Chapter 14




TOBY'S OTHER TRICK


Bunny Brown stood up in the pony cart and looked to where Sue pointed. Across a little green valley he could see another road, at one point was a small cottage, nestled among the trees, and with vines growing about it.

"Yes, that's where Miss Hollyhock lives," he said.

"And then we aren't lost any more, are we?" asked Sue.

"No, I guess not," Bunny said. "But we have to get on that other road."

This the children soon did, taking a highway that cut across the valley. Toby had taken them out of the woods on a new path, but it was just as good as the one they had driven on in going to the farm, though longer.

And in a little while they were going past the cottage where lived the elderly woman, known all around as "Old Miss Hollyhock." This was because so many of those flowers blossomed near her cottage.

"Well, my dears, where have you been?" she asked.

"Oh, we went to the farm to get some butter for mother," answered Bunny, "but we got lost."

"We're found now, though," went on Sue. "Now we know the way home."

"Are you sure?" asked Miss Hollyhock.

"Oh, yes," said Bunny. "We've been on this road lots of times."

"Well, trot along home then," said Miss Hollyhock. "If you've been lost you must have been away from home quite a long while, and your mother may be worried about you. Trot along home, pony!"

And Toby trotted along home with Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue.

Mrs. Brown, standing at the gate, and looking down the road, saw them coming.

"Where have you children been?" she asked, coming out to meet them. "I have been quite worried about you! Where were you?"

"We were lost, Mother!" answered Bunny.

"Lost? Couldn't you find your way to the farm?"

"Oh, yes," he answered. "But coming home we took the wrong road. But Toby found the right one for us."

"He's as good as Splash," added Sue. "Splash wanted to come with us, but Bunker took him to the woods. Oh, we had such a good time!"

"Even with getting lost?" asked Mrs. Brown, with a smile. She felt better, now that the children were safe at home.

"Oh, we weren't lost very long," explained Sue. "It was only a little while, and then Toby brought us home, but it was on a new road," and, taking turns, she and Bunny told what had happened.

"Well, I'll feel better about having you go out for rides, if I know that Toby can always bring you back," said Mrs. Brown. "But don't try too many new roads. Stick to the old paths that you know until you get a little older. Did you bring my butter?"

"Yes, here it is," and Bunny handed it out, nicely wrapped up as Mrs. Potter had given it to him.

"Has Splash come home yet?" Sue asked.

The dog had not. He was off in the woods having a good time with Bunker. At least he looked as though he had had a good time when he did come home, for he was covered with mud and water, and there were a lot of "stickery" briars and brambles on his back and legs.

"He ran into every bush and every puddle of water he could find," said Bunker Blue. "I couldn't stop him."

"Well, he can come with us next time," said Bunny. "It's only when we go to the farm, where the cross dog lives, that we can't take Splash."

The next day Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue were "playing house" in their side yard. They made a sort of tent under the trees with an old carriage cover they found in the barn, and Sue pretended she was the housekeeper.

"And you must come to call on me," she said to Bunny.

"All right, I will," he agreed. "But there isn't any door to knock on, nor any bell to ring when I call. You ought to have a bell to your house, Sue."

"That's so--I ought," she agreed.

"I know how I can make one," went on Bunny, after a while.

"How?" asked Sue.

"Well, there's an old bell that the milkman used to have--the milkman who kept his horse and wagon in our barn," explained the little boy. "The bell is in the barn now."

"Oh, yes, I 'member," Sue said.

About a year before a milkman, whose barn had burned, had asked Mr. Brown for permission to stable his horse and keep his wagon in the barn back of the house where Bunny and Sue lived. And, as they then had no pony and the barn was nearly empty, Mr. Brown had said the milkman might use it.

He did, for a time, and then he gave up the milk business, and sold his horse and wagon. But he left the bell behind--the bell he used to ring in front of people's houses to let them know he was there with milk and cream.

"We can take his bell for your house," went on Bunny.

"You mean set it outside on a box, and ring it when you come to call?" asked Sue.

Bunny thought for a moment.

"Maybe I can make it better than that," he said. "I could fasten the bell up in the tree back of your tent-house, and then tie a string to it--to the bell, I mean. I can let the string hang down outside here, and when I come I can yank on the string, and that will jingle the bell."

"Oh, let's do it!" cried Sue.

So Bunny got the milkman's bell, and fastened it to a low limb in a tree back of the tent-house where Sue pretended she was living.

Then Bunny tied a string to the bell handle and ran the string out in front, letting it hang loose, so that a pull on it would set the bell to swaying and jingling. To make it easier to take hold of the string, Bunny fastened to it a piece of wood. Then he and Sue began the playing-house game.

They had lots of fun at it. The bell rang just like a "truly-really" one, as Sue said, and when Bunny jingled it, and came in to sit down on a box (which was a chair), Sue would give him cookies.

They were sitting like this, wondering what next to play when, all at once, there came a loud jingle on the bell that was hung in a tree back of the tent.

"Are you doing that?" asked Sue of her brother.

"No!" he answered. "How could I? The bell string is outside and I'm in here."

"I thought maybe you had hold of the string in here," went on Sue. Then the bell was rung again.

"Oh, it's some of the boys and girls come to play with us--I mean they've come to call," said Sue, remembering that she was supposed to be a housekeeper.

"I'll let 'em in," said Bunny.

He went to the flap of the tent, which, being down, did not give a view outside. And what Bunny saw made him cry:

"Oh, Sue! It isn't anybody at all!"

"It isn't anybody?" repeated the little girl. "How could nobody ring the bell?"

"I mean it isn't George Watson, or Sadie West, or any of the boys or girls," added Bunny. "Oh, Sue, it's--it's----"

"What is it? Who is it?" asked the little girl. "Who is it if it isn't anybody to play with us? Who is it, Bunny?"

"It's Toby!" he answered.

"What, Toby? Our pony?"

"Yes, it's Toby. And, oh, Sue! He's ringing the bell!"

"Oh, how can he?" asked Sue, wonderingly.

Bunny, who was looking out of the tent, answered:

"He's got hold of the stick I tied on the end of the bell string, and he's shakin' his head up and down, and that rings the bell. Oh, come and look, Sue!"

Then Sue went out from under the carriage-cloth, which was the tent-house, to look.

Surely enough, there stood Toby, and in his mouth was the piece of wood that Bunny had tied to the string that was fast to the bell which hung in a tree back of the tent. Every time Toby raised and lowered his head--"bowing" Bunny and Sue called it--he pulled on the string and rang the bell.

"Oh, how do you s'pose he came to do it?" asked Sue.

"I don't know," Bunny answered. "We never told him, and we never showed him. I guess it's a new trick he's learned!"

"But how did he get out of his stable to come to do it?" Sue went on.

That was easy to answer. Bunker Blue, who came up every day from the dock to clean out the stall and brush Toby down, had left the door open, and, as the pony was not tied in his box-stall, he easily walked out. He strolled over to where the children were playing, and rang the bell.

"Just zactly like he was coming to call," Sue said afterward.

When Toby saw the children come out of the tent he went up to them and rubbed his velvety nose against them. That was his way of asking for sugar or other things that he liked.

"I haven't any sugar," said Bunny, "but I can give you a piece of cookie. Maybe you'll like that."

And Toby seemed to like it very much.

"Maybe he'll do the bell-ringing trick again, if you put a piece of cookie on the stick," said Sue.

"Maybe," agreed Bunny.

He fastened a bit of cookie on the wooden handle, and, surely enough, Toby nibbled it off, ringing the bell as he did so.

"But what made him ring it first, when there wasn't any cookie on?" asked Sue.

Bunny did not know this, but he said:

"We'll ask Mr. Tallman, the next time we see him, if he taught Toby this trick."

"Maybe he did," said Sue. "Anyhow, we love you, Toby!" and she put her arms around the pony's neck.

Bunny and Sue were wondering how Toby learned to ring the bell, and they were just going to make him do it again, when Sadie West came running into the yard.

"Oh, Sue!" exclaimed the little girl. "There's a great, big, shiny wagon out in the front of your house!"

"A shiny wagon!" exclaimed Bunny. "What do you mean?"

"I mean it's got all looking glasses on it! Come and see!"

The three children, forgetting all about Toby for the moment, hurried around the side path. What were they going to see?




Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Email:
Sonnet-a-Day Newsletter
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.
Email: