have told you," and he smiled at Lucile and Mart, who were standing in the hall.
"Yes, we have been learning something about them, but we would be glad to know more, so we could help them," said Mrs. Brown. "Won't you come in? We have just been giving the children a little lunch, and perhaps, if you have not eaten lately, you will be glad to do so now."
"More glad than you can guess, madam," said the man with a bow. "I am, indeed, hungry. We have had bad luck, as perhaps Lucile and Mart have told you."
"Yes, they spoke of it," said Bunny's mother. "And now please come in, and while you are eating we can talk."
"Say, we could have a regular show here now!" whispered Bunny Brown to his sister Sue. "We have three actors now, and you and I would make two more."
"Oh, I don't want to be in a show now," said Sue. "I want to hear what they're going to tell mother."
Bunny did also, and when Mr. Treadwell had seated himself at the table the children listened to what followed.
"When you rang I was just telling Mart that perhaps my husband could give him some work, so enough money could be earned for the trip to New York," said Mrs. Brown. "Is it true that no one knows where these children's uncle and aunt can be found?"
"Well, I guess it's true enough," said Mr. Treadwell. "There are two uncles and one aunt, according to the story. William Clayton, who is a brother of Mart's father, is blind, and in some home or hospital—I don't know where, and I guess the children don't either," he added.
Lucile and Mart shook their heads.
"Simon Weatherby and his wife, Sallie, are brother and sister-in-law of Mrs. Clayton's," went on the impersonator. "The last heard of them was that they sailed for the other side—England, France or maybe Australia for all I know. We theatrical folk travel around a good bit. Anyhow, Simon Weatherby and his wife left in a hurry, and they gave the care of the children over to Mr. and Mrs. Jackson.
"Now Mr. Jackson is all right, and a nice man, but he is careless, else he wouldn't get into so much trouble, and he wouldn't have lost the address of Mart's Uncle Simon. But that's how it happened. So the children have some relations if we can only find them, and what they are to do in the meanwhile, now that the show is scattered, is more than I know."
"Well, I know one thing they're going to do, and that is stay right here with me until they are sure of a home somewhere else," said Mrs. Brown.
"I'm glad to hear you say that!" exclaimed Mr. Treadwell, as he finished his lunch. "I heard they left the boarding house, and that they had no money. Well, I haven't any too much myself, but I followed them, hoping I could find 'em and help 'em. Now I've found my little friends all right," he said, looking kindly at Lucile and Mart, "but some one else has helped them."
"They helped some one else first," said Mrs. Newton, with a smile. "Mart got Mr. Winkler's monkey down out of a tree."
"I heard about that," returned Mr. Treadwell, with a laugh. "Well, now that I have located you, I suppose I'd better travel on, though where to go or what to do I don't know," he added with a sigh. "I'm not as young as I once was," he added, "and there isn't the demand for impersonators there once was. If I could get back to New York——"
He paused and shook his head sadly.
"Why don't you stay here and look for work, just as I'm going to do?" asked Mart. "If you get to New York there won't be much chance. All the theater places are filled now for the winter season."
"That's so!" agreed the impersonator. "But I don't know what sort of work I could do here."
"You—you could be in our show!" interrupted Bunny, who, with Sue, had been listening eagerly to all the talk. "We're going to have a show, and you three could be in it!"
"Going to have a show, are you?" asked Mr. Treadwell, with a smile.
"Yes, a real one," declared Sue. "Once we had a circus, but this show is going to be in the Opera House, maybe, and we'll give all the money we make to our mother's Red Cross."
"That will be nice," said Mr. Treadwell, with a smile. "But I'm afraid I'd be too big to fit into your show."
"Oh, no!" exclaimed Bunny. "We're going to have Bobbie Boomer in it, and he's a big fat boy."
Mr. Treadwell laughed and Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Newton joined in.
"What sort of play are you going to have?" asked Mr. Treadwell.
"Well, we were just talking about it, in our garage, when Tom Milton told us that Mr. Winkler's monkey was loose," explained Bunny, "and we didn't talk any more about it until just now. But the show is going to be different from the circus."
"Where are you going to have it?" asked Mrs. Newton.
"I don't know," confessed Bunny. "Maybe my father will let us have it in the boat shop. That's a big place."
A step was heard in the hall, and Bunny and Sue cried:
"There's our daddy now!"
Mr. Brown walked in, kissed the children and seemed quite surprised to see three strangers present. Matters were quickly explained to him, however, and he welcomed Mr. Treadwell, Lucile and Mart.
"Do you think you could find work for them?" asked Mrs. Brown, when the stories had been told.
"Well, I might," slowly answered Mr. Brown. "I need some help down at the dock and office to get things ready for winter."
"Don't make 'em work so hard they can't help in our show," begged Bunny.
"Oh, you're going to have another circus, are you?" asked his father, with a smile.
"No, it isn't going to be a circus, it's going to be a regular Opera House show!" cried Sue.
"What about?" her father wanted to know, as he caught her up in his arms.
"We don't know yet," Bunny said. "But maybe the play will be about pirates or Indians or soldiers."
"Why don't you have some nice quiet play that would be good for Christmas?" asked Mr. Brown. "Why not have a play with a farm scene in it? You have been down to Grandpa's farm, and you know a lot about the country. Why not have a farm play and call it 'Down on the Farm'?"
"That's the very thing!" suddenly cried Mr. Treadwell. "Excuse me for getting so excited," he said, "but when you spoke about a farm play I remembered that we have some farm scenery in our show that failed. I believe you could buy that scenery cheap for the children," he said to Mr. Brown. "There are three scenes, one meadow, a barnyard with a barn and an orchard; and the last had a house with it."
"Oh, Daddy! get us the farm theater things for our new play!" cried Bunny Brown.
Daddy Brown looked at his two children, and then, as he glanced across the table at the actor who made believe he was George Washington and other great men, Daddy Brown laughed.
"These youngsters of mine will be giving a real show before I know it, with scenery and everything," he said.
"Well, a show isn't much fun unless you have some scenery in it," said Mr. Treadwell, "and the scenery I spoke of, which was part of our show, can be bought cheap, I think."
"Say, Daddy, is the sheenery in a show like the sheenery in a automobile or one of your motor boats?" asked Sue.
"Oh, she's thinking of wheels and things that go around!" laughed Bunny. "That's ma-chinery, Sue, and scenery is what we saw in the Opera House—make-believe trees, and the brook, you know."
"Oh!" exclaimed Sue. "Well, can we have that—that sheenery for our play?" she asked her father.
"I'll see about it," he answered, and Bunny and Sue looked happy, for, like their mother, whenever their father said "I'll see," it almost always meant that he would do as they wanted him to.
"I'm afraid, though," said Mr. Brown, "that getting up a show in town will be harder, Bunny and Sue, than getting up a circus. In the circus you could use your dog Splash and some of the animals from Grandpa's farm. But a theater show, or one like it, hasn't many animals in it. You ought to do more acting than you do trapeze work."
"Oh, we can do it!" cried Bunny Brown. "They're going to help, aren't you?" and he looked over at Lucile and Mart.
"We'll help all we can," Mart promised. "That is, if we're here, and I don't see how we can get away, for we haven't any money to pay our fare on the train."
"That's my trouble, too," said Mr. Treadwell, with a smile. "I'd offer to help too, if I thought I was going to be here."
"Oh, then we'll be sure to have a show!" declared Bunny. "You can be General Washington and maybe some soldier, and we'll pretend you came down to the farm to see us. Then I'll turn somersaults and Sue can bring me out some cookies to eat, 'cause I get hungry when I turn somersaults. And you can do tricks like those you did in the Opera House," he added to Mart.
"What do you want me to do?" asked Lucile, with a smile.
"Oh, you—you can help Sue bring out the cookies for Mart and me," decided Bunny. "And—oh yes—you can sing—those songs you sang in the show we went to see, you know."
"All right, I'll help all I can—if I'm here," said Lucile.
"Well, suppose we talk a little about the trouble you good theater folks are in," suggested Mr. Brown. "The show Bunny and Sue are going to give can wait for a while. Now what do you want to do—get back to New York, all three of you?"
"Well, New York is the place almost all show people start from," said Mr. Treadwell, "but I don't know that there's much use going back there now. All the places in other shows will be taken. If I could get some sort of work here for the winter I'd stay."
"So would I!" declared Mart. "I like to stay in a place two or three weeks at a time, and not have to move to a new town every night, like a circus. Have you any work you could let me do?" he asked Mr. Brown.
"I was going to speak of that," replied the father of Bunny and Sue. "One of the young men in my office is going on leave, and I could hire you in his place. The wages aren't very big," he said, "but it would be enough for you to live on and take care of your sister."
"I suppose I could board here in Bellemere," suggested Mart.
"You can stay right here—you and Lucile!" cried Mrs. Brown. "Our house is plenty large enough, and there's lots of room. Do stay here—at least until you locate your uncle and your aunt."
"That's very kind of you," said Lucile softly, and she reached over and stroked Sue's curls.
"Oh, goodie!" cried Bunny, when he understood that his father was going to hire Mart Clayton to work in the office at the dock. "Then you can help us get up the show."
"Well, I'll do all I can," promised Mart.
"And I'll help, too," added Lucile.
"If you can find a place for me, Mr. Brown, I'll make the same promise," said Mr. Treadwell. "I don't care much about going back to New York, and if Mart and Lucile stay here I'd like to stay, too, and sort of look after them. I'll try to help them find their missing folks."
"I guess I can find work for you," said Mr. Brown. "Do you know anything about the fish or boat business?"
"Very little, I'm afraid. I once worked as a bookkeeper in a piano factory, though, if that would help any," he said.
"Keeping books is just what I want done," said Mr. Brown. "So you can have a place in my office. The man I have is going to leave, and you may take his place. He also has a room with Mr. Winkler and his sister, and you could get board there."
"That suits me all right, and thank you very much," said Mr. Treadwell. "I'll send over to Wayville and get what little baggage I have. But will it be all right for me to board at Mr. Winkler's?" he asked.
"Oh, yes. They'll be glad to have you."
"And you can see Mr. Winkler's monkey Wango and the parrot all the while!" cried Bunny Brown.
"That will be a treat!" laughed Mr. Treadwell.
So it was settled that both Mr. Treadwell and Mart would work for Mr. Brown. The man who pretended to be George Washington and other great men would board with the old sailor and his sister, while Mart and Lucile would live with the Browns.
"And we'll have lots of fun!" said Sue to Lucile.
"And will you show me how to make flipflops?" asked Bunny of Mart.
"Yes," answered the boy actor and acrobat, "I will."
While Lucile remained at Mrs. Brown's house, Mart, with Mr. Brown and the impersonator went over to Wayville to get the baggage of the theatrical folk. Mr. Brown was going to pay the board bills. Bunny and Sue wanted to go also, but their father said:
"I'll take you along when we go to look at the scenery. You'd only be in the way now, and wouldn't have a good time."
That night Lucile and Mart stayed at the Brown house, which was to be their home for some time, and Mr. Treadwell went to board with the Winklers.
"And when you come over in the morning tell us all about the monkey and parrot!" begged Bunny, as the actor started for his boarding place that evening.
"I will," was the promise.
"When are we going to get the scenery for our play, Daddy?" asked Bunny Brown, as he and his sister Sue were getting ready for bed that night.
"I'll take you over to-morrow after school," was the promise. And you can well imagine that the two children could hardly wait for the time to come.
The air was clear and cold, and it seemed as if there would be more snow when Mr. Brown brought around the automobile in which the trip to Wayville was to be made. Bunny and Sue, Lucile and Mart were to sit in the back, while Mr. Brown and Mr. Treadwell sat in front. They were going to the place where the theatrical scenery had been stored since the time the vaudeville troupe had got into trouble.
"I'm glad winter is coming, aren't you?" asked Bunny of Mart, as they rode along the roads which were still covered with snow from the first storm.
"Well, yes, I like winter," was the answer. "It's always the best time for the show business—'tisn't like a circus—that does best in the summer time."
"We had our circus in summer," said Sue. "Now we're going to have a real theater show in the winter."
The automobile was going down a snowy hill into Wayville, and Mr. Brown had put on the brakes, for, once or twice, the machine had slid from side to side.
"I ought to have chains on the back wheels," said the fish merchant to Mr. Treadwell. "But if I go slowly I guess I'll be all right. Do you think we need any more scenery than the three sets you spoke of—the barnyard, the orchard and the meadow?"
"No, I think that will be enough," said the actor. "The children only want something simple. You can tell when you see it."
"Can we pick apples in the orchard?" asked Sue.
Before Mr. Treadwell could answer something happened. Mr. Brown turned out to one side of the road to let another automobile pass, and, a moment later, his machine began sliding to one side at a place where there was a deep gully.
"Oh!" screamed Lucile. "We're going to upset!"
BUNNY DOES A TRICK
Nearer and nearer to the side of the deep gully, across the road that was slippery with snow, slid Mr. Brown's automobile. Bunny and Sue's father's hands held tightly to the steering wheel, and he pressed his foot down hard on the brake pedal.
"Oh! Oh!" cried the children.
"Sit still! It will be all right!" exclaimed Mr. Brown. "We won't be hurt!"
And so well did he steer the automobile that in a few seconds more it was back in the middle of the road and going safely down the hill. The dangerous gully was passed. It had all happened so quickly that Bunny and Sue had had no chance to get really frightened. But they were so sure their father could do everything all right that I hardly believe they would have worried even if the auto had started to roll over sideways. Bunny would probably have thought it only a trick, and he and Sue were very fond of tricks.
"The man in the other automobile didn't give you enough room to pass, did he, Mr. Brown?" asked the actor, when the danger was over.
"Not quite," was the answer. "We'll go home by another road that is wider, but I took this one because it is the shortest way."
"I hope I didn't do wrong to cry out that way," Lucile said, when they were on their way again.
"No, you didn't do any harm," said Mr. Brown. "I was a bit alarmed myself at first. But we're all right now."
"We were in a railroad wreck once," went on Lucile.
"Did the trains all smash up?" asked Bunny, his eyes wide open.
"Yes, they were badly smashed," answered Lucile. "I don't like to think about it. Mart was hurt, too!"
"Was you?" cried Bunny, forgetting, in his excitement, to speak correctly. "Say, you've had lots of things happen to you, haven't you?"
"Quite a few," answered the boy actor. "I've traveled around a good bit. But I think I like it here better than anywhere I've been."
"I do too," said Lucile. "Traveling everyday makes one tired."
A little later they reached Wayville, and Mr. Treadwell told Mr. Brown where to go in the automobile to look at the scenery. It was stored away, for the company that had "busted up," as Mart sometimes called it, had no further use for it.
"Oh, look! Here's a little house!" cried Bunny, when with their father and the others he and Sue had entered the big room where the scenery was stored.
"It's got a door to it," said Sue, "but the window is only make believe," and she found this out when she tried to stick her fat little hand out of what looked like a window in the side of the small house.
"Most things on a stage in a theater are make believe," said the man who pretended to be different persons. "You'll find the scenery isn't as pretty when you get close to it as it is when you see it from the other side of the footlights."
This the children noticed was true. The scenery was made of painted canvas stretched over a framework of wood. And the colors were put on with a coarse brush and was very thick, as Bunny and Sue saw when they went up close.
"But it looked so pretty in the Opera House," complained Bunny.
"That's because you were farther off, and because the lights were made to shine on it in a certain way," explained Mart. "It will look just as pretty again when you use it in your show."
Bunny and Sue were not so sure of this, but they were willing to wait and see. Mr. Brown and Mr. Treadwell looked over the scenery.
As the actor had said, there were three "sets" as they are called. One was a scene painted to look like a meadow, with a big green field, a stream of water and, in the distance, cows eating grass. Of course the cows were only pictured ones as was the grass and stream.
The barnyard scene showed more cows and the end of a barn, and in this barn there was a real door that opened and shut. Mr. Treadwell explained that the boy and girl actors could go through this door to enter upon or leave the stage during the play.
"There's a pump and a watering trough that goes with this scene," said the actor. "In the play as we used to give it the trough was filled with water and one of the actors had to fall into it."
"And does the pump pump real water?" cried Bunny.
"Yes, about a pail full," was the answer.
"Then we'll have it in our show!" cried the little boy. "I'll fall into the trough and get all wet, Sue, and you can pump more water on me from the pump."
"That'll be fun!" laughed Sue.
"We'll have to see about that act first," laughed Mr. Brown. "Now let's find out what else we have for the great play 'Down on the Farm.' Where's that orchard I heard you speak of, Mr. Treadwell?"
"I guess the orchard is behind the barn," laughed the old actor. And when some of the men in the storage place had lifted away the painted canvas that represented the barn, a pretty orchard scene was shown.
"There's the rest of the little house!" cried Bunny, for at first he had only noticed one side of it.
"Yes, there is one end of a house shown in this scene, as one end of the barn is shown in the other," explained the actor. "And there is a real door, too, that opens and shuts. The orchard, as you see, is only painted."
And so it was, but in such a way as to appear very pretty when set up and lighted.
"Here's a real tree!" cried Bunny, who was rummaging about back of the stacked-up scenery.
"Well, it's meant to look like a real tree," said Mr. Treadwell, "but it isn't, really. It's a pretty good imitation of a peach tree, and I suppose you could use it in your show, children."
"Peaches don't grow in the winter," objected Bunny, who had been on his grandfather's farm often enough to know this.
"We could make believe our show was in summer," said Sue.
"Yes, or you could make believe your play took place down south, where it's always warm," added Mart, "and you could have this for an orange tree."
"Oh, no! That wouldn't do!" laughed Mr. Treadwell. "The leaves aren't anything like those of an orange tree. I remember once when we gave an act with this tree it was supposed to be on a tropic island, and one of the actors fastened a cocoanut on it, to make the audience think it really grew there."
"What happened?" asked Mr. Brown, as he saw the actor laugh.
"Well, the cocoanut wasn't fastened on very well," was the answer, "and when the leading lady was standing under the tree, singing a sad song, the cocoanut fell off and dropped on her foot. She stopped singing right there, and the play was nearly spoiled. So don't have oranges grow on peach trees," he advised.
"We could have peanuts," suggested Bunny. "They wouldn't hurt if they fell on you."
Mr. Brown and Mr. Treadwell laughed at that, and Bunny wondered why they did.
The children were delighted with the scenery, once they had got over their surprise at how coarse the paint looked when they were close to it. The barn and the house, with their real doors that opened and shut, were quite wonderful to Bunny Brown and his sister Sue, and so was the tree.
This was made of wood with what seemed to be real bark on it, and had limbs, branches, and twigs that seemed very natural. But Mr. Treadwell explained that it was all artificial, like the palms you see in some hotels and moving picture theaters.
While Bunny and Sue waited, Mr. Brown talked with the man who had charge of the scenery, and in a little while the children's father said he would buy the set, which was offered at a low price.
"And can we give our show with it?" Bunny wanted to know when told what his father had done.
"Yes," said Mr. Brown. "It will be delivered in Bellemere day after to-morrow, and stored away in our garage until you decide when and where you are going to give your show. There is a lot to be done before your first performance, children. I guess you know that, from the work you had getting up your circus."
"We'll have a lot of fun!" declared Bunny, not thinking of the hard work. "When we get back home I'll tell the boys and girls about the scenery and they can come over to see it. Then we'll begin to practice for the show play."
"You'll have to have a play written for you, bringing in all the scenery I've bought," said Mr. Brown.
"I guess I can manage that part for them," suggested Mr. Treadwell. "I have written two or three little plays, and I guess I can do one more. I'll write out a little sketch and have parts to fit as many boys and girls as Bunny and Sue can get to act."
"Oh, I can get a lot of 'em!" cried Bunny. "And will you make it so Sue can pump water and I can fall in the trough and get all wet?"