Open main menu



Bunker Blue, with the pail of water, walked up to where Bunny, Sue and the others were still sitting at the breakfast table, though they had finished eating.

"Tom's gone," said Bunker again.

"Gone where?" asked Bunny.

"I don't know," answered the red-haired boy. "I looked all around by the spring, but I couldn't see him. The pail was there, but Tom wasn't."

"Could he have fallen in?" asked Mrs. Brown, just as Uncle Tad had asked. Bunker Blue shook his head.

"The spring is only about big enough to dip a pail in," he said, "and Tom is bigger than the pail."

"But maybe he curled all up in a little heap when he fell in," said Bunny. "Oh, dear! I don't want Tom to be lost!"

Bunny and Sue had grown to like Tom very much.

Once more Bunker Blue shook his head.

"I could look right down to the bottom of the spring," he said. "It's quite deep, even if it isn't big. But Tom wasn't in it. There was a big bullfrog in the water, though."

"Was the frog big enough to—to eat Tom?" asked Sue, her eyes wide open.

Sue's mother and father laughed, and Bunny said:

"A bullfrog couldn't eat anybody!"

"They could if they was a big enough frog; couldn't they, Daddy?" asked Sue.

"Well, I don't know," replied Mr. Brown. "Then you couldn't see anything of Tom, Bunker?"

"No, sir, not a thing."

"Had he filled the pail with water?" Uncle Tad wanted to know.

"The pail was empty, and it was tipped over," Bunker said. "I don't know whether Tom had filled it, and then something had knocked it over, or not. Anyhow, the pail had no water in it, so I dipped it into the spring to fill it, and came on back to tell you."

"That was right," said Mr. Brown. "We'll go over and look around. Tom may have seen some new kind of bird, or something like that, and have wandered off in the woods, following it."

"Maybe he saw a bear, and ran," suggested Bunny.

"No, I guess the only bear around here is the tame one that came in our tent the first night," said Mrs. Brown. "Oh, I do hope nothing has happened to Tom!"

They all hoped that, for the strange boy was very well liked.

Mrs. Brown remained at the tent to wash the breakfast dishes, since Tom was not there to do them, while the others—Bunny, Sue, their father, Uncle Tad and Bunker—went to the spring. It was on the side of a little hill, where grew many trees, and was about three minutes' walk from Camp Rest-a-While.

Mr. Brown and Uncle Tad looked all around the hole in the ground—the hole was the spring, and it was filled with clear, cold water. The bottom of the spring was of white sand, and sitting down there, having a nice bath, was a big, green bullfrog. With his funny eyes he looked up at Bunny and Sue as they leaned over the spring.

"Oh, look!" cried Sue. "What a big frog!"

"But he isn't big enough to swallow Tom," said Bunny.

"No, that's so," agreed Mr. Brown. "We'll have to look for Tom. Bunny and Sue, you stay with me. Uncle Tad, you and Bunker walk around in the woods. It may be that Tom fell and hurt himself, when running after a bird or butterfly, and can't walk. We'll find him."

Tom, having lived all his life in the city, thought the birds and butterflies were most wonderful creatures. Every time he saw a new one he would run up to it to get a close look. He never tried to catch them, he just wanted to watch them fluttering about the flowers.

But, though they looked all around in the woods by the spring, there was no sign of Tom. Up and down, back and forth, they walked, looking beside big rocks or stumps, behind fallen logs and under clumps of bushes they peered, but no Tom could they find.

"Oh, he's losted, just like we was losted," said Sue, sadly,

"Yes, I guess he is," agreed Bunny. "Splash, can't you find Tom?"

The big dog barked: "Bow-wow!" But what he meant by that no one knew. Splash, however, could not find Tom.

"Let's call his name," said Uncle Tad.

So they called his name.

"Tom! Tom! Tom Vine! Where are you?"

But Tom did not answer.

"This is queer," said Mr. Brown. "I don't believe he'd run away and leave us. He liked it too much at our camp."

"Perhaps he saw that mean man," said Bunker Blue. "Tom may have seen the cross farmer who wanted him to come back to work, and Tom may have run away off and hid—so far off that he can't hear us calling."

"Yes, that's so. He may have done that," agreed Mr. Brown. "We'll go back to camp, and wait for him. He may come when he thinks the man has gone away."

Back to camp they all went. Bunny and Sue felt bad about Tom's being lost. So did the others. Every time Splash would stop in front of a clump of bushes, and bark, as he often did, Bunny and Sue would run up, thinking their friend had been found.

But it would be only a bird, a rabbit or a sguirrel that Splash had seen, which made him bark that way. Tom was not to be found. They waited in camp all the rest of that day, only going out a little way for a row on the lake. Night came, and there was no Tom. It grew very dark, and still he had not come.

"Oh, dear!" cried Sue. "Will he have to sleep out alone all night?"

"Perhaps he'll come back before you are awake in the morning," said Mother Brown. "Anyhow, Tom isn't afraid of the dark, and it is now so warm that anyone could sleep out of doors and not get cold. I think Tom will be here in the morning."

But morning came, and there was no sign of Tom. A lantern had been left burning outside the tent all night, in case he should come. But he did not.

"Well," said Mr. Brown, after breakfast, "there's only one thing to do, and I'm going to do it."

"What is that?" asked his wife.

"I'm going over to Farmer Trimble's, to see if Tom is there."

"Oh, Trimble is the name of the man who wanted to take Tom away; isn't it?"

"Yes, that's the man who came here, and tried to get Tom. It may be that Mr. Trimble saw Tom at the spring, getting water, and made him go away. So I'm going over to the Trimble farm, and see."

"Oh, may we come?" asked Bunny.

"Yes," said Mr. Brown. "I guess so. I'll take you and Bunker Blue with me. And if we find Tom we'll bring him back with us. That man has no right to keep him!"