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CHAPTER XXIII


IN THE CAVE


Splash, the big, shaggy dog, ran up and down the shore of the lake, poking his nose in among the bushes here and there, barking loudly all the while.

"What's the matter with Splash?" asked Sue of her brother. "Is there a wild animal here, Bunny?"

"No, I don't guess so," the little boy answered. "Splash is wagging his tail, and he wouldn't do that if there were wild animals around. He doesn't like a wild animal. I guess Splash is just glad 'cause he is out of a boat. Splash doesn't like a boat."

"I do," said Sue. "But we didn't ought to have come away in the boat all alone. Bunny. Mother told us not to, you know."

"I know she did. Sue, but we couldn't help it. We were just going to look for Bunker Blue and the wind blowed us away from the island. We couldn't help it."

"No, I don't guess we could, Bunny. But what are we going to do now?"

"I guess we'll have to walk back to Camp Rest-a-While," answered Bunny. "We can leave the boat here, and Bunker can come and get it."

"Can't we sail back in our boat, with the umbrella, same as we sailed down here?" Sue wanted to know.

"We could if the wind would blow right, but it isn't," said Bunny. He had been among his father's boatmen often enough to know that you have to go with the wind, and not against it, when you're sailing a boat. "We'll have to walk, Sue."

"Let's holler and yell," said the little girl, as she straightened out the dress of her doll.

"What for?"

"So daddy or mother can hear us," Sue went on. "If we holler real loud they may hear us, and come and get us in another boat. If we hadn't lost the oars, Bunny, we could row back."

"Yes, but the oars are lost. I guess we'll just have to stay here, Sue. We're losted again. But I'm not afraid. It's nice here, and if we get hungry I can catch a fish. I have my pole, and there's a worm on my hook yet."

"Is he a squiggily worm?" Sue wanted to know.

"He was kind of squiggily," answered Bunny, "but I guess he's all done squiggling now. He's deaded."

"Then I wouldn't be afraid of him," Sue said. "I could fish with him, too. I don't like squiggily worms. They tickle you so."

Bunny walked back to the boat, which the wind had blown partly up on shore. He looked for his fishing pole and line, and, after he had taken it out, he saw the little basket of lunch his mother had put up. It had not yet been opened.

"Oh, Sue!" Bunny cried. "Look! We've got our lunch! And there's a bottle of milk, too! Now we can have a picnic!"

"And you won't have to catch any fish!" cried Sue, clapping her hands. "I'm hungry Bunny. Let's have the picnic now!"

Bunny was willing, for he was hungry too, and the children, taking the basket of lunch, sat down in a shady place on the shore to eat. As Sue was taking off the napkins, in which the sandwiches and cakes were wrapped, she happened to think of something.

"Oh, Bunny!" Sue said. "Part of this lunch was for Bunker Blue."

Bunny thought for a second or two.

"Well, Bunker isn't here now," he said, "and he can't get here, less'n he swims. I don't guess he'll want any lunch. Sue."

"And anyhow, he can catch a fish," said Sue. "Bunker is good at fishing, and he likes to eat 'em."

"I wonder where Bunker is now," pondered Bunny.

He looked back up the lake. He could not see the island where they had left Bunker. It was out of sight around a bend in the lake shore.

"Do you think he'll swim down here and want some lunch?" asked Sue.

"No," answered Bunny. "We can eat all his. Bunker won't come."

And so the children began on their lunch, sharing some of it with Splash, who, after a bath in the lake, lay down in the sun to dry himself.

By this time Bunker Blue, back on the far end of the island, had caught three fine, big fish. He was so excited and glad about getting them that, for a while, he forgot all about Bunny Brown and his sister Sue. Then he happened to remember them.

"I'll go back to the boat and get the children," said Bunker Blue to himself. "They can catch fish here, and that will tickle Bunny. He never yet caught real big fish like these."

But when Bunker went to the place where he had left Bunny and Sue in the boat, the children were not there, nor was there any sight of the boat. Bunker had been fishing by himself longer than he thought, and by this time Bunny and Sue were out of sight around a bend in the shore.

Bunker rubbed his eyes. Then he looked again. There was no doubt of it—the boat was gone, and so were the children.

"Where can they be?" asked Bunker, aloud. But there was no one on the little island to answer him.

Then the red-haired boy happened to think that perhaps Bunny might have taken the boat around to the other end of the island. Bunker quickly ran there, but no boat was to be seen.

"They've either drifted away," said Bunker, "or else they've rowed themselves away. It's too bad; but they know how to behave in a boat, that's one good thing. They won't try to stand up, and so fall overboard. I wonder if I could call to them?"

Bunker shouted, but Bunny and Sue were too far away to hear him. Bunker then sat down on a stone. He did not know what to do. He looked over to the main shore, where he could just see the white tents of Camp Rest-a-While.

"Well, if we don't come back pretty soon, Mr. Brown will know something is wrong, and he'll get another boat and come over here," thought Bunker. "Then I can tell him what has happened, and we can go and look for the children. I guess they'll be all right. All I can do is to wait."

All this while Bunny and Sue were eating their lunch. They were not frightened now, and they very much enjoyed their little umbrella-sail excursion in the boat and the picnic they were having.

But, pretty soon, it began to grow cloudy, and then it began to rain.

"I don't like this," said Sue. "I want to go home, Bunny."

Bunny, himself, would have been glad to be in camp with his father and mother, but he thought, being a boy, he must be brave, and look after his little sister, so he said:

"Oh, I guess this rain won't be very bad, Sue. We'll go back into the woods, under the trees. Then we can keep dry. And we'll take the lunch, too. There'll be enough for supper."

"Will we have to stay here for supper?" asked Sue.

"Maybe," answered Bunny. "But if we do it will be fun. Come on!"

It was now raining hard. Bunny carried the iunch basket, with the bottle of milk—now half emptied—in one hand. The other hand clasped Sue's. They went back in the wood a little way, and, all at once. Bunny saw something that made him call:

"Oh, Sue! Here's a good place to get in out of the rain!"

"What is it?" Sue asked.

"A cave!" cried Bunny. "It's a regular cave, like robbers live in! Come on. Sue! Now we're all right! Oh, this is fun!" and Bunny ran forward into the dark hole in the side of the hill—right into the cave he ran.