SUNNY BOY IN THE COUNTRY
By RAMY ALLISON WHITE
Illustrated By CHARLES L. WRENN
BARSE & HOPKINS Publishers New York, N.Y.—Newark, N.J.
Copyright, 1920 By Barse & Hopkins
Sunny Boy in the Country
Printed in the United States of America
CHAPTER PAGE I The Mended Drum 9 II Spreading The News 22 III Packing The Trunk 35 IV Off For Brookside 49 V On The Train 61 VI Brookside 73 VII Adventures Begin 86 VIII A Letter From Daddy 98 IX Sunny Boy Forgets 110 X Going Fishing 124 XI The Hay Slide 136 XII Apple Pies 152 XIII More Mischief 169 XIV Another Hunt 185 XV Sunny's Good Luck 201
Indeed there were all kinds of goodies in those boxes. Frontispiece
And tucked the clock away down deep in one of the corner holes Aunt Bessie had left in the trunk. 45
He lifted one of the baby rabbits and placed it in Sunny's hands. 109
With a crash a frightened little boy fell into the flour barrel. 163
SUNNY BOY IN THE COUNTRY
THE MENDED DRUM
"Rub-a-dub, dub! Bang! Rub-a-dub-dub—Bang! Bang!" Sunny Boy thumped his drum vigorously.
Usually when he made such a racket some one would come out and ask him what in the world was he making a noise like that for, but this morning every one seemed to be very busy. For several minutes now Sunny Boy had been trying to attract Harriet's attention. She was doing something to the front door.
"I spect she needs me," said Sunny Boy to himself.
There were any number of interesting things going on around the front door this morning, but he was chiefly interested in Harriet, because as a rule he had to help her Saturday mornings by going with her to the grocery store at the corner. He liked to stand in her clean, comfortable kitchen and drum for her until she was ready to start.
This particular morning Harriet's mind seemed to be far away from music. She was rubbing briskly as Sunny Boy watched her, polishing—that was it: she was shining the brass numbers on the door—266. Sunny Boy knew them, and how careful Harriet was to keep them always bright.
"Just think," she would say, as they might be coming up the steps; "suppose the postman had a letter for 266 Glenn Avenue, and the numbers were so dull and streaked he couldn't read them! Think how we'd feel if that should happen to us!"
Sunny Boy was sure such a thing could never happen, not with Harriet rubbing away at the numbers morning after morning.
From his post at the head of the stairs he could see a man on a step-ladder, working and whistling. He was hammering in nails over the door. Dimly Sunny Boy made out another pair of doors standing in the hall.
"Goodness, Sunny Boy, I nearly fell over you!" Aunt Bessie kissed him on the back of his neck before he could turn round. That was a trick Aunt Bessie had, and Sunny Boy was used to it. "Are you watching them put up the screens and awnings?"
"Are they?" asked Sunny interestedly. "Could I hold the awning? Maybe the man would like my tool-chest—it's all there but the hammer. I lost that in the park. Can I help, Auntie?"
Aunt Bessie was going downtown, and she was in a hurry. "If you don't get in the way, I daresay they'll be glad to have you," she said kindly, and brushed by him, on down the stairs. She stopped to speak to some one in the parlor, and then Sunny Boy saw her go out and down the steps.
Sunny Boy sat down on the top stair and took his drum in his lap. Presently he would go down and help the awning man, but it was very pleasant where he was. The softest little May breeze came wandering through the open door up to him, and the canary in the dining room was singing his cheerful loudest. Sunny Boy leaned his curly head against the bannister to listen.
His real name, of course, was not Sunny Boy—oh, no, he was named for his grandpa, and when the postman brought him an invitation to a birthday party you might see it written out—Arthur Bradford Horton.
But birthday parties happen only once in a while, and Daddy and Mother called him Sunny Boy because he was nearly always cheerful. As Mother explained, you can't depend on a party happening to cheer you up, so to know a little boy who is sure to smile every day—well, that is worth while. And often Sunny forgot that he had any other name.
Bump—bang—bumpty, bang! Down the stairs suddenly rolled the drum, making a fearful racket on the steps as it bounded from side to side. Down the stairs it rolled, across the narrow strip of hall, past Harriet, now on her knees scrubbing the green and white tiles, under the ladder of the awning man, down the steps, and right out into the street! After it scrambled Sunny Boy, as fast as his tan sandals would take him. He was just in time to see his drum roll to the middle of the street and stop in the center of the heavy traffic. A big furniture van, drawn by three horses, was headed right for it.
"It'll be smashed! Oh, oh!" Sunny Boy wailed, hopping up and down on the curb, but remembering even in his excitement that he had promised not to go off the pavement when alone. "They'll ride right over my drum!"
"I guess not!" cried a tall man, and darted out from behind Sunny. He rushed to where the drum lay and snatched it up, almost from under the horses' feet.
The colored man driving the furniture van grinned.
"Most busted dat drum for sure!" he shouted. "If this off horse, Billy, ever put his foot through it, good-by drum!"
"And there you are!" The tall man gave Sunny Boy back his drum with a flourish. "Just as good as new, except for a little hole that I'm willing to bet a cookie your mother can mend for you. Isn't she waving for you to come in? I thought so. You run along now, and see if she doesn't mend it."
Mother was on the front steps watching for him. Sunny thanked the tall man, who said that it was nothing, nothing at all: he'd never rescued a drum before, but he was glad to have the experience, and that things always turned out well for small boys who stayed on the sidewalks and didn't dash out into the streets to get run over. Then Sunny climbed up the steps and held out his drum for Mother to see.
"The man said you could mend it," he said wistfully. "Can you, Mother? 'Cause when things break, I miss 'em."
Mrs. Horton managed to hug her son, drum and all, though there really wasn't much space where they stood. She was under the awning man's ladder, and he was shaking and moving the large awning about. Inside the door stood Harriet and her brush and bucket.
"So, 'twas the drum!" smiled Harriet. "I couldn't see what it was went rolling by me like lightning, and Sunny Boy tearing after it. All I heard was a noise like thunder."
"We'll go up to my room and mend the drum," declared Mrs. Horton. "Tell Mr. Bray I'll telephone him about the slip-covers, please, Harriet. I left him in the parlor when I ran out to see what was happening to Sunny Boy."
"What," demanded Sunny Boy, carrying his drum upstairs—and you may be sure that he gripped it tightly this time—"What are slip-covers, Mother?"
Mrs. Horton laughed.
"Why, slip-covers are—" She thought a minute. "They are covers for the chairs and sofas to wear in summer," she explained. "Nice, cool, linen covers, you know, for the furniture, just as you have summer suits."
Sunny Boy understood. He usually did when Mother answered his questions. And he was very sure that she could mend his drum.
"Do you know," said Mrs. Horton, when she had looked at the hole, "I think, Sunny Boy, we can mend this nicely with court-plaster?"
"Court-plaster?" echoed Sunny Boy.
"I have some in the medicine closet in the bathroom," went on Mrs. Horton, drawing the edges of the hole together as she talked. "I'll get it, dear."
"It's like mending fingers, isn't it, Mother?" Sunny Boy was so anxious to watch how Mother mended the drum that he nearly put his own pink nose in the hole. "When Daddy cut his finger he put court-plaster on it. He said the skin would grow together, and it did—when he took it off, there wasn't any cut there. Just nothing. Will my drum be like that?"
"No, precious," answered Mother, snipping around the edges of the court-plaster with the fascinating sharp shears Sunny Boy was forbidden to touch. "A drum, you know, isn't like a person's skin. It can't grow. But I think that if you remember to be careful the drum will last a long time. There you are. My goodness! it makes as much noise as ever, doesn't it?" and Mrs. Horton covered her ears and laughed as Sunny Boy beat merrily on his mended drum.
"Letters!" he cried a minute later as a shrill whistle sounded. "I'll get 'em for you, Mother," and downstairs again he tumbled. Only he left the drum safely on Mother's bed.
"Two—three—ever so many," he announced proudly when he came back. "Are there any for me, Mother?"
Like some other little folk, Sunny Boy was always expecting letters, though he almost never wrote any. But he meant to write a great many as soon as he learned to write with ink, and he was even now learning to print nicely.
"None for you," answered Mrs. Horton, glancing at the envelopes. "However, here is one with something in it for you, I suspect. Grandpa Horton has written to us."
As Mother opened this letter, a little note fell out. That was from Grandpa Horton to Sunny Boy. He liked to put a little letter inside his large one, just for his grandson. Sunny waited quietly while Mother read her letter. When she had read it through, she folded it and put it back in the envelope.
"Sunny Boy," she said, and her voice made him think of the "laughing piece" she sometimes played for him on the piano. He looked at her and her eyes were dancing. "Sunny Boy," she said again, "what do you think? We're going to visit Grandpa Horton on his farm—going to make him a nice long visit and see the real country."
"Oh, goody!" cried Sunny Boy. "Is Daddy going?"
"He'll come to see us," promised Mother. "Let me read you what Grandpa has written you, dear."
Grandpa Horton's note to Sunny told him he was depending on him to help him with the early haying.
"Wasn't it lucky Harriet rubbed the numbers on the front door this morning?" chuckled Sunny Boy. "S'posing we didn't get this letter? Where's Brookside, Mother?"
Brookside was the name of Grandpa's farm. Mrs. Horton explained that it was many miles away from the city, and that it would take them nearly a day on the train to get there.
"And if Daddy cannot go with us, you'll have to take care of me," she said seriously.
"All right, I will," promised Sunny Boy. "I'll have to go and tell Harriet an' show her my letter. I'll tell the awning man, too. I was going to help him, but I don't feel helping, somehow. I feel wiggled up, you know, Mother."
"You're excited," said Mrs. Horton. "Well, we don't go for two weeks, dear, so you'll have plenty of time to talk about it. I must write to Grandpa as soon as Daddy comes home."
Dashing out of the room went Sunny Boy, crying the good news at the top of his lungs—"We're going to the country! We're going to my Grandpa's farm! Hurrah!"
SPREADING THE NEWS
"So you're going off to the country?" said Daddy, as he came whistling down to the dining room, where Mother and Sunny Boy were waiting for him. "Well, I see that I'll have to come up and teach you how to catch a brook trout."
"Did Mother tell you?" asked Sunny Boy, as Daddy swung him into his chair and Harriet brought in the soup to Mrs. Horton. "When did you find out, Daddy? I was watching for you so's I could tell."
"I didn't see any little chap in the hall, so I went right upstairs and found Mother. She said you were going to Brookside, and that the awnings were up, and the screens in, and she hoped to go downtown to-morrow and buy your best shoes," and Daddy looked at Mother and laughed.
"Daddy is teasing me," smiled Mrs. Horton. "We have to tell him our news all in one breath because we see so little of him, don't we, Sunny Boy? I do hope, Harry, that you'll be able to come up this summer and spend a real vacation at your father's."
Mr. Horton was making a little well in the mashed potato on Sunny's plate, and flooding it with the rich brown gravy. That was the way his father had fixed his mashed potato for him when he was a little boy, and Sunny Boy liked his that way, too.
"Oh, I'll come up," promised Mr. Horton, passing the potato to Sunny Boy. "I'll have to come and show you both where I had my garden and teach Sunny how to fool the wise fish."
Sunny Boy put down his fork. He had to wait a minute because his mouth was full and Mother had her own opinion of a little boy who spoke without chewing his food properly and swallowing it. Having swallowed his potato, Sunny Boy was ready to speak.
"Oh, Daddy!" he began eagerly, "were you ever at Brookside? Where was your garden? Could I drive horses?"
Then Daddy and Mother said the same thing together, both at once, just as if they were thinking the same thing, as they probably were:
"Why, Sunny Boy!" said Daddy and Mother.
"You can't have forgotten," urged Mrs. Horton, then. "Brookside, you know, dear, is where Daddy lived when he was a little boy. When he was just as old as you are now he used to play there were Indians in the woods. I've told you ever so many times, and now you are going to see the place yourself where Daddy was a little lad like you."
"Oh!" said Sunny Boy again.
All during the rest of the dinner he was very busy, thinking. He had forgotten that Daddy had lived at Brookside, or, to be more exact, he had not understood that Grandpa's farm was the same farm on which Daddy had been a little boy. Sunny Boy was only five years old, and he had already moved three times. One lived a long time on a farm it seemed.
Soon after dinner came bed for Sunny Boy, and he dreamed that he had fallen head-first into his drum and that it was very hot and dark inside. He was kicking madly to get out, when Mother came in and found him all wrapped up in the bed-clothes with his head buried in the pillows. When she drew down the covers he woke up, and after she had tucked him in smoothly again and brought him a drink of cool water, he went to sleep. And the next thing that happened was the morning.
After breakfast, Sunny Boy went out into the back yard to play. It wasn't a very large back yard, but it was pretty. There were ferns along one side, and gay spring flowers on the other. At one end were Sunny Boy's swing and sand-box, and the center was in thick, green grass. Mondays the grass belonged to Harriet, who used it to walk on when she hung out the clean clothes, but other days Sunny had the whole yard pretty much to himself.
There was a little gate cut in the fence on one side of the yard. Daddy Horton had made the gate for Sunny Boy and Nelson and Ruth. Nelson and Ruth were a little boy and girl who lived next door, at least Ruth was a little girl—she was only four years old—but Nelson was seven and went to school. Their last name was Baker, and they and Sunny Boy had very good times playing together.
As soon as Sunny Boy came out into his yard this morning, the little gate opened, and in came Ruth, dragging Paulina, her largest doll, by one arm.
"Don't be cross," begged Sunny Boy. "I want to tell you something."
"I'm not cross," said Ruth with dignity. "What made you think I was going to be?"
"'Cause you're dragging Paulina and you always treat her like that when you're cross," answered Sunny more frankly than tactfully. "Listen, Ruth—we're going to the country to see Grandpa Horton, and I'm going to drive horses and go fishing, an' help hay, and oh, everything!"
Ruth was interested.
"Can I go fishing?" she wanted to know.
Sunny Boy was troubled. Evidently Ruth thought she was going to the country, too, and it surely wouldn't be very kind to tell her plainly that Grandpa Horton hadn't invited her. To his relief Mrs. Baker called Ruth just then and she went into her own yard, still dragging the unfortunate Paulina by one arm.
"Sunny Boy," called his own mother from an upstairs window, "Harriet is going to the store for me—wouldn't you like to go with her?"
Sunny Boy liked to go with Harriet, and he hurried indoors to get his hat and roller skates. Now Sunny Boy was just learning to skate, and if he didn't have Harriet to hold on to he never could be quite sure what was going to happen to him. He could go much faster on his own two feet, but, as he explained to Harriet, it was most important that he should learn how to skate because when he could skate well he would be able to go to the store much more quickly than he could walk. And Harriet said yes, she understood, and that everybody had to learn how to skate before they could become really expert.
"Did you ever live on a farm, Harriet?" asked Sunny Boy, as they started for the store. His mind was full of the coming visit.
"No," admitted Harriet. "I never lived on a farm. But I've often visited people who did. You'll like it. There'll be brooks to wade in, and little calves and lambs to play with, and chickens and ducks. And you can play outdoors all day long."
"When it rains?" asked Sunny Boy.
"When it rains there'll be the barn and the haymow," answered Harriet. "And now here's Mr. Gray's. You'd better wait out here for me and not try to clatter in with those skates."
Sunny Boy saw a basket of apples in the window.
"Will you bring me an apple, Harriet?" he teased. "Mother won't mind. Apples don't hurt you."
Harriet was half way through the door, but she turned.
"It's too early for good apples yet," she said. "You wait till you get to Brookside, Sunny. You'll have more apples then than you can possibly eat."
"Millions and dozens?" called Sunny Boy after Harriet.
"Yes, 'millions and dozens,'" she echoed, laughing, and closed the grocery store door.
The grocer's boy was coming down the steps, and he laughed, too.
"Millions and dozens of what?" he demanded, stopping before Sunny Boy.
"Apples, at my grandpa's farm."
The grocer boy had a basket on his arm and he wore a white coat. He looked very clean and cheerful. Sunny Boy had a sudden idea.
"If you're going up to our house, could I hang on back of your wheel?" he said. "I can skate pretty well if I have some one to steer with."
"I don't think Harriet would like it," was the grocer boy's reply. He knew Sunny Boy and Harriet because he often came to their house to bring good things to eat. "I'll tell you, Sunny Boy—you wait till you come back from this visit, and then I'll take you. Or perhaps after you've eaten the millions and dozens of apples you won't have to hang on to any one—you'll be big and strong and able to skate by yourself."
Sunny Boy watched him ride merrily off on his bicycle. Still Harriet didn't come. Sunny suspected there must be a good many people waiting in the store. He might skate down to the corner and back before she had bought all the things on Mother's list.
It was all very well for the first few yards, because there was a convenient iron railing to cling to, and Sunny Boy found himself skating very easily. But the iron railing ended in a stone stoop, and after that there seemed to be nothing but miles and miles of pavement without even a friendly tree to cling to. Sunny Boy's feet began to behave queerly. One went much faster than the other and in an entirely different direction, and he had an idea he'd have to wear those skates the rest of his life because he didn't see how he was ever going to stop to take them off.
Suddenly he found himself headed for an area-way and a flight of stone steps. He clutched desperately at the cellar window, shot past, and down the steps—bing! into a huge basket of clothes a fat colored woman was bringing up. She was as wide as the basket and the basket took up about all the area-way.
"Land sakes, chile!" she said, as Sunny Boy landed on top of her basket. "Where you goin'?"
"Skating," said Sunny Boy concisely, glad to find that he wasn't hurt.
The colored woman laughed, a deep, rich, happy laugh.
"You doan seem to be jest sure," she told him. "Stay where you is an' I'll carry you on up."
She did, too, and started him on his uncertain way down the street. In a few minutes his feet began to act strangely again, this time sending him in the general direction of the gutter.
"I spect I'd better go back," said Sunny Boy to himself. But he couldn't turn around.
Then up the street came a familiar gray-uniformed figure. It was the postman, the same merry, kind postman who brought letters to Sunny Boy's house and for whom Harriet was careful to have the number on the front door bright and shining.
"Stop me!" cried Sunny Boy, wobbling more wildly.
"Right—O!" agreed the postman, and proceeded to stop him by letting Sunny Boy skate right into him and his mail bag.
"And that's all right," said the cheerful postman, blowing his whistle and slipping some letters into a mail-box in a doorway as if nothing had happened. "Don't you want to skate back with me?"
Sunny Boy, seated on a handy doorstep, was unbuckling the skate straps. He looked up and smiled.
"Thank you very much, but Harriet's waiting for me," he answered politely. "An' I have to carry my skates, 'cause she won't let me hold the eggs 'less I walk."
PACKING THE TRUNK
Aunt Bessie sat on the floor of Mother's room, with pencil and paper in her lap. She was Mrs. Horton's sister, and though she did not live with them, Sunny Boy and Mother saw her nearly every day.
"I wonder if you will need that extra coat?" Aunt Bessie was saying, as Sunny Boy came into the room.
For the two weeks were nearly gone and it was time to get ready to go to see Grandpa Horton. Early that morning Daddy had brought down the big trunk from the storeroom, and ever since breakfast Mother and Aunt Bessie had been busy packing clothes into it. Aunt Bessie kept a list of the things they put in so that Mother would be able to tell when the trunk was full whether she had left out anything she needed.
"I'll go and get my things," announced Sunny Boy, and Aunt Bessie blew him a kiss and went on with her work.
Upstairs Sunny Boy looked a long time at his toys before he could decide what to do about them. He couldn't leave his kiddie-car, that was certain. And there was the woolly black dog he took to bed with him at night, and a Teddy Bear that he was almost too old to play with, but not quite, and the wooden blocks. Then he would be sure to need his fire-engine and the roller skates. He must take all those with him. He made three trips down to Mother's door with the toys, and then, going down for the third time, he remembered the wind-mill out in the sand-box and ran out after that and brought it in.
"Bless the child, what is all this?" cried Aunt Bessie, as he came into Mother's room, bringing as many of the treasures as he could carry at one time.
"I'm helping," explained Sunny Boy. "There's more out in the hall."
He put down his load and ran out to bring in the rest.
"But, precious," said Mrs. Horton, looking from the kiddie-car to her little son, "we can't take all these things with us. Why, Mother wouldn't have a place to put your socks and blouses, to say nothing of the cunning bathing-suit we bought yesterday."
"You won't need them, you know," urged Aunt Bessie. "You'll be so busy playing with the new things you'll find up at Grandpa Horton's that you'll probably never remember the toys at home. Then when you come back they will seem like new ones."
Sunny Boy was disappointed. His kiddie-car was the hardest to give up. The woolly dog, too, was very dear to him. Mrs. Horton understood, and she sat down in her low rocking chair and took her little boy on her lap.
"The kiddie-car wouldn't be any fun in the country," she said. "There are no stone pavements, you see, dear, and it wouldn't run on the grass. As for the woolly dog, why you will have a real dog to play with—a collie dog that will run after sticks and bring them to you and take walks with you. That will be fun, won't it?"
Sunny Boy slid to the floor and stood up. He was excited.
"I am simply crazy to have a real dog," he declared.
Mrs. Horton stared at him, but Aunt Bessie, bending over the trunk, sat down on the edge and laughed.
"Where in the world did you hear that, Sunny Boy?" asked Mother. "Who talks like that?"
Aunt Bessie swooped down upon her nephew.
"I do," she told her sister. "But I'll have to be more careful when little pitchers with big ears are about. Why don't you copy the nice things I say, Sunny?"
"Isn't that nice?" puzzled Sunny. "Shouldn't I say it? Why not, Mother?"
"It isn't wrong, dear," Mrs. Horton assured him. "Aunt Bessie only means that speaking that way is rather a bad habit to get into. We call it exaggeration. Let me see, how shall I make you understand? Well, if I say 'I'm starving to death,' when I mean that I am hungrier than usual for dinner, that's exaggeration. I couldn't be starving, unless I had had nothing to eat for several days."
"And though some people think I'm crazy, I'm really not," concluded Aunt Bessie gayly. "You think I'm rather nice, don't you, Sunny? And now I wonder if there's a young man about who would be kind enough to take this skirt down to Harriet and ask her to please press the hem?"
"I will," offered Sunny Boy. "And then I'll come back and put my things away."
"While you are down in the kitchen, I wish you'd ask Harriet if the oven is ready for me to make some biscuits for lunch," said Mrs. Horton. "And tell her I said you might have a glass of milk and one of the sponge cakes without any pink icing."
Harriet pressed the skirt while Sunny Boy sat at one end of the ironing board and watched her and ate his sponge cake—which was almost as good as the kind with pink icing which were only for dessert—and drank his milk. Then Harriet gave him the skirt to carry back to Aunt Bessie and he remembered to ask about the oven. Harriet said to tell Mother that it was just right for baking biscuits.
"That means I must go down right away," said Mrs. Horton, when Sunny Boy told her. "We've about finished anyway, haven't we, Bessie? The man is to come at three this afternoon for the trunk."
"I've left a few chinks and corners, in case you want to tuck in some little trifles at the last minute," replied Aunt Bessie, "but otherwise it's ready to be strapped and locked."
"Let me lock it," said Sunny Boy eagerly. "I can stand on the top, too. I did for Cousin Lola when hers wouldn't shut."
Mrs. Horton was tying on a nice clean white apron.
"Thank you, dearest," she said. "Mother isn't quite ready to have the trunk locked. If we've packed it so full it won't close, why of course I'll call on you to stand on the top and make it shut."
Sunny Boy hoped the trunk wouldn't close, for he wanted to dance on the top. Then Mrs. Horton went down to Harriet's kitchen to make puffy white biscuits for lunch and Aunt Bessie went off to give a music lesson.
Sunny Boy, left to put away his toys, explained matters to the woolly dog as he carried him upstairs.
"There will be a real dog for me to play with at Grandpa's," he said. "And little calves and lambs—Harriet said so. Maybe you might get broken in the trunk, anyway. But I won't like the real dog one bit more than I do you, and when we come back you can sleep with me every single night."
The woolly dog seemed to think this was all right, and he took it so cheerfully that Sunny Boy felt better immediately.
Mr. Horton came home to lunch, which was unusual, and after lunch he and Mrs. Horton had to go downtown to see about the tickets and the parlor car seats for the trip the next day. Sunny Boy was to take his nap and be wide awake again by three o'clock, when the man was coming to take their trunk to the station.
Sunny Boy did not see how they were to find the trunk again if they once let it go, for surely no trunk could go all alone to Brookside. He resolved to ask Daddy. While he was wondering if there would be a piano in the parlor car—and he rather hoped there would and that he might be allowed to play on it—Sunny Boy fell asleep. Harriet, coming upstairs with a pile of clean clothes, woke him.
"Is it three o'clock?" he asked, afraid that he had missed the trunk man.
"Only half-past two," answered Harriet. "Your mother will be back any minute now to lock the trunk. You can dress yourself, can't you? I've another tablecloth to iron yet."
Sunny Boy could dress himself, of course. Wandering into Mother's room to borrow her hairbrush, he saw the little nickel alarm clock on the table. Mother must have meant to pack that, and in her hurry had forgotten. Sunny Boy remembered that Daddy had told him all country folk "rose with the chickens," and upon inquiry he had learned that the chickens rose very early indeed—almost as soon as the sun. Sunny Boy thought it would be dreadful if he and Mother should oversleep their first morning at the farm and come downstairs to find the chickens up and the farmer people laughing at them. Yes, the alarm clock certainly must go.
He had not a very clear idea of how one went about it to set an alarm clock, but Daddy, he remembered, always wound the little pegs in the back. So Sunny Boy trustingly wound all the pegs he saw, as tight as they would turn, and tucked the clock away down deep in one of the corner holes Aunt Bessie had left in the trunk.
He had hardly packed it in when Mother came running breathlessly up the stairs crying that the express wagon was at the door. Hurriedly she put down the trunk lid, locked it, and tied on the tag that Daddy had written for her.
"That tells the train folks what to do with it," explained the trunk man to Sunny, swinging the heavy trunk to his shoulder as though it weighed no more than the kiddie-car and trotting downstairs with it.
Sunny Boy watched him put it in the wagon and drive away.
"Now we're almost ready," said Mrs. Horton smilingly. "We have to pack our bag and go to bed early, and then, in the morning, we really will be on our way to Grandpa Horton's."
"But there's the canary," Sunny Boy reminded her hesitatingly. "Can I carry him?"
"The train would frighten him so he might never sing any more," said Mrs. Horton. "No, Aunt Bessie is going to keep him for us till we come back."
"Well, let's go now," urged Sunny. "Why can't we go this minute? Let's, Mother."
"And have Daddy come home to dinner to-night and find us gone?" said Mother reproachfully. "Why, Sunny!"
"Well—then perhaps we'd better wait," admitted Sunny Boy. "But one whole night's an awful long time, isn't it?"
OFF FOR BROOKSIDE
Perhaps the most fun of going on a journey is the fun of starting.
Sunny Boy began to get excited the moment he opened his eyes the next morning, and if he had had his way, they wouldn't have bothered with such an every-day affair as breakfast. One could eat breakfast any morning, but a trip on the train to one's grandfather's farm was much more important.
However, Daddy explained that all experienced travelers ate a good breakfast before they set out, and as Sunny Boy wanted above all things to do as real travelers did, he consented to sit down and be interested for a few moments in his blue oatmeal bowl and its contents.
"You look so nice, Mother," he told Mrs. Horton suddenly.
"So do you," she assured him, smiling. "I think it must be because we are both wearing our new blue serge suits."
"Remember, you're going to take care of my girl," warned Daddy. "Don't let her get too tired, and try to make her comfortable, and don't let any one or anything bother her."
Sunny Boy gravely promised to look after Mother. He felt very proud that Daddy trusted him to take care of her on their first long journey together, and he resolved to wait on her all he could and to save her every possible step.
Harriet, who was not going with them, but who was going to help Aunt Bessie keep house until they came back, was bustling about, pulling down shades and closing and locking doors. The canary had gone, and Sunny Boy had a funny feeling that their house was going on a journey, too. In his trotting around after Harriet, while Mother was telephoning a last good-by to some friend, he found a square white box on the parlor table, neatly tied with red string—one of that mysterious kind that makes your fingers fairly itch to untie the string and look inside. Sunny Boy went in search of Mother.
"Could I open it?" he asked coaxingly. "I'll tie it right up again, Mother. Maybe you have forgotten what is in it."
"'Deed I haven't!" laughed Mrs. Horton. "Give it to me, dear. It's a surprise for you—we'll open it on the train."
Sunny Boy obediently handed her the package, and in a few minutes he had forgotten all about it.
At last the house was ready to leave, and Harriet kissed him and said good-by. Sunny Boy watched her down the street until she turned the corner. He had a little ache in his throat, but he was too big a boy to cry.
"Precious," said Mother who knew perhaps how he was feeling, "I'm afraid I've left my little coin purse on my bureau. Would you mind going up and getting it for me?"
The house upstairs was very still and hot. Sunny Boy tiptoed softly as he hurried into Mother's room. There on the bureau lay the little silver purse and a clean handkerchief that smelled like a bunch of violets.
"You left your hanky, Mother," he cried, running downstairs. "And you said folks should never, never, begin to go anywhere without a clean hanky, you know."
Mr. Horton, standing on the front step, opened the screen door and put in his head.
"Taxi's coming!" he announced. "Ready, Olive? I have the bag right here. Come, son."
Sunny Boy was thrilled at the thought of riding in that orange dragon of an automobile. Mother and Daddy had friends who often took them motoring pleasant afternoons, and sometimes Sunny Boy went with them. But every one knows that is different from having a gay colored car roll up to your front door and wait especially for you.
The young man who drove the car opened the door with a flourish and helped Mrs. Horton in. Then he turned to lift Sunny Boy, but that young person hung back.
"I could ride with you—up front," he suggested.
"Oh, you might tumble out, going around the corner," cried Mrs. Horton.
Daddy, who had been locking the front door, came down to them, carrying the black leather bag that was to go with Sunny Boy and Mother.
"Do you know," said Daddy slowly, "I think the bag will have to go in the front seat, Sunny? I wouldn't like to put it down on Mother's pretty new patent leather pumps. Sometime when we have no baggage you shall ride with the chauffeur."
So Sunny Boy climbed in and sat between Mother and Daddy, and the chauffeur just touched his wheel and they shot off up the street. Indeed they started so suddenly that Sunny Boy went over backward and laughed so hard that he quite forgot to be disappointed because he could not sit on the front seat.
"What's in the bag, Mother?" he asked, as they rolled along through the streets.
"Hair-brushes and combs and towels and soap, and your tooth-brush and mine, and the tooth-paste," answered Mrs. Horton. "And pajamas for you and a nightie for me, in case we can't get the trunk to-night."
"But it is going on the train just like us," urged Sunny Boy. "Daddy said so."
"But it will be nearly night before we reach Brookside," explained Mrs. Horton, "and Grandpa will meet us with a horse and surrey most likely. We will have to leave the trunk at the station till some one can go and get it for us in the morning. I have a play suit in the bag for you, though, so trunk or no trunk, you can be real country boy."
Presently the taxi rolled up under a stone arch, and Mr. Horton said they were at the station. They all got out and went into a great space filled with people. Porters were rushing about with suitcases and bags, crowds of men and women were going in several directions at once, and a man running for his train nearly ran right over Sunny Boy.
"I'll get the trunk checked and then give you the tickets," Mr. Horton said to his wife. "You sit down over there by the door where I can find you, and I'll be back in five minutes. We have plenty of time."
Sunny Boy and Mother sat down by the door and watched the people. Opposite them sat a short, fat woman with a baby in her arms and five little children, two girls and three boys, in the seats nearest her. They were each sucking a lolly-pop and took turns giving the baby a taste. Although they were very sticky and not exactly tidy, they seemed to love one another very much and to be having a very good time.
"Where do you suppose they're going?" Sunny Boy asked.
Mrs. Horton did not know. Perhaps, if they watched them, they might see them take the train.
Then Sunny Boy wanted to know where they kept the trains. He could hear them, and nearly every minute a man with a big trumpet—which Mother said was a megaphone—would call out something, and from all over the station people would come rushing to get on the train. But though Sunny Boy watched carefully, he could not see a single smokestack.
"The trains are downstairs—you'll see when we go out," said Mrs. Horton. "I wonder what can be keeping your father? He has been gone almost fifteen minutes."
"Will there be a piano in the parlor car?" Sunny Boy wanted to know next.
Mrs. Horton laughed merrily.
"A parlor car is like the rest of the cars in a train, except that the seats are more comfortable," she explained. "Anyway, we have to go in an ordinary coach, because Daddy and I couldn't get a single parlor car seat yesterday. They had all been taken. I don't see what can have happened to Daddy!"
Just then Mr. Horton came up to them. There was a baggage man with him and they both looked rather excited.
"I guess you'll have to come over to the baggage room, Olive," said Mr. Horton in a low voice, "and see what you can do about straightening out this mess. They want to know what you've packed in the trunk."
Sunny Boy clung tightly to Mother's hand while they walked over to a low, broad window on one side of the station wall. This opened into the baggage room, and a perfect ocean of trunks was being tossed about in there. The pink came into Mother's cheeks as she saw the crowd gathered about the window.
"You see, Ma'am," said the big, tall man at the window in a gruff voice that was somehow kind and friendly, too, "it's like this—we figure out something blew up in that trunk of yours about ten o'clock last night, and naturally we want to know something about it. In fact, we can't check the trunk for you until we do. A dozen men heard it, and—"
"But I don't understand," protested Mrs. Horton. "I packed nothing that could possibly blow up, as you say. My sister and I put everything in with our own hands. I even have a list. I can show you that—" she fumbled in her velvet handbag with fingers that trembled.
"Probably an infernal machine," declared a shrill voice in the crowd that was now growing too large for comfort. "With the country in the unsettled state it is now, you can look for anything."
"What's a 'fernal 'chine?" asked Sunny Boy boldly.
"Like a bomb—it goes off with a whang," answered a freckle-faced boy standing near. He reminded Sunny of his friend, the grocery boy.
The words, "Goes off with a whang," reminded Sunny Boy of something, though. He looked up into the friendly blue eyes of the baggage-window man.
"Maybe—" began Sunny Boy, "Maybe, I guess it was the alarm clock I packed!" he finished bravely.
"Well, I'll be hanged!" said the baggage-window man. His blue eyes crinkled.
The crowd had heard, and a ripple of laughter ran through them. As suddenly as they had gathered, they melted away.
"Let me have your tickets," said the baggage-window man. "I guess you can still make the ten-forty-five."
ON THE TRAIN
Well, though, as Mr. Horton expressed it, they "had to hustle," they did make the ten-forty-five. They went down in an elevator to board the train and the ticket man at the gate would not let Mr. Horton through.
Daddy hugged his little boy tight before he let him go, and Mother had diamonds in her pretty brown eyes as she turned from saying good-by to him. But when they looked back to wave to him, there was Daddy smiling gayly at them and waving his hat.
"Have a fine time," he called. "Take care of Mother, Sunny Boy. And look for me exactly three weeks from to-day."
Sunny Boy and Mother found a seat after they had walked through a number of cars that were filled, and, though it was rather dark, Sunny Boy could make out the people near them.
"Look, Mother," he whispered, "there's the woman with the baby and the other children we saw in the station. Isn't it funny they took our train?"
Sure enough, there they were, a little further down the aisle on the other side of the car, lolly-pops and all.
Mrs. Horton took off her hat and Sunny Boy's and put them in a large paper bag she took from her bag.
"That will keep them clean," she said, "and we shall be cooler and more comfortable without them. We may have to shut the window when we get out of the tunnel, but we need the air now. Now we're off! Hear the conductor calling?"
"All a-bo-ard," Sunny Boy heard some one crying. "All a-bo-ard!" and soon the train began to move.
Slowly they rumbled out of the dark gray of the train shed, past so many snorting, sniffing black iron engines that Sunny Boy did not see why they did not run into each other, past a crew of men working on the railroad tracks, past red and green lights, into a tunnel without a roof, but walled high on either side with smooth concrete walls. Just as Sunny Boy grew tired of looking at this wall, it stopped, and the train was merrily rushing along through open streets. Sunny Boy looked at Mother and smiled.
"Isn't it fun?" she said.
For a long time Sunny Boy amused himself by watching the country through which they were riding. They passed one or two little stations without stopping, and at the crossings Sunny Boy saw children waving to the train. He waved to them and hoped that they saw him.
"Tickets!" The conductor had reached their car.
Mrs. Horton took a ticket from her bag and gave it to her son. He held it out and the conductor punched it and passed on.
"Do you want me to keep it?" he asked.
"I'll put it in my purse so it can't be lost," Mother answered. "But when the conductor asks for it again you may give it to him. He won't come again for ever so long."
As Sunny Boy was watching an automobile racing with the train on a road that ran alongside the tracks, a white-aproned colored man came into their car.
"First call for lunch!" he shouted. "First call for lunch!"
Sunny Boy felt suddenly hungry. Down the aisle the woman with all the children had opened a pasteboard box and they were having a picnic right there. Other people were eating sandwiches.
"We'll go and get our lunch," decided Mrs. Horton. "Be careful going down the aisle, dear, and don't bump into people any more than you can help."
They had to go through a parlor car to reach the dining car, and Sunny Boy saw for himself that there was no piano, nothing but chairs on either side of the aisle. A colored waiter helped him into his seat at a little table in the dining car, and he thought it great fun to eat chicken broth while looking out of the window at the telegraph poles galloping by. The poles seemed to be moving instead of the train, but Sunny Boy knew the train really moved.
"Will there be another call for lunch?" he asked, remembering what the man had shouted, as he ate his mashed potato and peas.
"Oh yes, but we won't come," said Mrs. Horton. "That will be for the people who weren't hungry when we were."
A man at the table across from theirs picked up the menu card.
"Now what on earth shall I order for dessert?" he frowned. "If the doctor won't let me have meat, I suppose I have to eat something."
"Chocolate ice-cream," suggested Sunny Boy helpfully, feeling sorry for any one who did not know that it was the finest dessert in the world.
The frown slid away from the man's face and he grinned cheerfully at the small boy.
"Is that what you are going to have?" he demanded. "All right then, I will, too."
And when it came, a neat little mountain of it, he and Sunny smiled again at each other before they buried their silver spoons in the beautiful dark iciness of it.
Back in their seat in their car, Sunny was restless. To Mother's suggestion that he take a nap, he said that he didn't feel sleepy. He wished he had something to do—he was tired of looking at trees and things.
"I hoped you would take a little nap, but I suppose there is too much excitement," said Mrs. Horton. "Well, then, how would you like to see the surprise now?"
"The surprise?" repeated Sunny Boy. "Oh, Mother—is that the box?"
For answer Mrs. Horton opened the leather bag and took out the box neatly wrapped in white paper that Sunny Boy had seen on the parlor table at home. She put it in his lap and then took up the magazine she was reading.
"Oh my!" said Sunny Boy, when he had pulled off string and paper and lifted the lid.
Inside the box were six little packages, each wrapped in white paper and tied with pink string. It was like Christmas. Sunny Boy unwrapped them all, one after another, and underneath he found two long thin boxes, also wrapped and tied.
In the first package he found a box of colored crayons; in another, a little pad of drawing paper; another held an envelope stamped and addressed and a sheet of writing paper. In another was a lead pencil; the fifth was a cake of sweet chocolate, and the sixth package was a little lump of modeling wax. The two long thin packages proved to be boxes of animal crackers.
Sunny Boy was chiefly interested in the envelope, because he could not read the writing on it.
"Who's it to, Mother?" he urged. "Your writing runs into letters so I can't read it."
Mrs. Horton explained that the envelope was addressed to Daddy, and that she thought she and Sunny Boy might write a little note to him and that he would have it in the morning.
"Is there a mail-box on the train?" asked Sunny, in surprise.
"No, dear. But we will give it to the conductor and he will see that it is mailed at the next station where we stop. You print on one side of the sheet, and I will write a little message on the other."
So, taking great pains and holding the pencil very tightly because the motion of the train made it wobble in his fingers, Sunny Boy printed this:
DEER DADDY: I LOV YOU. WE ARE HAVING A NICE TIME ON THE TRANE. I AM TAKING CARE OF MOTHER. YOUR LOVING SUN, SUNNY BOY.
Then Mother wrote her note, and they folded it up and sealed the letter and Sunny gave it to the conductor when he next came through.
After that he drew pictures and colored them with the crayons and nibbled at his chocolate and modeled dogs and cats and horses with the wax. He opened the cracker boxes, too, and played Noah's ark with them. The children down the aisle watched him and nudged each other. Their mother would not let them out into the aisle, or very likely they would have come closer to see what that boy was doing with so many nice things.
"I'd like, Mother," announced Sunny Boy suddenly, "to pass my crackers to the little boy with the green tie—he looks like Nelson Baker. Would that be all right?"
"Why, of course," agreed Mrs. Horton. "Ask their mother if she is willing for them to have some, and give some to each child, dear. And don't stay too long, because I shall miss you."
Sunny Boy went down the aisle to the seats where the children were. The lolly-pops had disappeared long ago, and so had the picnic sandwiches. They were all stickier than ever, were those children. The heavy baby was asleep in his mother's lap, and she smiled when Sunny asked her if she were willing he should pass his crackers.
"Thank you, they'd like 'em first-rate," she said, speaking low so as not to wake the baby. "Mamie, Ellen, Jamie, Fred, George—say thank you, and don't grab."
Sunny Boy stayed a little while, talking to them all, and they told him they were going to another state far away. They would be all night on the train. Sunny Boy was a bit disappointed that he must get off at Cloverways, the nearest station to Grandpa's farm, for he had never stayed all night on a train in his life. He hurried back to Mother to tell her of the fortunate family who were to spend the night on the train.
"That poor woman!" Mother, to his astonishment, exclaimed. "She'll be worn out before she gets all those children safely somewhere. Think of sitting up all night with that fretful baby! I'll tell you, Sunny Boy—we get off in about half an hour now; wouldn't you like to leave your surprise package to amuse those children who are going farther than we are? I'll help you tie them up again, and I have two more cakes of chocolate in the bag. You are so careful with your things they are not hurt at all, and it will keep them busy for an hour or two, playing with them."
Sunny Boy thought this a fine plan, and he hardly had all the packages tied up and in the box again when Mrs. Horton pinned on her hat and gave him his, saying that the next station was theirs. She went down the aisle with him and they gave the surprise box to the five youngsters who were delighted to have something new to look at. And then the train stopped, and the brakeman lifted Sunny Boy down, and he found an old gentleman was kissing Mother.
Sunny Boy found himself looking into two dark eyes so much like Daddy's that he almost jumped. But the rest of the old gentleman was not like Daddy—no indeed. He was short and round instead of tall, and he had the curliest white hair and beard Sunny Boy had ever seen. Sunny Boy knew this must be Grandpa Horton, and when he was lifted up in a pair of strong arms and given a tremendous hug before being gently set down, he decided that he loved him very much.
"Grandma couldn't come," explained Grandpa, leading the way to an old-fashioned carriage and pair of horses drawn up at the other end of the station. "There's only Araminta to help her with the supper, and Grandma's heart was set on having the biscuits just right. In you go, Olive. Wait a minute, though, what about your trunk?"
"I have the check, Father," Mrs. Horton answered. "I thought Jimmie would be coming down in the morning to the creamery. He can get it then."
"An' Mother brought her nightie in the bag an' my pajamas," contributed Sunny Boy, waiting while Mother and the bag were stowed away on the back seat.
"Want to ride up with me and help drive?" said Grandpa, turning to him suddenly.
Poor Sunny Boy was sorely tempted, but he decided quickly.
"I have to take care of Mother," he said. "She might be lonesome all alone in the back."
"No, indeed," cried Mother instantly. "You ride up there with Grandpa, precious. You were so good not to tease about the taxi. I'll lean over the seat and talk to you both."
So Sunny Boy and Grandpa got into the front seat, and Sunny learned that the horses' names were Paul and Peter, and that they were not afraid of automobiles, and that he could drive them whenever some older person was with him. Paul and Peter trotted briskly along, and Grandpa said they knew they were going home to supper.
They drove through the town, and Sunny Boy thought it looked very cool, and clean, and pretty, after the warm and dusty train. The grass was bright green, and, as Sunny Boy wrote Harriet, "millions and dozens" of robins were singing among the trees. A great red sun was going to bed back of a high dark hill, and Sunny Boy, sitting beside Grandpa and holding the reins while Paul and Peter trotted steadily, thought that the country was the nicest place he had ever been in.
Then, where the road divided, Grandpa took the reins and turned the team to the left. They entered a lane with white-washed fences on either side and tall waving trees like soldiers, which Mrs. Horton said were elms.
"Now, Sunny Boy," she told him softly, "here's Brookside."
Sunny Boy saw an old red brick house with a great white porch across the front and a green lawn all about it. A white picket fence went all around the lawn, and as Grandpa stopped the horses before the gate, three people came out. There was a tall, thin young man who went to the horses' heads, a little girl with flaming red hair who looked about fourteen years old, and a tall, thin old lady with hair as white and curly as Grandpa's, who came out to the carriage and took Mother and Sunny Boy both in her arms at once.
"You're Grandma," said Sunny Boy.
It was Grandma Horton, and she remembered Sunny Boy without a bit of trouble; though, as he had been only two weeks old the last time she had seen him, he could not be expected to remember her.
"And this is Araminta," said Grandma, drawing the little red-haired girl forward. "She is my right hand in the house. You recall Jimmie, Olive?"
Jimmie was the young man holding the horses. He came and shook hands with Mrs. Horton, blushing a little, and chucked Sunny under the chin. Then he took the team away to the barn, and Mother and Sunny Boy and Grandpa and Grandma Horton and Araminta went in to supper.
They had wonderful fresh foamy milk to drink, and hot biscuits and cold ham for the grown-ups. Sunny Boy was not expected to eat those—not at night. There were baked apples, too, and honey and cookies. Sunny, seated before a bowl of bread and milk, held a cookie in his hand and wondered what was the matter with the hanging lamp with the pretty red shade. It swung up and down like a train lantern.
"He's sleepy," he heard some one say. It sounded like Araminta.
He opened his eyes as wide as he could make them go, tried to take another bite of cookie and made one last desperate effort to smile. The smile ran into a yawn, and Sunny Boy gave up and tumbled, a tired little ball of weariness, into Mother's lap.
He never knew who carried him upstairs, or when he was undressed. So, waking in the morning to find the sun shining in four windows at once, and Mother in her blue dressing gown brushing her hair, he was a bit surprised.
"Hello!" said Mother gayly. "How do you think you are going to like the country?"
"Are the chickens up?" asked Sunny Boy.
"Hours ago. Mr. Rooster crowing under our window woke me up at five o'clock," replied Mrs. Horton. "I heard Jimmie bring in the milk a few minutes before you sat up. And if you want to ride into town with him after the trunk—"
Sunny Boy jumped out of bed and fairly galloped with his dressing. He insisted on using the wash bowl and pitcher, though there was a nice white bathroom down the hall, because a wash bowl and pitcher were new to him. Just as he had finished brushing his hair, Araminta rapped at the door to tell them breakfast was ready.
In the dining room Sunny Boy met another member of the family. Lying on a rug in the corner was a shaggy brown and white collie that rose as they came in and, coming over to Mrs. Horton, laid a beautiful pointed nose in her lap.
"We shut him in the barn last night, because we thought you'd be too tired to stand his barking," said Grandma. "His name is Bruce, and he is very gentle. Don't be afraid of him, Sunny Boy."
The collie went back to his rug while they were at breakfast, but when Jimmie and Sunny Boy started for the door he got up to follow them.
"Is he going, too?" asked Sunny Boy.
"He never goes off the farm," answered Jimmie. "He'll follow us to the end of the lane and then go back. Hop in lively, now, for we're late as it is."
Jimmie had harnessed Peter to a wagon that had only one high seat. In back of this were two cans of milk which Jimmie explained, in answer to Sunny's questions, would be made into butter at the creamery in Cloverways.
"Is Araminta your sister?" Sunny Boy asked him as they jogged along.
"No, she's the tenant farmer's daughter—the man who does the farming for your Grandpa, you know. I work Spring and Summer for him and in Winter I go to the agricultural school. That's where they teach you to be a farmer."
After they left the milk at the creamery they drove down to the station and got the trunk. Sunny Boy told Jimmie about the alarm clock, and he laughed. Then, after stopping at a yellow store with high white steps, where Jimmie bought some groceries for Grandma, they turned Peter's head toward home.
"What are you going to do first?" asked Jimmie, smiling down at his small companion.
"I don't know—what are you?"
"Oh, I have work to do—have to weed the garden this morning. But you have the whole farm to get acquainted with. I'll tell you—if I were you, I'd go down to the brook and play."
"I guess I will," decided Sunny Boy.
Mrs. Horton wanted to unpack the trunk, and when Grandma assured her that the brook was not deep and Sunny Boy promised not to go wading until she should be there, she kissed him and told him to run along and have a good time.
On his way to the brook, Sunny Boy passed Grandpa and Jimmie in wide straw hats working in the garden. Grandpa pointed out the brook to him. It ran through a meadow that came right up to the garden.
"I'll be down and play with you myself as soon as we get this lettuce transplanted," said Grandpa.
Sunny had never had a brook to play in before, and he thought it fine. It was not a very wide brook, but it was very clear, and Sunny Boy could see the pebbles on the bottom. Little darting fish went in and out, hiding under the long grasses that leaned over the edge. Bruce came panting down as Sunny Boy looked at the water, and took a long drink. Then he lay down in the grass, his brown doggie eyes fixed watchfully on his new friend.
"Wonder what that is?" said Sunny Boy to himself.
"That" was a wooden wheel that turned in the water with slow, even jerks, sending out a little spray of rainbow drops that fell back into the water. Sunny Boy got down on his knees to watch it. Quite suddenly, without warning, the wheel stopped turning.
Sunny Boy waited, but it did not turn again. He blew on it gently, and still it did not move. Then he ran over to the big tree nearest him and picked up a stick.
"I'll fix it," he said aloud. "Grandpa'll be surprised if I get it mended 'fore he comes."
Well, as it turned out, Grandpa was surprised, but not as much as Sunny Boy. He leaned over, and jabbed the obstinate wheel with his stick; the dry end of the stake snapped, and Sunny Boy, stick and all, tumbled head-first into the water. In after him leaped a flash of brown and white—good old Bruce!
The water was very cold, and when Sunny had swallowed some of it and shaken some from his eyes, he scrambled to his feet crying bitterly. He thought he was freezing to death. Bruce pulled at his coat and tried to drag him back, and it was his frantic barking that attracted Jimmie's notice. He came tearing across the meadow, followed by Grandpa.
"There—there—you're all right," said Jimmie, as he pulled the little boy out in a jiffy. "Don't cry so, Brother, you're only frightened. How'd it happen?"
"The wheel stopped!" sobbed Sunny Boy. "An' I tried to fix it. I was going to s'prise Grandpa."
"So you did," admitted Jimmie, while Bruce circled around them, barking madly. "Now we'll have to look out that you don't surprise us more by catching cold from this ducking."
Grandpa hurried up to them, his kind face filled with anxiety.
"I brought my coat," he gasped, for he was out of breath from running. "Wrap him in that, Jimmie. Then hustle for the house."
Jimmie carrying Sunny Boy and Grandpa and Bruce following made quite a little procession. Mrs. Horton, who was down at the gate with Grandma inspecting the garden, was startled.
"Sunny Boy!" she cried, and came running toward them. "What happened? Are you hurt?"
"He's all right," Grandpa assured her cheerfully. "Just fell into the brook and got a little damp, that's all. Mercy, Olive, don't look like that—brooks were made for boys to fall into. Why I'd dragged Harry out a dozen times before he was Arthur's age."
Of course Mother and Grandma were relieved and thankful to find it was nothing more serious than a ducking. But they decided that it was safer to rub Sunny Boy briskly with towels and put him to bed to rest.
"You might take cold and be sick a long time, precious," explained Mrs. Horton, as she popped him between the sheets. "You would miss all the Summer fun then. Now close your eyes and Mother will read to you."
And while listening to the adventures of a little Italian boy, Sunny's blue eyes grew heavier and heavier, till he went to sleep.
When he awoke, Mrs. Horton had gone, and the room was empty and quiet. Sunny Boy lay for a time, studying the walls and furniture, for he had been asleep when put to bed the night before and had dressed for breakfast in such a hurry that he had not noticed much of anything. It was a very different room from his blue and white bedroom at home, but a very pleasant, pretty room, too. The wall-paper had gay little pink roses scattered thickly over it, and the furniture was all very large and dark and brightly polished. Sunny Boy did not know it, but the four-posted bed in which he was lying had belonged to his great-grandmother, and would be his own some day.
Presently Sunny Boy tired of lying still and began to be conscious of a funny sensation somewhere down in his ribs. At least he thought it must be his ribs. He remembered that he had had no lunch. Did his grandma expect him to starve at her house?
Sunny Boy got up and found his slippers. The ''fernal 'chine' of an alarm clock was ticking steadily away on the bureau where Mrs. Horton had placed it after unpacking, and with a great deal of trouble and much tracing with a wet forefinger, he made out that it was three o'clock—or was it five o'clock? Three o'clock in the afternoon and no lunch! Sunny Boy felt so sorry for himself that he sat down on the floor and wept a little. He was not quite awake yet, you see, and our troubles often look rather large when we first wake up. In just a minute Sunny Boy stopped crying—he had thought what to do.
Naturally his grandmother would not wish him to go without eating all day, so why not go down and try to find a little chocolate cake, or some of those cookies left from last night's supper? Sunny Boy had not the slightest idea where the pantry was, but he was sure there must be one—every house had a pantry with a cake box in it. So, in his slippers and pink pajamas, he crept out into the hall intent on locating the pantry in Grandma Horton's house.
He met no one on his way downstairs, and the first floor of the house seemed deserted, too. He couldn't know that his mother and Grandma had peeped in at him several times and found him fast asleep, or that now they were on the side porch entertaining a caller. Jimmie and Grandpa were working in the garden again, and Araminta had gone home until it should be time to start supper. This was why Sunny Boy found no one on his path to the pantry. He found it without great trouble, because he kept going until he came to the kitchen, and a kitchen and the pantry are never very far apart.
Grandma's pantry was a beautiful place, shelves and walls and floor a snowy white, and boxes and jars in apple-pie order. There was a large window with a table under it, and there Grandma rolled her cookies and made her pies, but Sunny Boy did not know that yet. He spied a round box that, to his experienced eyes, looked as though it might hold cake.
"I'll get a chair," he said aloud, talking to himself, as he often did. "An' I won't take only a little piece. I wish I was bigger."
He meant taller.
He carried in a kitchen chair and scrambled up on it. His eyes were on a level with the shelf, and there sat two beautiful brown pies beside the cake box. Sunny poked a small, fat finger into the nearest one to taste it. It was very good, though he did not "remember" the taste. My, how soury it was! Grandma had baked two rhubarb pies. But no pie could hold Sunny's attention very long—his heart was set on cake. Standing on his tiptoes, he managed to lift the tin lid of the box when a voice at the door startled him.
"My land of Goshen!" ejaculated Araminta.
Sunny Boy's hand slipped, the lid came down sharply on his fingers, and his other hand swept across the shelf to knock over a brown bowl from which some sticky yellow stuff began to stream.
"Now you've done it!" Araminta told him. "That's the custard pudding for to-morrow's dinner. What in the world are you trying to do, anyway?"
Araminta was not accustomed to finding small boys in pale pink pajamas standing on chairs in her pantry, so no wonder she was surprised. But she was kind, was Araminta, and she helped Sunny Boy down, and did not scold. She got a basin of clean water and a clean cloth and wiped up the pudding and washed Sunny's hands for him.
"I came back an hour earlier than I had to," she told him, "'cause I thought maybe you'd be up and might like to see the chicken yard. No wonder you're hungry if you didn't have any lunch. Your Grandma has some saved for you on a big plate. I guess they don't know you're up. You go and get dressed, and I'll warm it up for you. And don't say anything about knocking over the custard—let 'em think it was the cat."
Sunny Boy was washed and dressed by the time Mother came up again to see if he was awake. She helped him a bit with his hair and straightened his collar and kissed him three or four times and then went down with him to see him eat. Grandma did not call it lunch—they had dinner and supper on the farm.
Sunny Boy had a queer little feeling all the while he was eating and he was so quiet that his mother thought perhaps he was still tired from his tumble into the brook. He went out with Araminta afterward to see the chicken yard, and he almost, but not quite, forgot the queer feeling in watching the hundreds of white chickens and white ducks busily scratching in the yard and drinking water "upside down," as he told Grandpa that night. A chicken, you know, doesn't drink water as you do, but differently. Araminta gave Sunny Boy a handful of cracked corn to throw to the biddies, and they came flocking about his feet, pushing and scrambling so that he was glad when Araminta shooed them away from him. She showed him the nests, too, and in many of them were pretty white eggs. He could gather them some morning, all himself, Araminta told him.
Coming out of the chicken yard they met Jimmie, whistling merrily. He was glad to find Sunny Boy all right after his wetting, and asked him if he did not want to come out to the stable to see Peter and Paul and "the prettiest little fellows you ever saw." Sunny Boy went gladly, but the queer little feeling went, too.
Peter and Paul, it seemed, lived in a house that was called a barn, and were very comfortable. They had each a little room, "box stalls" Jimmie called them, and all the hay they could eat. For breakfast and dinner and supper they usually had corn and now and then some oats. The barn was a delightful place, and Jimmie pointed out the hay mow when Sunny Boy mentioned that Harriet had said that was the place to play on rainy days.
"Not much hay in it now," announced Jimmie, leading the way into another little room. "We start cutting this year's crop next week. Ever seen any one hay?"
Sunny Boy had not, but he forgot to say so, because he found himself looking down on a gentle-eyed collie dog mother with three of the dearest little blind baby puppies you could wish to see. Jimmie explained that Lassie was Mrs. Bruce, and that the puppies would have their eyes open in a day or two.
"And one of them's to be yours—your Grandpa said so," Jimmie went on.
And in spite of that—and what child would not be pleased to have a puppy for his very own?—the queer little feeling still stayed with Sunny Boy. It was like a small lump of lead right down at the end of his throat.
"I'm going up to the house now for the milk pails," announced Jimmie, when they had finished looking at the puppies. "You can come out and watch me milk if you want to."
In the kitchen they found Mother and Grandma.
"Don't let Topaz in," said Grandma, as Jimmie opened the door. "That wretched cat has eaten half my egg custard, and I won't have him in the house again to-night."
Araminta was setting the table in the dining room and did not hear. Sunny Boy gulped a little, but spoke up bravely.
"'Twasn't Topaz, Grandma. I knocked the custard over, looking for cake. I didn't mean to, but my hand slipped."
Then how he did cry!
But when the whole story had come out, and Grandma had hugged him, and had said not to mind, that she could make another pudding in a minute; after Mother had whispered to him that while it was naughty to help oneself to cake without asking, it was much worse to let the kitty-cat be blamed, and had kissed him and assured him she was sure he would not do it again; after Araminta had given him a pink peppermint—after all this, and Sunny Boy was on his way to the barn with Jimmie to watch the milking, do you know, that queer little feeling had entirely disappeared!
A LETTER FROM DADDY
"My land of Goshen!"
Sunny Boy sat on the fence post waiting for the postman. He was great friends now with the postman who came to the farm, almost as great friends as with the cheerful, gray-uniformed letter-carrier in the city, the one who brought letters to the house with the shining numbers that Harriet faithfully polished.
This postman in the country did not wear a uniform, and he came in a little red automobile that one could hear chug-chugging half a mile away. He did not whistle either, as the city postman did, but he put the letters and parcels into a tin box nailed to a post; then he turned up a little tin flag to say that he had been there, and the farm folk came down to the end of the lane and got the mail. The country postman came only once a day, instead of the three times Sunny Boy was used to seeing the city postman, but that really made it more exciting.
"My land of Goshen!" said Sunny Boy again. He was rather proud of that expression, and used it as often as he could.
"I don't think you ought to say that," Araminta had reproved him the first time she heard him.
"But you say it," argued Sunny Boy.
"Well, that's no reason why you should," retorted Araminta, who, like many grown-ups, did not always practice what she preached. "Anyway, I'm going to stop saying it when I'm fifteen."
"Maybe I will, too," promised Sunny Boy blithely. And that was the best Araminta could hope from him.
"My land—" began Sunny for the third time, but the red automobile of the postman came to a sliding stop beside the box, and fortunately interrupted him.
"Hello Blue Jeans!" called the postman, who found a new name for Sunny Boy every day. "How do you like farming now? Am I to give the mail to you, or put it in the box?"
This was an every day question. The postman pretended to be very much surprised when Sunny Boy said he would take the mail, and he always handed it out a piece at a time, so that Sunny never knew how much was coming.
"There's two for your grandfather," counted the postman, handing them to his small friend standing on the running board. "And that's for your grandmother. Here's the Cloverways' weekly paper for the whole family. My, my, one—two—three—five seven letters, all for your mother. And a box, too. Is that all? Yep, guess that's all to-day."
Sunny Boy got down from the running board and the postman started his car slowly.
"Oh, Mr. Corntassel!" the postman called suddenly. "Here's another. I declare, I must be getting old, or need glasses, or something. If there isn't a letter addressed to you and I came within one of taking it back to the post-office with me!"
He gave Sunny Boy another letter, and this time drove off without stopping.
"My land of Goshen!" said Sunny Boy, who was using Araminta's pet expression far more often than she did. "Such a heap of letters. Maybe mine's from Daddy."
He found Mrs. Horton in the porch swing, sewing. She had to kiss the seven new freckles on his nose before she could read her mail, and then Sunny Boy had to trudge about and find Grandpa and Grandma and deliver their letters to them. He felt quite like a postman himself, though it is doubtful if real postmen have sugar cookies and peppermints paid to them for each letter they bring. So by the time Sunny Boy got around to having his own letter read to him, Mother had finished hers and had opened her box.
"See what Daddy sent us," she said, holding up the package for him to see. In the box were two balls of pink wool and four of dark blue.
"Now I can make you a sweater," explained Mrs. Horton. "The pink is for a scarf I am finishing for Aunt Bessie. By the way, I had a letter from her, dear, and she sends her love, and so does Harriet."
"All right," agreed Sunny Boy briefly. "Could you read this now, Mother?"
"Why, it's from Daddy!" cried Mother, taking the crumpled envelope Sunny Boy drew from his pocket. "Did you wait till you gave every one else his mail, precious? Well, listen—"
"Dear Sunny Boy," said Daddy's letter. "So you fell into the brook! Don't tell Jimmie, but I did the same when I was just about as tall as you are. Grandma fished me out—only she wasn't Grandma then.
"Don't go fishing till I come up, for you might catch them all and leave none for me. One week from the day you're reading this I'll be at Brookside. Hope you and Jimmie and Peter and Paul will come to meet me. Mother, too, if she likes, and Grandpa and Grandma and Araminta and Bruce, if they're going to be real glad to see me. You seem to have a lot of friends. Brookside always was a mighty fine place for small boys—like you and me.
"Can't write more now because a man wants to talk to me—at least he is ringing my telephone bell and won't stop. Love to you and Mother from—DADDY."
Whenever Sunny Boy was pleased he made a little song to sing. He did so now, skipping out to the garden where Grandpa was generally to be found.
"Daddy's coming! Daddy's coming! Next week! Pretty soon," sang Sunny Boy to a tune of his own. "Jimmie, where's Grandpa? Daddy's coming next week, pretty soon!"
"Well don't walk all over the cabbage plants if he is," said Jimmie, who was busy and did not like to be interrupted. "I think your grandfather is down with Mr. Sites looking at the mowing machine. They're down in the south meadow."
Sunny Boy knew his way about the farm as well as Jimmie by this time. He knew the pretty brown cow, Mrs. Butterball and her long legged calf, Butterette; and he was fast friends with Peter and Paul and the dogs. Sunny had named his puppy Brownie. He knew most of the chickens and ducks by names of his own, and he had held a little squirmy lamb in his arms for a minute, with Jimmie helping. He was going fishing, when Daddy came; and he was going up into the woods the first time some one had a moment to take him. Then he would have been all over the farm.
Still singing to himself, he trotted down to the south meadow and found Grandpa and a strange man talking earnestly together.
"Look out! Stay where you are!" called the strange man suddenly. "Back, Bruce, back!"
Sunny Boy stopped instantly. So did Bruce, who had followed him. Neither the little boy nor the dog could see why they should be shouted at, but they obeyed without question. And in a minute they saw a very good reason why. The stranger talking to Grandpa bent down and lifted a handle on a queer looking machine, and right out of the grass—where no one could have seen it—rose a long ugly thing that looked like a big saw.
"All right, Sunny Boy!" called Grandpa.
"What is it?" asked Sunny, eyeing the long saw curiously.
"It's the mowing machine. We're going to cut hay with it presently," answered Grandpa. "Sites, this is Harry's son."
Mr. Sites shook hands with Sunny Boy, smiling down at him cheerfully.
"You don't say!" he drawled. "Well, youngster, your father and I went to school together. When's he coming up? I'd like to see him again."
"Daddy's coming next week, pretty soon," sang Sunny Boy, capering about the mowing machine joyously. "He wrote me a letter. May I sit on it, Grandpa?"
Sunny meant the seat of the mowing machine, and Grandpa lifted him in and held him while Mr. Sites harnessed up a pair of fat white horses and Mr. Hatch appeared from somewhere. Sunny Boy was acquainted with Mr. Hatch. He was Araminta's father and did most of the farming for Grandpa. The Hatches lived in a yellow house down the road, and Araminta had six little brothers and sisters with whom Sunny sometimes played. So you see he was not lonely.
"Now we'll go over to the fence," said Grandpa, lifting him down, "and watch how the grass is cut. That saw-thing is the knife, and you must never go near a mowing machine unless you can see the knife sticking up. Little boys and dogs, and even men, can be very easily hurt if they are careless and don't watch the knife."
So Grandpa and Mr. Sites and Sunny Boy sat on the fence and Bruce lay down at their feet, while Mr. Hatch rode on the mowing machine round and round the field. The fat white horses did not hurry in the least, but a wide light green path marked where the grass was being cut. Grandpa explained that when the sun had dried this grass it was called hay, and that Peter and Paul liked it to eat and to make their beds of in the winter. He promised Sunny Boy that he should help rake the hay the next afternoon.
Whr-rr! purred the mowing machine as Mr. Hatch turned and the fat white horses came toward them.
"Whoa!" the horses stopped suddenly.
Up came the long saw-knife, and Mr. Hatch jumped down from his seat and bent over, looking at something on the ground.
"He's found something," said Mr. Sites to Grandpa. "Wonder if it is—"
"Hey, Sunny! Sunny Boy! Oh, Sunny Boy!" Mr. Hatch waved his big straw hat wildly. "Come and see what I've got. Make Bruce stay there."
"I'll hold Bruce," said Mr. Sites. "You two go on over. I'll bet a cookie I know what he's found."
Sunny Boy raced over the meadow, dragging Grandpa by the hand. Mr. Hatch had looked very near, but it was a very wide meadow if you tried to run across it.
"Hurry," sputtered Sunny Boy, red in the face with the excitement and heat.
"Am hurrying," grunted Grandpa. "You seem to forget about the bone in my leg!"
But Sunny Boy was too eager to see what Mr. Hatch had found to be sorry even for a grandfather with a bone in his leg.
SUNNY BOY FORGETS
When they reached the horses and the machine, the Something was around on the other side.
"Here, Sunny Boy, here's a sight for you," said Mr. Hatch mysteriously. "What do you think of this?"
Sunny Boy bent down to look. There, in a hole in the ground, half-hidden by the tall grass all about it, were four little furry baby rabbits!
"Bunnies!" and Sunny plunged his two hands down into the middle of that furry bunch.
They snuggled closer, and their soft eyes looked frightened, but they did not try to run away.
"Where's their mamma?" demanded Sunny Boy.
"The mower scared her off," said Mr. Hatch. "Pick one up—you won't hurt it—see, like this."
He lifted one of the baby rabbits and placed it in Sunny's hands. It wriggled uneasily, and he let it fall back into the nest. Mr. Hatch and Grandpa laughed.
"We'll leave them right here," declared Mr. Hatch kindly. "I'll mow around the nest, but not very near, and I guess the mother rabbit will come back to-night. Funny creatures, aren't they? Every year they have a nest in a grass field, and every year I come within an ace of cutting off their noses."
Sunny Boy and Bruce wandered back to the house alone. Grandpa was busy overhauling more machinery with Mr. Sites, and Jimmie was still busy with cabbages. Sunny was used to so much attention that he felt rather put out when Araminta, sweeping the front porch, told him that Mother and Grandma had taken Peter and the buggy and had driven to Cloverways.
"They said I could go next time," grumbled Sunny Boy, not a bit sunnily. "Mother said so. 'Tain't fair."
"Don't say 'tain't," corrected Araminta, who was very careful of Sunny's grammar. "Say it isn't fair. Only it is—how could you go when you were down in the field with your grandpa?"
Sunny Boy felt that if Araminta had deserted him, there was no friend left. He went on into the house and wept a little, curled up in the big leather chair in the sitting room. He felt very sorry for himself.
But even a little boy whose mother and grandmother have gone away and left him can not feel sorry very long when a June breeze is ruffling the white curtains at the window and there is a whole farm ready and waiting for him to come out and play. After a few big raindrop tears and a sniff or two, Sunny Boy wiped his eyes on his "hanky," and decided that he would be brave and cheerful and then perhaps his family would be sorry to think how they had treated him.
He decided to make a kite and go out and fly it, the wind at the window making him think of kite-flying and the sight of a mass of papers on Grandpa's desk in one corner of the room suggesting what to make the kite of. He went over to the desk and climbed upon the chair standing before it.
Ordinarily Sunny Boy had a good memory. He could remember things for Mother and he seldom forgot where he had left his toys, but this morning a strange thing happened—his memory did not work at all. He forgot completely that Mother had told him not to touch other people's things without permission and that books and papers were not to be opened or even unfolded unless one first asked.
Sunny Boy thrust a hand down among the papers on Grandpa's desk and pulled out two nice smooth brown pieces of paper that seemed strong and just exactly right for a kite. For good measure he took a letter or two, and then scurried out to the kitchen for string.
He had never made a kite, but he had often watched the boys in the park at home flying them, and he had a very good idea of how they were made. He had his own bottle of paste Mother had brought for him and he found the kind of sticks he wanted out in the yard. In half an hour he had the papers pasted smoothly over the sticks, a wiggly tail of crumpled papers from the waste-basket tied on, and yards and yards of string wound on a piece of wood. Sunny Boy was ready to sail his kite.
Araminta gave him a cookie and advised him to go down by the brook.
"There's more breeze there," she said. "But for mercy's sake don't fall in again. And come in when you hear me ring the bell."
Sunny Boy trudged down to the brook and started running with his kite as he had seen the boys do, to give it a good start. Up, up, it went, sailing high over his head, the crumpled paper tail wiggling in the wind.
"Jus' as good," said Sunny Boy to himself, "jus' as good."
He meant to say "Just as good as Archie Johnson's," Archie being one of the older boys who played in the park and who sailed elaborate kites. But Sunny had not tied the knots in his string tightly enough, and a strong puff of wind coming by, the cord parted and away sailed the kite, over the brook and into the woods!
"Ding-ling! Ding-ling! Ding-a-ling!" rang Araminta's bell.
It is often a good thing to be too busy to cry. Sunny Boy might have felt bad over the loss of his kite—indeed he watched it out of sight—but if he meant to cry the sound of the bell changed his mind. Instead, he ran up to the house as fast as he could go, and found Mother and Grandma waiting for him.
"Did you miss us?" asked his mother. "We knew you were having a good time, dear. Grandma has brought you a lolly-pop. What have you been doing to get so sun-burned?"
"Flying kites," stated Sunny Boy. "Thank you, Grandma. We found bunnies down in the field."
Grandpa came on the porch then, his glasses pushed up on his forehead.
"Mary, Olive, have either of you seen anything of those two five hundred dollar bonds I had on my desk?" he said anxiously. "They were there this morning, and when I came in from the mowing I couldn't find them. Have either of you used my desk?"
"No, Father," said Mrs. Horton.
"No, Arthur," said Grandma. "I'm sure Araminta hasn't been near the desk, either. Sunny, you weren't in the sitting room this morning, were you?"
"Yes, I was," chirped Sunny Boy.
"But you didn't see anything of Grandpa's bonds—his nice beautiful, Liberty Bonds, did you, dear?" asked Mrs. Horton.
"Well," Grandpa sighed, and turned to go in, "I'll look more thoroughly, of course. But they're gone—I'm sure of it. I had no business to be so careless. They should have been in the bank a week ago. They might have blown out of the window—I'll see that a screen goes in that window to-night."
Sunny Boy put down his lolly-pop and followed Grandpa into the house. He found him seated at the desk, the papers in great confusion all about him.
"Well, Sunny, did you come to help me hunt?" asked Grandpa. "Don't bother your yellow head about it. When you grow up, try to be more careful than your grandfather."
Sunny Boy slipped a warm little hand into Grandpa's.
"I made a kite—with papers," he confessed bravely. "Not Lib'ty Bonds, Grandpa, just papers on top of your desk. I was 'musing myself, and I had to have a kite."
"I see," said Grandpa slowly, and not a bit crossly. "What color paper, dear? White?"
"No, brown," replied Sunny Boy eagerly, sure now that he had not taken the missing bonds. "Just brown, Grandpa, and two old letters."
"Yes, I've copies of those—they don't matter," said Grandpa. "But we'd better get that kite, Namesake, because you've pasted my bonds on it, and a thousand dollars is a bit too expensive a kite even for my one and only grandson."
"But it flew off!" Sunny Boy began to cry. "The string broke, an' it went over the brook into the woods."
Mrs. Horton, coming into the sitting room to remind Sunny Boy to wash his face and hands before dinner, found her little boy crying as though his heart would break in Grandpa's arms.
"What in the world—" she began.
"There—there—it's all right," soothed Grandpa. "We're in a peck of trouble, Olive, because we took some papers from Grandpa's desk to make a kite with and now they turn out to be two Liberty Bonds. And the kite—like the pesky contrivance it is—got away and is hiding somewhere in the woods. But we're going out right after dinner and hunt for it, aren't we, Sunny Boy?"
Sunny Boy felt Mother's kind hand smoothing his hair.
"Oh, my dear little boy!" said Mother's voice. "My dear little son! How could you? Didn't you know how wrong it was to touch a single thing on Grandpa's desk?"
"I forgot," said Sunny Boy in a very little voice.
"Why I wouldn't have believed that my Sunny Boy could forget," grieved Mother. "And now Grandpa's money is lost! And Daddy coming next week! What will he say?"
"We're going to find it long before Daddy comes," said Grandpa stoutly. "Right after dinner we're going over to the woods. Sunny can remember about where he thinks the kite fell. Cheer up, Olive—we're sorry we didn't remember about 'hands off' when other people's property is about, but every one forgets once in a while. And I was careless—I'm as great a sinner as Sunny. And now forgive us both before we're quite drowned in our tears."
Mother and Sunny Boy had another little cry all to themselves upstairs and he told her that never, never would he touch anything that did not belong to him again without first asking. Then they both bathed their faces in clear cold water and felt better. No one mentioned bonds at dinner, and there was strawberry short-cake which Sunny Boy declared was as good as his favorite chocolate ice cream. And right after dinner he and Grandpa went out to hunt for the lost kite.