THE CURLYTOPS AND THEIR PETS OR Uncle Toby's Strange Collection
BY HOWARD R. GARIS
AUTHOR OF "THE CURLYTOPS SERIES," "UNCLE WIGGILY SERIES," "BEDTIME STORIES," ETC.
Illustrations by JULIA GREENE
NEW YORK CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY
THE CURLYTOPS SERIES By HOWARD R. GARIS 12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.
THE CURLYTOPS AT CHERRY FARM Or, Vacation Days in the Country
THE CURLYTOPS ON STAR ISLAND Or, Camping Out With Grandpa
THE CURLYTOPS SNOWED IN Or, Grand Fun With Skates and Sleds
THE CURLYTOPS AT UNCLE FRANK'S RANCH Or, Little Folks on Ponyback
THE CURLYTOPS AT SILVER LAKE Or, On the Water With Uncle Ben
THE CURLYTOPS AND THEIR PETS Or, Uncle Toby's Strange Collection
CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, New York
COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY
THE CURLYTOPS AND THEIR PETS Printed in U.S.A.
I UNCLE TOBY'S LETTER 1
II AN AUTOMOBILE RIDE 14
III THE QUEER OLD LADY 28
IV UNCLE TOBY'S PETS 40
V TIP AND TOP 52
VI WHERE IS TIP? 65
VII A FUZZY BURGLAR 79
VIII SLIDER GOES SLIDING 92
IX MRS. JOHNSON'S BABY 104
X MR. CAPPER'S BUNS 116
XI TOP ACTS STRANGELY 128
XII MR. NIP'S ALARM 141
XIII THE HAND-ORGAN MAN 154
XIV TURNOVER AND SKYROCKET 166
XV PLANNING THE CIRCUS 182
XVI TOP IS GONE 193
XVII THE DOG SHOW 203
XVIII THE BLACK POODLES 212
XIX A HAPPY REUNION 221
XX THE CURLYTOPS' CIRCUS 231
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
ONE OF THE TRICKS WAS TO RUN AND JUMP THROUGH A PAPER HOOP. "The Curlytops and Their Pets." Page 240
THE SECOND DOG BEGAN TURNING SOMERSAULTS. "The Curlytops and Their Pets." Page 50
SLIDER WENT SLIDING DOWN THE SMOOTH SLANTING BOARD. "The Curlytops and Their Pets." Page 102
JACK MADE ONE LEAP AND LANDED SAFELY IN TEDDY'S ARMS. "The Curlytops and Their Pets." Page 174
THE CURLYTOPS AND THEIR PETS
UNCLE TOBY'S LETTER
"What you going to put on your ship, Ted?"
"Oh, swords and guns and gunpowder and soldiers. What you going to load on your ship, Jan?"
"Oranges and lemons and pineapples," answered the little girl, who was playing with her brother at sailing boats in the brook that ran back of the house. "And maybe I'll have gold and diamonds and chocolate cake on my ship, Teddy," went on Janet Martin.
"If you do I'll be a pirate and sink your ship! Oh, Jan, let's play that! I'll be a pirate!"
Teddy Martin jumped up so suddenly from the bank of the brook, where he was loading his ship with what he called "swords, guns and gunpowder," that he tipped the vessel over and the whole cargo was spilled into the water.
"Oh, look what you did!" cried Janet. "Your gunpowder will be all wet!"
"I'm not ready to play the pirate game yet," explained Teddy. "Anyhow, I can get more powder."
This would be easy enough, it seemed, as the children were only pretending that stones, pebbles and bits of sticks were the cargoes of their toy ships, and, as Teddy had said, he could easily get more stones. The brook was filled with them.
"Where are you going?" Janet called after her brother, as she saw him hurrying toward the house, which was out of sight behind the trees and bushes that grew on the edge of the brook.
"I'm going to get a black flag so I can be a pirate and sink your ship with gold, diamonds and chocolate cakes on!" answered Teddy over his shoulder as he ran on.
"I—I don't guess I want you to be a pirate," said Janet slowly, as she looked at her ship, on which the pebbles, stones and bits of wood were neatly arranged in piles. "I'm not going to play that game! I don't want you to be a pirate, Ted! It's too scary!"
But her brother was beyond the reach of her voice now, hurrying toward the house after his "black pirate flag." Janet shoved her ship out from the shore—her ship laden with diamonds, gold and chocolate cakes. Of course it was not a real ship. The Curlytops would not have had half as much fun with real ships as they were having with the pieces of boards which they were making believe were steamers and sailing vessels.
"I'll sail my ship away down to the end of the brook before Ted gets back to be a pirate," said Janet to herself, as, with a long stick, she directed the flat board which was piled high with brook-pebbles. "Then when he comes back he can't sink it."
Janet pushed her ship slowly at first, and then a little faster, moving it along by means of the stick while she stood on the bank. Then, hearing a noise in the bushes behind her, she thrust harder on the stick.
"I don't want Teddy to pirate my ship!" she thought. "I'll fool him! I'll sail it around the bend, and then I'll hide behind the big buttonball tree and he won't know where I've gone!"
In order to do this Janet wanted to make her ship go as fast as possible, so she shoved harder and harder on the stick. And then, all of a sudden, her ship upset.
With a splash the stones, pebbles and bits of wood went into the brook. The whole cargo was sunk and lost as surely as if Ted's pirate vessel had captured that of his sister. That is, everything sank but the ship itself and the cargo of little sticks, some of which Janet was pretending were chocolate cakes. Even at that, I suppose, the chocolate cakes would be wet and soggy. And soggy chocolate cake isn't good to eat. The best thing you can do with it is to make it into a pudding.
"Oh, Ted! look what you made me do," cried Janet sadly, as she saw the ship, which she had loaded with such care, capsized and cleared of its cargo. "It's all your fault!"
And then she started in surprise as a babyish voice replied:
"I 'idn't do nuffin! I 'ust comed! What's matter, Jan?"
"Oh, it's you, is it, Trouble?" asked the girl, as she turned and saw, instead of Teddy, her smaller brother William, more often called "Trouble," because he was in it so often.
"Yep! Me is here!" announced Trouble. Sometimes he talked more correctly than this, and his mother had told Janet and Teddy to try to cure him of his baby talk and the wrong use of words. But Ted and Jan thought it was "cute" to hear Trouble say queer things, so they did not mend his talk as often as they might.
"I thought you were Ted," went on Janet. "Did you see him? He went up to the house to get a flag."
"Flag," returned Trouble, in a questioning voice. "Goin' to be soldiers an' have a 'rade?" He meant parade, of course.
"No, we aren't going to have a parade now, Trouble," said Janet. "Ted went to get a black flag to be a pirate, so he could sink my ship that was loaded with diamonds, gold and chocolate cakes."
"I want chocolate cake—two pieces!" demanded Trouble, who had ears only for the last words of his sister.
"There wasn't any chocolate cake—really, dear," explained the little girl, as she ruffled up her curly hair. "Ted and I were just pretending. He is going to have a pirate ship. I didn't want him to get mine, so I was shoving it hard down the brook, but I made it go too fast and it upset. Now I've got to load my ship all over again."
"I want s'ip!" demanded William, as Jan began to guide her empty vessel back to shore by means of the long stick. "Trouble have a s'ip?" he asked.
"Yes, you may have a ship, and play with us," Janet said, and as she was looking about for a board which might serve her little brother to play with, she heard someone coming through the bushes.
"I guess this is Ted," thought Janet. "Anyhow he can't sink my ship now. I did it myself."
It was her older brother, and he now came bursting through the shrubbery that lined the bank of the brook, holding in his hands a piece of black cloth.
"I got the pirate flag!" cried Teddy. "Whoop-la! Now I'm going to sink your ship! Why, what happened?" he asked, as he saw that Janet's craft was empty. "Did Trouble upset it?"
"No, I did it myself," Janet answered. "But I didn't mean to. I was trying to hide it from you, 'cause I don't want you to be a pirate and upset my ship full of chocolate cakes."
"Oh, I must be a pirate! Here's the black flag and I must be a pirate!" shouted Teddy. "Whoop! I'm a pirate! I'm a pirate!"
"Hoo! Hoo! Hoop!" yelled Trouble, trying to make as much noise as his brother.
"You sound more like an Indian than you do a pirate," said Janet, as she began to pile more pebbles on the board that was her ship.
"Well, Indians and pirates are 'most the same," declared Teddy. "Wait till you see my ship, with swords and guns and powder! It will blow your ship out of the water, and I'll have a black flag on it and everything! Whoop!"
"I'm not going to play if you upset my ship, now there!" and Janet pouted her lips and ceased loading pebbles aboard her craft.
Teddy, who was cutting a flagstaff with his knife, stopped to look at her. If Janet was going to act this way, and not send out her ship, there was no use in being a pirate. What fun could even a make-believe pirate have if there were no ships to sink?
Teddy thought of this, and then he said:
"All right, Jan, I won't be a pirate if you don't want me to. But I'll have a black flag, anyhow, and maybe I'll be a pirate some other time. Let's have a race with our ships—see which one gets to the water-wheel first."
"Yes, I'll do that," agreed Janet.
At the lower end of the brook she and Teddy had built a little dam, and where the water flowed over the top, like a tiny Niagara Falls, Teddy had fastened a wooden paddle wheel which turned as the water flowed on it.
"Me want a s'ip!" wailed Trouble, as he saw his brother and sister getting their vessels ready for the race.
"Can't you give him a piece of board for his ship, Ted?" asked Janet. "If we don't he'll get in our way and spoil the race."
"Here, Trouble, take this," and Teddy paused long enough in his work of loading pebbles on his ship to toss his little brother a small chip he picked up off the shore.
"Hu! I want bigger s'ip 'n' him!" declared Trouble, with a grunt. Then he arose and toddled off through the bushes. Teddy and Janet were so busy getting their own vessels ready for the coming race that they paid no more attention to their small brother. And Trouble was going to get into trouble—you may be sure of that.
"Don't put too many stones on your ship, Jan," called Ted to his sister, as he saw that she was piling on the pebbles.
"Why not?" she asked.
"'Cause you'll make it so heavy that it won't sail fast. Course I want to beat you," Ted went on, "but I want to beat you fair."
"Oh, thank you," Janet answered. "But these aren't stones I'm loading on my ship this time."
"What are they?" asked Ted.
"Feathers," his sister answered. "I'm making believe the stones are feathers, and I'm going to sell them to make pillows for dolls. My ship won't be too heavy!"
"Hu!" grunted Ted, as he placed the pebbles carefully on the middle of his ship, so it would not turn over. "Stones are heavy, whether you make believe they're feathers or not. Don't put too many on, I'm telling you!"
"All right, I won't," agreed Janet.
The boy and the girl went on with their game, and they were almost ready to start their ships off on the race when there was a racket in the bushes back of them. It was a bumping, banging sound that Ted and Janet heard, then followed the bark of a dog.
"That's Skyrocket!" said Ted.
A moment later came a voice, calling:
"Whoa-up! Don't go so fas'! You is spillin' me!"
"That's Trouble!" declared Janet.
They were both right. A moment later there burst through the bushes the little boy and the dog. The dog was Skyrocket, and he was made fast to a box which he was dragging along by a rope tied around his neck. Trouble was holding to the rear of the box, and in his eagerness to pull it along Skyrocket was also dragging Trouble, "spillin'" him, in fact—that is, pulling Trouble off his feet every now and then.
"Why, William! what are you doing?" asked Janet. Trouble was hardly ever called by his right name of William unless he had done something wrong.
"Were you trying to have Skyrocket ride you in that box?" asked Teddy. "If you were, he can't. Sky can't pull you in that box unless it has wheels on it. Then it's a wagon."
"Don't want wagon—dis my s'ip!" announced the little fellow, as he began to loosen the rope from the dog's neck. But as soon as Trouble started to do this, Skyrocket, who loved the children, began to lick William's face with a red tongue.
"'Top it! 'Top it!" commanded Trouble, but Skyrocket only licked the more.
"Oh, Ted, unfasten Sky, or he'll eat Trouble up!" laughed Janet.
"Are you going to sail that big box for your ship, Trouble?" asked Ted, as he loosed the dog.
"Yep! Dis box my s'ip," announced the small boy. "I sail it!"
"Well, don't sail it near ours or you'll upset our ships—yours is so much larger, dear," begged Janet.
"I be ca'eful!" Trouble promised. "I find this big box for my s'ip in kitchen, an' Sky drag it here for me!"
"Yes, Skyrocket is a good dog," said Ted. "Hi there! Don't wag your tail so near my ship, or you'll upset her before I beat Jan in the race!" shouted Teddy, as the dog, in his joy at being with the Curlytops, nearly spoiled their plans for having fun.
"Here! Go chase that!" cried Ted, tossing a stick far down the brook. And as Skyrocket splashed into the water after it, a loud whistle was heard across the field on the other side of the brook.
"There's the postman!" called Janet.
"Yes, he's coming here, and he's got a letter in his hand," announced Teddy. "He's taking the short cut."
Sometimes the mail carrier came across the lots near the Martin home, as he was doing on this occasion. The Curlytops ceased the loading of their ships long enough to run and meet the carrier.
"There's a letter for your mother," the postman said, as he handed the missive to Ted. "Don't drop it in the brook."
"I won't," promised the boy. "I wonder who the letter is from?" he went on, as the postman continued over the lots to his next stopping place, blowing his whistle on the way.
"Any mail, children?" called a voice.
"There's mother, now!" said Janet.
"Yes, here's a letter," called Ted. His mother had walked down to the brook from the house, along the back path, to see what her Curlytops and Trouble were doing.
Mrs. Martin opened and read the letter as Ted and Janet went back to their play, and as she turned the pages she gave an exclamation of wonder.
"What is it?" asked Ted, looking up as he placed the last pebble on his ship.
"This is a letter from your Uncle Toby," said Mrs. Martin, "and there is strange news in it. I wonder what it means? This is very queer!"
She started to read the letter again, but at that moment Janet cried:
"Oh, look at Trouble! Just look at him! He's sailing away down the brook! Oh, he'll be drowned!"
AN AUTOMOBILE RIDE
Mrs. Martin dropped the letter from Uncle Toby. It fluttered to the ground as she hastened down the bank of the brook in which Trouble was sailing away, aboard the small box he had brought to play with as his "s'ip."
"William! William Anthony Martin! Come right back here!" called Mrs. Martin. "Come back!"
Poor William would have been glad enough to do this, but he could not. He had stepped into the box, shoved it out from shore with a pole as he had seen Janet poling her tiny ship along, and then the current of the stream had carried poor Trouble away. He was floating down the brook, which was quite deep in some places.
"Oh, Trouble! Trouble! What shall I do?" cried his mother.
"I'll run up to the house and get the rake, and we can hook it on the edge of his box and pull him out!" shouted Janet.
"I'll get him myself!" called Ted, and, not thinking that he had on his shoes and stockings, into the water he dashed, following after the floating box in which Trouble was riding. As for the little fellow himself, he had been overjoyed, at first, when he found that he was afloat. But as the water came leaking through the cracks in the box Trouble became frightened.
"Oh, Momsie! Come an' det me! Come an' det me!" he wailed.
"Mother's coming!" called Mrs. Martin, as she caught up a long stick and, running along the edge of the brook, tried to reach out and hook it over the side of the box-ship in which William was sailing away.
And while the mother, brother and sister of the little chap are going to his rescue, I will take just a moment or two and tell you something about the Martin children, and why they are called the "Curlytops."
The reason for the odd, pretty name is not hard to find. It was in their hair—they had the cutest, curliest curly hair that ever grew on the heads of any children anywhere in the world. So it is no wonder they were called "Curlytops."
Some of you were introduced to them in the first book of this series, "The Curlytops at Cherry Farm," which told of their adventures in the country.
After that they had more adventures on "Star Island," where they went camping with Grandpa. The fun on the island was wonderful, even more wonderful were their adventures when they were "Snowed In" and when the Curlytops went to Uncle Frank's ranch, and rode on ponyback. Ted, Janet and Trouble thought they had never seen such good times in all their lives. They helped solve a strange mystery, too.
The book just before this one that you are reading is named "The Curlytops at Silver Lake," and in that you may learn what Ted, Janet and Trouble did when they went on the water with Uncle Ben, and how they helped capture some bad men.
The summer had been filled with adventures, and there were some good times in the winter that followed. Now it was summer again, and the Curlytops were ready for more fun.
Mr. Richard Martin was the father of the Curlytops. He was a storekeeper in the city of Cresco, in one of our eastern states. There were just three of the Curlytops, Theodore Baradale, Janet and William Anthony Martin. But Theodore was nearly always called Ted or Teddy, Janet's name was shortened to Jan and William answered to the call of Trouble as often as to any other.
In addition to the children there was Skyrocket, the dog, and Turnover, the cat. The cat was called that name because she had a trick of lying down and rolling over when she wanted something to eat. There had also been Nicknack, a goat, and Clipclap, a pony, but these had been sent away for a time, and the dog and cat were the only pets the children had at present. But they were soon going to have more, as I will tell you presently.
It was a warm, pleasant, sunny day when Ted and Jan went down to the brook to play that pieces of boards were their "ships." Then Trouble had joined them, and, just after the mail carrier left the strange letter from Uncle Toby, Trouble had, as usual, gotten into trouble.
Janet and Teddy were not quite certain who Uncle Toby might be. They had heard of him, once or twice, as a distant relative of their father or their mother, but they had not seen him in a number of years. They only dimly remembered him as an old man who lived in a city about fifty miles from Cresco, but they had not visited him in some time.
Just now the plight of Trouble so filled the minds of Ted and Jan that they had no thought for Uncle Toby or his strange letter. Nor did Mrs. Martin give any heed to the missive she had dropped.
"Be careful, Teddy!" she called, as she saw her older son splashing his way through the water. "Don't fall!"
"I—I won't, Mother! Not if—if I—I can help——"
But just as Teddy got that far he stumbled on a round stone in the brook, and down he went with a splash!
"Oh, he'll be drowned!" screamed Janet, who was following her mother along the bank of the brook, while Trouble was out in the middle in his leaking, packing-box ship that Skyrocket had pulled to the stream for him. The dog, who had found the stick which Teddy threw, had rushed back, and was now barking as loudly as he could.
But the water was not deep enough to drown Teddy. It, however, made him very wet. Up he rose, dripping all over, and gasping for breath.
Mrs. Martin paused only long enough to look back and see that Teddy was all right, and then hurried along, trying to pull toward her, with the long stick, the floating box and her little son.
"Det me out! Det me out! I is all wet—I is!" cried Trouble. "My hoots is all wet!" Sometimes the letter "f" bothered him, and he put an "h" in its place, as saying "hoots" for "foots." Of course neither word was right, but who minded a thing like that when poor Trouble was in such a plight?
"I'll get him!" cried Teddy, as he caught his breath. Then he wiped some of the water from his face, and dashed on down the brook. But by this time the packing box, in which Trouble was taking more of a ride than he had counted on, was some distance down the brook. However, Mrs. Martin was keeping alongside of it, though it was beyond even the reach of her long stick.
"If we were on the other side you could reach him and pull him to shore, Mother!" called Janet.
"Oh, I must get over on the other side—but the brook is deep here!" said Mrs. Martin. She was going to forget that, however, and splash in, when the box, by some twist of the current, suddenly floated near the bank along which she was running.
"Grab it—quick!" cried Janet.
"Let me get it—I'm coming!" shouted Teddy, and, indeed, he was splashing his way down the brook, but some distance behind his little brother.
"Oh, det me out! My hoots is awful wet!" wailed the small chap in the packing-box boat.
And just then Mrs. Martin was able to reach out her stick, hook one end of it over the edge of the box and pull it to shore.
"You poor little fellow! Was mother's Trouble frightened to pieces?" murmured Mrs. Martin as she lifted her youngest out of the box, and, never minding his wet feet, hugged him tightly. The packing box drifted off downstream, Skyrocket racing after it and barking as though it was the best joke in the world. "Were you frightened, William?" murmured his mother.
Trouble looked at her, and then at the floating box.
"I had a nice wide, but my hoots is all wet," he announced.
"I should say they were!" laughed Janet, feeling them. "They're soaking wet! But you're all right now, Trouble!"
"And I'm wet, too," said Teddy, coming along just then.
Together they walked back along the edge of the brook, Skyrocket following when he found that no one was going to help him play with the empty box, which floated ashore near the dam Teddy had made.
As she passed the place where she had dropped Uncle Toby's letter Mrs. Martin picked up the fluttering paper.
"I nearly forgot all about this," she said. "Your father will want to know about it. I never heard anything so strange in all my life."
"What is it?" asked Teddy.
"I'll tell you when you have dry clothes on, and we can sit down and talk it over," his mother promised.
And when Trouble, smiling and happy, with a picture book in his hands and dry shoes and stockings on his feet, was safe in a chair, and when Janet and Teddy sat near her, Mrs. Martin read the letter again.
"It is from Uncle Toby Bardeen of Pocono," said the mother of the Curlytops. "At least he is your father's uncle, but that doesn't matter. He is an old bachelor, and lives with a distant relative, a Mrs. Watson, in an old, rambling house."
"Does he want us to come there for the summer vacation?" asked Janet. It was time, so she and Ted thought, to begin thinking of the summer fun.
"No, Uncle Toby doesn't say that," went on Mother Martin, as she glanced over the pages of the letter. "What he wants is for your father to go and take charge of everything that is in the old house—everything, that is, except the housekeeper, Mrs. Watson. She is going off by herself, Uncle Toby says."
"Is Uncle Toby—is he—dead, that he wants daddy to take everything in his house?" asked Janet.
"Course not! How could he be dead and write this letter?" asked Ted.
"Well, maybe he wrote it before he died," Janet suggested.
"No, Uncle Toby isn't dead, I'm glad to say," remarked Mrs. Martin. "But he is going away on a long voyage for his health, he writes, and he wants daddy to come and take charge of everything in the old mansion."
"Do you s'pose there's a gun there I could have?" asked Teddy hopefully.
"I'd like an old-fashioned spinning wheel," said Janet. "Is there one of those, Mother?"
"I wants suffin' to eat!" announced Trouble suddenly, but whether he thought it was to be had at Uncle Toby's house or not, it is hard to say.
Teddy and Janet laughed, and Trouble looked at them with wondering eyes.
"You shall have something to eat, love!" his mother murmured. "I guess your voyage in the packing-box ship made you hungry."
"Do you s'pose Uncle Toby would have a gun?" asked Ted again.
"If there is one in his house you can't have it, my dear," objected Mrs. Martin.
"But I could have the spinning wheel, couldn't I?" asked Janet.
"Yes, I suppose so. But maybe there isn't one," her mother answered.
"If there is we can play steamboat!" cried Ted, getting quickly over his disappointment about a possible gun. "A spinning wheel is just the thing to steer a make-believe steamer with!"
"You're not going to have my spinning wheel for your old steamboat!" declared Janet.
"Hush, children!" their mother warned them. "I haven't the least idea what is in Uncle Toby's house, that he should be so mysterious about it, and be in such a hurry for your father to come and take charge."
"Is Uncle Toby mysterious?" asked Janet.
"Well, yes. He says he hopes the collection will not be too much for us to manage," went on Mrs. Martin, with another look at the letter.
"A collection of what?" Ted wanted to know.
"That's just it—Uncle Toby doesn't say," his mother replied. "We shall have to wait until your father makes the trip to Pocono."
"Oh, may we go?" begged the two Curlytops at once.
"We'll see!" was the way in which Mrs. Martin put them off. "I wish your father were here so we could talk over this queer letter from Uncle Toby."
"I wis'—I wis' I had suffin' t' eat!" put in Trouble wistfully.
"And so you shall have, darling!" exclaimed his mother. "It is nearly time for lunch, and daddy will soon be here. Then we'll see what he says."
And what Mr. Martin said after, at the lunch table, he had read Uncle Toby's letter was:
"What do you think of it?" asked his wife.
"I think it's as queer as he is," said the father of the Curlytops, smiling. "Uncle Toby is a dear old man, but very queer. So he wants me to come and take charge of his 'collection,' does he? It's strange that he doesn't say what his collection is."
"Maybe it's postage stamps," suggested Ted. Once he had started to make a collection like that but he had given it up.
"And maybe it's a collection of—money!" said Janet.
"That would be very fine!" laughed her father. "But though Uncle Toby is well off, I hardly think he has a collection of money lying around his old mansion. However, I suppose I must go and see what it is the queer fellow wants me to take charge of for him."
"May we go?" chorused Ted and Janet again.
"Oh, I suppose so," agreed their father, and this was better than the "I'll see," of their mother.
"Me tum too!" declared Trouble. He never wanted to be left behind.
"We'll all take an auto trip over to Pocono to-morrow and see what Uncle Toby has," decided Mr. Martin.
Accordingly, the next day, Mr. Martin left his manager in charge of the store, and, in the comfortable family automobile, the Curlytops and their father, mother and Trouble—not forgetting Skyrocket, the dog—started off.
It was just as fine a day as the previous one, when Trouble had sailed down the brook. The grass was green, the birds sang, and the wind blew gently in the trees.
"Oh, it's summer, and there's no school and well have lots of fun!" sang Janet.
"Maybe we'll have fun with what we find at Uncle Toby's house," suggested Ted.
And neither of the Curlytops realized how much fun nor what strange adventures were in store for them.
The automobile started down a rather steep hill, and Mrs. Martin, who was on the front seat with her husband, looked back to see that the three children were safe.
"Hold on to Trouble!" she told Janet. "He might bounce out. The road is very rough!"
"Yes, it isn't very safe, either," murmured Mr. Martin. "I hope nothing happens."
Hardly had he spoken than there was a loud bang close behind him. He jammed on the brakes and cried:
"Tire's burst! Hold tight—everybody!"
Then the automobile slid over to one side of the road and Janet cried:
"Oh, Trouble! Trouble!"
THE QUEER OLD LADY
For a little while it seemed as though something serious had happened in the automobile which was taking the Curlytops to Uncle Toby's house. Mr. Martin had all he could do to slow up the machine, bringing it to a stop beside the road, and under a tree. If a tire had burst or been punctured Daddy Martin wanted to be in the shade to fix it.
Mother Martin, holding tightly to the side of the seat when the banging noise sounded, turned to look behind her to see if the three children were all right. She saw Trouble sitting between Ted and Janet, and William was looking at something in his chubby hand.
"What happened?" asked Mrs. Martin. "Were any of you hurt when the tire burst?"
"The tire didn't burst, Mother," answered Teddy.
"Why, I heard it," said Mr. Martin, as he prepared to get out of the machine, which had now come to a stop. "I must have run over a sharp stone or a broken bottle."
"No, it wasn't the tire," said Janet, and she laughed. "It was Trouble's toy balloon. He blew it up too big and it burst."
"That's what it was! And a piece of the rubber hit me in the eye!" laughed Ted.
"My 'loon all gone!" wailed William.
"So that's what it was—a burst toy balloon," said Daddy Martin. "Well, I'm glad it wasn't one of my tires."
"So am I," said Mother Martin. "It is too hot to have to change a tire to-day. Besides, I'm in a hurry to get to Uncle Toby's and see what it is he wants us to take charge of while he is away. I hope he doesn't go until we get there."
"You never can tell what Uncle Toby is going to do," said Mr. Martin, smiling, now that he knew he had no tire to change. "And so you burst your toy balloon, did you, Trouble? Well, I'll have to get you another, but not while we're on this auto ride. I don't want to be frightened again, and I might be if you blew up another balloon and it burst."
"I didn't know he had one with him," remarked Mrs. Martin, as Trouble looked sadly at what was left of his toy.
"I didn't either," Janet said. "All of a sudden he took it out of his pocket and began to blow it up."
"I was makin' be'eve it were a wed soap bubbles," explained Trouble.
"Well, soap bubbles or not, it burst," said Teddy. "It sure did make a noise! But now we can go on. I want to see if Uncle Toby is going to leave any guns."
"And I want a spinning wheel," Janet murmured. "But you can't take it to play steamboat with," she told her brother.
"I shan't want it if I have a gun!" retorted Ted.
"Now, children, be nice," begged their mother.
Daddy Martin started the automobile again, first getting out to look at the four tires, to make sure none was flat, punctured or burst. They were all round, plump and as fat as big bologna sausages.
"Now we go to Uncle Toby. Maybe I get a kittie cat!" said Trouble, when he decided to smile after feeling so bad about his burst balloon.
"A kittie cat!" exclaimed Janet. "Why, we have a lovely cat, Trouble. Don't you like Turnover?"
"Yep! But I 'ikes a kittie cat, too. Maybe Uncle Toby hab one for me!"
"Probably Uncle Toby is too old a man to bother with pet cats," said Mrs. Martin.
But it only goes to show that you never know what is going to happen in this world—sometimes you don't even know what you are going to have for dinner.
Along rolled the automobile, taking the Curlytops nearer and nearer to the city of Pocono, where Uncle Toby lived with his housekeeper, Mrs. Watson. But it was rather a long ride, and, about half way, the party stopped in a little village for lunch.
"Did we bring any lunch with us, or are we going in a place to eat?" asked Ted.
"Oh, I hope we go in a place to eat!" exclaimed Janet. "I like a restaurant, don't you, Ted?"
"Sure!" answered the Curlytop boy.
"Yes, we are going to a restaurant," his mother told them. "Daddy wants to get some oil and gasoline for the auto, too."
"It's sort of feeding the auto, isn't it, Mother?" asked Janet, as they alighted.
"In a way, yes," admitted Mrs. Martin.
A little later the Curlytops were having a fine meal, and when I say the Curlytops I mean also Daddy and Mother Martin, and Trouble. The hair of Mr. and Mrs. Martin did not curl, though it must have done so when they were younger; or else how would Ted and Janet have had such beautiful ringlets? Nor did Trouble's hair curl, though when he was smaller his mother used to wind little ringlets around her finger, hoping he would have locks as pretty as those of Janet and Ted. But, really, the older boy and girl were the only ones who could, truly, be called Curlytops, though I sometimes speak of the "Curlytop family."
So you know, when I say that the "Curlytops" were eating lunch, that all five of them were enjoying their meal. There were several things that Janet, Teddy and Trouble liked to eat, and toward the end of the meal there was a piece of pie for each of them. And it was toward the end of the meal that something happened, and Trouble, as usual, was the cause of it.
Just before the waiter had brought the pie there had sounded, out in the street, the music of a hand organ. No sooner had he heard this than Trouble slipped from his chair (where he had been sitting on a hassock to make him higher) and ran to the window.
"No monkey!" called out the little fellow, after he had stood for a moment with his nose pressed against the pane of glass, making his "smeller," as he sometimes called it, quite flat. "Hand-organ grinder got no monkey!"
Trouble was disappointed. He had hoped to see a little monkey scrambling around to gather pennies in his cap. But this hand-organ player did not have any. And there was nothing much for Trouble to see. So the little fellow came back to the table, but not before he had stopped at the big water-cooler in one corner of the dining room. Trouble paused to watch a waiter turn the shiny little faucet and draw a glass of water for a customer.
"Come and get your pie, William," his mother called to him. She very seldom mentioned him as "Trouble," before strangers. So this time Mrs. Martin called her little boy by his right name.
"Do you want me to eat your pie?" teased Ted.
"No! I eat my own pie!" Trouble exclaimed, and he climbed up into his chair, being helped by his father, next to whom he sat.
The meal was almost over, and Daddy Martin was wondering what his Uncle Toby could want him to take charge of, when Mrs. Martin gave a sudden start, a sort of shiver, and said:
"Why, my feet are getting wet!"
"Your feet wet!" exclaimed her husband. "Surely it isn't raining in here! It isn't even raining outside!" he laughed, as he looked from a window.
"But my feet are damp," went on Mrs. Martin. Then she raised the cloth, which hung down rather low on each side of the table, and glanced at the floor. "There's a big puddle of water under our table!" she cried.
Then Ted looked over toward the big water-cooler in one corner of the restaurant.
"Somebody left the faucet open!" cried Teddy. "The ice water is all running out! No wonder your feet are wet, Mother!"
Mr. Martin hastily left his chair and turned off the faucet, and, as he did so, he looked at Trouble. Something in the face of that youngster caused Daddy Martin to ask:
"William, did you do that?"
"I—I dess maybe I turned it on a 'ittle bit!" confessed the mischievous one.
"A little bit!" cried Janet, as she looked under the table. "Why, there's almost as much water as there is in our brook at home!"
"Oh, not quite so much," said her mother gently. "Though there is enough to have wet through the soles of my shoes. I was wondering why my feet felt so damp and cold. And did Trouble turn on the water? Oh, Trouble!"
All eyes gazed at the little fellow, and he seemed to think he should explain what he had done.
"I 'ist turned de handle a teeny bit," he said, "to make a 'ittle water come out. An' den I fordot 'bout it!"
That was just what he had done. Seeing the waiter draw a glass of water from the cooler had given Trouble the idea that he soon afterward carried out. When he saw no monkey with the hand organ, the little fellow had gone back to his seat and, on the way, opened the faucet so that the water ran out in a little stream. Soon the drip-pan was full and then the water began trickling over the floor. No one noticed it until it had made a little puddle under the table, just at the point where Mrs. Martin's feet were.
"Oh, Trouble! what will you do next?" sighed the little fellow's mother.
"No harm done at all! None whatever!" said the waiter, coming up to the table smiling. "That little water on the floor I will wipe up so quick you will never see it."
"No, it won't hurt the floor much," Mr. Martin said. "And I suppose your shoes will dry out," he told his wife. "But, all the same, William should not have done it."
"I won't do it any more," said the little fellow. "I be good now! I sorry!"
He generally was when he had done something like that. However, as the waiter had said, little real harm was done, and Mrs. Martin's shoes would dry, for it was a hot, summer day.
The meal was finished and they all took their places in the automobile again to finish the ride to Uncle Toby's place, about twenty miles farther on.
Once again Trouble, Ted and Janet sat in the rear seat, while their father and mother rode in front. And this time Trouble had no red balloon which he could blow up, making it burst with a noise like a punctured tire. The children talked among themselves, wondering over and over again what it could be that Uncle Toby wanted their father to come and take charge of.
"Maybe he's got a little boy or a girl from an orphan asylum, and he wants us to take it to live with us," suggested Janet.
"A boy would be all right," decided Ted, as he thought of this. "I could have fun with another fellow."
"And I'd like a girl," said Janet. "I always wished I had a sister."
"Maybe they're twins—a boy and a girl," Ted went on. "That would be fun!"
"What would be fun?" asked his mother from the front seat, where she had heard the talk of the children. She often asked a question like this, as it sometimes stopped a bit of mischief that, otherwise, might happen. "What fun are you talking about?" asked Mrs. Martin.
"Uncle Toby," answered Janet. "I thought maybe what he wanted daddy to take charge of was a little orphan girl."
"And I thought maybe it was a boy," added Ted.
"And then we both thought maybe it was twins—a boy and a girl, and we'd each have someone to play with," went on Janet.
"My! I don't believe Uncle Toby has adopted any orphan children that he wants us to take," Mrs. Martin said. "I can't imagine what he really has, but we'll soon find out."
On and on they rode in the automobile, until, after a while, they reached the small city of Pocono and, a little later, they pulled up in front of Uncle Toby's house. It was a rambling, old mansion that once had looked very nice, but now it was rather shabby and needed painting.
"Here is where Uncle Toby lives," said Daddy Martin. "Do you children remember it?"
"A little," admitted Ted. Neither he nor Janet had been there in years, and Trouble had never visited Uncle Toby.
"I wonder if he's at home," went on Daddy Martin, as he alighted from the automobile.
"There's someone on the porch," said Mrs. Martin. "Oh, it's Mrs. Watson, the housekeeper," she added. "But something seems to be the matter! I wonder what can have happened?"
As Mother Martin spoke a queer little old lady came down off the porch and along the walk, hurrying out to meet the Curlytops, all of whom were now at the front gate.
"Wait! Don't go in! Don't go in!" cried the queer old lady, holding up her hand like a traffic policeman stopping a fast automobile. "Don't go in! They're having a terrible time! Oh, that Mr. Bardeen ever should have gone away and left me to look after 'em! Oh, the trouble I have had! Such trouble! Don't go in! Listen to 'em!"
As she spoke there came strange sounds from the grim old house where Uncle Toby lived! Very strange sounds!
UNCLE TOBY'S PETS
"Listen to that noise!" called Teddy, pausing with his hand on the gate that led into Uncle Toby's yard. "It's two boys having fun. I guess Uncle Toby left two fellows that you can take home and I can have fun with," Teddy added laughingly to his father.
"Two boys! Oh, my goodness!" exclaimed Mrs. Martin.
Just then a shrill scream sounded from within the queer, old house.
"It's girls!" said Janet. "Girls cry just like that when they're having fun! Oh, I'll be glad to have a sister to play with!"
Mr. and Mrs. Martin looked at each other in surprise and wonderment. What could it mean? The queer, little old lady—Mrs. Watson, the housekeeper—murmured again:
"Listen to 'em! I can't do a thing with 'em since Uncle Toby went away. I'm so glad you came to take charge of 'em as he asked you to. You did come for that, didn't you?" she asked eagerly. "You got Uncle Toby's letter, asking you to come and take charge of the collection he left, didn't you?"
"Oh, yes," answered the father of the Curlytops. "We got Uncle Toby's letter all right, and we came to take charge. But——"
"We'd like to know what we are going to take!" interrupted Mrs. Martin. She felt she must say something, with all those queer noises going on in the house.
"Maybe it's babies!" suggested Trouble, as he listened to what seemed to be a crying sound from the old mansion.
"They're worse than babies!" declared Mrs. Watson. "I don't mind children and babies. But these things make so much noise I can't hear myself think. That's why I came out on the steps to sit down and be quiet! Oh, I'm so glad you've come to take charge of 'em!"
"But what are they? You haven't told us what they are," said Mr. Martin, as the screeching, yelling noises kept on sounding from within the house. "Do they always screech like that?"
"Only when they're hungry," said the queer old lady. "And I expect they're hungry now. I just hate to go in to feed them, they make such a fuss, and I'm afraid some of 'em will bite me. Not on purpose you know," she quickly added, "but just because they're so playful and full of fun."
"My dear Mrs. Watson," said Mr. Martin in slow tones, "will you please tell us what it is my Uncle Toby has left for me to take charge of! Is it an insane asylum?"
"Yes, for goodness' sake, please tell us!" begged the mother of the Curlytops.
"Why, I thought you knew!" replied Mrs. Watson, in some surprise. "Didn't Uncle Toby speak of them in his letter?"
"No, he did not say what they were," answered Mr. Martin. "He only mentioned a collection. Please tell us. What is making all that racket?"
"Uncle Toby's pets," was the answer. "Uncle Toby said he was going to leave them to you when he went away on a long trip. He may be gone for several years, and he said he might live the rest of his life in South America, where he is going. So he told me to give you his pets to take charge of. You are to take them, and do as you please with them, though I guess Uncle Toby would like to have you keep them and be kind to them."
"Uncle Toby's pets!" exclaimed Mrs. Martin.
"Is there a dog?" asked Teddy, his eyes shining in delight. "Won't Skyrocket be glad? Do you hear that, old fellow?" went on Teddy, leaning down to pet the dog that had jumped from the automobile and was looking as if in wonder at the house whence came such strange noises. "You're going to have another dog to play with. Uncle Toby did leave a dog, didn't he?" Teddy asked of Mrs. Watson. "I hear a dog barking in the house."
"A dog!" exclaimed the queer little old housekeeper. "He left two dogs, Uncle Toby did!"
"Two dogs!" murmured Mrs. Martin, with a hopeless look at her husband.
"Did he leave a cat?" asked Janet. "I thought I heard one mewing. And Turnover would like another cat to play with."
"Yes, Uncle Toby left you a cat, also," said Mrs. Watson.
Just then shrill screams, barks, squeaks and squawks, all mixed together, seemed to float out of the opened windows of the old house—windows in which were strong wire screens.
"Two dogs and a cat!" exclaimed Mr. Martin. "My dear Mrs. Watson," he went on, as he sat down on the top step of the porch rather limply, "will you please tell us, as fast as you can, just how many and what pets Uncle Toby has left us? We may as well hear the worst at once," he said to his wife. "I never imagined Uncle Toby cared for animal pets."
"Oh, indeed he did," replied Mrs. Watson. "Of late years he grew very fond of animals. All his pets are animals, and he'd have gotten more only I said I wouldn't stay and keep house for him if he brought in what he spoke of last."
"What was that?" Mrs. Martin wanted to know.
"Snakes!" declared the little old lady. "I don't mind monkeys and parrots so much, but I can't bear snakes! They give me the shivers, though Uncle Toby said some snakes do a lot of good in this world, by catching rats and mice. But he didn't bring in any snakes!"
"Do you mean to say he has a parrot?" asked Mr. Martin.
"Don't you hear him?" questioned Mrs. Watson. "Listen!"
As she finished speaking the Curlytops heard a shrill:
"Cracker! Cracker! Give Polly a crack-crack-cracker!"
"Oh, it is a parrot!" cried Janet in delight.
"And is there a monkey, too?" demanded Ted.
"An' a han' ordan! Is dere a han' ordan?" asked Trouble.
"No hand organ, child, no," answered Mrs. Watson. "But there is a monkey, a parrot, two dogs, and a cat, a——"
"Stop! Wait a moment!" begged Mrs. Martin. She took a seat beside her husband on the top step. "I just wanted to sit down before I fainted when I heard the worst," she went on. "Now go ahead, Mrs. Watson. Tell me the rest. I'll have something to lean against in case she tells me there's an elephant."
"An elephant!" cried Janet.
"Oh, I don't mean I want to lean on the elephant," said her mother. "I just want to lean against the piazza post. This is the worst I ever heard of—Uncle Toby leaving us a menagerie!"
"'Tisn't quite as bad as that, though 'tis, almost," said Mrs. Watson. "There isn't an elephant, but there is an alligator."
"An alligator! Oh, that's great!" cried Ted. "Where is it?"
"This is terrible!" declared his mother.
"It's only a little alligator," explained the housekeeper. "He's real friendly, though his tail scratches when he rubs it against your hand as you feed him."
"Anything else?" asked Mr. Martin. "Please go on. We may as well hear the worst. It sounds like a circus that Uncle Toby kept in his house. What else, Mrs. Watson?"
"Well? that's about all, except some white rats and mice and the pigeons. Uncle Toby didn't get the snake he wanted."
"Let us be thankful for that," murmured Mrs. Martin, "though it is bad enough as it is."
"Bad?" cried Teddy. "I think it's jolly! Can't we go in and see Uncle Toby's pets?" he asked.
"They're going to be our pets, aren't they, Daddy?" asked Jan. "Didn't Uncle Toby say you could have them?"
"That's what he said," replied the father of the Curlytops. "But I don't know whether to take him at his word or not. But we may as well go in and look at the—the menagerie!" he said to his wife, with a smile.
"They'll need feeding—the animals will," said Mrs. Watson. "I'm glad you're here to help me. I was staying only until you came. Uncle Toby said you'd be over in a day or two. I'm leaving to-night, now you're here."
"What? And make us take care of all the pets?" cried Mrs. Martin.
"Oh, they're real kind and gentle—every one, even the little alligator," Uncle Toby's housekeeper made haste to say. "And as long as you have children the pets will be just the things for the Curlytops. Only I can't stay much longer. I was just waiting for you. I went outside as it was quieter," she concluded, as, once again, the pet animals set up a screeching, barking and mewing.
"Well, let's get it over with," suggested Mr. Martin. "Maybe they'll be quieter if we feed them. Is there anything in the house for the menagerie to eat?" he asked the little old housekeeper.
"Oh, yes, Uncle Toby always fed them well," she answered. "Oh, I'm so glad you came to take charge of the pets!"
"I don't know whether we are or not," remarked Mrs. Martin. "I suppose, though," she said to her husband in a low voice, as they prepared to enter the house, "we can sell them. We don't have to keep them."
"Yes, I guess that would be best—to sell them," agreed Mr. Martin, but he did not let the Curlytops hear him say this.
Led by Mrs. Watson, the Curlytop party entered the house. As the door was opened the different noises sounded more loudly than before.
The dogs barked—and Ted could now hear the tones of two different animals—the cat mewed, the monkey screeched and chattered, and the parrot cried:
"Give Polly a cracker! Polly wants a crack-crack-cracker!"
"I guess the alligator is the only one that isn't saying anything," remarked Mr. Martin to his wife as they entered. "And I never heard that alligators make a noise."
"Yes they do!" said Janet, eagerly. "I read it in my natural history book. They make a noise like a grunt. At least it's either alligators or crocodiles, I've forgotten which. But one kind bellows like a bull."
"Goodness! Let us hope this one doesn't!" sighed Mrs. Martin. "Who would ever think that Uncle Toby would keep a menagerie!" she murmured.
"I never did," agreed her husband.
"They're all in one big room—a sort of addition to the house. It opens off the dining room," explained Mrs. Watson. "Uncle Toby liked to eat when his pets did, that's why he had 'em so near him in the dining room. I'll show 'em to you."
"Are the pigeons out there, too?" asked Mrs. Martin.
"No, Uncle Toby kept them in the barn," the housekeeper replied. "If you don't want the pigeons, Uncle Toby told me to tell you there's a boy in this same street who will take them. But Uncle Toby said he wished you'd take charge of all the other pets."
"Oh, yes, Mother—Daddy! Let's keep 'em all!" pleaded Janet.
By this time Mrs. Watson had opened the door leading into the extra room that Uncle Toby had built to house his pets. No sooner was the door opened than the noise sounded louder than ever, and several things happened.
"Oh, look at the lovely cat!" cried Janet, as one with very fluffy fur walked forward as though to meet the Curlytops. "It's a Persian, I guess. Oh, I just love a Persian! Turnover is very nice, but I love this one a lot," and she reached down to stroke the beautiful cat that seemed very friendly.
"Oh, look!" suddenly cried Ted. "See! The dogs do tricks!"
As he spoke one white poodle came walking along on his hind legs, with his front paws held in a funny fashion before him.
"Bow wow!" barked the poodle. And then, as if this might be a signal, there suddenly came from the end of the room another white poodle, so nearly like the first that it was difficult to tell them apart.
"Oh, see! More tricks!" cried Ted.
The second dog began turning somersaults. One after another he turned, making his way, in this fashion, to where Ted was patting the head of the poodle that was standing on its hind legs.
"Say! I can have a regular circus with these trick dogs!" cried Ted in delight.
"And my Persian cat can be in it," added Janet.
Just then a cry, as if of fear, came from Trouble. Turning around the Curlytops and others saw a strange sight.
A brown monkey was hanging by its tail from an electric chandelier in the middle of the room, and, thus reaching down, was trying to pull Trouble's cap from the little fellow's head.
"'Top! 'Top it!" shouted William. "Make han'-ordan monkey let my cap alone!" he wailed. And then, with a flutter and a screech, a green and red parrot flew from its perch and landed on Mrs. Martin's shoulder. The pets of the Curlytops were having a lively time!
TIP AND TOP
With the barking of the trick dogs, in which Skyrocket joined, and with the mewing of the Persian cat, the shrieking of the parrot, and the chattering of the monkey, for a time there was so much noise in Uncle Toby's "menagerie," as it was called, that the voices of Mr. and Mrs. Martin could scarcely be heard. But you could hear the voice of Trouble above everything.
"Take him off! Make him 'top!" cried the little fellow. For by this time the monkey, having hung down by his tail from the chandelier, and having taken off Trouble's cap, was now trying to pull the little boy's hair.
"Bad monkey! Make him go 'way!" cried Trouble.
"And I don't like this parrot!" said Mrs. Martin, though, to be sure, the bird was gentle enough. It only sat on her shoulder and shrieked:
"Crack! Crack! Cracker! I'm a cracker-acker!"
"Say, this is great!" cried Ted, as he watched the two dogs, one of which was marching around on his hind legs while the other was turning somersaults.
"Oh, it's terrible!" said Mrs. Martin. "Dick," she called to her husband, "can't you make that monkey stop hurting William?"
"He isn't exactly hurting him, my dear," replied Mr. Martin. "Though I fancy Trouble is a bit frightened. I was going to take that parrot off your shoulder."
"Well, look after William first. He needs it more than I."
Mr. Martin advanced toward the monkey, swinging by his tail from the chandelier, when Mrs. Watson, the housekeeper, said:
"I'll attend to him! I know how to manage Jack if I don't any of the other animals. I found a way to make him behave. Here!" she suddenly cried, catching up a feather-duster and shaking it at the long-tailed creature. "Get back to your cubby-hole, Jack!"
With a shrill chatter the monkey dropped Trouble's cap, which he was trying to make stick on his own head, and a moment later he jumped down from the chandelier and scampered into a box at the side of the room.
"That's where he belongs!" said Mrs. Watson. "He's always afraid of that feather-duster. Maybe he thinks it's a big eagle coming to bite his tail. Anyhow, show him the feather-duster whenever you want to quiet him."
"That's a good thing to know," said Mr. Martin, when it was a little quieter in the room, because Jack, the monkey, had stopped chattering. "But what shall we do about the parrot on my wife's shoulder?"
"Oh, Mr. Nip is all right. He's very gentle," said the housekeeper. "Uncle Toby named him Mr. Nip because he used to nip and bite when he first came. But Uncle Toby soon cured him of that. Mr. Nip is a nice polly."
"I'm a crack! I'm a crack! I'm a crack-crack-cracker!" shrieked the parrot, and then he flew from Mrs. Martin's shoulder to the regular perch, near the little cage of the monkey—the "cubby-hole," as Mrs. Watson called it.
"Thank goodness!" sighed the mother of the Curlytops.
"You scared, Mother?" asked Trouble, who was now wishing the monkey would come back, for after his first fright, the little fellow rather liked the fuzzy chap.
"Only a little," said Mrs. Martin, for she thought if the Curlytops were to have anything to do with Uncle Toby's pets, it would not be well for her to say they frightened her.
"I 'ike 'em all," remarked Trouble, while Janet was rubbing the big Persian cat and Ted was playing with the two dogs. "Uncle Toby nice man to have all nanimals 'ike dis!" and he looked around the room. Surely there were quite a number of animal pets there.
"How in the world did my uncle ever come to have so many?" asked Mr. Martin. "And what in the world are we going to do with them?"
"I'll tell you about it after we've fed them," said Mrs. Watson. "They'll be quieter after they're fed, and you might as well start in now to give them something to eat. If you're going to take 'em with you and keep 'em you'll have to feed 'em."
With the help of Ted and Janet, who set out food to the dogs and cat, Uncle Toby's animals were soon all being given things to eat, and this made them quiet. Then, while the children stood and watched the animals eat, Mrs. Watson took Daddy and Mother Martin into the next room and told them about Uncle Toby and the pets.
"I never knew that my uncle was so fond of animals," said Mr. Martin.
"He wasn't, when I first came here to keep house for him," explained Mrs. Watson. "But he made friends, once, with a sailor, who had the parrot. When the sailor started off on his next sea voyage, and didn't want to take Mr. Nip, the parrot, with him, Uncle Toby said the bird could stay here. I didn't much mind that, as it was rather lonesome when Uncle Toby—as I always call him—went out. So I got to liking Mr. Nip.
"Then, after a while, another sailor gave Uncle Toby Jack, the monkey. The house was more lively after that, for the monkey and parrot used to fight, though they don't any more. I thought this would be about all the pets Uncle Toby would get; but lo and behold! about a month after that another sailor, hearing that Uncle Toby had a monkey and a parrot, came and asked us if we wouldn't take Slider."
"Who is Slider?" asked Mrs. Martin. "It sounds like a pair of roller skates."
"Slider is the pet alligator. He came from Florida," explained Mrs. Watson. "Uncle Toby took him in, as he had the monkey and the parrot, and I began to wonder what would happen next."
"Did anything?" asked Daddy Martin, as he watched the Curlytops playing in the next room with the pets.
"Oh, my land, yes!" exclaimed Mrs. Watson. "It wasn't more than two weeks after he got Slider—that's the alligator—that an old circus man came along with the two dogs, Tip and Top."
"Are those their names?" asked Mrs. Martin, watching Ted as he made one of the dogs turn somersaults.
"Yes, one of the white poodles—the one with the black spot on his tail—is named Tip," the housekeeper said. "You see the spot is on the tip of his tail."
"I can see that—yes," replied Mr. Martin from where he sat. He was wondering where all this was going to end.
"And the other dog is named Top," said the housekeeper. "He has a black spot on the top of his head."
"They are both very nice, and I like the names, too—Tip and Top," remarked Mrs. Martin. "See!" she exclaimed. "Our own dog, Skyrocket, is making friends with them."
Indeed Skyrocket, the Curlytop's dog, was doing this very thing. Perhaps he wanted to learn how to walk on his hind legs and turn somersaults, as Tip and Top could do.
"Tip and Top are two valuable dogs," said Mrs. Watson. "They were once in the circus, and it was there they learned to do their tricks, though Uncle Toby taught them others."
"Why didn't the circus man keep them if they were so valuable?" asked Mrs. Martin.
"The circus man had made friends with the sailor who gave Uncle Toby the alligator," explained the housekeeper, "and the circus man decided to become a sailor, too. He said he didn't want to keep the dogs on a ship, so he gave them to Uncle Toby."
"And that's how the menagerie started?" asked Daddy Martin.
"That's how it started," said Mrs. Watson. "There were times when I thought it would never end. That was when a lady, who was going to travel for her health, asked Uncle Toby to keep Snuff, her Persian cat."
"Is Snuff the cat's name?" asked the mother of the Curlytops.
"Yes," answered Mrs. Watson. "It is just the color of snuff, you see, a sort of yellowish brown. Many Persian cats have that color, I'm told. Anyhow this lady—I've forgotten her name—said she saw that Uncle Toby loved animals, as he had so many of them, so she asked him to keep her cat."
"And Uncle Toby did," remarked Mrs. Martin.
"Uncle Toby surely did!" declared the housekeeper. "It seemed he couldn't say 'no' where animals were concerned. By this time the house began to be rather overrun with pets, so he built this room out of the dining room, with special cages—cubby-holes I call 'em—for the pets. I did think Snuff would be the last one, but after that came the white mice and rats."
"It's usually the other way about," said Mrs. Martin, with a smile. "When the cat comes the mice go. But this time the mice came after the cat arrived."
"Yes," agreed the housekeeper. "Snuff, the cat, and the white mice—I don't know their names—are great friends. The mice and rats belonged to a boy down the street. His family moved to another state last summer, and his folks made him get rid of the mice. He brought them to Uncle Toby, and of course Uncle Toby couldn't say no, so he kept them. It was then I first threatened to leave. The house was too full of animals."
"But you didn't go," said Mrs. Martin.
"No, I stayed on, because Uncle Toby begged me to, and he said he wouldn't add to his collection. But then came the pigeons. They were brought by another boy, whose folks moved away and he couldn't keep 'em any more. I didn't so much mind the pigeons, as they stay out in the barn. But we certainly had a houseful of pets! After a while I got rather to liking them, and Uncle Toby was very fond of 'em, and taught 'em many tricks."
"But finally, as you know from the letter he wrote you, he decided to take a long trip, and perhaps he may never come back, if he finds he likes it in South America. So he decided to ask you to take charge of his collection, and I said I'd stay until you arrived, as Uncle Toby had to leave in a hurry, to catch a ship that was sailing for South America."
"Why did he go there?" asked Mr. Martin.
"I think it was because he heard that monkeys and parrots come from there," the housekeeper answered. "He seemed to like those animals better than any others, though Tip and Top, the two dogs, are more valuable, because they can do circus tricks."
"They certainly are cute," said Mrs. Martin.
"Well, there you have the story of Uncle Toby's pets," said Mrs. Watson, "though I suppose they'll be the Curlytops' pets now, for Uncle Toby said he was going to give you his collection."
"Hum! Yes," mused Mr. Martin. "If I had known what the collection was I don't believe I would have come after it."
Mrs. Watson began putting on her hat, and from a corner of the room she picked up her valise, which she had already packed.
"Where are you going?" asked Mrs. Martin.
"I am going away," answered the housekeeper. "My plans are all made. I am going to live with my sister. All she keeps is a cat, and she puts that outside and winds the clock every night before she goes to bed. I'm going to her house. I told Uncle Toby I'd stay until the Curlytops came to take charge of the pets, and, now that you are here, I'll be going."
"But I say! Look here! What are we going to do?" asked Mr. Martin.
"Why, you're to take charge of the collection," said the housekeeper. "That's what Uncle Toby said in his letter. You are to have the pets!"
"But I don't want them! That is, we can't keep so many!" protested Daddy Martin. "Two dogs, a cat, a monkey, a parrot, an alligator and some white rats and mice, to say nothing of the pigeons! And we have a dog and cat now, and we just got rid of a goat and a pony! Oh, I say, my dear Mrs. Watson! This is too much!"
"Can't help it!" said the housekeeper as she fastened on her hat. "Uncle Toby said you were to take charge of his collection of pets. That's all I know. If he never comes back—and I don't believe he ever will—the pets are yours to keep. I'd keep them if I were you—all except the pigeons. There's a boy down the street who will take them and be glad to get 'em. The pets are valuable—especially Tip and Top, the dogs. They do tricks separately, but they do more tricks together—a sort of team, you know. Those dogs are very valuable for a show."
"Then I know what we can do," said Mr. Martin. "We can sell the pets Uncle Toby left and give the money to a home for children, or something like that. I'll do it—we'll sell the pets!"
In another moment—just as if they had been waiting for their father to say this—there came a storm of objections from Ted and Janet. In they ran from the room where they had been playing with the animals.
"Oh, don't sell 'em!" pleaded Janet.
"Let us keep 'em!" begged Ted. "Those dogs are the best I ever saw! They can do dandy tricks! I could get up a show with them and Skyrocket."
"And this cat and our other cat, too," added Janet. "Don't sell Uncle Toby's pets, Daddy! Let us keep them!"
Daddy Martin looked at his wife. And then, as if they had been waiting for something like this, Tip and Top did one of their best tricks. Tip began turning somersaults again and Top walked around on his hind legs. Then the two dogs barked, and, without anyone saying a word to them, they did another trick.
Tip stopped turning somersaults and stood still. In an instant Top jumped up on Tip's back and stood there on his hind legs. Then Tip walked around the room.
"Oh, aren't they too sweet for anything!" cried Janet.
"That's a dandy trick!" declared Ted. "Do, please, let us keep Uncle Toby's pets for our own."
"Well," said his father slowly, "I don't see how in the world——"
But at that moment there came a knock at the door, and the dogs began to bark, the parrot shrieked, the monkey chattered and Snuff, the Persian cat, began to mew.
What was going to happen now?
WHERE IS TIP?
"Someone is at the door," said Mrs. Martin to Uncle Toby's housekeeper.
"Yes, I hear 'em," answered the queer little old lady. "I 'spect it's the boy after the pigeons. I told him to call as soon as he saw the Curlytops arrive, and he's probably been watching for you. I'll let him in as soon as I finish putting on my hat so I can go."
But before this Mr. Martin, who was nearest the door, had opened it, and in came a boy about as old as Teddy, though without the curly locks of that little lad.
"Can I have the pigeons?" asked the new boy, taking off his cap and making a little bow to Mrs. Martin, Mrs. Watson and Daddy Martin. "Uncle Toby said I could have 'em if you folks didn't want 'em, and I've been waiting for you to come. I just saw you get here."
"Yes! Yes! Take the pigeons! Take any of the animals you want!" begged Mrs. Martin. "I don't see what in the world we are going to do with these animals!"
"Oh, keep Tip and Top—the dogs!" begged Teddy.
"And Snuff, the cat!" added Janet.
"I 'ike monkey if he don't pull my cap off," said Trouble. "'Et's keep him!"
"And the white mice and rats wouldn't be much bother," went on Teddy.
"We never had a parrot that I can remember," cried Janet. "I could feed him, Mother."
"The alligator doesn't make much noise," Ted said.
"Dear me! We'll end up by keeping them all, I see!" laughed the father of the Curlytops. "That is, all but the pigeons," he added quickly, as he saw a look of disappointment on the face of the new boy. "You may have them, since Uncle Toby promised them to you."
"The pigeons are all I want," said the boy, whose name was Bob Nelson. "My mother won't let me have any of the other pets. And, anyhow, I have a dog and a cat. Could I get the pigeons now? I've got a basket and they are so tame I can pick 'em up. They know me. I used to help Uncle Toby feed 'em."
"Yes, you may get them," Mrs. Martin said. "We'll get rid of a few of the pets in that way. But what we are to do with the others, I'm sure I don't know."
"You'd better keep 'em," advised Mrs. Watson, who was now almost ready to go. "Uncle Toby wouldn't like it, I'm sure, if you didn't take care of his pets."
"Oh, I wouldn't, for the world, have anything happen to them, as he was so fond of them and kind to them," said the mother of the Curlytops. "But we could sell them to some animal store, and, as my husband says, give the money to a home for children. Uncle Toby would like that."
"Yes, he was very fond of children and animals," said the housekeeper, as she seemed about to leave. "It's a pity he never had any of his own—any children, I mean," she quickly added. "He did have enough animals. You'd better keep 'em, your children seem fond of 'em," she added.
"Oh, the Curlytops love animals," agreed Mr. Martin. "In fact I like them myself, especially Tip and Top, the dogs. I never saw any better trick animals."
Tip and Top had quieted down now, as had the other animals after Bob had come in to get the pigeons.
"You'd better keep all of Uncle Toby's pets," she concluded. "I'm going now. Just pull the door shut after you and it will lock. The water is turned off and the house is all cleaned out. There isn't any food to spoil, except what the animals need, and you can take that with you. Uncle Toby said I was to go as soon as you arrived to have charge of his collection, and, as you are here, I'm going. Uncle Toby has hired a man to look after the house so it will be all right. Go and get your pigeons, Bob," she added. "Good-bye, everybody," and away she went.
For a moment Mr. and Mrs. Martin looked at each other. Then Mr. Nip, the parrot, broke the silence by saying:
"I'm a crack-crack-cracker!"
"You're a fire-cracker—at least your feathers are red enough for that," laughed Mrs. Martin. "Well, we seem to have the pets whether we want them or not," she told her husband. "We can't go away and leave them here. We can't stay in this house, and try to sell them, if the water is turned off and there is nothing to eat. I guess we'll have to take the pets home with us, Dick."
Mr. Martin looked puzzled.
"Oh, yes! Please keep them!" begged Ted and Janet.
"An' det a han'-ordan fo' de monkey!" begged Trouble, speaking rather more in baby fashion than he usually talked, because he was so excited, I suppose.
"At least we'll have to take charge of Uncle Toby's pets until we decide what to do," said Mr. Martin, after a while. "We might keep some of them and sell the others."
"Oh, keep them all!" exclaimed Ted.
"We'll see," his father answered, and from the tone of his voice Ted and his sister were almost sure they would be allowed to have all the animals for their very own. Of course Trouble could hardly expect a hand-organ to go with Jack, the monkey, but that was not much of a loss.
"We can't get back home to-night," said Mrs. Martin, "that's sure. It's too far. We'll have to stay either here, at Uncle Toby's house, or at a hotel."
"I suppose we could stay here, if we had to," her husband remarked. "I can turn the water on, and it is easy enough to get something to eat, even if we have to buy it at the delicatessen shop."
"I just love delicatessen stuff, don't you?" whispered Jan to her brother. "I hope they get a lot! I'll give some to Snuff, the Persian cat."
"If we stay it will be just like camping," agreed Ted.
While Mr. and Mrs. Martin were considering what to do, Bob, the boy who had come for the pigeons, put his head in through the doorway and called out:
"I got 'em all, thank you! I'm going now. I hope you have good luck with Uncle Toby's pets!"
"Goodness knows we'll need it," said Mrs. Martin, and then she had to laugh. The whole affair seemed to her to be so very funny. Neither she nor her husband had imagined that Uncle Toby's "collection" could be anything like this—dogs, a parrot, a monkey, a Persian cat and a little alligator, not forgetting the white rats and mice.
"Well, we'd better stay here for the night," finally decided Daddy Martin. "It is warm, and Uncle Toby had quite a number of beds. The house is in good order. I'll turn on the water, and you and the children might go to the store and get things for supper," he added. "It will soon be night."
"Oh, what fun! We're going to stay here!" cried Janet, dancing around the Persian cat, who was trying to rub against her legs.
"And I'll teach Tip and Top some new tricks, so we can have a circus when we get home," remarked Ted.
"There's circus enough here," his father said, with a smile. "But trot along, Curlytops, if you are going to get something for us to eat. The animals have been fed and now it is time for us. I'm getting hungry."
"Me hundry, too!" declared Trouble.
"We mustn't let that happen!" laughed his mother. "We'll go to the store. Come along, Curlytops!"
As the children walked down the street with their mother to look for the nearest delicatessen store, they saw the boy Bob carefully wheeling his basket of pigeons toward his own home. He had gotten the birds out of Uncle Toby's barn.
When Mrs. Martin and the Curlytops, with Trouble, of course, came back to Uncle Toby's house, they found Daddy Martin sitting in front of the kitchen stove in which he had kindled a fire. In his lap was the Persian cat, purring contentedly, and Mr. Martin was rubbing the long, soft silky fur of Snuff.
In front of the father of the Curlytops were Skyrocket, Tip, and Top, the three dogs. They were lying asleep near the fire. In the other room were the mice, the rats, the alligator, the monkey, and the parrot, all the animals quiet, for a wonder, as Mrs. Martin said.
"Oh, Daddy! you love 'em, don't you?" exclaimed Jan, as she saw her father surrounded by some of the pets. "We may keep them, mayn't we?"
"I'll see about it," was the answer, and Janet whispered to Teddy that she was almost sure this meant "yes."
It did not take long to get up a little supper. Daddy Martin ran the automobile into the side yard of Uncle Toby's house, and the Curlytop family, as I sometimes call them, prepared to stay all night. There were plenty of beds, and in the morning they could turn off the water again, take the pets away, close the house, and everything would be as Uncle Toby wished it.
You can easily guess that neither of the Curlytops, nor Trouble, for that matter, wanted to go to bed early that night. The children were thinking too much of the pets. And, indeed, the pets seemed to like the children. Mr. Nip, the parrot, let Jan scratch his head, a form of caress of which he seemed very fond. Jack, the monkey, no longer snatched off Trouble's cap. But perhaps that was because baby William did not wear it near the lively chap. Snuff, the Persian cat, seemed to have taken a great liking to Mr. Martin, and as for the dogs, Tip and Top, they were hardly out of the sight of Jan and Ted. Nor was Skyrocket neglected or jealous. He entered into the fun of playing around on the lawn and porch with the white poodles after supper.
Even Slider, the little alligator, seemed very friendly. He took bits of meat from the fingers of Ted, though Janet said she was afraid of the scaly creature.
"I'm going to teach him some tricks, so he can be in the animal circus," declared Ted.
"Are you going to have a circus?" asked his sister.
"Sure!" he answered, though, to tell the truth, he had not begun to think of it until he saw all the pets Uncle Toby had left. "We'll have a fine circus!"
The evening passed pleasantly. Finally Trouble became sleepy, even though he was much interested in watching Jack, the monkey, crack peanuts.
"Come, laddie, you must go to bed!" called Mrs. Martin. "Mr. Nip, the parrot, has gone to sleep long ago, with his head under his wing, poor thing!" and she sang part of the "Robin Song."
"Me want see head's under swing," murmured Trouble. "Me see!"
"Oh, no! I don't want to wake up Mr. Nip. He has a cloth over his cage to keep him quiet," and Mrs. Martin carried Trouble over to where the parrot's cage had been covered with a table-cover for the night.
"Goo'-bye," murmured the little fellow sleepily, and then he was carried up to his bed in Uncle Toby's house.
A little later Ted and Janet also went to their rooms, having given farewell pats and rubs to the dogs and cat. Mr. Martin went about, seeing that the house was locked up, and then he and his wife sat downstairs, talking while the children were asleep.
"Do you really intend to take all those pets home with us?" asked Mrs. Martin.
"I don't see what else we can do," her husband replied. "The children will be disappointed if we don't. And I don't really want to sell them. Uncle Toby might not like it. I think I'll take them home with us, and write to him, if I can get his address. He must have left it, even if he is going to live in South America."
"But how can we take home a monkey, a parrot, three dogs, a cat, an alligator and some rats and some white mice?" asked the mother of the Curlytops.
"Oh, there is plenty of room in the auto," her husband answered. "We'll load it up in the morning."
The night passed quietly enough, except that about twelve o'clock the parrot suddenly began shrieking:
"Police! Police! Burglars! Police! I'm a crack-crack-cracker!"
"Dick! Dick! Wake up!" called Mrs. Martin. "Someone is at the front door!"
"Police! Police!" chattered the parrot again.
And, surely enough, it was the police, though how the red and green bird knew it is more than I can say. A passing policeman, seeing the light in Uncle Toby's house, and having been told by Mrs. Watson, the housekeeper, on her way to her sister's, that the place was to be closed, had stopped to inquire.
"I thought it was burglars," said the policeman, after Daddy Martin had gone down to the front door and explained.
"That's what Mr. Nip did, too, I guess," said Mr. Martin.
"Who's Mr. Nip?" asked the officer.
"The parrot," said the father of the Curlytops. "He awakened us by his shrieking."
After the policeman had gone, the house became quiet again, and nothing more happened until morning. After breakfast the water was turned off, and the home of Uncle Toby was made ready for closing up until the old gentleman should return.
The parrot's cage, the box for the monkey, the little tank of water and pebbles in which Slider lived, and the wire cage of the white mice and rats—all these were taken out to the automobile. It was a large one, and there was plenty of room for the Curlytops and their new pets.
"Take Snuff, the cat, in between you and Trouble, Janet," her father advised. "Tip and Top can snuggle down with Skyrocket on the floor near Ted. Are we all ready now?"
"As ready as we ever shall be," his wife answered. "My, what a queer load!" she said, with a laugh, as she looked back at the collection and the children. "People will think we're a traveling menagerie!"
This, however, did not worry the Curlytops. They liked it, and, a little later, they were on their way back toward Cresco. The Curlytops liked their new pets, and they also loved those they had had for a longer time—Skyrocket and Turnover.
"We'll try to get home early," said Mr. Martin to his wife, as he steered the automobile through the streets of Pocono. "We'll have to fix up a place for these pets."
"Yes," agreed his wife. "They are going to be quite a care. But the children will love them."
They stopped for lunch at a little restaurant, and the children were afraid lest some of their pets might escape while the meal was being served. But Mr. Martin saw a young man, sitting in front of a barber shop next to the restaurant, and said to him:
"Will you watch may automobile and the animals while we are in the dining room? I'll give you fifty cents."
"I'll be glad to do it," said the young man.
So long as he was on guard the Curlytops were satisfied. But when they came out they made a sad discovery. Ted jumped up on the running-board and looked down into the automobile to make sure all the pets were safe. The alligator, the parrot, the white mice and rats, the cat, the monkey, and two dogs were there. But there was no sign of Tip, the white poodle with a black spot on the end of his tail.
"Where is Tip? Oh, where is Tip?" cried Ted. "He's gone!"
A FUZZY BURGLAR
"What's that?" asked Mr. Martin, who was the last of the Curlytop family to come out of the restaurant. "Who is gone? One of the pets?"
"Tip is gone," answered Teddy. "Oh, where is he?"
"Maybe he's hiding back of the monkey's cage," suggested Janet, for Jack, the pet monkey, lived in a sort of cage, or box, and he had been moved from Uncle Toby's house in it.
"No, Tip isn't here at all," said Teddy. "Top is here and Skyrocket, but Tip is gone."
"That can't be," said the young man who had said he would guard the animals while the Curlytops ate. "I've been here all the while, and I didn't see even one of the white mice get away."
He seemed to be a nice, good-natured young man, and appeared to be as much surprised as Teddy and Janet were over the loss of Tip. As for Trouble, he was not worrying much. He had climbed into the front seat of the automobile, and was playing with Snuff, the yellow Persian cat. As long as Trouble had some animal near him he did not worry much about anything else.
"Have you been right here all the while, young man?" asked Mr. Martin of the youth who had been left on guard. "You didn't go away, did you, and give someone a chance to come up and take one of the dogs?"
"Oh, no, sir! I stayed right here all the while. I sat down on the running-board and waited. The only thing that happened was that the alligator tried to crawl out, but I put him back. I was sitting here, thinking how funny it was that anybody should have so many pets, when, all of a sudden, I felt something rough on my neck."
"What was it?" asked Janet, while Teddy was looking under the automobile, thinking that perhaps Tip might be hiding there.
"It was the little alligator, with his rough tail," explained the young man, who said he was called "Shorty" by his chums. He was very tall, and perhaps that was why he was called "Shorty," in fun you know. "It was the little alligator that was crawling up my shoulder and scratching my neck," he explained. "I put him back in his cage, or tank, or whatever you call it, though I was afraid he'd bite me."
"Oh, no, Slider is very gentle," said Ted, who came up on the sidewalk, after having peered under the automobile. "Oh, dear, I don't see where Tip can be!" he said.
"It is queer that he should go away and leave Top," said Mrs. Martin, for the other white poodle dog was there, safe in the automobile.
Top looked up at the friends gazing down at him, barked and wagged his tail. Perhaps he, too, was asking what had become of his chum, Tip.
"The dog must have jumped out on the opposite side of the car from where you were sitting," said Mr. Martin to Shorty. "Though if that had happened I should have thought you would have heard him," and the father of the Curlytops looked rather sharply at Shorty.
"No, sir, I didn't hear a thing," was the answer. "All I know is that the alligator tried to crawl up my neck. I didn't see the dog run away."
"Perhaps he didn't run away," suggested Mrs. Martin.
"What do you mean?" asked Janet.
"I mean someone may have stepped up softly, when this young man had his back turned, and, reaching over, may have lifted Tip up and taken him away. I wish you had sat in the auto, Shorty, instead of outside on the step."
"Yes'm, I wish so myself," agreed the young man. "But there were so many animals in there I thought I'd better be on the outside so I could chase 'em quicker in case any got away. And one did get away and I never saw him! I'm terribly sorry! I'll go down the street and see if I can find him."
"I wish you would," remarked Mr. Martin. "Just take a look, and ask everyone you meet if he saw a white poodle with a black tip on the end of his tail. If you find him I'll give you a dollar besides the fifty cents for watching the auto."
"I'd like to earn that dollar!" said the young man. "I'll go look!"
"I'll come, too," offered Teddy, "but I don't want a dollar if I find Tip. I just want to get our dog back."
"So do I," added Janet. "I'll come and look with you."
"This was a valuable dog," explained Mr. Martin, as Shorty moved off down the street. "He could do tricks. I'd like very much to get him back."
"I'll do my best," promised the young man. "It was my fault, in a way, that he got a chance to go away. I should have been looking on both sides of the auto at once, but I didn't. I'll see if I can't find him."
"I think I'll take a look, myself," said Mr. Martin to his wife, who had now gotten in the automobile with Trouble. "I don't like the way things have happened."
"Why, do you think that young man had anything to do with Tip's going away?" asked Mrs. Martin, as Ted and Janet went down the street one way while Shorty took the other direction.
"I can't be sure," answered the father of the Curlytops. "He looks like an honest young man, but if he knew what a valuable dog Tip was he might have let some friend of his step up and take away the pet animal."
"But wouldn't he have allowed both of the dogs to be taken—Top as well as Tip?" asked Mrs. Martin.
"Maybe there wasn't time to take but the one," her husband explained. "And perhaps I am wrong, and Shorty is right. Tip may have seen some other dog on the far side of the street, and have jumped out of the car to go up to him. It's too bad, but maybe we'll get him back."
"I hope the children don't go so far away that they are lost, too," remarked Mrs. Martin.
"I think they'll not go far," said her husband. "Oh, no, you don't!" he suddenly exclaimed. "Come back here! We don't want to chase you!" and he made a hasty grab for Slider, the pet alligator, who seemed to want to get out of his glass-sided tank. "I'll be glad when we get Uncle Toby's menagerie safely home," said Mr. Martin.
"So shall I," his wife added. "Though the animals seem very nice. Trouble loves Snuff already."
"Oh, I suppose we shall get to like them all," agreed Mr. Martin. "We'll have to let Ted and Janet make places for them in the barn. It is warm weather now, and even the tropical animals, like the monkey, can stay out there."
"I wonder if the parrot will talk much?" ventured Mrs. Martin. "I have always rather wished for a talking parrot. Hello, Polly!" she called to the red and green bird in his cage.
"Hello, Polly!" answered Mr. Nip. "I'm a crack-crack-cracker!" he shouted at the top of his voice, and several persons, passing along the street, turned to smile at the Martins with their automobile load of pets. Then Mr. Nip began to whistle, so very much like a boy, that Skyrocket, Ted's dog, imagined his master was whistling to him, and barked in answer. Then Top, the remaining pet poodle, also began to bark, and Jack, the monkey, chattered in his own queer way.