The CURLYTOPS ON STAR ISLAND
HOWARD R. GARIS
THE CURLYTOPS ON STAR ISLAND
Camping out with Grandpa
HOWARD R. GARIS
AUTHOR OF "THE CURLYTOPS SERIES," "BEDTIME STORIES," "UNCLE WIGGILY SERIES," ETC.
Illustrations by JULIA GREENE
NEW YORK CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY
THE CURLYTOPS ON STAR ISLAND
I THE BLUE LIGHT 1
II WHAT THE FARMER TOLD 14
III OFF TO STAR ISLAND 32
IV OVERBOARD 42
V THE BAG OF SALT 56
VI TED AND THE BEAR 67
VII JAN SEES SOMETHING 78
VIII TROUBLE FALLS IN 91
IX TED FINDS A CAVE 101
X THE GRAPEVINE SWING 111
XI TROUBLE MAKES A CAKE 123
XII THE CURLYTOPS GO SWIMMING 139
XIII JAN'S QUEER RIDE 157
XIV DIGGING FOR GOLD 164
XV THE BIG HOLE 175
XVI A GLAD SURPRISE 188
XVII TROUBLE'S PLAYHOUSE 197
XVIII IN THE CAVE 211
XIX THE BLUE LIGHT AGAIN 224
XX THE HAPPY TRAMP 236
THE CURLYTOPS ON STAR ISLAND
THE BLUE LIGHT
"Mother, make Ted stop!"
"I'm not doing anything at all, Mother!"
"Yes he is, too! Please call him in. He's hurting my doll."
"Oh, Janet Martin, I am not!"
"You are so, Theodore Baradale Martin; and you've just got to stop!"
Janet, or Jan, as she was more often called, stood in front of her brother with flashing eyes and red cheeks.
"Children! Children! What are you doing now?" asked their mother, appearing in the doorway of the big, white farmhouse, holding in her arms a small boy. "Please don't make so much noise. I've just gotten Baby William to sleep, and if he wakes up——"
"Yes, don't wake up Trouble, Jan," added Theodore, or Ted, the shorter name being the one by which he was most often called. "If you do he'll want to come with us, and we can't make Nicknack race."
"I wasn't waking him up, it was you!" exclaimed Jan. "He keeps pulling my doll's legs, Mother and——"
"I only pulled 'em a little bit, just to see if they had any springs in 'em. Jan said her doll was a circus lady and could jump on the back of a horse. I wanted to see if she had any springs in her legs."
"Well, I'm pretending she has, so there, Ted Martin! And if you don't stop——"
"There now, please stop, both of you, and be nice," begged Mrs. Martin. "I thought, since you had your goat and wagon, you could play without having so much fuss. But, if you can't——"
"Oh, we'll be good!" exclaimed Ted, running his hands through his tightly curling hair, but not taking any of the kinks out that way. "We'll be good. I won't tease Jan anymore."
"You'd better not!" warned his sister, and, though she was a year younger than Ted, she did not seem at all afraid of him. "If you do I'll take my half of the goat away and you can't ride."
"Pooh! Which is your half?" asked Ted.
"The wagon. And if you don't have the wagon to hitch Nicknack to, how're you going to ride?"
"Huh! I could ride on his back. Take your old wagon if you want to, but if you do——"
"The-o-dore!" exclaimed his mother in a slow, warning voice, and when he heard his name spoken in that way, with each syllable pronounced separately, Ted knew it was time to haul down his quarreling colors and behave. He did it this time.
"I—I'm sorry," he faltered. "I didn't mean that, Jan. I won't pull your doll's legs any more."
"And I won't take the goat-wagon away. We'll both go for a ride in it."
"That's the way to have a good time," said Mrs. Martin, with a smile. "Now don't make any more noise, for William is fussy. Run off and play now, but don't go too far."
"We'll go for a ride," said Teddy. "Come on, Jan. You can let your doll make-believe drive the goat if you want to."
"Thank you, Teddy. But I guess I'd better not. I'll pretend she's a Red Cross nurse and I'm taking her to the hospital to work."
"Then we'll make-believe the goat-wagon is an ambulance!" exclaimed Ted. "And I'm the driver and I don't mind the big guns. Come on, that'll be fun!"
Filled with the new idea, the two children hurried around the side of the farmhouse out toward the barn where Nicknack, their pet goat, was kept. Mrs. Martin smiled as she saw them go.
"Well, there'll be quiet for a little while," she said, "and William can have his sleep."
"What's the matter, Ruth?" asked an old gentleman coming up the walk just then. "Have the Curlytops been getting into mischief again?"
"No. Teddy and Janet were just having one of their little quarrels. It's all over now. You look tired, Father."
Grandpa Martin was Mrs. Martin's husband's father, but she loved him as though he were her own.
"Yes, I am tired. I've been working pretty hard on the farm," said Grandpa Martin, "but I'm going to rest a bit now. Want me to take Trouble?" he asked as he saw the little boy in his mother's arms. Baby William was called Trouble because he got into so much of it.
"No, thank you. He's asleep," said Mother Martin. "But I do wish you could find some way to keep Ted and Jan from disputing and quarreling so much."
"Oh, they don't act half as bad as lots of children."
"No, indeed! They're very good, I think," said Grandma Martin, coming to the door with a patch of flour on the end of her nose, for it was baking day, as you could easily have told had you come anywhere near the big kitchen of the white house on Cherry Farm.
"They need to be kept busy all the while," said Grandpa Martin. "It's been a little slow for them here this vacation since we got in the hay and gathered the cherries. I think I'll have to find some new way for them to have fun."
"I didn't know there was any new way," said Mother Martin with a laugh, as she carried Baby William into the bedroom and came back to sit on the porch with Grandpa and Grandma Martin.
"Oh, yes, there are lots of new ways. I haven't begun to think of them yet," said Grandpa Martin. "I'm going to have a few weeks now with not very much to do until it's time to gather the fall crops, and I think I'll try to find some way of giving your Curlytops a good time. Yes, that's what I'll do. I'll keep the Curlytops so busy they won't have a chance to think of pulling dolls' legs or taking Nicknack, the goat, away from his wagon."
"What are you planning to do, Father?" asked Grandma Martin of her husband.
"Well, I promised to take them camping on Star Island you know."
"What! Not those two little tots—not Ted and Jan?" cried Grandma Martin, looking up in surprise.
"Yes, indeed, those same Curlytops!"
It was easy to understand why Grandpa Martin, as well as nearly everyone else, called the two Martin children Curlytops. It was because their hair was so tightly curling to their heads. Once Grandma Martin lost her thimble in the hair of one of the children, and their locks were curled so nearly alike that she never could remember on whose head she found the needle-pusher.
"Do you think it will be safe to take Ted and Jan camping?" asked Mother Martin.
"Why, yes. There's no finer place in the country than Star Island. And if you go along——"
"Am I to go?" asked Ted's mother.
"Of course. And Trouble, too. It'll do you all good. I wish Dick could come, too," went on Grandpa Martin, speaking of Ted's father, who had gone from Cherry Farm for a few days to attend to some matters at a store he owned in the town of Cresco. "But Dick says he'll be too busy. So I guess the Curlytops will have to go camping with grandpa," added the farmer, smiling.
"Well, I'm sure they couldn't have better fun than to go with you," replied Mother Martin. "But I'm not sure that Baby William and I can go."
"Oh, yes you can," said her father-in-law. "We'll talk about it again. But here come Ted and Jan now in the goat-cart. They seem to have something to ask you. We'll talk about the camp later."
Teddy and Janet Martin, the two Curlytops, came riding up to the farmhouse in a small wagon drawn by a fine, big goat, that they had named Nicknack.
"Please, Mother," begged Ted, "may we ride over to the Home and get Hal?"
"We promised to take him for a ride," added Jan.
"Yes, I suppose you may go," said Mother Martin. "But you must be careful, and be home in time for supper."
"We will," promised Ted. "We'll go by the wood-road, and then we won't get run over by any automobiles. They don't come on that road."
"All right. Now remember—don't stay too late."
"No, we won't!" chorused the two children, and down the garden path and along the lane they went to a road that led through Grandpa Martin's wood-lot and so on to the Home for Crippled Children, which was about a mile from Cherry Farm.
Among others at the Home was a lame boy named Hal Chester. That is, he had been lame when the Curlytops first met him early in the summer, but he was almost cured now, and walked with only a little limp. The Home had been built to cure lame children, and had helped many of them.
Half-way to the big red building, which was like a hospital, the Curlytops met Hal, the very boy whom they had started out to see.
"Hello, Hal!" cried Ted. "Get in and have a ride."
"Thanks, I will. I was just coming over to see you, anyway. What are you two going to do?"
"Nothing much," Ted answered, while Jan moved along the seat with her doll, to make room for Hal. "What're you going to do?"
"Same as you."
The three children laughed at that.
"Let's ride along the river road," suggested Janet. "It'll be nice and shady there, and if my Red Cross doll is going to the war she'll like to be cool once in a while."
"Is your doll a Red Cross nurse?" asked Hal. "If she is, where's her cap and the red cross on her arm?"
"Oh, she just started to be a nurse a little while ago," Jan explained. "I haven't had time to make the red cross yet. But I will. Anyhow, let's go down by the river."
"All right, we will," agreed Ted. "We'll see if we can get some sticks off the willow trees and make whistles," he added to Hal.
"You can make better whistles in the spring, when the bark is softer, than you can now," said the lame boy, as the Curlytops often called him, though Hal was nearly cured.
"Well, maybe we can make some now," suggested Ted, and a little later the two boys were seated in the shade under the willow trees that grew on the bank of a small river which flowed into Clover Lake, not far from Cherry Farm. Nicknack, tied to a tree, nibbled the sweet, green grass, and Jan made a wreath of buttercups for her doll.
After they had made some whistles, which did give out a little tooting sound, Ted and Hal found something else to do, and Jan saw, coming along the road, a girl named Mary Seaton with whom she often played. Jan called Mary to join her, and the two little girls had a good time together while Ted and Hal threw stones at some wooden boats they made and floated down the stream.
"Oh, Ted, we must go home!" suddenly cried Jan. "It's getting dark!"
The sun was beginning to set, but it would not really have been dark for some time, except that the western sky was filled with clouds that seemed to tell of a coming storm. So, really, it did appear as though night were at hand.
"I guess we'd better go," Ted said, with a look at the dark clouds. "Come on, Hal. There's room for you, too, Mary, in the wagon."
"Can Nicknack pull us all?" Mary asked.
"I guess so. It's mostly down hill. Come on!"
The four children got into the goat-wagon, and if Nicknack minded the bigger load he did not show it, but trotted off rather fast. Perhaps he knew he was going home to his stable where he would have some sweet hay and oats to eat, and that was what made him so glad to hurry along.
The wagon was stopped near the Home long enough to let Hal get out, and a little later Mary was driven up to her gate. Then Ted and Jan, with the doll between them, drove on.
"Oh, Ted!" exclaimed his sister, "mother'll scold. We oughtn't to have stayed so late. It's past supper time!"
"We didn't mean to. Anyhow, I guess they'll give us something to eat. Grandma baked cookies to-day and there'll be some left."
"I hope so," replied Jan with a sigh. "I'm hungry!"
They drove on in silence a little farther, and then, as they came to the top of a hill and could look down toward Star Island in the middle of Clover Lake, Ted suddenly called:
"Where?" she asked.
"Over there," and her brother pointed to the island. "Do you see that blue light?"
"On the island, do you mean? Yes, I see it. Maybe somebody's there with a lantern."
"Nobody lives on Star Island. Besides, who'd have a blue lantern?"
Jan did not answer.
It was now quite dark, and down in the lake, where there was a patch of black which was Star Island, could be seen a flickering blue glow, that seemed to stand still and then move about.
"Maybe it's lightning bugs," suggested Jan.
"Huh! Fireflies are sort of white," exclaimed Ted. "I never saw a light like that before."
"Me, either, Ted! Hurry up home. Giddap, Nicknack!" and Jan threw at the goat a pine cone, one of several she had picked up and put in the wagon when they were taking a rest in the woods that afternoon.
Nicknack gave a funny little wiggle to his tail, which the children could hardly see in the darkness, and then he trotted on faster. The Curlytops, looking back, had a last glimpse of the flickering blue light as they hurried toward Cherry Farm, and they were a little frightened.
"What do you s'pose it is?" asked Jan.
"I don't know," answered Ted. "We'll ask Grandpa. Go on, Nicknack!"
WHAT THE FARMER TOLD
"Well, where in the world have you children been?"
"Didn't you know we'd be worried about you?"
"Did you get lost again?"
Mother Martin, Grandpa Martin and Grandma Martin took turns asking these three questions as Ted and Jan drove up to the farmhouse in the darkness a little later.
"You said you wouldn't stay late," went on Mother Martin, as the Curlytops got out of the goat-wagon.
"We didn't mean to, Mother," said Ted.
"Oh, but we're so scared!" exclaimed Jan, and as Grandma Martin put her arms about the little girl she felt Jan's heart beating faster than usual.
"Why, what is the matter?" asked the old lady.
"Me wants a wide wif Nicknack!" demanded Baby William, as he stood beside his mother in the doorway.
"No, Trouble. Not now," answered Ted. "Nicknack is tired and has to have his supper. Is there any supper left for us?" he asked eagerly.
"Well, I guess we can find a cold potato, or something like it, for such tramps as you," laughed Grandpa Martin. "But where on earth have you been, and what kept you?"
Then Ted put Nicknack in the barn. But when he came back he and Jan between them told of having stayed playing later than they meant to.
"Well, you got home only just in time," said Mother Martin as she took the children to the dining-room for a late supper. "It's starting to rain now."
And so it was, the big drops pelting down and splashing on the windows.
"But what frightened you, Jan?" asked Grandma Martin.
"It was a queer blue light on Star Island."
"A light on Star Island!" exclaimed her grandfather. "Nonsense! Nobody stays on the island after dark unless it's a fisherman or two, and the fish aren't biting well enough now to make anyone stay late to try to catch them. You must have dreamed it—or made-believe."
"No, we really saw it!" declared Ted. "It was a fliskering blue light."
"Well, if there's any such thing there as a 'fliskering' blue light we'll soon find out what it is," said Grandpa Martin.
"How?" asked Ted, his eyes wide open in wonder.
"By going there to see what it is. I'm going to take you two Curlytops to camp on Star Island, and if there's anything queer there we'll see what it is."
"Oh, are we really going to live on Star Island?" gasped Janet.
"Camping out with grandpa! Oh, what fun!" cried Ted. "Do you mean it?" and he looked anxiously at the farmer, fearing there might be some joke about it.
"Oh, I really mean it," said Grandpa Martin. "Though I hardly believe you saw a real light on the island. It must have been a firefly."
"Lightning bugs aren't that color," declared Ted. "It was a blue light, almost like Fourth of July. But tell us about camping, Grandpa!"
"Yes, please do," begged Jan.
And while the children are eating their late supper, and Grandpa Martin is telling them his plans, I will stop just a little while to make my new readers better acquainted with the Curlytops and their friends.
You have already met Theodore, or Teddy or Ted Martin, and his sister Janet, or Jan. With their mother, they were spending the long summer vacation on Cherry Farm, the country home of Grandpa Martin outside the town of Elmburg, near Clover Lake. Mr. Richard Martin, or Dick, as Grandpa Martin called him, owned a store in Cresco, where he lived with his family. Besides Ted and Jan there was Baby William, aged about three years. He was called Trouble, for the reason I have told you, though Mother Martin called him "Dear Trouble" to make up for the fun Ted and Jan sometimes poked at him.
Then there was Nora Jones, the maid who helped Mrs. Martin with the cooking and housework. And I must not forget Skyrocket, a dog, nor Turnover, a cat. These did not help with the housework—though I suppose you might say they did, too, in a way, for they ate the scraps from the table and this helped to save work.
In the first book of this series, called "The Curlytops at Cherry Farm," I had the pleasure of telling you how Jan and Ted, with their father, mother and Nora went to grandpa's place in the country to spend the happy vacation days. On the farm, which was named after the number of cherry trees on it, the Curlytops found a stray goat which they were allowed to keep, and they got a wagon which Nicknack (the name they gave their new pet) drew with them in it.
Having the goat made up for having to leave the dog and the cat at home, and Nicknack made lots of good times for Ted and Jan. In the book you may read of the worry the children carried because Grandpa Martin had lost money on account of a flood at his farm, and so could not help when there was a fair and collection for the Crippled Children's Home.
But, most unexpectedly, the cherries helped when Mr. Sam Sander, the lollypop man, bought them from Grandpa Martin, and found a way of making them into candy. And when Ted and Jan and Trouble were lost in the woods once, the lollypop man——
But I think you would rather read the story for yourself in the other book. I will just say that the Curlytops were still at Cherry Farm, though Father Martin had gone away for a little while. And now, having told you about the family, I'll go back where I left off, and we'll see what is happening.
"Yes," said Grandpa Martin, "I think I will take you Curlytops to camp on Star Island. Camping will do you good. You'll learn lots in the woods there. And won't it be fun to live in a tent?"
"Oh, won't it though!" cried Ted, and the shine in Jan's eyes and the glow on her red cheeks showed how happy she was.
"But I'd like to know what that blue light was," said the little girl.
"Oh, don't worry about that!" laughed Grandpa Martin. "I'll get that blue light and hang it in our tent for a lantern."
I think I mentioned that Jan and Ted had such wonderful curling hair that even strangers, seeing them the first time, called them the "Curlytops." And Ted, who was aged seven years, with his sister just a year younger (their anniversaries coming on exactly the same day) did not in the least mind being called this. He and Jan rather liked it.
"Let's don't go to bed yet," said Jan to her brother, as they finished supper and went from the dining-room into the sitting-room, where they were allowed to play and have good times if they did not get too rough. And they did not often do this.
"All right. It is early," Ted agreed. "But what can we do?"
"Let's pretend we have a camp here," went on Jan.
"Where?" asked Ted.
"Right in the sitting-room," answered Jan. "We can make-believe the couch is a tent, and we can crawl under it and go to sleep."
"I wants to go to sleeps there!" cried Trouble. "I wants to go to sleeps right now!"
"Shall we take him back to mother?" asked Ted, looking at his sister. "If he's sleepy now he won't want to play."
"I isn't too sleepy to play," objected Baby William. "I can go to sleeps under couch if you wants me to," he added.
"Oh, that'll be real cute!" cried Janet. "Come on, Ted, let's do it! We can make-believe Trouble is our little dog, or something like that, to watch over our tent, and he can go to sleep——"
"Huh! how's he going to watch if he goes to sleep?" Ted demanded.
"Oh, well, he can make-believe go to sleep or make-believe watch, either one," explained Janet.
"Yes, I s'pose he could do that," agreed Teddy.
Baby William opened his mouth wide and yawned.
"I guess he'll do some real sleeping," said Janet with a laugh. "Come on, Trouble, before you get your eyes so tight shut you can't open 'em again. Come on, we'll play camping!" and she led the way into the sitting room and over toward the big couch at one end.
Many a good time the children had had in this room, and the old couch, pretty well battered and broken now, had been in turn a fort, a steamboat, railroad car, and an automobile. That was according to the particular make-believe game the children were playing. Now the old couch was to be a tent, and Jan and Ted moved some chairs, which would be part of the pretend-camp, up in front of it.
"It'll be a lot of fun when we go camping for real," said Teddy, as he helped his sister spread one of Grandma Martin's old shawls over the backs of some chairs. This was to be a sort of second tent where they could make-believe cook their meals.
"Yes, we'll have grand fun," agreed Jan. "No, you mustn't go to sleep up there, Trouble!" she called to the little fellow, for he had crawled up on top of the couch and had stretched himself out as though to take a nap.
"Why?" he asked.
"'Cause the tent part is under it," explained his sister. "That's the top of the tent where you are. You can't go to sleep on top of a tent. You might fall off."
"I can fall off now!" announced Trouble, as he suddenly thought of something. Then he gave a wiggle and rolled off the seat, bumping into Ted, who had stooped down to put a rug under the couch-tent.
"Ouch!" cried Ted. "Look out what you're doing, Trouble! You bumped my head."
"I—I bumped my head!" exclaimed the little fellow, rubbing his tangled hair.
"He didn't mean to," said Janet. "You mustn't roll off that way, Trouble. You might be hurt. Come now, go to sleep under the couch. That's inside the tent you know."
She showed him where Ted had spread the rug, as far back under the couch as he could reach, and this looked to Trouble like a nice place.
"I go to sleeps in there!" he said, and under the couch he crawled, growling and grunting.
"What are you doing that for?" asked Ted, in some surprise.
"I's a bear!" exclaimed Baby William. "I's a bad bear! Burr-r-r-r!" and he growled again.
"Oh, you mustn't do that!" objected Janet. "We don't want any bears in our camp!"
"Course we can have 'em!" cried Ted. "That'll be fun! We'll play Trouble is a bear 'stead of a dog, and I can hunt him. Only I ought to have something for a gun. I know! I'll get grandpa's Sunday cane!" and he started for the hall.
"Oh, no. I don't want to play bear and hunting!" objected Janet.
"'Cause it's too—too—scary at night. Let's play something nice and quiet. Let Trouble be our watch dog, and we can be in camp and he can bark and scare something."
"What'll he scare?" asked Ted.
Meanwhile Baby William was crawling as far back under the couch as he could, growling away, though whether he was pretending to be a bear, a lion or only a dog no one knew but himself.
"What do you want him to scare?" asked Ted of his sister.
"Oh—oh—well, chickens, maybe!" she answered.
"Pooh! Chickens aren't any fun!" cried Ted. "If Trouble is going to be a dog let him scare a wild bull, or something like that. Anyhow chickens don't come to camp."
"Well, neither does wild bulls!" declared Janet.
"Yes, they do!" cried Ted, and it seemed as if there would be so much talk that the children would never get to playing anything. "Don't you 'member how daddy told us about going camping, and in the night a wild bull almost knocked down the tent."
"Well, that was real, but this is only make-believe," said Janet. "Let Trouble scare the chickens."
"All right," agreed Ted, who was nearly always kind to his sister. "Go on and growl, Trouble. You're a dog and you're going to scare the chickens out of camp."
They waited a minute but Trouble did not growl.
"Why don't you make a noise?" asked Janet.
Trouble gave a grunt.
"What's the matter?" asked Ted.
"I—I can't growl 'cause I'm all stuck under here," answered the voice of the little fellow, from far under the couch. "I can't wiggle!"
"Oh, dear!" cried Janet.
Teddy stooped and looked beneath the couch.
"He's caught on some of the springs that stick down," he said. "I'll poke him out."
He caught hold of Trouble's clothes and pulled the little fellow loose. But Trouble cried—perhaps because he was sleepy—and then his mother came and got him, leaving Teddy and Janet to play by themselves, which they did until they, too, began to feel sleepy.
"You'll want to go to bed earlier than this when you go camping, my Curlytops," said Grandpa Martin, as the children came out of the sitting-room.
"Are you really going to take them camping?" asked Mother Martin after Jan and Ted had gone upstairs to bed.
"I really am. There are some tents in the barn. I own part of Star Island and there's no nicer place to camp. You'll come, too, and so will Dick when he comes back from Cresco. We'll take Nora along to do the cooking. Will you come, Mother?" and the Curlytops' grandfather looked at his gray-haired wife.
"No, I'll stay on Cherry Farm and feed the hired men," she answered with a smile.
"Why do they call it Star Island?" asked Ted's mother.
"Well, once upon a time, a good many years ago," said Grandpa Martin, "a shooting star, or meteor, fell blazing on the island, and that's how it got its name."
"Maybe it was a part of the star shining that the children saw to-night," said Grandma Martin. "Though I don't see how it could be, for it fell many years ago."
"Maybe," agreed her husband.
None of them knew what a queer part that fallen star was to have in the lives of those who were shortly to go camping on the island.
Early the next morning after breakfast, Ted and Jan went out to the barn to get Nicknack to have a ride.
"Where is you? I wants to come, too!" cried the voice of their little brother, as they were putting the harness on their goat.
"Oh, there's Trouble," whispered Ted. "Shall we take him with us, Jan?"
"Yes, this time. We're not going far. Grandma wants us to go to the store for some baking soda."
"All right, we'll drive down," returned Ted. "Come on, Trouble!" he called.
"I's tummin'," answered Baby William. "I's dot a tookie."
"He means cookie," said Jan, laughing.
"I know it," agreed Ted. "I wish he'd bring me one."
"Me too!" exclaimed Janet.
"I's dot a 'ot of tookies," went on Trouble, who did not always talk in such "baby fashion." When he tried to he could speak very well, but he did not often try.
"Oh, he's got his whole apron full of cookies!" cried Jan. "Where did you get them?" she asked, as her little brother came into the barn.
"Drandma given 'em to me, an' she said you was to have some," announced the little boy, as he let the cookies slide out of his apron to a box that stood near the goat-wagon.
Then Baby William began eating a cookie, and Jan and Ted did also, for they, too, were hungry, though it was not long after breakfast.
"Goin' to wide?" asked Trouble, his mouth full of cookie.
"Yes, we're going for a ride," answered Jan. "Oh, Ted, get a blanket or something to put over our laps. It's awful dusty on the road to-day, even if it did rain last night. It all dried up, I guess."
"All right, I'll get a blanket from grandpa's carriage. And you'd better get a cushion for Trouble."
"I will," said Janet, and her brother and sister left Baby William alone with the goat for a minute or two.
When Jan came back with the cushion she went to get another cookie, but there were none.
"Why Trouble Martin!" she cried, "did you eat them all?"
"All the cookies!"
"I did eat one and Nicknack—he did eat the west. He was hungry, he was, and he did eat the west ob 'em. I feeded 'em to him. Nicknack was a hungry goat," said Trouble, smiling.
"I should think he was hungry, to eat up all those cookies! I only had one!" cried Jan.
"What! Did Nicknack get at the cookies?" cried Ted, coming back with a light lap robe.
"Trouble gave them to him," explained Janet. "Oh dear! I was so hungry for another!"
"I'll ask grandma for some," promised Ted, and he soon came back with his hands full of the round, brown molasses cookies.
"Hello, Curlytops, what can I do for you to-day?" asked the storekeeper a little later, when the three children had driven up to his front door. "Do you want a barrel of sugar put in your wagon or a keg of salt mack'rel? I have both."
"We want baking soda," answered Jan.
"And you shall have the best I've got. Where are you going—off to look for the end of the rainbow and get the pot of gold at the end?" he asked jokingly.
"No, we're not going far to-day," answered Ted.
"Well, stop in when you're passing this way again," called out the storekeeper as Ted turned Nicknack around for the homeward trip. "I'm always glad to see you."
"Maybe you won't see us now for quite a while," answered Jan proudly.
"No? Why not? You're not going to leave Cherry Farm I hope."
Ted stopped Nicknack that they might better explain.
"We're going camping with grandpa on Star Island."
"Where's that you're going?" asked a farmer who had just come out of the store after buying some groceries.
"Camping on Star Island in Clover Lake," repeated Ted.
"Huh! I wouldn't go there if I were you," said the farmer, shaking his head.
"Why not?" asked Ted. "Is it because of the blue light?" and he looked at his sister to see if she remembered.
"I don't know anything about a blue light," the farmer answered. "But if I were your grandfather I wouldn't take you there camping," and the man again shook his head.
"Why not?" asked Janet, her eyes opening wide in surprise.
"Well, I'll tell you why," went on the farmer. "I was over on Star Island fishing the other day, and I saw a couple of tramps, or maybe gypsies, there. I didn't like the looks of the men, and that's why I wouldn't go there camping if I were you or your grandpa," and the farmer shook his head again as he unhitched his team of horses.
OFF TO STAR ISLAND
"Oh Ted!" exclaimed Janet, as she drove home in the goat-wagon with her brother and Baby William, "do you s'pose we can't go camping with grandpa?"
"Why can't we?" demanded Teddy.
"'Cause of what that farmer said."
"Oh, well, I guess grandpa won't be 'fraid of tramps on the island. It's part his, anyhow, and he can make 'em get off."
"Yes, he could do that," agreed Janet, after thinking the matter over. "But if they were gypsies?"
"Well, gypsies and tramps are the same. Grandpa can make the gypsies get off the island too."
"They—they might take Trouble," faltered Jan in a low voice.
"Who?" asked Ted.
"Who take me?" demanded Trouble himself. "Who take me, Jam?"
Sometimes he called his sister Jam instead of Jan.
"Who take me?" he asked, playfully poking his fingers in his sister's eyes.
"Oh—nobody," she answered quickly, as she took him off her lap and put him behind her in the cart. She did not want to frighten her little brother. "Let's hurry home and tell grandpa," Jan said to Ted, and he nodded his curly head to show that he would do that.
On trotted Nicknack, Trouble being now seated in the back of the wagon on a cushion, while Ted and Jan were in front.
"Maybe it was tramps making a campfire that we saw last night," went on Jan after a pause, during which they came nearer to Cherry Farm.
"A campfire blaze isn't blue," declared Ted.
"Well, maybe this is a new kind."
Ted shook his head until his curls waggled.
"I don't b'lieve so," he said.
"Bang! There, me shoot you!" suddenly cried Trouble, and Ted and Jan heard something fall with a thud on the ground behind them.
"Whoa, there!" cried Ted to Nicknack. "What are you shootin', Trouble baby?" he asked, turning to look at his little brother.
"Me shoot a bunny rabbit," was the answer.
"Oh, there is a little bunny!" cried Jan, pointing to a small, brown one that ran along under the bushes, and then came to a stop in front of the goat-wagon, pausing to look at the children.
"Me shoot him," said Trouble, laughing gleefully.
"What with?" asked Ted, a sudden thought coming into his mind.
"Trouble frow store thing at bunny," said the little boy. "It bwoke an' all white stuff comed out!"
"Oh, Trouble, did you throw grandma's soda at the bunny?" cried Jan.
"Yes, I did," answered Baby William.
"And it's all busted!" exclaimed Ted, as he saw the white powder scattered about on the woodland path. "We've got to go back to the store for some more. Oh, Trouble Martin!"
"I's didn't hurt de bunny wabbit," said Trouble earnestly. "I's only make-be'ieve shoot him—bang!"
"I know you didn't hurt the bunny," observed Jan. "But you've hurt grandma's soda. Is there any left, Ted?" she asked, as her brother got out of the wagon to pick up the broken package.
"A little," he answered. "There's some in the bottom. I guess we'll go back to the store and get more. I want to ask that farmer again about the tramps on Star Island."
"No, don't," begged Jan. "Let's take what soda we have to grandma. Maybe it'll be enough. Anyhow, if we did go back for more Trouble might throw that out, too, if he saw a rabbit."
"That's so. I guess we'd better leave him when we go to the store next time. How'd he get the soda, anyhow?"
"It must have jiggled out of my lap, where I was holding it, and then it fell in the bottom of the wagon and he got it. He didn't know any better."
"No, I s'pose not. Well, maybe grandma can use this."
Teddy carefully lifted up the broken package of baking soda, more than half of which had spilled when Trouble threw it at the little brown rabbit. Baby William may have thought the package of soda was a white stone, for it was wrapped in a white paper.
"Well, I'm glad he didn't hit the little bunny, anyhow," said Jan. "Where is it?" and she looked for the rabbit.
But the timid woodland creature had hopped away, probably to go to its burrow and tell a wonderful story, in rabbit language, about having seen some giants in a big wagon drawn by an elephant—for to a rabbit a goat must seem as large as a circus animal.
"I guess Trouble can't hit much that he throws at," observed Ted, as he started Nicknack once more toward Cherry Farm.
"He threw a hair brush at me once and hit me," declared Jan.
"Yes, I remember," said Teddy. "Here, Trouble, if you want to throw things throw these," and he stopped to pick up some old acorns which he gave his little brother. "You can't hurt anyone with them."
Trouble was delighted with his new playthings, and kept quiet the rest of the way home tossing the acorns out of the goat-wagon at the trees he passed.
Grandma Martin said it did not matter about the broken box of soda, as there was enough left for her need; so Ted and Jan did not have to go back to the store.
"But I'd like to ask that farmer more about the tramps on Star Island," said Ted to his grandfather, when telling what the man had said at the grocery.
"I'll see him and ask him," decided Grandpa Martin.
It was two days after this—two days during which the Curlytops had much fun at Cherry Farm—that Grandpa Martin spoke at dinner one afternoon.
"I saw Mr. Crittendon," he said, "and he told me that he had seen you Curlytops at the store and mentioned the tramps on Star Island."
"Are they really there?" asked Jan eagerly.
"Well, they might have been. But we won't let them bother us if we go camping. I'll make them clear out. Most of that island belongs to me, and the rest to friends of mine. They'll do as I say, and we'll clear out the tramps."
"I hope you will, Grandpa," said Janet.
"Did Mr. Crittendon say anything about the queer blue light Jan and Ted saw?" asked Grandma Martin.
"No, he hadn't seen that."
"Where did the tramps come from? And is he sure they weren't gypsies?" asked Jan's mother.
"No, they weren't gypsies. We don't often see them around here. Oh, I imagine the tramps were the regular kind that go about the country in summer, begging their way. They might have found a boat and gone to the island to sleep, where no constable would trouble them.
"But we're not afraid of tramps, are we, Curlytops?" he cried, as he caught Baby William up in his arms and set him on his broad shoulder. "We don't mind them, do we, Trouble?"
"We frow water on 'em!" said Baby William, laughing with delight as his grandfather made-believe bite some "souse" off his ears.
"That's what we will! No tramps for us on Star Island!"
"When are we going?" asked Ted excitedly.
"Yes, when?" echoed Jan.
"In a few days now. I've got to get out the tents and other things. We'll go the first of the week I think."
Ted and Jan could hardly wait for the time to come. They helped as much as they could when Grandpa Martin got the tents out of the barn, and they wanted to take so many of their toys and playthings along that there would have been no room in the boat for anything else if they had had their way.
But Mother Martin thinned out their collection of treasures, allowing them to take only what she thought would give them the most pleasure. Boxes of food were packed, and a little stove made ready to take along, for although a campfire looks nice it is hard to cook over.
Trouble got into all sorts of mischief, from almost falling out of the haymow once, to losing the bucket down the well by letting the chain unwind too fast. But a hired man caught him as he toppled off the hay in the barn, and Grandpa Martin got the bucket up from the well by tying the rake to a long pole and fishing deep down in the water.
At last the day came when the Curlytops were to go camping on Star Island. The boat was loaded with the tents and other things, and two or three trips were to be made half-way across the lake, for the island was about in the middle. Nicknack and his wagon were to be taken over and a small stable made for him under a tree not far from the big tent.
"All aboard!" cried Ted, as he and Jan took their places in the first boat. "All aboard!"
"Isn't this fun!" laughed Janet, who was taking care of Trouble.
"Dis fun," echoed the little chap.
"I'm sure we'll have a nice time," said Mother Martin. "And your father will like it when he, too, can camp out with us."
"I hope the tramps don't bother you," said Mr. Crittendon, who had come to help Grandpa Martin get his camping party ready.
"Oh, we're not afraid of them!" cried Ted.
"Well, be careful; that's all I've got to say," went on the farmer. "I'll let you have my gun, if you think you'll need it," he said to Grandpa Martin.
"Nonsense! I won't need it, thank you. I'm not afraid of a few tramps. Besides I sent one of my men over to the island yesterday, and he couldn't find a sign of a vagrant. If any tramps were there they've gone."
"Wa-all, maybe," said the farmer, with a shake of his head. "Good luck to you, anyhow!"
"Thanks!" laughed Grandpa Martin.
"All aboard!" called Ted once more.
Then Sam, the hired man, and Grandpa Martin began to row the boat.
The Curlytops were off for Star Island, to camp out with grandpa.
"Trouble! sit still!" ordered Janet.
"Yes, Trouble, you sit still!" called Mother Martin, as the Curlytops' grandfather and his man pulled on the oars that sent the boat out toward the middle of the lake. "Don't move about."
"I wants to splash water."
"Oh, no, you mustn't do that! Splashing water isn't nice," said Baby William's mother.
"'Ike drandpa does," Trouble went on, pointing to the oars which the farmer was moving to and fro. Now and then a little wave hit the broad blades and splashed little drops into the boat.
"Trouble want do that!" declared the little fellow.
"No, Trouble mustn't do that," said his mother. "Grandpa isn't splashing the water. He's rowing. Sit still and watch him."
Baby William did sit still for a little while, but not for very long. His mother held to the loose part of his blue and white rompers so he would not get far away, but, after a bit, she rather forgot about him, in talking to Ted and Jan about what they were to do and not to do in camp.
Suddenly grandpa, who had been rowing slowly toward Star Island, dropped his oars and cried:
"Look out there, Trouble!"
"Oh, what's the matter?" asked Mother Martin, looking around quickly.
"Trouble nearly jumped out of the boat," explained Grandpa Martin. "I just grabbed him in time."
And so he had, catching Baby William by the seat of his rompers and pulling him back on the seat from which he had quickly sprung up.
"What were you trying to do?" asked Mrs. Martin.
"Trouble want to catch fish," was the little fellow's answer.
"Yes! I guess a fish would catch you first!" laughed Ted.
"I'll sit by him and hold him in," offered Janet, and she remained close to her small brother during the remainder of the trip across the lake. He did not again try to lean far over as he had done when his grandfather saw him and grabbed him.
"Hurray!" cried Teddy, as he sprang ashore. "Now for the camp! Can I help put up the tents, Grandpa?"
"Yes, when it's time. But first we must bring the rest of the things over. We'll finish that first and put up the tents afterward. We have two more boatloads to bring."
"Then can't I help do that?"
"Yes, you may do that," said Grandpa Martin with a smile.
"Can't I come, too?" asked Janet. "I'm almost as strong as Teddy."
"I think you'd better stay and help me look after Trouble," said Mrs. Martin. "Nora will be busy getting lunch ready for us, which we will eat before the tents are up."
"Oh, then I can help at that!" cried Janet, who was eager to be busy. "Come on, Nora! Where are the things to eat, Mother? I'm hungry already!"
"So'm I!" cried Ted. "Can't we eat before we go back for the other boatload, Grandpa?"
"Yes, I guess so. You Curlytops can eat while Sam and I unload the boat. I'll call you Teddy, when I'm ready to go back."
"All right, Grandpa."
The tents were to be put up and camp made a little way up from the shore near the spot at which they had landed. Grandpa Martin took out of the boat the different things he had brought over, and stacked them up on shore. Parts of the tents were there, and things to cook with as well as food to eat. More things would be brought on the next two trips, when another of the hired men was to come over to help put up the tents and make camp.
"Oh, I just know we'll have fun here, camping with grandpa!" laughed Jan, as she picked up her small brother who had slipped and fallen down a little hill, covered with brown pine needles.
"Let's go and look for something," proposed Ted, when he had run about a bit and thrown stones in the lake, watching the water splash up and hundreds of rings chase each other toward shore.
"What'll we look for?" asked Janet, as she took hold of Trouble's hand, so he would not slip down again.
"Oh, anything we can find," went on Ted. "We'll have some fun while we're waiting for grandpa to get out the things to eat."
"I want something to eat!" cried Trouble. "I's hungry!"
"So'm I—a little bit," admitted Jan.
"Maybe we could find a cookie—or something—before they get everything unpacked," suggested Teddy, and this was just what happened. Grandpa Martin had some cookies in a paper bag in his pocket. Grandma Martin had put them there, for she felt sure the children would get hungry before their regular lunch was ready on the island. And she knew how hungry it makes anyone, children especially, to start off on a picnic in the woods or across a lake.
"There you are, Curlytops!" laughed Grandpa Martin, as he passed out the molasses and sugar cookies. "Now don't drop any of them on your toes!"
"Why not?" Ted wanted to know.
"Oh, because it might break them—I mean it might break your cookies," and Grandpa Martin laughed again.
"Come now, we'll go and look for things," proposed Ted, as he took a bite of his cookie, something which Jan and Trouble were also doing.
"What'll we look for?" Jan asked again.
"Oh, maybe we can find a cave or a den where a—where a fox lives," he said, rather stumbling over his words.
At first Ted had been going to say that perhaps they would look for a bear's den, but then he happened to remember that even talk of a bear, though of course there were none on Star Island, might scare his little brother and Jan. So he said "fox" instead.
"Is there a fox here?" Jan asked.
"Maybe," said Ted. "Anyhow, let's go off and look."
"Don't go too far!" called Grandpa Martin after them, as he started to unload the boat and get the camp in order. "And don't go too near the edge of the lake. I don't want you to fall in and have your mother blame me."
"No, we won't!" promised Ted. "Come on," he called to his little brother and sister. "Oh, there you go again!" he cried, as he saw Trouble stumble and fall. "What's the matter?" he asked.
"It's these pine needles. They're awfully slippery," answered Janet. "I nearly slipped down myself. Did you hurt yourself, Trouble?" she asked the little fellow.
He did not answer directly, but first looked at the place where he had fallen. He could easily see it, because the pine needles were brushed to one side. Then Baby William tried to turn around and look at the back of his little bloomers.
"No, I isn't hurted," he said.
Janet and Ted laughed.
"I guess maybe he thought he might have broken his leg or something," remarked Teddy. "Now come on and don't fall any more, Trouble."
But the little fellow was not quite ready to go on. He stooped over and looked at the ground where he had fallen.
"What's the matter?" asked Janet, who was waiting to lead him on, holding his hand so he would not fall.
"Maybe he lost something," said Teddy. "Has he got any pockets in his bloomers, Jan?"
"No, mother sewed 'em up so he wouldn't put his hands in 'em all the while—and his hands were so dirty they made his bloomers the same way. He hasn't any pockets."
"Then he couldn't lose anything," decided Ted. He was always losing things from his pockets, so perhaps he ought to know about what he was talking. "What is it, Trouble?" he asked, for the little fellow was still stooping over and looking carefully at the ground near the spot where he had fallen.
"I—I satted right down on him," said Trouble at last, as he picked up something from the earth. "I satted right down on him, but I didn't bust him," and he held out something on a little piece of wood.
"What's he got?" asked Ted.
"Oh, it's only an ant!" answered Janet. "I guess he saw a little ant crawling along, just before he fell, and he sat down on him. Did you think you'd hurt the little ant, Trouble?"
"I satted on him, but I didn't hurt him," answered the little boy. "He can wiggle along nice—see!" and he showed the ant, crawling about on the piece of wood. Perhaps the little ant wondered how in the world it was ever going to get back to the ground again.
"Put him down and come on," said Ted. "We want to find something before grandpa puts up the tent. Maybe we can find the den where the fox lives."
Trouble carefully put the little ant back on the ground.
"I satted on him, but I didn't hurted him," again said the little fellow, grunting as he stood up straight again. Janet took his hand and they followed Teddy off through the forest.
It was very pleasant in the woods on Star Island. The sun was shining brightly and the waters of the lake sparkled in the sun. The children felt glad and happy that they had come camping with their grandpa, and they knew that the best fun was yet to happen.
"Let's look around for holes now," said Teddy, after they had gone a little way down a woodland path.
"What sort of holes?" asked Janet.
"Holes where a fox lives," answered her brother. "If we could find a fox maybe we could tame it."
"Wouldn't it bite?" the little girl asked.
"Well, maybe a little bit at first, but not after it got tame," said Teddy. "Come on!"
They walked a little way farther, and then Jan suddenly cried:
"Oh, I see a hole!"
She pointed to one beneath the roots of a big tree.
"That's a fox den, I guess!" exclaimed Teddy. "We'll watch and see what comes out."
The children hid in the bushes where they could look at the hole in the ground. For some time they waited, and then they began to get tired. The Curlytops were not used to keeping still.
"I'm going to sneeze!" said Trouble suddenly, and sneeze he did. And just then a little brown animal bounced out from under a bush and ran into the hole.
"Oh, it's a bunny rabbit!" cried Janet. "He lives in that hole! Come on, Ted, let's walk. We've found out what it was. It isn't a fox, it's a bunny! Let's go and find something else on the island. Maybe we can find a big cave."
"And maybe we'll find out what that blue light was," cried Ted eagerly.
"I guess I don't want to look for that," remarked Jan slowly.
"'Cause don't you 'member what Hal said about there bein' ghosts on this island?" and Janet looked over her shoulder, though it was broad daylight.
"Pooh!" laughed her brother. "I thought you didn't believe in ghosts."
"I'm not afraid!" declared Teddy. "And I'm going to look and see if I can't find the lost star that fell on the island."
"Grandpa said it all burned up."
"Well, maybe a little piece of it was left. Anyhow I'm going to look."
So they looked, but they found nothing like the blue light, and then Ted said he was hungry and wanted to eat.
Nora and Mrs. Martin had set out a little lunch for the children on top of a packing box, and the Curlytops and Trouble were soon enjoying the sandwiches and cake, while their grandfather and the hired man finished unloading the boat. In a little while Grandpa Martin called:
"All aboard, Teddy, if you're going back with me!"
"I'm coming!" was the answer. "I'm coming!"
It did not take Grandpa Martin long to pull back to the mainland in the boat which was empty save for himself and Ted. The lake was smooth, a little wind making tiny waves that gently lapped the side of the boat.
"I think we'd better bring Nicknack over this trip," said Grandpa Martin, when a second farm hand met him on shore and began to help load the boat for the second trip. "The sooner we get that goat over on the island the better I'll feel."
"Why, you're not afraid of him, are you?" asked the hired man whose name was George.
"No. But I don't know how easy it's going to be to ferry him over. He may start some of his tricks. So we won't put much in the boat this time. We'll leave plenty of room for the goat and the cart."
"Oh, Nicknack will be good," declared Ted. "I know he will. Won't you, Nicknack?" and he put his arms around his pet. The goat had been driven down near the dock whence the boat started for Star Island.
"Well, unharness him and we'll get him on board," said the farmer. "Then we'll see what happens next."
Nicknack made no fuss at all about being unharnessed. His wagon was first wheeled on the boat, which was a large one and broad. Then Ted started Nicknack toward the craft.
"Giddap!" cried Teddy to Nicknack. "We're going to camp on Star Island, and you can have lots of fun! Giddap!"
Nicknack stood still on the dock for a few seconds, and he seemed to be sniffing the boat and the water in which it floated. Then with a little wiggle of his funny, short tail, he jumped down in near his wagon, and began eating some grass which Ted had pulled and placed there for him.
"It's a sort of bait, like a piece of cheese in a mouse trap," remarked Ted, as he saw the goat nibbling. "Isn't he good, Grandpa?"
"He's good now, Teddy; but whether he'll be good all the way over is something I can't say. I hope so."
George put in the boat as much as could safely be carried, with the goat as a passenger, and then he and Grandpa Martin began rowing toward Star Island. At first everything went very well. Nicknack seemed a little frightened when the boat tipped and rocked, but Ted patted him and fed him more grass, which Nicknack liked very much.
"I knew he'd be good!" Teddy said, when they were almost at the island, and could see Jan waving to them. "I knew he'd like the boat ride, Grandpa."
"Yes, he seems to like it. Now if we——"
But just then something happened.
The wind suddenly blew rather hard, roughening the water and causing the boat to tip. Nicknack was jostled over against the wagon, and some water splashed on him.
"Baa-a-a-a-a!" bleated the goat.
Then, before anyone could stop him, he gave a leap over Teddy's head, and into the water splashed Nicknack.
The goat had leaped overboard into the deepest part of Clover Lake!
THE BAG OF SALT
"Oh! Oh!" cried Teddy. "Oh, there goes my nice goat! Catch him, Grandpa! Stop him!"
Grandpa Martin stopped rowing and looked in surprise at the goat. So did the hired man.
"Well, just look!" exclaimed George.
"Oh, he'll be drowned! He'll be drowned!" wailed Teddy, tears coming into his eyes, for he loved Nicknack. "He'll be drowned!"
Grandpa Martin rested his hands on the oars and looked into the water. Then he smiled.
"I guess you'd have hard work drowning that goat," he said. "He's swimming like a fish!"
"And right straight for Star Island!" added the hired man. "That's a smart goat all right! He knows where he wants to go, and the shortest way to get there!"
Surely enough Nicknack was swimming toward the island. When he jumped out of the boat he floundered a little in the water, and splashed some on Teddy. Then he struck out, paddling as a dog does with his front feet. Nicknack turned himself about until he was headed toward the island, and then he swam straight toward it.
"Oh, won't he drown, Grandpa?" asked Teddy.
"I don't believe so, my boy! I guess Nicknack knows more than we thought he did. Maybe he didn't like the way we rowed, or he may have wanted a bath. Anyhow he jumped overboard, but he'll be all right."
"See him go!" cried the hired man.
Nicknack was swimming quite fast. Of course a goat is not as good a swimmer as is a duck or a fish, but Ted's pet did very well. On shore were Nora, Mrs. Martin, Janet, Trouble, and the farm hand who had gone over in the first boatload. They were watching the goat swimming toward them.
"Did you throw him into the water, Teddy?" asked Janet, as soon as the boat was near enough so that talking could be heard.
"He jumped in," Ted answered. "Isn't he a good swimmer?"
"I should say so! Here, Nicknack! Come here!" Janet called.
The goat, which had been headed toward a spot a little way down the island from where Janet and her mother stood, turned at the sound of the little girl's voice and came in her direction.
"Oh, he knows me!" she cried in delight. "Now don't shake yourself the way Skyrocket does, and get me all wet!" she begged, as Nicknack scrambled out on shore, water dripping from his hairy coat.
But the goat did not act like a dog, who gives himself a great shaking whenever he comes on shore after having been in the water. Nicknack just let it drip off him, and began to nibble some of the grass that grew on the island. He was making himself perfectly at home, it seemed.
The goat-wagon and the other things were soon landed, and then Grandpa Martin and one of the hired men went back for the last load. When that came back and the things were piled up near the tents, the work of setting up the camp went on. There was much yet to be done.
Ted and Jan helped all they could in putting up the tents. So did Mother Martin and Nora, who was large and strong. She could pull on a rope about as well as a man, and there were many ropes that needed tightening and fastening around pegs driven into the ground so the tents would not blow over in the wind.
Nicknack had been tied to a tree, near which, a little later, Ted and Jan were going to make him a little bower of leaves and branches. That was to be his stable until a better one could be built by Grandpa Martin—one that would keep Nicknack dry when it rained.
At last the tents were up, one for sleeping, another for cooking, and a third where the Curlytops and the others would eat their meals. It was a fine camp that Grandpa Martin made, and he knew just how to do it right, even to digging little trenches, or ditches, around the tents so the water would run off when it stormed.
"And now let's take a walk and see what we can find," suggested Ted to Janet, when Mother Martin said they might play about until supper was ready, for they had called the lunch they had eaten their dinner.
"Don't go too far," cautioned Mother Martin.
"Oh, we can't get lost on this island," said Ted. "All we'd have to do, if we were, would be to walk along the shore until we came to this camp."
"I know that. But it wasn't so much about your getting lost that I was thinking," said Mrs. Martin.
"Oh, you mean—the tramps?" half whispered Janet.
"Well, I don't know whether there are any here or not," went on her mother. "But it's best to be careful until grandpa has had a chance to look about. Where is grandpa now?"
"He's getting some water at the spring," Ted answered.
There was a fine spring on Star Island, not far from the place where the tents had been set up, and Mr. Martin was now bringing pails of water from that and pouring them into a barrel which would hold so much that even Trouble would have plenty to drink no matter how thirsty he was.
"Well, don't go too far away until either grandpa or I have a chance to go with you," added Mrs. Martin.
"Me come, too," called Trouble, as he saw his brother and sister starting off.
"Oh, Mother!" exclaimed Teddy.
"No, you stay with mother," said Mrs. Martin. "I'll give you a nice drink of milk."
"Don't want milk. I's had milk. Trouble want Ted an' Jan."
"But you can't go with them, my dear. Come on, we'll go and throw stones into the lake and make-believe it's a great, big ocean!"
Baby William pouted a little at first. He liked to have his own way. But when he saw what fun his mother was having tossing stones into the lake and making the water splash up, Trouble did the same, laughing at the fun he was having.
"Dis a ocean, Momsey?" he asked as he set a little stick afloat, making believe it was a boat.
"Well, we'll call it an ocean," Mrs. Martin answered. "But this water is fresh, and that in the ocean is very salty. Some day I'll take you and my two little Curlytops to the real ocean, and you can taste how salty the waves are. Now we'll throw some more stones."
Meanwhile Ted and Jan started for a little walk down the path that went the whole length of Star Island.
"Shall we take Nicknack?" asked Jan.
"No, let's wait until he dries off after his bath," decided Teddy. "I don't like wet goats."
"Why, Teddy Martin! Nicknack got dried out hours ago!"
"Well, anyway, a goat isn't like a dog. We don't want a goat along when we are going out walking."
So Nicknack was left to nibble the grass, while the Curlytops wandered on and on. Grandpa and the hired men, having finished putting up the tents, were getting the stove ready so Nora could get supper.
"What are you looking for?" asked Jan when she noticed that her brother walked along as if searching for something. "Are you trying to see if any tramps or gypsies are here on the island?"
"No. I was thinking maybe I could find that fallen star."
"But didn't grandpa say it all melted up?"
"Maybe a piece of it's left," went on Ted. This was the second time that he had spoken of the star that day. "If I can't find a chunk of it, maybe I can find the hole it made when it hit," he added. "I'd like to find that. Maybe it would be bigger than the one I dug when I thought I could go all the way through to China."
"Yes. The time Skyrocket fell in!" laughed Jan. "'Member that, Teddy?"
"I guess I do! Daddy had to go out in the night and bring him in. Come on, let's look for the hole the shooting star made."
The two Curlytops walked on over the island, looking here and there for star-holes. They found a number of deep places, but after looking at them, and poking sticks down into them, Ted decided that none of them had ever held a shooting star.
"Maybe bears made them," half whispered Jan.
"There aren't any bears on this island!" Teddy declared.
"I hope not," murmured his sister, as she looked over her shoulder and then kept close to her brother during the rest of the walk.
Pretty soon the children heard their mother's voice calling them. They could hear very plainly, for the air was clear.
"I guess supper is ready," said Janet.
"I hope it is!" sighed Ted. "I'm awful hungry!"
Supper was ready, smoking hot on the table in the dining-tent, when Ted and Jan reached the camp grandpa had made.
"Oh, how good it smells!" cried Ted.
"And how nice the white tents look under the green trees," added his sister. "I just love it here!"
"It is the nicest place we have yet been for the summer vacation," said Mother Martin. "This and Cherry Farm are two lovely places."
They sat down under the tent and began to eat. Nora had gotten up a fine supper, for a regular cook stove had been brought along, and it was almost like eating at Grandma Martin's table, only this was out of doors, for the sides of the tent were raised to let in the air and the rays of the setting sun.
"What's the matter, Father?" asked Mrs. Martin, as she saw the children's grandfather pause after tasting the potatoes. "Is anything wrong?"
"I think I'd like a little more salt on these."
"Yes, they do need salting. Nora, bring the salt please."
"There isn't any, except what I used when I was cooking—a little I had in a salt-shaker."
"Oh, yes, there must be. I brought a whole bagful. I saw it when I unpacked some of the things. There was a sack of salt."
"Well, it isn't here now," said Nora, as she looked among her kitchen things.
"Has anyone seen the bag of salt?" asked Mrs. Martin.
She looked at Ted and Jan, who shook their heads. Then Trouble's mother looked at him. He was busy with a piece of bread and jam. One could have told Trouble had been eating bread and jam just by looking at his mouth and face.
"Did you see the salt, Trouble?" asked his mother.
"Iss, I did," he answered, taking another bite.
"Where is it?"
"In de water," he replied. "I puts it in de water."
"You put the salt in the water? What water? Tell mother, Trouble."
"I puts salt in de lake water to make him 'ike ocean. Trouble 'ike ocean. Come on, I show!" and, getting down out of his chair, he toddled toward a little cove near the camp. The others, following him, saw something white on the ground near the edge of the lake. Grandpa Martin touched it with his finger and tasted.
"The little tyke did empty the whole bag of salt in the lake!" cried the farmer. "Fancy his trying to make it like the ocean! Ho! Ho!"
"Oh, Trouble!" cried Mrs. Martin. "You wasted a whole bag of salt, and now grandpa hasn't any for his potatoes!"
TED AND THE BEAR
Baby William looked a little bit frightened and ashamed as his mother spoke to him in that way. He loved his grandfather, and of course he would not have done anything to make him feel bad if he had thought. But Trouble was a very little fellow, though his father often said he could get into as many kinds of mischief as could the larger Curlytops.
"Oh dear! This is too bad!" went on Mrs. Martin. "Why did you do it, Trouble? What made you empty the bag of salt into the lake?"
"Want to make ocean wif salt water," was the answer.
"I suppose it's my fault, for telling him so much about the big sea and its salt water," said Trouble's mother. "He liked to hear me talk about the ocean, and I guess he must have been thinking about it more than I had any idea of.
"He must have tasted the water of the lake, and found it wasn't salty, and then he thought that, to make an ocean and big waves out of a lake, all he had to do was to put in the salt. I'm sorry, Father."
"Oh, that's all right," laughed Grandpa Martin. "I guess I can get along without any more salt."
"Trouble sorry, too," said the little fellow, when he understood that he had done something wrong. "Me get salt water for you," and he started toward the place where he had emptied the bag into the water, carrying a spoon from the table.
"No, Trouble! Come back!" ordered his mother. "I guess he wants to dip up some salt water for you," she said laughingly to the children's grandfather, "but he'd be more likely to fall in himself."
She caught Trouble up in her arms and kissed him, and then Nora managed to find a little salt in the bottom of the shaker, so Grandpa Martin had some on his potatoes after all. But Trouble was told he must never again do anything like that.
He promised, of course, but Jan said:
"He'll do something else, just as bad."
"I guess he will," laughed Teddy.
Supper over, Mr. Martin took his two men over to the mainland. On his return they all gathered about a little campfire grandpa made in front of the sleeping tent. The cot beds had been set up, and a mosquito netting was hung at the "front door" of the white canvas house, though really there was no door, just two flaps of the tent that could be tied together. But the netting kept out the bugs. Fortunately there were no mosquitoes, though all sorts of moths, snapping bugs and other flying things came around whenever a lantern was lighted.
"Tell us a story, Grandpa!" begged Janet, when they had finished talking about the many things that had happened during the first day in camp.
"Tell us about the shooting star that fell on this island," begged Teddy.
"Tell us about de twamps!" exclaimed Trouble, who ought to have been asleep, but who had begged to stay up a little longer than usual.
"I don't know anything about the tramps," laughed grandpa, "and I don't believe there are any on the island, though it is a large one, and it will take two or three days for us to walk all about it.
"As for the shooting star, which Teddy thinks about so much, I really didn't see it fall, and all I know is what the old men in the village have told me. It was many years ago."
"And did you ever see the blue light?" asked Ted, thinking of what he and his sister had seen the night they were coming home from the little visit to Hal Chester.
"No, I never did; though I'd like to, so I might know what it was."
"Children, how is grandpa ever going to tell you a story if you keep asking him so many questions?" laughed Mrs. Martin.
"All right—now we'll listen," promised Teddy, and Grandpa Martin told a tale of when he was a little boy, and lived further to the north and on the edge of a big wood where there were bears and other wild animals. His father was a good hunter, Grandpa Martin said, and often used to kill bears and wolves, for the country was wild, with never so much as one automobile in it.
Grandpa finished his story of the olden days by telling of once when he was a small boy, coming home through the woods toward dark one evening and being chased by a bear. But he crawled into a hollow log where the bear could not get him, and later his father and some other hunters came, shot the bear and got the little boy safely out.
"Whew!" whistled Teddy, when this was finished. "I'd like to have been there!"
"In the log, hiding away from the bear?" asked his mother.
"No, I—I guess not that," Ted answered. "I'd just like to have seen it up in a tree, where the bear couldn't get me."
"Bears can climb trees," remarked Janet.
"Well, I'd go up in a little tree too small for a bear," her brother answered.
"I guess you'd all better go to your little beds!" laughed Mother Martin. "It's long past your sleepy time."
And the Curlytops and Trouble were soon sound asleep.
It must have been about the middle of the night—anyhow it was quite late—when Teddy, who was sleeping in his cot next to one of the side walls of the tent, was suddenly awakened by a noise outside, and something seemed to be trying to get through.
"Oh! Oh!" cried Teddy, quickly sitting up in bed, and wide awake all at once. "Oh, Mother! Something's after me! It's a bear! It's a bear!"
"Hush!" quickly exclaimed Mrs. Martin. "You'll waken William, and frighten him!"
"But Mother! I'm sure it's a bear! He growled!"
"What is it?" asked Jan, from her cot on the other side of the tent.
"It's a bear!" cried Ted again.
There did seem to be something going on outside the tent near Ted's side. There was a crackling in the bushes, and once something came pushing hard against the side of the white canvas house with force enough to make a bulge in it. Teddy jumped up from his cot and ran over to his mother, who was sitting up on her bed.
"Oh, Mother! It's coming in!" cried Teddy.
"Nonsense!" and Mrs. Martin laughed as she put her arms around her small son.
"What is it?" asked Grandpa Martin from the curtained-off part of the tent where he slept.
"It's a bear!" cried Janet.
Just then, from outside came a loud:
Teddy looked very much surprised. Then he smiled. Then he laughed and cried:
"Why, it's our goat Nicknack!"
"I guess that's what it is," added Grandpa Martin. "But he seems to be in trouble. I'll go outside and look."
Taking a lantern with him, while Mrs. Martin and the children waited a bit anxiously, Grandpa Martin went to see what had happened. The Curlytops heard him laughing as they saw the flicker of his light through the white tent. Then they heard Nicknack bleating again. The goat seemed, to those inside, to be kicking about with his little black hoofs.
"Whoa there, Nicknack!" called Grandpa Martin. "I'll soon get you loose!"
There was more noise, more tramping in the bushes and then, after a while, Grandpa Martin came back.
"What was it?" asked Ted and Jan in whispers, for their mother had begged them not to awaken Trouble, who was still sleeping peacefully.
"It was your goat," was the answer. "He had got loose, and his horns were caught between two trees where he had tried to jump. He was held fast by his horns and he was kicking his heels up in the air, trying to get loose."
"Did you get him out?" asked Jan.
"Yes, I pried the trees apart and got his head loose. Then he was all right. I tied him good and tight in his stable, and I guess he won't bother us again to-night."
"Then it wasn't a bear after all," remarked Jan, laughing at her brother.
"No, indeed! There aren't any bears on this island," said her grandfather. "Go to sleep."
Nothing else happened the rest of the night, and they all slept rather late the next morning, for they were tired from the work of the day before. The sun was shining over Clover Lake when Nora rang the breakfast bell, and Ted and Jan hurried with their dressing, for they were eager to be at their play.
"What'll we do to-day?" asked Janet, as she tried to get a comb through her thick, curly hair.
"We'll go for a ride with Nicknack," decided Ted, who was also having a hard time with his locks. "Oh, I wish I was a barber!" he cried, as the comb stuck in a bunch of curls.
"Why?" asked his mother, who was giving Trouble his breakfast.
"'Cause then I'd cut my own hair short, and I'd never have to comb it."
"Oh, I wouldn't want to see you without your curls," Mother Martin said. "Here, I'll help you as soon as I feed Trouble."
Trouble could feed himself when his plate had been set in front of him, and while he was eating Mrs. Martin made her two Curlytops look better by the use of their combs.
After breakfast the children ran to hitch Nicknack to the wagon. Grandpa Martin was going back in the rowboat to the mainland to get a few things that had been forgotten, and also another bag of salt.
"And I'll hide it away from Trouble," said Nora with a laugh. "We don't want any more salty oceans around here."
"Let's drive away before Trouble sees us," proposed Jan to her brother. "He'll want to come for a ride and we can't go very far if he comes along."
"All right. Stoop down and walk behind the bushes. Then he can't see us."
Jan and Ted managed to get away unseen, and were soon hitching their goat to the wagon. Trouble finished his breakfast and called to them, wanting to go with them wherever they went. But his mother knew the two Curlytops did not want Trouble with them every time, so Baby William had to play by himself about camp, while the two older children drove off on a path that led the long way of the island.
"Maybe we'll have an adventure," suggested Jan, as she sat in the cart driving the goat, for she and her brother took turns at this fun.
"Maybe we'll see some of the tramps," he added.
"I don't want to," said Jan.
"Well, maybe we'll see a bear."
"I don't want that, either. I wish you wouldn't say such things, Teddy."
"Well, what do you want to see?"
"Oh, something nice—flowers or birds or maybe a fairy."
"Huh! I guess there's no fairies on this island, either. Let's see if we can find an apple tree. I'd like an apple."
"So would I. But we mustn't eat green ones."
"Not if they're too green," agreed Teddy. "But a little green won't hurt."
They drove on, Nicknack trotting along the path through the woods, now and then stopping to nibble at the leaves. At last the children came to a beautiful shady spot, where many ferns grew beneath the trees, and it was so cool that they stopped their goat, tied him to an old stump and sat down to eat some cookies their mother had given them. The Curlytops nearly always became hungry when they were out on their little trips.
"Wouldn't it be funny," remarked Ted, after a bit, "if we should see a bear?"
"The-o-dore Martin!" gasped Janet. "I wish you'd keep quiet! It makes me scared to hear you say that."
"Well, I was only foolin'," and Teddy dropped a "g," a habit of which his mother was trying to break him. And he did not often forget.
"If I saw a bear," began Janet, "I'd just scream and——"
Suddenly she stopped because of a queer look she saw on her brother's face. Teddy dropped the cookie he had been about to bite, and, pointing toward a hollow log that lay not far off, said, in a hoarse whisper:
"Look, Jan! It is a bear!"
JAN SEES SOMETHING
For a moment after her brother had said this Janet did not speak. She, too, dropped the cookie she had just taken from the bag, and turned slowly around to see at what Teddy was pointing.
She was just in time to see something furry and reddish-brown in color dart into the hollow log, which was open at both ends. Then Jan gave a scream.
"Oh!" exclaimed Ted, who was as much frightened by Janet's shrill voice as he was at what he had seen. "Oh, Jan! Don't!"
"I—I couldn't help it," she answered. "I told you I'd scream if I saw a bear, and I did see one. It is a bear, isn't it, Teddy?"
"It is," he answered. "I saw it first. It's my bear!"
"You can have it—every bit of it," said Jan, quickly getting up from the mossy rock on which she had been sitting. "I don't want any of it, not even the stubby tail. I like to own half of Nicknack with you, but I don't want half a bear."
"Then I'll take all of it—it's my bear," went on Ted. "Where're you going, Jan?" he asked, as he saw his sister hurrying away.
"I'm going home. I don't like it here. I'm going to make Nicknack run home with me."
Teddy got up, too. He did not stop to pick up the cookie he had dropped.
"I—I guess I'll go with you, Jan," he said. "I guess my bear will stay in the log until I come back."
"Are you coming back?" asked Janet, as with trembling fingers she unfastened Nicknack's strap from around the stump to which he had been tied.
"I'm going to get grandpa to come back with me and shoot the bear," replied Ted. "I want his skin to make a rug. You know—like grandpa did with the bear his father shot."
Jan did not say anything. She got into the cart and turned the goat about, ready to leave the place. She gave a look over her shoulder at the hollow log into which she and Ted had seen the furry, brown animal crawl. It did not seem to be coming out, and Jan was glad of that.
"Giddap, Nicknack!" she called to the goat, and as the animal started off Ted jumped into the wagon from behind.
"I wish I had a gun," he said.
"You're too little," declared Jan. "Oh, Ted! what if he should chase us? Was it an awful big bear? I didn't dare look much."
"It wasn't so very big."
"Was it as big as Nicknack?"
"Oh, bigger'n him—a lot."
"Oh!" and again Jan looked back over her shoulder. "I hope he doesn't chase us," she added.
"I'll fix him if he does!" threatened Ted. "I'll fix him!"
"How? You haven't any gun, and maybe you couldn't shoot it if you had, lessen maybe it was your Christmas pop gun."
"Pooh! Pop guns wouldn't be any good to shoot a bear! You've got to have real bullets. But I can fix this bear if he chases us," and Ted tried to look brave.
"How?" asked Jan again. She felt safer now, for Nicknack was going fast, and the hollow log, into which the furry animal had crawled, was out of sight.
"I'll make our goat buck the bear with his horns if he chases us, that's what I'll do!" declared Ted.
"Oh, that would be good!" exclaimed Jan in delight. "Nicknack is brave and his horns are sharp. 'Member how he stuck 'em in the fence one day?"
"Yes," answered Ted, "I do. And I'll get him to stick 'em in the bear if he comes too close. Giddap, Nicknack!" and Ted flicked the goat with the ends of the reins. I think he wanted the goat to go faster so there would be no danger of the bear's chasing after him and his sister. Perhaps Ted thought Nicknack might be afraid of the bear, even if the goat did have sharp horns.
The Curlytops were greatly excited when they reached the camp. Trouble was playing out in front and Grandpa Martin had just landed in the boat.
"What's that?" he cried, when he heard Ted's story. "A bear in a hollow log? Nonsense! There are no bears on Star Island."
"But I saw it, and so did Janet. Didn't you, Jan?" cried Ted.
"I saw something fuzzy with a big tail going inside the log," answered Teddy's sister.
"Then it couldn't have been a bear," laughed Grandpa Martin. "For a bear has only a little short, stubby tail. I'll go to see what it is. I think I know, however."
"What?" asked Mother Martin. "Don't go into any danger, Father."
"I won't," promised the farmer. "But I won't tell you what I think the animal is until I see it. I may be mistaken."
"Maybe it's a twamp," put in Trouble, who seemed to be thinking about them as much as Ted thought about the fallen star.
"Tramps aren't animals," laughed Jan.
"Furry animals, anyway," added Ted.
"Well, you stay here and I'll go see what it was," went on grandpa, and he started off toward the hollow log with a big club. He was not gone very long, and when he came back he was laughing, as he had the night before when Nicknack gave them a scare.
"Just as I thought!" cried the children's grandpa. "It was a big, red fox in the hollow log."
"And not a bear?" asked Ted.
"Not a bear, Curlytop! Only a fox that was more frightened by you than you were by him, I guess. I knew it couldn't be a bear."
"How did you get it out of the log?" asked Jan.
"Oh, I just tapped on the log with my club, and Mr. Fox must have thought it was somebody knocking at his front door. For out he ran, looked at me with his bright eyes, and then away he ran into the woods. So you Curlytops needn't be afraid. The fox won't hurt you."
"I'm glad of that," said Jan. "Now let's go fishing, Ted."
"All right," he agreed.
"Can't you take Trouble with you?" asked his mother. "I want to help Nora and grandpa do a little work around the camp."
"Yes, we'll take him," agreed Jan. "But you mustn't put any salt in the water, Trouble, and scare the fish."
"I not do it. I tatch a fiss myself."
They gave him a pole and a line without any hook on it so he could not scratch himself, and then Jan and Ted sat down under a shady tree, not far from camp, to try to catch some fish.
They knew how, for their father had taught them, and soon Jan had landed a good-sized sunfish. A little later Ted caught a perch which had stripes on its sides, "like a zebra," as Jan said. After that Jan and Ted each caught two fish, and they soon had enough to cook.
"What do you Curlytops want me to do with these?" asked Nora, as the two children came along, laughing and shouting, with the fish dangling from strings each of them carried.
"Cook 'em, of course!" cried Teddy. "That's what we caught them for, Nora—to have you cook them."
"But won't they bite me?" asked the cook, pretending to be afraid.
"Oh, no! They can't!" explained Jan.
"They bit on our hooks, and now they can't bite any more, but we can bite them," said Teddy.
"Oh, would you bite the poor fish?" asked Nora.
For a moment the Curlytops did not know what to answer. Then Teddy replied:
"Oh, well, it can't hurt 'em to bite 'em after they're cooked, can it?"
"No, I guess not," laughed Nora, "no more than it can hurt a baked potato. Well, run along and I'll get the fish ready for dinner, or whatever you call the next meal. I declare, I'm so mixed up with this camping business that I hardly know breakfast from supper. But run along, and I'll fry the fish for you, anyhow."
"Let's go and take a walk," proposed Jan, when they had washed their hands in the tin basin that Mother Martin had set on a bench under a tree, with a towel and soap near by, for fish did leave such a funny smell on your hands, the little girl said.
"Where'll we walk to?" asked Teddy.
"Oh, let's go and look. Maybe we can find that cute little bunny we saw when we were looking for the den where the fox lived but didn't find him," proposed Jan.
"All right," answered Teddy, and they set off.
They had not gone very far before Teddy stopped near a bush and began to look about him.
"What's the matter?" asked his sister.
"Why, I saw a bird fly out of here," answered her brother, "and it seemed just as if it had a broken wing. It couldn't fly—hardly."
"Where is it?" asked Jan eagerly. "Maybe if we take it to mother she can fix the wing. Once she mended a dog's broken leg, and he could walk 'most as good as ever when he got well, only he limped a little."
"But a dog can't fly," said Teddy.
"I know it," agreed Jan. "But if mother can mend a broken leg, she can fix a broken wing, can't she?"
"Maybe," admitted her brother. "Oh, there's the bird again, Jan! See how it flutters along!" and the little boy pointed to one that was dragging itself along over the ground as though its wings or legs were broken or hurt.
"Come on!" cried Teddy. "Maybe we can catch the bird, Jan!"
Brother and sister started after the little feathered songster, which was making a queer, chirping noise. Then Jan suddenly called:
"Oh, here's another!"
And, surely enough, there was a second bird acting almost as was the first—fluttering along, half hopping and half flying through the grass.
"We'll get 'em both!" yelled Teddy, and he and Jan hurried along. But, somehow or other, as soon as they came almost to the place where they could reach out and touch one of the birds, which acted as though it could not go a bit farther, the little creature would manage to flutter on just beyond the eager hands of the children.
"That's funny!" exclaimed Teddy. "I almost had one of 'em that time!"
"So did I!" added Janet. "Now I'm sure I can get this one!" and she ran forward to grasp the fluttering bird, but it managed to hop along, just out of her reach.
The one Ted was after did the same thing, and for some time the children hurried on after the birds. At last the two songsters, with little chirps and calls, suddenly flew high in the air and circled back through the woods.
"Well, would you look at that!" cried Teddy, in surprise.
"They can fly, after all!" gasped Janet. "What d'you s'pose made 'em pretend they couldn't?"
"I—I guess they wanted to fool us," said her brother.
And that really was it. The little birds had built a nest in a low bush, close to the ground where the children could easily have reached it if they had seen it. And they were very close to it, though their eyes had not spied it.
But the birds had seen the Curlytops and, fearing that Jan and Ted might take out the eggs in the nest, the wise little birds had pretended to be willing to let the boy and girl catch them instead of robbing the nest.
Of course, Jan and Ted wouldn't have done such a thing as that! But the birds knew no differently. Not all birds act this way—pretending to be hurt, or that they can't fly—to get people to chase after them, and so keep far away from the little nests. But this particular kind of bird always does that.
Some day, if you are in the woods or the fields, and see one bird—or two—acting in this queer way, as though it could not fly or walk, and as though it wanted you to hurry after it and try to catch it—if you see a bird acting that way you may be sure you are near its nest and eggs and this is the way the bird does to get you away.
"Let's look for their nest," suggested Teddy, when the two birds had flown far away, back through the woods.
"Oh, no," answered Jan. "We don't want to scare them. Maybe we can look at the nest of a bird that won't mind if we watch her feeding her little ones."
And, a little later, they came to a bush in which was a robin's nest. In it were some tiny birds, and, by standing on their tiptoes, and bending the nest down a little way, the Curlytops could look in. The baby birds, which had only just begun to grow feathers, opened their mouths as wide as they could, thinking, I suppose, that Jan and Ted had worms or bugs for them.
But the children did not have.
"Your mother will soon be along to feed you," said Janet, and soon the mother bird did come flying back from the field. She seemed afraid at first, when she saw how close Jan and Ted were to her nest, but the children soon walked away, and then the robin fed her young.
Ted and Jan had a nice walk through the woods and then they went back to camp.
"We'll take Trouble for a walk, so mother won't have to look after him so much," said Janet. "Come, Trouble!"
"Show me where the fox was," begged Baby William, and Ted and Jan turned their steps that way. But there was no sign of the big-tailed animal in the hollow log, though the children pounded on it as Grandpa Martin said he had done.
Then they wandered on a little farther in the beautiful woods. Jan saw some flowers she wanted to gather, and leaving the path where Ted stood to take care of his little brother, she began picking a handful.
Janet saw so many pretty blossoms that she went a little farther than she meant to, and, before she knew it, she had lost sight of her two brothers, though she could hear them talking.
Suddenly, after crawling through some bushes, Jan found herself on another path. On the other side of it she saw some black-eyed Susans.
"Oh, I must get some of them!" she cried.
She darted across the path, and, as she was about to pick the flowers, she saw, standing behind a big tree, a man who had on very ragged clothes. He looked at Jan, who dropped her bouquet and gasped:
"Oh! Oh, dear!"
The ragged man looked at Janet and smiled. But Jan did not smile. One thought only was in her mind.
"Here is one of the tramps!"
TROUBLE FALLS IN
Janet Martin thought it must have been all of five minutes that she stood staring at the ragged man and he at her, though, very likely, it was only a few seconds. A little while seems very long sometimes; for instance, waiting for a train, or for the day of the party to come.
"Are you looking for anything?" the man asked of Janet after a while.
"He doesn't speak like a tramp," thought the little girl, who had occasionally heard them asking Nora, at the back door at home, for something to eat. "I guess I'll answer him."
So she replied:
"I'm looking for flowers."
"Well, there are some pretty ones here in the woods," went on the ragged man. "I saw some fine red ones a little while ago. If I had known I should meet you I would have picked them for you."
"I wonder if he can be a tramp," thought Janet. "Do tramps pick flowers, or want to pick them?"
What she said was:
"Thank you, but I think I have enough now."
"Yes, you have a nice bouquet," went on the ragged man, still smiling.
He was dressed like a tramp, that was certain. But, somehow or other, Janet did not feel as afraid as she expected she would be when she thought of meeting a tramp.
"Do you live around here?" the man continued.
"Yes, we're camping in a tent," Jan replied. "My grandfather owns part of this island and we're with him—my mother and my brothers. We like it here."
"Yes, it's fine," said the ragged man, who Janet thought must be a tramp, even if he did not talk like most of them. "So you live in a tent? Does the professor stay here all the while?"
"The professor?" repeated Janet, and she wondered what the long word meant. She was sure she had heard it before. Pretty soon she remembered. At school she had heard some of the teachers speak of the principal as "Professor."
"My grandpa isn't a professor," explained Janet with a smile. "He's a farmer."
"Well, some farmers are scientists. Maybe he is a scientist," went on the tramp. "I was wondering if some one else was on this island looking for the same thing I'm looking for. Can you tell me, little girl——?"
But just then, from somewhere back in the woods, a voice called. The ragged man listened a moment, and then he cried:
"All right! I'm coming!"
Janet saw him stoop and pick up off the ground a canvas bag, through the opening of which she saw stones, such as might be picked up on the shore of the lake or almost anywhere on the island.
"I hope I shall see you again, little girl," went on the tramp, as Janet called him afterward when telling the story. "And when I do, I hope I'll have some red flowers for you. Good-bye!"
Janet was so surprised by the quick way in which the man ran off through the woods with his bag of stones that she did not answer or say good-bye. She just stood looking at the quivering bushes which closed up behind him and showed which way the man had gone. Janet could not see him any longer.
A moment later she heard the bushes behind her crackling, and, turning quickly, she saw Ted and Trouble coming toward her.