Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue on Grandpa's Farm/4
A QUEER SLIDE
Bunny Brown and his sister Sue stood looking at the queer, big automobile. They had seen some like it once before passing through the town, loaded with tables, chairs, a piano and other things, when someone was moving. But this automobile was different.
Inside, as the children could see, were four small beds—"bunks" they were called, as Bunny knew, for that was what a bed was called on a ship, or big boat. And a bunk was like a shelf, sticking out from the side of the wall.
Besides the bunks, inside the big automobile van, there were chairs, a table, and a cupboard, in which, through the glass doors, could be seen dishes.
"Oh, Bunny!" cried Sue. "We're going to eat! We're going to eat! I see the dishes. We're going to eat in this auto!"
"Yes, and we must be going to cook, too," said Bunny. "I see an oil stove, and some pots and pans. That is we are going to eat if this is our auto," he went on, looking again at the man who had steered it into the yard of the Brown house. "Is it ours?" Bunny asked.
"Well, your father told me to bring it up here, and leave it, so I guess it must be yours, or his," and the man smiled at Bunny and Sue.
"Oh, goodie!" cried the little girl, dancing up and down for joy. "It's our auto! It's our auto!"
"Fine!" exclaimed Bunny, with eyes that sparkled almost as brightly as did Aunt Lu's diamond ring, which was found in the lobster claw. "And are we going to have a long ride in it?" Bunny asked.
"Well, as to that, I don't know," answered the man. "Your father told me to bring the auto up here and leave it. He'll be home pretty soon, I guess, and tell you all about it. I'll be going now."
The man had put the brakes on, so the wheels could not turn, and thus let the automobile run away. Now he waved his hand in good-bye to the children and walked off. Bunny and Sue raced into the house.
"Oh, Mother!" cried Sue.
"Oh, Mother!" cried Bunny.
Then both together they fairly shouted:
"Come on out and look at the big auto!"
Mrs. Brown smiled, and went out with the children. She did not seem as much surprised as they had been.
"What's it for. Mother?" asked Bunny. "The man said papa sent it up. Are we going to take a long ride in it?"
"Well, I think so. Bunny."
"But if we go riding in this how can we go to grandpa's farm?" Sue wanted to know.
"You had better wait until your father comes home, and he'll tell you all about it," her mother replied.
"May we go inside and look at it?" asked Bunny.
"Yes, come along," and Mrs. Brown led the way up the little pair of steps that were fastened at the back of the big automobile.
Once inside Bunny and Sue thought they had never seen such a fine place. It was just like a little house of two rooms, one room being shut off from the other by heavy curtains.
The first room they went into was where they would eat and cook, and, when the table was cleared off, they could sit around it and read, or play games. There was a hanging lamp over the table.
There were two windows in this room, with nice, white curtains draped over them. And along the sides of the room were cupboards, and little places where dishes, pans and other things could be put away. There was even a clock on the wall, to tell the time.
In the next room, as Bunny and Sue could see through the curtains, which were pulled back, were four beds, two little ones, Bunny's and Sue's, and two larger beds, or bunks, for Mr. and Mrs. Brown. In this room were also two boxes, or chests.
"That is where we shall keep our clothes when we are traveling," said Mother Brown. There was a lamp in this room, and windows, with pretty, flowered silk curtains over them.
"Then we are really going to travel in this auto?" asked Bunny eagerly.
"Yes," answered his mother with a smile.
"But I thought we were going to grandpa's!" remarked Sue. She did not know what it all meant.
"Well, I think this is papa's secret," went on her mother, "and you will have to wait until he comes home when he can tell you all about it."
Bunny and Sue shook their heads. They did not know what it all meant, but they thought the automobile was fine, and they could hardly wait for the time to come when they should travel and live in it.
"It's just like a sleeping car on the railroad train," said Sue.
"It's better!" Bunny cried. "You can eat in it too. Once I ate on a train, but my milk all spilled in my lap when I tried to drink out of my glass."
Bunny and Sue had once traveled all night on the railroad, and had slept in a bed on the car, and had also eaten in the dining coach, so they knew something about it.
For some time the two children looked about inside the queer, big automobile that was made into a little house, and then they climbed down the steps again.
"And it's real, too. It isn't make-believe!" said Bunny, as if that were the best part of it.
"Shall we have real things to eat?" asked Sue.
"Oh, I think so," her mother told the little girl.
"I—I feel hungry now," observed Bunny, with a sigh.
"Well, run to the house and get some cookies," his mother said. "Then you and Sue may go off and play for a while. But don't go too far. It will make the time pass more quickly, and when you come back daddy will be here, and will tell you all about the big automobile."
"Come on. Sue!" cried Bunny. "We'll have some fun."
Soon the children, a cookie in each hand, were racing about the yard, playing with Splash, the big dog. Splash liked cookies, too, and I think he had almost as much of Bunny's and Sue's as did the children themselves.
Mrs. Brown had gone into the house, and Bunny and Sue were left in the yard. They soon grew tired of playing with Splash, and, as the dog himself was rather hot, he went to lie down in the shade.
"I know what let's do!" said Bunny, after a bit.
"What?" asked Sue, who was always ready to go where her brother led. "What can we do, Bunny, to have some fun?"
"We'll go over to the pond and catch frogs," answered Bunny. "I'll get my net, and you can take a tin can to keep 'em in."
"But we won't hurt the frogs; will we Bunny?"
"No. We'll just catch 'em, and let 'em go again, to watch 'em hop. Come on!"
Bunny had made himself a little net out of a bean pole, with a bent wire, in the shape of a hoop, and some mosquito netting pinned over it. Not far away from the Brown house was a pond where there were many frogs and tadpoles, which are little frogs before they have any legs.
The pond was in a hollow place, where the clay had been dug out to make bricks, for near Bellemere was a large brick factory. The water rained into the pond, and stayed there for some time as it could not run out or soak down through the clay. Bunny and Sue were allowed to go to the clay-pond because it was not deep, and not far away. But Mrs. Brown always told them to be careful not to slip down in the wet and sticky clay or muddy water.
So now, with the net and the tin can to catch frogs, away the two children started. They had not been frog-hunting since Aunt Lu went back to New York.
"There ought to be lots of frogs now," said Bunny.
"Yes," agreed Sue. "I hear them singing every night."
"Frogs don't singl" her brother said.
"Yes they do too!"
"No they don't!"
"Then what do they do?" Sue wanted to know.
"They croak!" said Bunny. "Frogs can't sing, they just croak."
"Well, they can hop then!" Sue was sure of that "'Cause the ones George Watson let loose at our party hopped."
"Oh, yes, frogs can hop," Bunny knew that well enough.
"All 'ceptin' pollywoggles," went on Sue. "They jest wiggle."
"That's right," said her brother. "Pollywogs can't hop, 'cause they've got no legs. Come on."
The two children were soon at the frog pond. They could hear the frogs croaking, or "singing," whichever you call it, and with his net Bunny was soon scooping around in the water, to catch some of the hopping, swimming creatures.
"Oh, I've got a big one!" the little boy suddenly cried, as he lifted the net into the air. "Where's your can. Sue?"
"Here it is. Bunny!"
Sue held up an old tomato can, with the cover off, while her brother turned his net upside down over it. Some black mud and water splashed from Bunny's net, some splattering on Sue's dress. She looked eagerly into the can.
"There isn't any frog at all, Bunny!" she exclaimed, much disappointed.
"No frog?" shouted Bunny. "Of course there is!"
With a stick he poked in the mud on the bottom of the can. No frog was there.
"Well, he must have hopped out," he said.
"Maybe you didn't have one, Bunny."
"Yes I did. But he got away. He was a big one, too. But I'll get another."
A little later Buiiny did catch two frogs, though they were small ones. He put them in Sue's can. She looked at them for a while and then asked:
"Oh, Bunny, oughtn't I to put some water in the can, so the frogs can swim? They won't like us if we don't let them swim."
"Well, put a little water in," said Bunny. With the frogs in the can. Sue dipped it into the pond, at the water's edge. Then she gave a sorrowful cry.
"Oh, Bunny! The frogs hopped out! They got away!"
"Oh, dear!" the little boy said. "What made you let 'em go?"
"I didn't. They wented themselves! They swimmed right out!"
"Oh, well, never mind. I can get more." Bunny was real nice and cheerful about it; wasn't he? Some boys would have made a fuss if their sister let their frogs go, but Bunny Brown was different.
Soon he caught four more frogs, and this time he helped Sue put water in the can, scooping it up with his hands. So the frogs did not get out.
But catching frogs gets tiresome after a while, and, after a bit, Bunny and Sue were ready to stop. They looked about for something else to do. Not far from the pond was a high bank of clay, partly dug away. It was like a little hill, and sloped down to the edge of the pond.
"Oh, Sue, I know what let's do!" cried Bunny.
"Let's go up to the top of the clay-hill and roll stones down into the water."
Sue set down her can of frogs, and Bunny laid aside his net. The clay hill was too slippery to climb, so the children went around to the side, on a part where the grass grew. Soon Bunny and Sue stood at the top of the hill. It was not very high, nor very steep, and at the top were a number of stones.
"We'll roll 'em down, and watch 'em splash in the water," said Bunny.
Down the slippery clay slide the children rolled the stones, watching them splash into the little pond at the bottom of the hill.
All of a sudden, as Sue rolled one stone, larger than any of the others she had yet played with, she gave a cry.
"Oh, Bunny! Bunny! I'm slipping! I'm falling!" she called.
Bunny gave a jump toward Sue, hoping he could catch her. But he, too, slipped on the smooth clay at the top of the hill.
And the next second Bunny and Sue went sliding down. Right down the clay hill toward the shallow pond at the bottom they slid, like Jack and Jill, who went up the hill, after a pail of water, and then tumbled down.