Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue on Grandpa's Farm/6

CHAPTER VI


JUST LIKE GYPSIES


Away down the road rumbled the big automobile, which was just like a little house on wheels. Bunny Brown and his sister Sue sat, one at each window, on cute little chairs, and looked out.

"Oh, isn't this fun?" cried Sue.

"The best fun we ever had," agreed Bunny. "It was more fun than when we were shipwrecked on the island; 'member?"

"Yes. When we played Robinson Crusoe," went on Sue, "and we couldn't find Mr. Friday because it was Thursday," and she laughed.

"And you fell in," added Bunny.

"And Splash pulled me out!"

"Oh, Father!" suddenly cried Bunny, as Sue mentioned the name of the pet dog, couldn't we take Splash with us?"

"Well, I don't know," said Mr. Brown slowly. "You know we weren't going to take him down on the farm, because grandpa has a dog. But I guess, if you want Splash very much, we have room for him. What do you say. Mother?" and he looked at Mrs. Brown.

"Oh, let the children have their pet," said Mother Brown.

"Fine !" shouted Bunny.

"We'll stop at Mr. West's and get him," said Mr. Brown.

When the Brown family decided to go away, they had not planned to take Splash with them, and he was left at the home of Sadie West, a little girl with whom Sue played. Sadie said she would take good care of Splash. But now Bunny and Sue wanted him with them.

So the big automobile was steered down toward the West home, and a little later, Splash was barking joyously inside the little room, and trying to kiss, with his red tongue, Bunny, Sue and Mr. and Mrs. Brown, all at the same time.

"Oh, I'm so glad we're going to take you!" cried Sue, hugging her pet Half of Splash belonged to Sue, and half to Bunny. They made believe to divide the dog down the middle, lengthwise, so each would have part of the tail, which always wagged so joyfully when Splash saw either of the children.

Once again the automobile—a little house on wheels—set off.

"Good-bye!" called Sadie West to Sue, waving her hand.

"Good-bye!" echoed Bunny and his sister.

Down the main street of the village they went, many of Mr. Brown's friends stopping to wave their hands or hats to him. Such an automobile, fitted up inside so a family could live in it, was seldom seen in Bellemere.

"There's Charlie Star!" called Bunny, as he saw a boy on the street.

"Yes, and there's Helen Newton," added Sue. "Oh, I wish they were going with us!"

"We haven't room, my dear," said her mother, for sometimes Sue would invite her friends to stay to dinner or to supper without knowing whether her mother thought it best. "Besides," went on Mrs. Brown, "you will find many playmates, and enough to do, on grandpa's farm."

"Yes, I guess we will," said Bunny. "I'm going fishing."

"And I'm going to pick flowers," Sue said. "I don't like fishing, 'cause the worms on your hook are so squiggily."

Mr. and Mrs. Brown sat in easy chairs in the little dining room of the automobile. It was also the sitting room, when the table was not set. And it was the kitchen when the cooking was being done on the oil stove, so you see it was three rooms in one.

Beyond the dividing curtains was the bedroom, with the four bunks against the wall. There were windows in that room, but the Brown family seemed to like best sitting in the one nearest the back doors of the automobile.

"It's just like being in a railroad train," said Bunny, as he looked out of the window, and waved to Harry Bentley, one of his friends, whom he saw, just then, on the steps in front of Harry's house.

"Yes," said Sue. "It's like a train, 'ceptin' it jiggles you more," for the street was a bit rough, and the car bumped unevenly along, and swayed from side to side.

"It will run more smoothly when we get out on the soft, dirt country road," Mr. Brown said.

A little later they had passed out of the village. On the front seat Bunker Blue steered the machine, and made it go faster or slower, just as he needed to.

Inside Splash walked about, feeling a littie strange at first, perhaps. But he saw Bunny and Sue, and Mr. and Mrs. Brown, so of course he knew it was all right, and that he was one of the family.

"Mother, I'm hungry," said Sue. "Could I have something to eat?"

"Maybe a jam tart," added Bunny. "The kind Aunt Lu used to make, with the jam squashing up through the three little holes on top."

"Yes, I have made some of them," Mrs. Brown said. "I'll give you some. You must be hungry, as we had an early breakfast."

Mrs. Brown knew how to make jam tarts just like those Aunt Lu used to bake. A little cupboard was opened, and a plate of the nice tarts set on the table for the children.

"Oh!" murmured Sue.

"Ah!" said Bunny.

"And would you like a glass of cool milk?" asked Mrs. Brown.

"But how can we have cool milk, on a hot day, when we have no ice?" asked Bunny.

"Oh, but we have ice!" said Mrs. Brown, laughing. "See, Daddy had a little ice box put in, and I keep the butter, milk and other things that need to be cool, in there."

And, surely enough, in one corner of the dining-sitting-room and kitchen was a little icebox, out of which Mrs. Brown took a bottle of milk. So Bunny and Sue were having a nice little lunch, which tasted all the better because they were eating it as they rumbled along in the automobile-house-on-wheels.

Splash looked on hungrily, until Mr. Brown tossed him a dog biscuit. Sadie West had bought some for him, thinking she was going to keep the dog, but she had put the biscuits in the automobile when Bunny and Sue came for their pet.

Mile after mile, along the road, rumbled the big automobile van, like a circus wagon. Bunny and Sue sometimes sat near the back doors, looking out, or else they climbed up on boxes near the side windows. Mn and Mrs. Brown sat and talked, and laughed at the funny things the children said. Out on the front seat Bunker Blue held the steering wheel.

"Could I ride outside, with him?" asked Bunny, after a while. "I want to ride outside, Daddy!"

"No, indeed, little man," answered his father. "You might get bounced off, and hurt. This auto isn't like Mr. Reinberg's, in which you once had a ride. It would not be safe for you or Sue to ride outside."

"But I want to talk to Bunker," persisted the little boy.

"Well, I think I can manage that," Mr. Brown went on. "There is a window in the front part of the auto, right close to the back of Bunker's seat. I'll open that window, and you can talk to him through it. Go into the bed room."

Bunny and Sue walked into the front part of the automobile, through the hanging curtains. And, surely enough, when Mr. Brown opened a window he had had cut in the front of the van, there was Bunker's smiling face looking in. He saw Bunny and Sue, and laughed.

"Oh, Bunker! Isn't this lovely?" asked Sue.

"Well, it's better than rowing a boat full of fish, anyhow, Sue."

"And we had something to eat," went on Bunny. "Are you hungry. Bunker?"

"Well, no, not real hungry. I had some chewing gum a while ago."

"I can give you a sandwich. Bunker, if you'd like it," said Mrs. Brown, looking out of the window, over the heads of Bunny and Sue. "Chewing gum isn't good to eat."

"Oh, I didn't swaller it," said the red-haired young man. "But I'm not hungry. I'll wait until dinner. I couldn't eat and steer this big auto at the same time. I'll wait."

"It will soon be time for dinner," said Mrs. Brown.

On went the car, and at noon it came to a stop in the road, near a shady bit of woods.

"Here's where we'll eat," said Mrs, Brown. "Shall we set the table inside, or out on the grass?"

"Out on the grass!" cried Bunny. "Then we'll be just like Gypsies at a picnic."

So Mr. Brown lifted the table out of the automobile, and he and Bunny and Sue helped put on the dishes and the knives and forks. Mrs. Brown cooked the dinner on the oil stove. There were meat and potatoes and green peas, besides tomato soup, which Bunny liked very much.

There was milk for the children, and tea for the older folk, and they sat on chairs, under the trees, and ate what Bunny said was the best dinner he had ever had. Sue liked it too, and so did Bunker Blue.

Then, after a little rest, they went on again. Oh, I forgot to say that of course Splash had his dinner, also. He ate the scraps of meat, and the bread and potatoes left over when all the others had finished. He liked his dinner very much.

On rumbled the big automobile over the country roads. Many persons who passed it— some in other cars, and some in carriages—turned to look at the funny house-on-wheels. Perhaps they wished they had one like it.

"And are we going to sleep in it to-night?" asked Sue, when the sun began to go down.

"Yes," answered her mother. "I'll make up your little beds just as I do at home."

"But I can't sleep if it jiggles and squiggles so much, Mother!"

"We'll not travel at night," said Mr. Brown. "We'll find a nice place beside the road, run the auto under the trees, and stay there until morning. Then the auto won't jiggle you, Sue."

"All right. Daddy. That's nice!"

Just before dusk they stopped for supper. This was just as much enjoyed as was the dinner. Mrs. Brown made lemonade, when Bunker found a spring of cold water.

Just as supper was over, and they were sitting about the table, which was out on the ground near the back of the automobile, Mrs. Brown pointed to some smoke that was to be seen coming up through the trees, not far away.

"That looks like some one camping over there," she said to her husband.

"Maybe it is. There are several bands of Gypsies around here," he said. "It may be some of them."

Bunny Brown and his sister Sue looked at one another. They were both thinking of the same thing. Could these be the Gypsies who had taksn grandpa's horses?

The smoke rose higher and higher through the trees, as Mr. and Mrs. Brown, with the help of Bunker, began to wash the supper dishes. Bunny and Sue walked a little distance away from the car, toward the smoke.

"Don't go too far!" their mother called to them.

"We won't," answered Bunny.