Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue at Camp Rest-a-While/Chapter 20



Pretty soon Splash was seen coming over the hills. He did not run fast, for he was tired from having chased the fox. The dog was wet and muddy, too.

"Oh, Daddy! What happened to Splash?" asked Bunny, as the dog came slowly along, and stretched out in the shade of a tree.

"Did the fox bite him?" Sue wanted to know. "If he did I don't like foxes, and I don't want Bunny to catch any in his trap."

"No, the fox didn't bite your dog," said Mr. Brown. "I guess he just ran away from Splash. And Splash tried to catch him, and ran through mud and water until he got all tired out. You don't like foxes, either, do you, Splash?"

Splash barked once, and did not even wag his tail. That one bark must have meant "No." And I guess Splash was too tired to wag his tail, as he always did when he was happy, or pleased.

"Maybe he'd like a drink of water," said the farmer. "I'll bring him some from the well. It's good and cold. I'm going to drink some myself, as it's a hot day. I could give the children a glass of milk," went on Mr. Trimble to Daddy Brown. "I've got plenty up at the house."

"Oh, I don't want to trouble you," said the children's father.

"It's no trouble!" said the farmer. "My wife will be glad to give them some. Come on. Splash!" he called. "We'll get you a cold drink after your run. So the fox got away from you same as that boy Tom Vine ran away from me."

Mr. Trimble was smiling and laughing now. Somehow or other he did not seem as mean and cross as he once had. Bunny and Sue were beginning to like him now. He was quite a different man from the one who had called at Camp Rest-a-While looking for Tom.

Splash eagerly drank the cool water, and then he rolled in the grass to get some of the mud off his coat. Mrs. Trimble brought out some milk for Bunny and Sue, and also a plate of molasses cookies, which they were very glad to have.

"Sit down under this shady apple tree," said Mrs. Trimble, "and help yourselves. Maybe you'd like a glass of milk," she said to Mr. Brown.

"Well, I don't care much for milk, except in my tea and coffee," he said. "Thank you, just the same."

"How about buttermilk?" asked Mr. Trimble. "That's what I like on a hot day, and she's just churned."

"Yes, I should like the buttermilk," returned Bunny's father, and soon he was drinking a large glass.

"What funny looking milk!" remarked Sue, as she helped herself to another molasses cookie from the plate in front of her. "It's got little yellow lumps in it. Daddy."

"Those are little yellow lumps of butter," said Mr. Brown. "To make butter, you know, they churn the cream of sour milk. And when the butter is all taken out in a lump, some sour milk is left, and they call that buttermilk. Would you like to taste it, Sue?"

Sue, who had drunk the last of her glass of sweet milk, nodded her curly head. But when Daddy Brown put his glass to her lips, and just let her sip the buttermilk he had been drinking, Sue made such a funny face that Bunny laughed aloud.

"Oh—oh! It—it's sour—like lemons!" cried Sue.

"Yes, it is sour!" said Mr. Brown. "But that is why I like it."

"I like molasses cookies better," said Sue, as she took a bite from one to cleanse away the sour taste in her mouth. "You can make just as good cookies as my mother or my Aunt Lu can," said Sue to Mrs. Trimble.

"Can I? I'm glad to hear that," said the farmer's wife, with a smile. "Have some to put in your pockets."

"Oh, I'm afraid you've given them too many already," objected Mr. Brown.

"Molasses cookies won't hurt children; nor milk won't either," the farmer said. "Any time you're over this way stop in. I'm sorry you can't find that boy Tom. And I'm sorry I was a bit cross with him, or maybe he'd be here yet. But I haven't seen him."

Splash was rested now, and clean. And he had had a good drink of cold water, so he was ready to start again. The children, too, felt like walking, and, after having thanked the farmer and his wife, Mr. Brown set off once more with Bunny and Sue, Splash following behind.

"Come again!" Mrs. Trimble invited them.

"We will, thank you," answered Daddy Brown.

"She's real nice; isn't she?" asked Bunny, when they were once more in the road.

"Yes," said Daddy Brown.

"And I like that farmer, too," said Sue. "I didn't like him at first, when he shook his fist and was so cross, but I like him now."

"Yes, he is different from what he was at first," returned her father. "But I'm afraid we've seen the last of Tom. He must have run away. Maybe he was afraid, after all, that Mr. Trimble would stay cross, and would try to get him back onto the farm. Well, it's too bad, for Tom was a nice boy, but it can't be helped."

"I'd like Tom back," said Bunny.

"So would I," added Sue.

"What's the matter, Splash?" asked Mr. Brown, for the big dog had run up the side of a little hill along the road, and was barking at a hole in the ground.

"Maybe he thinks the fox lives there," said Bunny.

"Maybe," said Daddy. "Come on, Splash. Even if that is the hole of the fox he isn't there now. You chased him too far away. Come on!"

But Splash did not want to come. He pawed away the dirt at the side of the hole, and put his sharp nose down inside it.

"There must be something there, Daddy," said Bunny, standing still, and looking up the hill at the dog. "Let's go and see what it is."

"If it's a fox I'm not going!" cried Sue, holding back.

"I don't believe it's a fox," said Mr. Brown. "But we'll take a look. I'll carry you, Sue, and then, even if it is some animal in the hole, you won't be afraid."

Sue didn't mind going closer if her father carried her, and soon the two children, and Mr. Brown, were looking down into the hole at which Splash was barking.

All at once a light brown animal, covered with fur, and larger than the muskrat Splash had barked at in the lake, stuck its head out of the hole.

"Oh, look!" cried Bunny. "It's a little bear!"

"No, that's a ground-hog, or woodchuck," explained Mr. Brown. "They won't hurt you. This must be the old father or mother, and there may be little ones in the hole, or burrow, so the old folks want Splash to go away."

But Splash did not want to go. He barked louder than ever at the sight of the woodchuck, and pawed at the dirt with his fore paws. But he could not reach the brown, furry animal.

"Come away. Splash!" called Mr. Brown.

Still Splash barked.

Then, all at once, the woodchuck thrust out his head quickly, and made a grab for one of Splash's paws. The dog howled, and ran down the hill.

"There!" exclaimed Mr. Brown. "Now I guess you'll leave the woodchucks alone, Splash."

"Oh, is Splash hurt?" asked Bunny, for the dog was running along on three legs, holding the other up off the ground.

"Oh, I guess he isn't hurt much," Mr. Brown said. "Come here. Splash, until I look at your foot."

Splash limped up. He was not badly bitten. The woodchuck had just pinched him to drive him away. Splash looked at the hole and barked. But he did not offer to go near it again. So the old lady, or old gentleman, ground-hog—whichever it was—with the little ones, was left safe in the burrow on the side of the hill.

Mr. Brown, Bunny, Sue and Splash went on to the village. They bought the things Mother Brown wanted and then started for camp again. Nothing much happened on the way back. Mrs. Brown was told of the visit to Mr. Trimble's, and how the fox ran out of the smoke-house.

"And now," said Bunny, as his father finished telling what had happened, "now I'm going up to see if we've caught a fox or a groundhog in my box trap. Come on, Sue."

"All right. I'm coming, Bunny, but if it is a fox or a ground-hog, you won't let him bite me; will you?"

"Course I won't, Sue!" said the little fellow, picking up a stick from beside the sleeping-tent. "Come on!"

Bunny Brown and his sister Sue were soon at the place where Bunny had set the boxtrap, with the stone on top to hold it down, in case an animal got beneath.

"Now go easy. Sue!" whispered Bunny, as they crept through the bushes. "If there's a fox, or anything else, just going in, we don't want to scare him away."

"No," said Sue. "I won't make any noise."

She walked along quietly behind her brother. Now they were in sight of the boxtrap Bunny had made.

"Is—is anything in it?" Sue asked.

"Yes, I think so," her brother answered. "Don't make a noise. The box is down, and I guess something is under it. I hope it's a fox."

"I don't," said Sue. "Foxes bite."

"Well, you can sell 'em for a lot of money," argued Bunny. "And maybe I could train this one. But maybe it's only a ground-hog."

"I don't like them either," said Sue, "'cause one bit Splash."

"Say, what kind of animals do you like?" asked Bunny, turning to look at his sister. "What would you like me to catch in my trap?"

"A nice kitty cat," said Sue quickly. "Then I could have her to play with, and she'd like me and my dolls. Couldn't you catch a nice white kitty cat, Bunny?"

Bunny did not answer. He was looking at his box trap. His eyes opened widely.

"Oh, look, Sue!" he cried. "Look! My trap is moving! Something big is under the box!"