Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue on Grandpa's Farm/9
THE LOST HORSE
"What is it?" cried Bunny Brown. "What's the matter?"
"Is it a Gypsy after Bunker Blue?" asked his sister Sue.
Mrs. Brown pulled aside the light curtains that hung in front of the children's bunks.
"Don't be frightened," she said. "It isn't anything. Perhaps Bunker is dreaming, and talking in his sleep. Daddy will make it all right."
"Is Splash barking in his sleep?" Sue wanted to know.
Mother Brown laughed, and Bunny and Sue felt better after that.
Once more Bunker Blue called out:
"Hey! Quit, will you? Stop it! Ouch! I'm being tickled! Oh!"
Bunny Brown and his sister Sue laughed again. They could not help it, for it seemed so funny—Bunker Blue being tickled in his sleep.
By this time Mr. Brown had lighted a lantern, slipped on a bath robe, put some slippers on his feet and was going down the back, outside steps of the van. These steps, you remember, folded up, out of the way, when the automobile was traveling.
"What is it. Bunker? What's the matter?" Bunny and Sue heard their father ask.
"Why—why, I don't know what it is," answered the red-haired lad who steered the automobile. "But it's some big animal after me. He poked his head right into my cot, and he struck me with something sharp. Maybe he tried to bite me."
Mr. Brown flashed his lantern under the automobile where Bunker was sleeping. Only, of course, as I told you. Bunker was not asleep now. Nor was Splash, for the dog was running about and barking.
"Why, this is funny," said Mr. Brown. "I don't see anything, Bunker. Are you sure you didn't dream it all?"
"Dream it? No, sir! I felt it!"
Just then there came a loud "Moo! Moo! Moo!"
Bunny Brown and his sister Sue knew right away what that was.
"A cow!" they both cried. "It's only a cow!"
Their father, outside, looking under the automobile where Bunker Blue had his cot, heard them.
"Yes, it is a cow," he said, and his lantern flashed on a big, brown cow. There she stood, a little way back from the automobile, looking at Mr. Brown and Splash, and blinking her eyes at the lantern. She could not see Bunker under the automobile.
"Yes, it was the cow that scared you, Bunker," said Mr. Brown. "She must have been tied to a stake, in some pasture, but she pulled herself loose, and came over to see you."
"Well I didn't want to see her!" exclaimed Bunker, poking his head out from beneath the van. "She can just go right back where she came from."
"And I guess she wanted to get some of the long, sweet grass that grows under your cot," went on Mr. Brown. "That's why she came."
And that was what had happened. The cow had pulled up the stake to which she was fastened, and had wandered from her pasture, down the road, to where Bunker was asleep under the automobile. The cow had not meant to wake him up, but as she reached for the grass her horns must have poked Bunker as he slept on his cot That was what made him cry out.
Mr. Brown took hold of the cow's rope, and led her far enough off to keep her from bothering Bunker again that night. Then Mr. Brown tied the rope to a fence, and came back to tell Bunny, Sue and their mother all about it.
"Well, I'm glad it wasn't Gypsies," said Sue, as she curled up in her bunk again, to go to sleep.
"Pooh!" cried Bunny. "Gypsies don't have horns like cows!"
They were soon quiet again, though Splash did growl once in a while, as he heard the cow moving about, a little way off. But at last even Splash went to sleep, and so did Bunker. Nothing more bothered them, and it was broad daylight, and the sun was shining, when Bunny Brown and the others opened their eyes again.
"Breakfast! BreakfastI" cried Mother Brown. "Bunny! Sue! Wash for breakfast!"
There was a wash basin and stand in one corner of the automobile bed-room, and though it was quite different from the big bath room at home, Bunny and Sue washed their faces and hands very nicely, and thought what fun it was.
While they were doing this, Mother Brown was cooking the breakfast on the oil stove, and Daddy Brown, and Bunker Blue were setting the table out under the trees. Splash was not doing anything except looking hungry.
"Where's the cow?" asked Bunny, as he came down the automobile steps.
"Did she give us any milk for our breakfast?" Sue wanted to know.
"No," answered her father. "The farmer who owned her came to get her a little while ago. He said she often strayed away from her field in the night. He might have given us some milk, if he had had a pail, but we have plenty in our ice box. Now then—breakfast!"
And what a fine breakfast it was! eaten at the table, out of doors, under the willow tree. There were oranges, oatmeal and big glasses of cool milk, with soft-boiled eggs. Daddy and Mother Brown bought the eggs at the farmhouse the night before, when they went for the milk.
Splash, too, had his breakfast, and then he went roaming off over the fields, perhaps looking for another dog with which to have a game of tag—or whatever game it is that dogs play.
"Are you going to see the Gypsies this morning?" asked Bunny. He seemed very much interested in the strange folk who went about the country, living in their gay wagons.
"No, I think we'll travel on to grandpa's farm," his father answered. "We won't go to see the Gypsies. They aren't the ones who took grandpa's horses."
A little later the automobile started. Bunker Blue sitting on the- front seat to steer. Mr. Brown sat with him, to tell him the right road to take, so they would not be lost.
Mrs. Brown, with Bunny and Sue, sat inside the automobile, near the windows, which were opened to let in the breeze, as the day was quite hot. It was lovely traveling this way.
They did not go as fast as they might, for Mr. Brown wanted Bunker to go carefully. Then, too, there was no hurry. It was such fun, traveling in this new way, that Bunny and Sue would not have minded if they could have kept it up all Summer.
They stopped, that noon, near a little brook to eat their dinner. It was not far from a small town, and Bunker walked in and came back with some ice cream.
After dinner they went on again, and, as it looked as though it might rain that night, Mr. Brown said they would stop near the next village, so, in case the storm was a bad one, they could go to a hotel to sleep.
"But the rain won't come in the auto," said Bunny.
"No, but it might wet Bunker if he sleeps outside, under it," his mother said.
"Let Bunker sleep in the dining room," suggested Bunny.
"Well, we can do that, if it rains too hard for him to sleep out of doors," Mrs. Brown agreed, with a laugh.
The automobile was stopped in a grove of trees, not far from the town, and, when Mrs. Brown was getting supper, Bunny and Sue, with their dog. Splash, walked down the road.
"Don't go too far," their mother called after them. "It might rain any time."
"We'll be back soon," answered the little boy.
He and Sue walked on, not thinking they were going far. The clouds did not seem so dark now, and the children thought that perhaps, after all, it might not rain.
All at once Sue, who had gone on a little ahead of Bunny, called out:
"Oh, look! A horse! It's a horse, Bunny, and nobody's with him! Maybe it's one of grandpa's!"
"Maybe it is!" Bunny agreed. "It's lost, anyhow. I'll catch him, and we'll keep him. We'll take him to our auto, and fetch him to grandpa. He'll be real glad."
Bunny was not afraid of horses, especially one as kind and gentle as this one looked to be. Bunny had often fed grass to the grocer's horse, when it stopped in front of their house, and once the grocer's boy had held Bunny on the back of the horse, and had given him a ride.
So now, as Bunny walked up to this horse, which was coming slowly along the road, the little fellow was not in the least afraid.
"Whoa, horsie!" he called, and the horse stood still.
"Oh, I know it's grandpa's horse!" cried Sue, clapping her hands. "Grandpa's horses always stand still when you say 'whoa!' and that's what this one did. Oh, Bunny! Aren't you glad?"