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OFF TO THE FARM
At first Bunny and Sue were so surprised at what the grocery store clerk told them that they did not know what to do. Bunny almost dropped the bag of sugar he was carrying.
"What about my pony?" asked the little boy.
"I just happened to look out and noticed your pony walking away," went on the clerk. "I knew he was yours, Bunny Brown, for I saw you and Sue drive up in the little cart. It's a good thing he isn't running away. If you hurry you can catch him."
"Come on!" cried Bunny to his sister. "We've got to get Toby 'fore maybe an automobile runs into him and smashes our cart."
"Oh, yes! Get him!" begged Sue. "Oh, what made Toby walk away?"
"Maybe he got tired of waiting," said the clerk, "or perhaps something frightened him. If you can't get him I'll run after him for you as soon as I wait on Miss Winkler."
"Land sakes! what's the matter now? Has that monkey got loose again?" asked the woman who was sister to the sailor who owned the tricky monkey.
"No, it isn't your monkey that's loose--it is our pony," said Bunny, as he and Sue hurried out of the door.
They saw going slowly down the street, their Shetland pony. Toby did not appear to be in a hurry. He was just walking.
"I guess he just got tired of waiting--there didn't anything frighten him," announced Bunny.
"But we must get him," said Sue.
"Of course!" said her brother. "Come on!"
They started to run down the street, on which there were not many wagons or automobiles just then, and, as there were only a few persons on the sidewalk, Bunny and Sue could easily keep their pony and cart in sight.
But before they could reach it something queer happened. With a bark and a wag of his tail, their dog Splash came rushing along. Straight down the street he trotted, and up into the pony cart he jumped, for the back door had been left open, when Bunny and Sue got out.
Into the cart jumped Splash and he barked:
It was just as if he said:
I don't know whether or not Toby understood dog talk. But he did understand the next thing that happened. For Splash reached over and took hold of the reins in his teeth, pulling back on the lines.
Toby had been taught to stop whenever he felt a pull on the reins, whether any one said "whoa!" or not. And this time, feeling himself being pulled back, and not knowing it was only Splash who was doing it, Toby stopped.
"Bow-wow!" barked Splash again, sort of down in his throat, for he was still keeping his place in the cart, and holding to the reins. "Bow-wow!"
It was as if he said:
"See what I did now!"
Bunny and Sue, hurrying down the street after their pony that had walked away, saw what their dog had done.
"Oh, he stopped Toby for us!" cried Bunny, and he was so excited that he almost dropped the bag of sugar.
"That's what he did!" exclaimed Sue. "Oh, isn't he a good dog?"
"He's smart, and so's Toby!" said Bunny. "But next time we'll fasten our pony."
"Yes, that's what you'd better do," said the clerk from the store who had, after waiting on Miss Winkler, run down the street to see if the children needed help. "Even a tame pony had better be tied when he is left to stand in the street," the clerk said. "Are you all right now?"
"Yes, thank you, we're all right," answered Bunny. "Our dog Splash stopped Toby for us."
"Indeed? He's a smart dog!" said the clerk with a laugh, as he patted the shaggy head. "Here's a sweet cracker for him, and one for your pony."
Splash quickly chewed down the treat the clerk gave him, and Bunny let Toby take another cracker off the palm of his hand.
"And here are some for yourselves," went on the clerk, taking some more from his pocket.
"Oh, thank you!" said Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue.
They got into the pony cart, and they let Splash stay in, too, because he had been so smart as to catch Toby, and then the children drove back past the store. Miss Winkler was just coming out.
"Land sakes!" she cried, "what's goin' to happen next? Have you youngsters a pony cart?"
"And he's a trick pony!" exclaimed Bunny. "He can let a monkey ride on his back."
"Maybe some day we could take Wango, your monkey," added Sue.
"Land sakes, child! Don't call him my monkey!" exclaimed Miss Winkler. "I wish I'd never seen the beast! Only this morning he knocked down a jar of my strawberry preserves, and the pantry looks as if I'd spilled red ink all over it! I wish to goodness Jed Winkler would put him on some pony's back and ride him to the Land of Goshen!"
"Is that very far from here?" asked Bunny. "'Cause if it isn't too far maybe we could ride Wango away for you on Toby's back."
"Land sakes, child! No, I wouldn't want that good-for-nothing monkey Wango to have a ride on the back of such a nice pony as yours. I'll make Jed sell him to a hand-organ man--that's what I will!"
Wango was a mischievous little chap, but Jed Winkler used to say this was so because Miss Winkler never treated him kindly. The truth was that Miss Winkler didn't like monkeys.
"Maybe some day Mr. Winkler will let us take Wango to do a circus trick on Toby's back," said Sue to her brother, as they turned Toby around and started for home.
"Maybe," agreed Bunny. "Anyhow, I'm glad Toby didn't walk away very far this time."
"So'm I," added Sue.
"And Splash is an awful good dog, isn't he?" went on Bunny, as he turned down a side street and let Sue take the reins.
"Yes, he caught Toby just as good as a policeman could," Sue said, as she guided the Shetland pony along the road. "We love you, Splash," she went on, and the dog wagged his tail so hard that he brushed all the dust off Bunny's shoes. Then he tried to "kiss" Sue, but she hid her face down in her arms, for she didn't like the wet tongue of the dog on her face, even if he only did it to show how much he liked her.
"Hi, Bunny! Hi! Give me a ride!" called a voice from the yard at the side of a house as the children passed. "Give me a ride."
"It's Charlie Star!" exclaimed Bunny, looking back. "Shall we give him a ride, Sue?"
"Yes, we promised, and we've room if Splash gets out."
"We've room anyhow," Bunny said, as Sue pulled on the reins and called: "Whoa!"
Toby stopped. Splash must have been tired of riding in the cart, for out he jumped, and Charlie got in.
"Our pony walked away, but Splash caught him," Bunny explained, telling what had happened in front of the store.
"He did!" cried Charlie. "Say, your dog's smart all right."
"An' so's our pony!" added Bunny. "You ought to see him do tricks!"
"I'd like to," said Charlie.
"You can, when we have another play circus," went on Bunny.
"And maybe we'll get Mr. Winkler's monkey, Wango, and let him ride on Toby's back--maybe," said Sue, who now let her brother take the reins again.
"Say, that'd be great!" cried Charlie with sparkling eyes.
"But maybe Mr. Winkler won't let us take his monkey," said Bunny, who didn't want Charlie to count too much on seeing that trick. "But if he won't, we can tie one of Sue's dolls on Toby's back, and make believe that's a monkey."
"No, you can't!" exclaimed Sue. "None of my dolls is going to be a monkey!"
"Oh, I mean only make believe," said Bunny.
"Oh, well, if it's just make believe that's different," agreed Sue. "I'll let you take my old rag doll for that."
Bunny and Sue gave Charlie a ride around the block in which his house was, and then he jumped out, after thanking them. Back home they drove with the sugar, Splash running on ahead.
"After this, you must always tie your pony when you let him stand in front of a store," said Mrs. Brown, when the children told her what had happened.
Bunny and Sue had many nice rides behind their Shetland pony. Sometimes Uncle Tad went with them. They learned to manage him quite well, and Mrs. Brown was not afraid to let the children go even on rather long drives. One day she said to them:
"Do you think you could drive Toby to the farm, and bring me back some new butter?"
"Oh, yes, Mother!" cried Bunny. "We'd love to!"
The farm, of which the children's mother spoke, was a place about two miles out of town, where a man sold butter, eggs and chickens. Mrs. Brown often sent there for fresh things for the table.
"Well, if you're sure it won't be too far for you, you may go," she said to the children. "But be very careful of autos and wagons."
"We will," they promised.
"We'll keep on one side of the road all the way," Bunny added.
He and Sue knew the road to the farm quite well, or they thought they did, and they were quite delighted to start off, not knowing what was going to happen to them.
"I'll put you up a little lunch to eat on the way," said Mrs. Brown, "for it may take you some time to go and come."
"Won't Toby get hungry, too?" asked Sue.
"Yes, but he can eat the grass alongside the road while you are taking your lunch. I won't have to put up any for the pony. But you might have a lump of sugar or a sweet cracker for him."
"That's what we will," said Bunny.
Then he and Sue got ready to start for the farm.
And what do you suppose happened to them before they got home again?
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