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TOBY'S NEW TRICK
"We didn't know we had a trick pony, did we, Bunny?" asked Sue, as Bunker Blue got ready to see what Toby would do next.
"Maybe we haven't," replied Bunny. "He doesn't look like a trick pony."
"But he's terrible nice!" Sue said. "And the way he picked up my handkerchief was nice, too. Maybe he'll do it again."
"Maybe," said Bunny.
By this time Bunker had loosed the strap by which the pony was fastened to the post on the dock. Toby shook his head up and down, as well as sideways, as though showing how glad he was to be free again.
"Now, little pony!" called the fish boy, "let's see if you can really do this trick."
Bunker, who still held Sue's handkerchief, walked back a little way, and dropped the bit of white cloth on the dock. Toby looked at it a moment, as if to make sure what it was, and then he walked over to it, picked it up as he had done before, and then, to the surprise and delight of the children, walked with the handkerchief straight to Bunker Blue.
"Oh, he did it! He did it!" cried Sue, clapping her hands. "He is a trick pony, Bunny!"
"Yes, but didn't he ought to bring the handkerchief to you, Sue?" asked her brother.
"He saw me drop it," explained Bunker, "so he thought it must be mine. Maybe if you were to drop it, Sue, he would bring it back to you."
"Oh, let me!" she cried.
Bunker gave the little girl her handkerchief, and after Sue had put her arms around Toby, and patted him on the head, at the same time calling him pet names, she backed away and dropped her handkerchief where the Shetland pony could see it on the dock.
For a moment or two Toby did nothing. He stood looking at the white rag and then he shook his head. But he shook it up and down, and not sideways, and, seeing this, Sue cried:
"Oh, he's saying that he'll do it! He says he'll bring me the handkerchief!"
And, whether or not Toby really meant this, or whether it was the way he always did the trick, I don't know, but, anyhow, he stepped out, walked over to the handkerchief, pulling the basket cart after him, and then he picked up the white cloth and walked straight to Sue with it, holding it out to her in his mouth.
"Oh, he did it!" cried the little girl, clapping her hands. "He brought the handkerchief to me, Bunny! Now, isn't he a trick pony?"
"Yes," said Bunny, slowly, "I guess he is. I wonder if he'd bring me my handkerchief?"
"Try him and see," suggested Bunker Blue. "But I thought you wanted to go for a ride."
"So we do," returned Bunny, "but we can ride after we see if Toby does the handkerchief trick for me."
"Yes, I guess we'll have time for that," said Bunker Blue.
So Bunny dropped his handkerchief on the dock, and, surely enough, Toby picked it up and carried it to the little boy.
"Now," said Sue, "we know for sure he's a trick pony. Maybe he did that in a circus, Bunker."
"Maybe he did," agreed the fish boy.
"I wonder if he can do any more tricks," went on Bunny.
"We'll try him after a while," went on Bunker. "If I'm going to take you for a ride, and show you how to drive your little horse, we'd better start, as I don't know when your father may want me back here on the dock. Come on, we'll go out on the road, and, later on, we can try Toby with some more tricks."
So Bunny and Sue climbed into the basket cart, taking seats on either side, and Bunker climbed up after them, to hold the reins. They drove down the wooden dock toward Mr. Brown's office, the feet of Toby, the Shetland pony, going: "Plunk! Plunk! Plunk!" on the boards.
"Well, you've started I see!" called Mr. Brown to Bunny and Sue, as he looked out of the door of his office. "But what kept you so long?"
"Oh, Toby was doing tricks," answered Bunny.
"Doing tricks?" asked Mr. Brown.
"He picked up my handkerchief," added Sue, and she told her father all about it.
"My! he certainly is a trick pony!" said Mr. Brown. "We must ask Mr. Tallman if Toby can do anything else besides the handkerchief trick."
Then, as Mr. Brown watched, Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue and their Shetland pony went off down the road, Bunker Blue driving.
"Doesn't he go nice?" cried Sue to her brother. "And doesn't his tail switch off the flies quick?"
"Terrible quick," agreed Bunny, and he added: "Oh, Bunker Blue! you ought to see how many ways Toby can wiggle the flies off his legs."
"How many?" asked the fish boy.
"Five," answered Bunny. "Course not all five flies off his legs, but some off his back he switches with his tail, and----"
"You talk just like a Dutchman!" laughed Bunker.
"Well, anyhow, he can wiggle flies off lots of ways," Bunny said.
Down the road they drove, and many a person, and not a few children, turned to look after the pony cart in which Bunny and Sue were having such a good time.
As they drove past old Miss Hollyhock's cottage she came to the door and waved to them. A little farther on Bunny saw Charlie Star, with whom he sometimes played.
"Oh, Bunker!" cried Bunny, "couldn't we take Charlie for a ride?"
"Well, yes, but not just now. I want to give you children a little lesson in driving, and we don't want to be crowded. Some other time we'll take Charlie," said the fish boy.
So, as he drove past his chum, Bunny leaned out of the cart and called:
"We'll give you a ride to-morrow, Charlie!"
"All right--thanks!" shouted the little boy in answer.
A little later Sue saw some of her girl playmates--Mary Watson and Sadie West--and to them she said the same thing--that she would take them for a ride the next day.
"Don't promise too much," warned Bunker Blue. "We don't want to make Toby too tired."
But I guess the Shetland pony liked to draw children about, at least as long as the roads were level, and he did not have to haul the cart uphill.
Coming to a quiet part of the road, just outside the village, where automobiles seldom came, Bunker Blue gave the two children their first lesson in driving. He showed Bunny and Sue how to hold the reins, and how to pull gently on the left one when they wanted the pony to turn that way.
"And when you want him to go to the right just pull on the right-hand line," said the fish boy. "But be careful in turning all the way around that you don't turn too quickly, or you may upset the cart and spill out."
"I spilled off my sled once," said Bunny. "And I rolled all the way downhill. But I didn't get hurt, for I rolled into a bank of snow."
"Well, there aren't any snow banks here, now, to fall into," said Bunker, "so be careful about rolling out."
Then the fish boy showed the children how to hold the reins gently, but firmly, when Toby was trotting straight along, and he showed them how to pull in when they wanted the pony to stop.
Then, after a while, Bunker let Bunny take the reins himself, for a little while, and drive Toby. The little boy was delighted to do this. He even guided the pony first to the right and then to the left, and then brought him to a stop.
"Fine!" cried Bunker. "That's the way to do it, Bunny!"
"Can't I do it, too?" asked Sue, for she always liked to do the things her brother did.
"Yes, it's your turn now," said the fish boy, and the little girl took the reins. And Toby was so gentle, and seemed so eager to do everything he could to make it easy for Sue, that she soon learned to drive a little bit.
Then Bunker showed them how to turn around, and how to make Toby back up, in case they got to such a narrow place in the road that there was not room to turn. Bunker knew a lot about horses and ponies, and he was the best teacher Bunny and Sue could have had.
"Now, let's drive back and show mother!" said Bunny after a while. "Let's drive past the house, Bunker."
"All right," agreed the fish boy. "I'll drive until we get there, for I see some automobiles coming, and we don't want them to run into us. But when we get near the house I'll let you take the reins, Bunny."
"Couldn't I take 'em, too?" asked Sue.
"Well, we'll let Bunny do it first," suggested Bunker. "And then, when we drive down to the dock, you can show your daddy how you drive, little girl."
"Oh, I'll love that!" cried Sue, clapping her hands.
And you can imagine how surprised Mrs. Brown was when she saw the pony cart coming up the drive, with Bunny holding the reins, as though he had known for a long while how to make Toby go.
"Look, Mother! Look!" cried the little boy. "I'm driving Toby!"
"So I see, Bunny," said Mrs. Brown. "Isn't it wonderful?"
"And I can drive, too," added Sue. "I'm going to show daddy down at the dock!"
"Oh, won't that be nice!" laughed her mother. "I'm sure you two children ought to be very happy with such a fine pony and cart!"
And indeed Bunny and Sue were happy. Bunny drove all around the house and out into the road again, and then Bunker took the reins to guide the pony down to the fish and boat dock, for the children had not yet been taught enough about the pony to make it safe for them to drive him on the main street.
"Now, you take hold, Sue," said Bunker, as they turned into the yard that led to the dock. "There's your father at the window of the office, and he can see you drive."
Sue's cheeks glowed rosy in delight as she took the reins; and as she guided the pony past the little house on the end of the dock, where Daddy Brown had his office, the little girl cried:
"See what I can do! See what I can do!"
"Oh, fine!" exclaimed Mr. Brown. "Well, Toby didn't run away with you, did he?"
"Oh, no! He'll never do that!" said Bunny. "We had a dandy ride!"
The children, with Bunker Blue, took turns telling Mr. Brown about their first ride, and then, not wishing to tire them out, or make Toby too tired, either, Mr. Brown sent them home in the pony cart, with Bunker to drive.
"To-morrow you may go out again," said Bunny's father.
And so, for several days after that, Bunker Blue took the children out for rides in the pony cart. Each day he let them drive alone for longer and longer times, until at last Bunny and Sue were very good at it.
They learned how to keep to the right, out of the way of other wagons or automobiles, and as Toby did not now seem to be afraid of anything he met, one night Mr. Brown said:
"Well, I guess Bunny and Sue are good enough drivers now to go out by themselves without Bunker Blue."
"And drive all alone?" asked Bunny, eagerly.
"Yes," his father said. "But keep on the more quiet streets, and don't go too far."
The children promised they would be careful, and the next day they went for a ride by themselves. Their mother was a little anxious about them at first, and watched them go up and down the street in front of the house. Splash, the dog, ran along, too, barking and wagging his tail, as though having just as much fun as anybody. Then, after a while, Bunny and Sue went a little farther away from the house.
But they did not go too far at first, and as they were turning around to drive back, it being Bunny's turn to hold the reins, they saw, walking toward them, Mr. Tallman.
"Oh, hello!" cried Bunny. "Don't you want a ride, Mr. Tallman?"
"Why, yes, thank you," he answered. "And so you are out all by yourselves? This is fine! I didn't think you'd learn so soon how to drive Toby."
"Oh, he's easy to drive!" Bunny said.
"And he can do tricks!" added Sue. "He picked up my handkerchief and brought it back to me!"
"Yes, I knew he could do that trick," said Mr. Tallman. "And that's what I came over to tell you about. I forgot it when I was here before, for I was thinking so much about my red-and-yellow box that was stolen."
"Have you got it back yet?" asked Bunny, as the man who used to own Toby got in the cart with the children.
"No, I'm sorry to say I haven't," was the answer. "I'm afraid I shall never see it again. But how do you like Toby?"
"He's dandy!" declared Bunny.
"And we just love him!" added Sue.
"I'm glad you do," said Mr. Tallman. "But did you know he can do another trick besides the handkerchief one?"
"Oh, can he?" asked Bunny.
"Yes, indeed! I'll tell you about his new trick. It's one I taught him."
"Oh, please show us!" begged Bunny.
"Wait until we get back to his stable," said Mr. Tallman. "This trick has to be done in the stable where there's a bin of oats. There I can show you what else Toby can do."
And how Bunny and Sue wondered what it was their pony was going to do!
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