Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue on Grandpa's Farm/18

CHAPTER XVIII


THE PICNIC


Bunny Brown did not answer his sister Sue right away. He was listening to the queer scratching sound. He wanted to try and think what it was.

"Scratch! Scratch! Scratch!" it went.

"Oh, Bunny!" cried Sue, rolling over in the bunk, so she could easily slip over the edge, and be nearer to her brother. "It's something trying to get in."

"Yes," said Bunny. "It does sound like that."

"Maybe—maybe it's a wolf, Bunny!"

Bunny looked at the door and windows to make sure they were closed.

"There aren't any wolves up here," he said, shaking his head.

"How do you know?" Sue asked.

"'Cause I asked Grandpa Brown if there were any bears, and he said there wasn't any—not a one. And wolves are always where bears are. So if there aren't any bears there aren't any wolves. Sue."

"Maybe," said Sue. "But what is it scratching at the door, Bunny?"

"I don't know, Sue. I could open it and look out. Shall I?"

"No," she cried. "For, if you opened the door, it would come in. Now it can't get in, or else it would. It can only scratch."

Bunny thought it would be best not to open the door. But what could that queer noise be? He wished he knew. Again it sounded.

"Scratch! Scratch! Scratch!"

And then, all at once there came a bark. Both Bunny and Sue cried out at the same time:

"A dog!"

And Bunny added:

"Oh, I guess it's Splash! I'll let him in!"

He ran to the door and opened it, for it was not locked. And, a second later, in bounded good old Splash, the big dog. He was all wet with the rain, but oh! how glad he was to see Bunny and Sue! He barked, and jumped all over the cabin, getting the children wet from his dripping coat. But Bunny and Sue did not mind that. They were so glad to see Splash.

"And I—I thought you were a wolf!" laughed Sue, putting her arms around the neck of Splash. Sue was wide awake now.

"I wonder how he got here?" questioned Bunny. "Maybe he ran on ahead of the folks. They must be coming for us now."

"I think Splash just came by himself," said Sue, and that was what had happened.

Bunny and Sue listened, but they did not hear their father or mother or the hermit coming along. It was still raining, but the thunder and lightning had stopped. The children were glad of that.

"Splash just came off by himself and found us, just as he did lots of times before," said Sue. "Didn't you, doggie?" she asked.

Splash barked, and that might have meant "yes" or "no." Bunny and Sue did not know dog language, and I don't either, so I can't tell you.

But, anyhow. Splash was there, and Bunny and Sue were very glad. It was not at all lonesome in the hermit's cabin now. There was no clock, so Bunny did not know how late it was, though he could have told time had there been a clock.

After shaking some of the water from his shaggy coat, sending it in a shower over Bunny and Sue, and about the cabin, Splash lay down on the rug, and seemed quite happy. He looked from Bunny to Sue, and then put his head out on his paws, as if to go to sleep. It was as if he said:

"Well, everything's all right now. I'm here with you. You can go to sleep just as I'm doing."

But Bunny and Sue were not so sleepy now. They were glad Splash had come, but they also wanted their papa and mamma, and their own little beds at grandpa's house.

"I—I wish they would come for us," said Sue, after at bit.

"So do I," returned Bunny. "It must be 'most morning."

The children talked for a while. They did not feel very happy, though Bunny tried to get Sue to play some "make-believe" games.

"I don't want to," she said. "I want to go home."

All at once Splash, who had been asleep, sprang up and began to bark loudly.

"Oh, dear!" cried Sue, who had fallen into a little sleep. "What is it, Bunny?"

Splash barked so loudly that Bunny could not make his voice heard. The dog ran to the door, and scratched at it as he had done before.

"He wants to go out," said Sue.

"It's somebody coming for us!" Bunny cried. "I guess it's papa and mamma!"

He opened the door. Out bounded Splash, barking joyously. Then a voice cried:

"Bunny! Sue! Are you all right?"

"Yes, Daddy!" cried Bunny.

"Well, well! What a scare you gave us" said another voice.

"But we didn't mean to, Grandpa!" called Sue, for she heard her grandpa's voice.

"Is it—is it 'most morning?" Bunny asked.

"Only a little after nine," answered his grandpa. "It isn't late."

Grandpa Brown took Sue in his arms, and Papa Brown carried Bunny. Splash ran along by himself. No one had to carry him. Mr. Brown thanked the hermit for his care of the children during the storm. And then, through the rain, that was falling gently now, Bunny and Sue were taken out to the carriage which was in the road, at the edge of the woods.

A little later they were on their way to the farmhouse. Splash running along beside the carriage.

"Can Splash see his way in the dark?" sleepily asked Bunny.

"I think so," answered Papa Brown. "Anyhow we haven't any room for him in the carriage. How did you get lost this time?"

"It was the frog that made us," said Bunny. "We chased after him, and we couldn't find the right path again. But the man found us."

And oh! how glad mamma and Grandma Brown were to see the children when they came home!

"Don't you ever get lost again!" said Mamma Brown, as she undressed Sue for bed.

"No'm, we won't," promised the little girl, find Bunny said the same thing.

The family had become very much worried when Bunny and Sue did not come back from having gone for berries. Supper time came, and no children. Then Grandpa Brown, his hired men, Mr. and Mrs. Brown, Grandma Brown, and even Bunker Blue, began to look for the lost ones.

They did not find Bunny and Sue, of course, for they were far away with the kind hermit. Then the storm came and the family at the farmhouse were more worried than ever.

They did not know what to do, but everything was all right when the hermit came along through the storm, and said he had found the children.

Then Grandpa Brown hitched up a horse to a big carriage and he and Papa Brown, taking the hermit with them, went to the cabin. Before that, though. Splash had gone off by himself, and had found Bunny and Sue. Then along came papa and Grandpa Brown, and that ended the little adventure. Everything was all right.

"He is a nice man—that hermit," said Sue. "He gave me a piggy-back, and once he had a little girl of his own, but she is in the sky now."

"Yes, he is a good old man," said Grandpa Brown. "I know him, though he hardly ever comes to see me. He has lived in his cabin in the woods, all alone, for many years. Once he had a wife and children, but they all died, and he became very sad. So he went to live by himself. He hardly ever speaks to any one, but he loves children. Bunny and Sue could not have been cared for by any one better than old Mr. Wright, the hermit."

"And he knows where the Gypsies are that have your horses. Grandpa," said Bunny.

That was not just what the hermit had said, but it was as near as Bunny could remember.

Grandpa Brown shook his head.

"I'm afraid I'll never see my horses again," he said. "But I'll ask Mr. Wright where the Gypsies that he saw are camping. Then I'll have a look for my horses."

This Grandpa Brown did next day. He went over to the hermit's cabin, taking with him a nice basket of good things to eat, that grandma and Mrs. Brown had put up.

"The children ate his bread and milk," said Mother Brown, "so we must give him something else in place of it."

And I think Mr, Wright, the hermit, was very glad to get the basket of good things, for of course a man, living all alone in the woods, can not make pies, and jam tarts and cake as good as mothers and grandmothers can.

The hermit showed Grandpa Brown the valley where the Gypsies had been seen, with their wagons shining with looking glasses. But the queer Gypsies were gone, though the ashes of their campfires showed where they had stopped. And of course there were no horses left behind.

"They don't stay very long in one place," Mid Grandpa Brown. "If they had my horses, they took them away. I guess 1*11 never see them again."

For several days, after getting lost. Bunny and Sue did not have any adventures. They played about the farmhouse, or in the barn, having much fun. Once they went fishing with Bunker Blue. Bunker did the fishing, and caught five or six, which Grandma Brown fried for supper.

One morning, when Bunny and Sue came down stairs, after a good night's sleep, they saw their mother and grandmother busy in the kitchen putting cake and pies, sandwiches, pickles, knives, forks, spoons, and other things, in baskets.

"What's that for?" asked Bunny.

"A picnic," answered his mother.

"Oh, are we going on a picnic?" asked Sue, clapping her hands.

"Yes, off in the woods," her grandmother replied. "It is a Sunday-school picnic, and grandpa and I go every year. This time we will take you with us."

"Oh, what fun we'll have!" cried Bunny Brown. "I just love a picnic; don't you. Sue?"

"Awful much!" answered the little girl.