Aunt Lu hurried over to the kitchen table, at which she had been helping Mrs. Brown make the lobster salad. She looked among the dishes, and knives and forks, but shook her head.
"No, it isn't there," she said, quite sadly.
"What isn't? What is the matter?" asked Mrs. Brown, who came in from the dining room just then. "Can't you find the big lobster claw that Bunny wanted? I laid it----"
"Oh, I have it, Mother, thank you," the little boy said. "But Aunt Lu has lost----"
"It's my diamond ring--Jack's engagement ring," said Mrs. Brown's sister. "It must have slipped off my finger, and----"
"Oh dear! That's too bad!" said Mrs. Brown. "But it must be around here somewhere. We'll find it!"
Bunny and Sue hardly knew what to make of it all. They had never seen their Aunt Lu so worried.
"Mother, what's an engagement ring?" asked Sue, in a whisper, as Aunt Lu kept on looking among the things on the table, hoping her diamond might have dropped off there. Then she looked on the floor.
"An engagement ring, my dear," said Sue's mother, "is a ring that means a promise. A very dear friend of Aunt Lu's has promised to marry her, and he gave her the diamond ring to be a sort of reminder--a most beautiful present. Now we must help her find it."
"It can't be far away," Mrs. Brown said to her sister. "You were not out of this room, were you?"
"No, I've been here ever since I began to pick the meat out of the lobster, and I had my ring on then."
"Oh, then we'll find it," said Bunny's mother.
But it was not so easy to do that as it was to say it. They looked all over the kitchen--on the floor, under the table, among the dishes, the pots and pans--but no diamond ring could be found. Papa Brown came in from the front porch, where he had been reading the evening paper, and he helped search, but it seemed of no use.
"Oh, where can my beautiful ring have dropped?" asked Aunt Lu, and Sue thought she saw signs of tears in her aunt's eyes.
"Perhaps it fell into the lobster salad," suggested Mr. Brown.
"Then you can find it when you eat," called Bunny. "Only don't bite on the diamond. It might break."
"We'll look in the salad now," Mrs. Brown said.
They did so, looking in the dish that held the chopped-up bits of lobster meat, but no diamond ring was to be found. Then the floor was looked over again, most carefully, the empty dishes were turned upside down in the hope that the ring might drop out of one of them. But it did not.
Aunt Lu looked sad and worried, and so did Mr. and Mrs. Brown. The cook, who had been out for the afternoon, came in and she helped search for the diamond ring, but it could not be found.
"I'm sure I had it, when I began making the lobster salad," said Aunt Lu, "but when I handed Bunny the empty claw I looked on my finger, and the ring was gone."
"Perhaps it dropped out of doors," suggested Papa Brown.
They looked near the side porch where Bunny had been standing when his aunt gave him the claw with which he was going to play Punch, but the ring was not found there.
"Oh dear! I feel so sorry!" Aunt Lu said, "If only I could find my lovely ring. Bunny--Sue, you must help me. To whomever finds it I'll give a nice present---anything he wants. That will be a reward, children."
"Yes, you must help Aunt Lu look for her ring," said Mrs. Brown. "Come now, we will have supper, and look afterward. We may find it when we least expect it."
But even after supper, the ring was not found. The whole family searched. Aunt Lu did not eat much supper, much as she liked lobster salad. She was too worried, I guess. Even Bunny did not feel like playing Mr. Punch with the big hollow lobster claw that fitted over his nose in such a funny way. Neither he nor Sue felt like making jokes when their aunt felt so unhappy.
That night, when he and Sue went to bed, Bunny put the lobster claw away.
"We'll play with it some other time," he said to his sister.
"Yes," she agreed. "Some day when Aunt Lu finds her ring, and then she'll play with us, and be the audience. You will be Mr. Punch, and I'll be Mrs. Judy. Only I don't want to wear a lobster claw on my nose."
"No, I'll be the only one to wear a claw," said Bunny in a sleepy voice, and then he dreamed of sailing off to "by-low land."
Aunt Lu was up early the next morning, down in the kitchen, and out in the yard, looking for her lost ring. But it was not found, and Aunt Lu's face seemed to grow more sad. But she smiled at Bunny and Sue, and said:
"Oh, well, perhaps some day I shall find it."
"We'll look all over for it," said Bunny.
"Indeed we will," added Sue. "Let's look out in the yard now, Bunny."
The children looked, but had no luck Then, as it was not time for dinner, they wandered down the street.
"Don't go too far away," their mother called after them. "Don't go down to the fish dock unless some one is with you."
"No, Mother, we won't!" Bunny promised.
They had each a penny that Aunt Lu had given them the day before, and now they wandered toward the little candy store kept by Mrs. Redden. She smiled at Bunny and Sue as they entered. Nearly every one did smile at the two children, who wandered about, hand in hand.
"Well, what is it to-day?" asked the store-lady. "Lollypops or caramels?"
"I want a penny's worth of peanuts," said Bunny.
"And I'll take some little chocolate drops," said Sue.
Soon, with their little treat, the brother and sister walked on toward the corner, the candy store being half way between that and their house.
As they passed a little dark red cottage, in front of which was an old boat, filled with flowers and vines, Bunny and Sue heard some one inside screaming and crying:
"Oh dear! Stop it I tell you! Let go my hair! Oh, if I get hold of you I'll make you stop! Oh dear! Jed! Jed! Where are you?"
Bunny and Sue looked at one another.
"That's Miss Winkler yelling!" said Bunny.
"But what makes her?" asked Sue.
"I don't know. We'll go and see," suggested Bunny.
Into the yard of the little red house ran the two children. Around to the kitchen they went, and, looking in through the open door they saw a strange sight.
Standing in front of a window was an elderly woman, wearing glasses which, just now, hung down over one ear. But, stranger still, there was a monkey, perched up on the pole over the window. One of the monkey's brown, hairy paws was entangled in the lady's hair, and the monkey seemed to be pulling hard, while the lady was screaming and trying to reach the fuzzy creature.
"Oh, it's Wango, the monkey, and he's up to some of his tricks!" cried Bunny.
"He'll pull out all her hair!" Sue exclaimed.
"Oh, Bunny--Sue--run for my brother! Go get Jed!" begged Miss Winkler. "Tell him Wango is terrible! He must come at once. Wango is such a bad monkey he won't mind me!"
And Wango kept on pulling her hair!
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