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TOBY WALKS AWAY
Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue drove Mr. Tallman in the pony cart along the road, and up the driveway that led to the stable back of their house.
"Why, you two children have learned to drive quite well," said the man who used to own Toby.
"Oh, yes, Bunker Blue showed us how," answered Bunny.
Mrs. Brown looked from the window and saw the pony cart.
"Oh, you have brought back company!" she called, as she noticed Mr. Tallman.
"I came over for a little while only," he said. "I forgot to tell the children about a trick Toby can do, and I thought they might like to know of it. They told me that he picked up Sue's handkerchief."
"Yes, I thought that was very smart of him," said Mrs. Brown with a smile. "Is the other trick as nice as that?"
"I think so," answered Mr. Tallman. "But I need some lumps of sugar to make Toby do it right."
"Yes, I guess all ponies like sugar," said the children's mother, as she brought some out. Then she went to the barn with Mr. Tallman and Bunny and Sue.
Bunny knew something about unharnessing his pet, and did so with the help of Mr. Tallman. Then, as Toby stood loose in the middle of the barn floor, Mr. Tallman gave him a lump of sugar.
"Is that the trick?" asked Bunny.
"No, that is only the start of it. Now show me where your oat bin is and give me a wooden measure with which you dip out the oats you sometimes feed to Toby."
Bunny ran to the box, or bin, where the oats were kept, and from it he took a little round measure, such as grocers, at the store, use for measuring two quarts of potatoes.
"Now," said Mr. Tallman, "I'll just put another lump of sugar in this wooden measure. Then I'll put the measure under this basket," and this he did, letting Toby see all that went on.
"Now," went on the man who used to own the pony, "I'll see if he'll do as I want him to. I want him to go over to the basket, lift it off the measure, and then carry the measure over to the oat bin. Then I want him to open the top of the bin with his nose, and drop the measure inside, as though he wanted to take some oats out to eat."
"Will he do it?" asked Bunny.
"I think so," answered Mr. Tallman. "He used to do it for me, in his other stable. This one may be a bit strange to him. But we'll see what he does."
The lump of sugar had been put in the measure, and the measure was covered with a bushel basket, turned upside down. Then, stepping back, Mr. Tallman said:
"Now, Toby, go and get your oats! Go and get your oats!"
The little Shetland pony bobbed his head up and down, just as if he were saying that this is just what he would do. Then he took a few steps toward the oat bin, which had a hinged cover like the boxes in the grocery where the coffee is kept.
"No! No! Don't go to the oat bin yet," said Mr. Tallman. "First, get the wooden measure, Toby! I have to have that first, before I can dish you out any oats. Take the measure over to the box."
Whether Toby knew all that Mr. Tallman said to him, or whether the pony had learned to go for the measure because he knew there was a lump of sugar in it, I can't exactly say. Perhaps it was a little of both. At any rate, he walked over to the bushel basket that covered the wooden measure.
With a quick motion of his head Toby knocked the basket to one side. Then he reached down and took out the lump of sugar, which he chewed.
"Oh, he did it! He did it!" cried Sue, clapping her hands.
"But this isn't all," said Mr. Tallman. "This is only half the trick. Watch and see if he does the rest."
The children and Mrs. Brown waited until Toby had chewed down the lump of sugar. And then, with a little whinny, which seemed as if he tried to talk, Toby picked the two-quart measure up in his mouth.
Over to the oat bin he walked with it, and Bunny and Sue could hardly keep still, they were so excited.
Would Toby open the box, as Mr. Tallman wanted him to?
And that is just what the Shetland pony did. Dropping the wooden measure at one side of the wooden box where his oats were kept, Toby lifted the cover with his nose. Then he picked up the measure again, and dropped it in the box, on top of the oats that filled it nearly to the brim.
"Ha! that's the way to do it!" cried Mr. Tallman. "Now you have done the trick, Toby, and you shall have another lump of sugar!"
And he gave the pony a large one.
"Was that what you wanted him to do?" asked Mrs. Brown.
"Yes, that was the trick I taught him in his own stable. I was afraid perhaps he might have forgotten it here, but I see he hasn't."
"Aren't you going to give him some oats now?" asked Bunny.
"Well, I thought maybe you or Sue would like to have him do the trick over again before he had any oats. Usually I didn't let him have any until after I had made him do the trick three or four times. He has the habit of doing it like that. So you children take a turn. Here is more sugar for him."
Bunny took a lump, and put it in the measure. Then he hid it under the bushel basket, and, surely enough, Toby went over to it again, took the measure out from under and dropped it into the oat bin. Then Bunny gave him the second lump of sugar.
Toby did the trick for Sue, as well as for Mrs. Brown, and then the children's mother said:
"Well, now I am sure Toby has earned his oats."
"Yes, now we'll give him some," agreed Mr. Tallman, and the little horse seemed to like them very much.
"Did he do this trick in the circus?" asked Bunny.
"No, I taught him this after that time," answered Mr. Tallman. "In the circus, though, Toby used to stand on his hind legs with a lot of other ponies in a ring, and a monkey used to ride around on his back. We haven't any monkey now, so we can't do that trick."
"Mr. Winkler has a monkey!" exclaimed Bunny. "His name is Wango--the monkey's name is, I mean. Maybe we could get him to ride on Toby's back."
"Not unless the monkey is taught to do it," replied Mr. Tallman. "I guess we hadn't better try that just yet."
"No, indeed!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown.
"Wango is always getting into mischief, too. I don't want him around."
"But could you make Toby stand on his hind legs?" asked Sue.
"I think so," answered the visitor. And when the pony had finished his oats Mr. Tallman stood in front of him, and, holding out a broom handle, as the ring-master in a circus holds out his whip, called:
"Up, Toby! Up!"
Then, to the surprise and delight of Bunny and Sue, Toby rose on his hind legs, and pranced around the barn floor, almost as well as Splash, the dog, could stand on his hind legs.
"Oh, that's three tricks he can do!" cried Bunny. "Our pony can do three tricks! He can stand on his hind legs, he can open his oat box, and he can bring back a handkerchief."
"And he can let a monkey ride on his back," added Mr. Tallman. "But we won't do that trick now."
Bunny and Sue rather wished they could see Wango riding on Toby's back, but they knew, as well as did their mother, that Mr. Winkler's pet sometimes did mischievous as well as funny tricks. Perhaps it was better not to have him ride Toby.
"Well, I'm glad you like my pony, or, rather, the pony that used to be mine," said Mr. Tallman, as he was leaving. "If you are kind and good to him, as I know you will be, perhaps you can teach him other tricks."
"Oh, yes! That's what I'm going to do!" cried Bunny. "And then we can take him to the circus!"
"No!" cried Sue. "You can't take my pony to the circus! I own half of Toby, don't I, Mother?"
"Well, yes, I suppose so. But I don't believe Bunny would really take him to any circus."
"Oh, no, I only meant a make-believe circus, like we played once before," said the little boy.
"Oh, yes, we can do that," agreed Sue.
Mr. Tallman told Bunny and Sue some other simple tricks they might teach Toby to do, and then he said good-bye to the pony and started back home.
"And we hope you'll find your red-and-yellow box," said Sue, as she waved her hand.
"So do I," added the man who had been robbed, so that he was made poor and had to sell Toby. "I hope so, too!"
"Every time we go out riding in our pony cart we'll look for your box," promised Bunny, and Mr. Tallman said that was very kind of them.
After the visitor had gone Bunny and Sue wanted to hitch Toby up again, and drive down to their father's dock to tell him about the new trick the pony could do. But Mrs. Brown said it would be better to let the pony rest awhile and tell Mr. Brown about him when he came home in the evening.
This Bunny and Sue did, and they took their father out to the barn and showed him how Toby could take the measure out from under the bushel basket, and drop it in the oat box.
"And maybe you can make him stand on his hind legs," added Bunny.
"I'll try," said Mr. Brown. And he did. And, surely enough, when the broomstick was held crosswise in front of him, up rose Toby on his hind legs, just as when Mr. Tallman had told him to.
It was about a week after this, and Bunny and Sue had learned to drive Toby quite well, that their mother called to them:
"Children, will you go to the store for me in your pony cart? I need some sugar for a cake."
"We'll get it, Mother!" answered Bunny, and he and Sue hurried out to the barn. With the help of the hired girl they hitched Toby to the cart, and soon they were driving down the street to the store, Splash, their dog, who was called that because he had once splashed into the water after Sue, who had fallen in, and pulled her out--But there! you can read all about that in the first volume of this series. So to go on: Splash went with them, now running on ahead and again lagging behind, barking and wagging his tail.
Bunny and Sue went in the store together to get the sugar, and, as they did not think they would stay very long, they did not fasten Toby's strap to a hitching post, as their father had told them they must always do. But as there were quite a number of customers in the store it was some little time before Bunny got what he wanted.
Then, as he and Sue started out to ride back home in their pony cart, they heard some one say:
"Where is that Bunny Brown boy?"
"Here I am," he answered, stepping from behind one of the clerks that had asked the question. "What's the matter?" Bunny asked.
"Why, your pony has walked away from in front of the store," the clerk replied. "There he goes down the street!"
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