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CHAPTER XI


TOM SEES A MAN


Bunny Brown and his sister Sue stood by the lake shore, and didn't know what to do. Some distance out on the water floated the boat with Tom Vine standing up in it, waving his hands. And Tom cried once more:

"Come and get me! Come and get me!"

Bunny was the first to speak after that. And he said just the right thing.

"Sit down, Tom!" cried Bunny. "Sit down, or you'll tip over, and then you'll be drowned, and we can't get you."

Bunny shouted loudly, and his clear, high voice could easily be heard by Tom, for there was no wind, or at least only a little, to ruffle the water of the lake. Tom heard, and he knew what Bunny meant. Very carefully he sat down on one of the seats in the boat.

"Are you coming to get me?" he asked. "I can't get back to shore, and I can't swim. I don't like it out here!"

"Just sit still, and we'll think up a way to get you," called Bunny. "But don't stand up, whatever you do."

"No, you must keep sitting down," added Sue.

Mr. Brown had often told his children how to act when in boats. Small as they were they could both swim a little. Bunny, of course, better than Sue, because he was older. And they had both been told what to do in case they fell into the water—hold their breath until they came to the top, when someone might save them, if they could not swim out.

But it was what Mr. Brown had told Bunny about not standing up in a boat that the little fellow now first remembered to shout to Tom. He did not want to see the new boy fall over into the lake.

And Tom must have known what Bunny meant, for he was now sitting very quietly in the boat, looking toward the shore where Bunny and Sue stood.

"How did you get out there?" Bunny asked. He had not yet thought of a way to get Tom back to land.

"I—I didn't think the boat would float away," Tom answered. "I got in it and untied the rope. Then, the first thing I knew I was away out here. The wind blew me out, but it won't blow me back. I'll soon be out in the middle, I guess!"

Though there had been enough wind to blow Tom, in the boat, away from shore, there was hardly any wind now, so the boy could not be blown back. And how to get him to shore was something that Bunny and Sue could not tell how to do, especially as there were no oars in the boat.

"He can't row without oars," said Bunny.

"No, he can't," said Sue. She knew enough about boats to tell that. "And he hasn't any sail," she added.

"Haven't you got a stick, so you can push yourself back to shore?" called Bunny.

"I have a little stick, but it won't touch bottom," Tom answered. As he spoke he held up a short tree branch. Bunny had used it the day before as a fishpole, and when through playing had tossed it into the boat. Tom reached this stick over the side of the boat, and put it down into the water. But the lake was too deep there to let him touch the bottom, and so push himself to shore.

"Can't you swim out and get me, Bunny?" Tom cried. He was not as old a boy as was Bunker Blue, and so he was quite easily frightened, especially as he could not swim, and knew hardly anything about boats.

"Swim out and get me, Bunny!" Tom begged.

Bunny Brown shook his head.

"I couldn't swim that far," he shouted. "Besides, I'm not let go in the water unless my father or mother, or Uncle Tad or Bunker Blue is with me, and they're not here now."

"But how can I get back?" poor Tom wanted to know.

"We'll get you, somehow!" cried Bunny. "Won't we, Sue?"

"Yes," answered the little girl. But neither she nor her brother knew how they were going to save Tom.

"Anyhow, if I could swim that far, and daddy would let me," went on Bunny, speaking to his sister, "I couldn't take the oars out, and if I didn't have oars to row with, I couldn't bring the boat back, or Tom either."

"No, you couldn't," Sue said. She knew enough about boats to tell that, for she could row a little, with a light pair of oars.

"Call your father or mother!" called Tom, who was now farther from shore than ever. "Call them! Maybe they can get another boat, and come after me."

So Bunny and Sue called as loudly as they could, but neither Mr. Brown, his wife, Bunker nor Uncle Tad answered. They had taken a walk back in the woods, when Tom started to wash the dishes, and when Bunny and Sue were playing house in the leafy bower, and they had gone farther than they intended. So they could not hear Bunny and Sue calling.

"It's no use," said Bunny, after a bit. "We've got to save him ourselves, Sue. But I wonder how we can do it."

Sue thought for a minute. She did not rub her nose as Bunny had done. She could think without doing that. Then Sue said:

"If we only had a string on the boat, Bunny, we could pull Tom right to us. We could stand on shore and pull him in, just as we did with your little sail boat."

"That's right—we could!" cried Bunny. Then he called:

"Tom, has you got a rope on your boat? If you has throw it to me and Sue, and we'll pull you in by it."

Tom looked in the bottom of the boat.

"There's a rope here," he said, "but it isn't long enough to reach to shore."

He held it up so the children could see. Certainly it was not half long enough. It was the rope by which the boat had been tied to the tree.

While Bunny and Sue stood there, wondering what to do, there came a rustling, cracking sound in the bushes back of them. They quickly turned, and saw their dog, Splash. He had been roving about in the woods, and had now come back to camp.

"Oh, Splash!" cried Bunny. "You can do it, I know you can!"

"What can he do?" asked Sue.

"He can swim out to Tom in the boat, and pull him back to shore. Go on, Splash!" cried Bunny, pointing to poor Tom. "Go on and get him! Bring him back!"

Splash bounded around and barked. He looked to where Bunny pointed, but though the dog could understand some of the things Bunny said, he could not tell just what his little master wanted this time. Tom was watching what was going on, and now he called:

"I know a better way than that."

"What?" asked Bunny.

"If you had a long cord, you could tie one end to a stick, and give it to Splash to bring to me. Then I could tie it to the boat, and you could pull me to shore."

"Oh, yes, we can do that!" cried Bunny.

"Have you got a long cord?" Tom asked.

"Yes, one I fly my kite with. I brought the cord along, but now I haven't any kite. I'll get that."

Bunny ran to the tent where he kept his box of playthings. He soon returned with a stick, on which was wound a long and very strong cord.

"This will pull the boat," he said.

He looked around for a stick to tie onto the end of the cord, and when he had done this he gave the stick to the dog.

"Take it out to Tom!" ordered Bunny.

But Splash only barked and dropped the stick. He wagged his tail, as if he were saying:

"I'll do anything you want me to, little master, but I don't know just what you mean."

Once more Tom called across the water.

"Throw the stick into the lake, Bunny. Then Splash will bring it to me. He knows how to jump in after sticks you throw into the water; doesn't he?"

"Oh, yes, Splash knows that all right," Bunny said. "Here, Splash!" he called.

Into the lake Bunny tossed the stick to which was fastened one end of his kite cord.

"Get it, Splash!" cried the little boy.

With a bark Splash sprang into the water. But instead of swimming out to Tom with the stick and string, he swam back to shore. That was what he had been taught to do, you see.

Splash dropped the stick at Bunny's feet, and wagging his wet tail, spattered drops all over Sue. The dog barked, looking up at Bunny, and seeming to say:

"There, little master! Didn't I do that fine? Wasn't that just what you wanted me to do?"

"No! No!" cried Bunny. "I don't want the stick. Splash! Take it to Tom—out in the boat—take it to him!" and he pointed to Tom.

Once more Bunny threw the stick into the water, and once more Splash sprang in and brought it to shore. It was not until Bunny had told Splash four times, that the dog knew what was wanted.

Then the fifth time, when Bunny threw the stick into the water, Splash jumped in after it and swam out to Tom in the boat. Tom kept calling:

"Here, Splash! Here, Splash! Come on, good dog!"

Up to the boat, with the stick and cord, swam the dog. Tom made the string fast to the boat, and then Bunny and Sue, standing on shore, pulled on their end. They pulled
Bunny Brown at Camp p125.jpg

INTO THE LAKE BUNNY TOSSED THE STICK.

Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue at Camp Rest-a- While.Page 115.

slowly at first, so as not to break the cord. But, once the boat was started, it came along easily, and soon Tom was on dry land again. Splash swam along behind the boat.

"There!" Tom cried, as he tied the boat fast. "I'll never do that again!"

"We're not let get in the boat," said Bunny, "but I guess daddy forgot to tell you."

"If he had I'd never have gotten in," Tom said. "But I'm glad you pulled me to shore."

The rest of the campers came back soon after that, and Mr. Brown got Tom to promise never to get in the boat alone again. Of course Tom was not in any real danger as long as he kept still, and Mr. Brown might easily have gone out and rescued him in another boat. But I think it was very clever of Bunny and Sue, and Splash, too, to get Tom back to shore as they did; don't you?

There were many happy, joyful days at Camp Rest-a-While. The children went on little picnics in the woods and often they were taken out in the boat by Bunker Blue. Bunny had a real fishpole and line and hook now, with "squiggily" worms, as Sue called them, for bait, and the little boy caught some real fish.

It was about a week after Tom's adventure in the drifting boat that one day, as he was walking through the woods with Bunny and Sue, on their way back from a farmhouse where they had gone after milk, that Tom suddenly came to a stop along the path.

"Wait a minute!" he said in a whisper, to Bunny and Sue.

"What's the matter?" Bunny wanted to know. "You look afraid, Tom. Are you?"

"Yes, I am," said Tom, and even Sue could tell that he was when she looked at him.

"Did you—did you see a snake?" she asked, drawing closer to Bunny, for Sue did not like snakes, either.

"No, it wasn't a snake," returned Tom. "It was a man. Here, come on back among the bushes, and he can't see us," and, as he spoke, Tom drew Bunny and Sue away from the path, behind some thick bushes. Tom seemed very much afraid of something. And he had said he had seen a man. Bunny and Sue could not imagine why Tom should be afraid of a man.