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   Chapter 4 A NOISE AT NIGHT

Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue in the Big Woods By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 11301

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03


Bunny Brown and his sister Sue were not sure whether or not they should go with the old man. They remembered what their mother had said to them about walking off with strangers, and they hung back.

But when Bunny looked at the empty milk pail and remembered that there was no milk in camp for supper, and none with which his mother could make the pudding he and his sister liked so much, he made up his mind it would be all right to go to the little cabin in the woods.

"Come on," urged the old man.

"Do you sell milk?" asked Sue.

"Oh, yes, little girl. Though my cow with the crumpled horn does not give such a lot of milk, there is more than I use. I sell what I can, but even then I have some left over. I have plenty to sell to you."

"We only want a quart," said Bunny. "That's all we have money for. Mother gave us some extra pennies when we went for milk to the farmhouse, but we have only six cents left. Will that buy a quart of milk?"

"It will here in the woods and the country," answered the old man, "but it wouldn't in the city. However, my crumpled-horn cow's milk is only six cents a quart."

"Has your cow really got a crumpled horn?" asked Sue eagerly, for she loved queer things.

"Yes, she has a crumpled horn, but she isn't the one that jumped over the moon," said the old man with a smile.

The children liked him better after that, though when Bunny found a chance to whisper to his sister as they walked through the woods, along the path and behind the old man, the little boy said:

"I guess he means to be kind, but he's kind of funny, isn't he?"

"A little bit," answered Sue.

The old man walked on ahead, the children, hand in hand, following, and the bushes clinked against the empty tin pail that Bunny carried.

"Here you are," said the old man, as he turned on the path, and before them Bunny and his sister saw a log cabin. Near it was a shed, and as the children stopped and looked, from the shed came a long, low "Moo!"

"Oh, is that the crumpled-horn cow?" asked Sue.

"Yes," answered the old man. "I'll get some of her milk for you. I keep it in a pail down in the spring, so it will be cool. Let me take your pail and I'll fill it for you while you go to see the cow. She is gentle and won't hurt you."

Letting the old man take the pail, Bunny and Sue went to look at the cow. The door of the shed was in two parts, and the children opened the upper half.

"Moo!" called the cow as she stuck out her head.

"Oh, see, one of her horns is crumpled!" cried Bunny.

"Let's wait, and maybe she'll jump over the moon," suggested Sue, who remembered the nursery rhyme of "Hey-diddle-diddle."

But though the children remained standing near the cow shed for two or three minutes, the cow, one of whose horns was twisted, or crumpled, made no effort to jump out of her stable and leap over the moon.

Bunny and Sue were not afraid of cows, especially when they were kept in a stable, so they were soon rubbing the head of the ragged man's bossy.

"Well, you have made friends, I see," came a voice behind the children, and there stood the ragged man with their pail full of milk. "I am glad you like my cow," he said. "She is a good cow and gives rich milk. Any time you spill your milk again come to me and I'll sell you some."

"We didn't spill this milk," explained Bunny carefully. "A dog drank it."

"Well, then come to me whenever you need milk, and you can't get any at the farmhouse," went on the old man, as Bunny gave him the six pennies.

"All right, sir," said Bunny.

"Where do you live?" asked the ragged man.

"At Camp Rest-a-While," answered Sue.

"Oh, you're the children who live in the tents. I know where your place is."

"And to-night my father brought me a toy electric train from the city," said Bunny Brown. "It runs on a track with batteries, and you can switch it on and off and it-it's won'erful!"

"So is my Teddy bear!" exclaimed Sue. "It has real lights for eyes and they burn bright when you press a button in Teddy's back."

"Those are fine toys," said the ragged man. "We never had such toys as that when I was a boy. And so your train runs by an electrical battery, does it, my boy?" he asked Bunny, and he seemed anxious to hear all about it.

"Yes, and a strong one. Daddy said I must be careful not to get a shock."

"That's right. Electric shocks are not very good. Except for folks that have rheumatism," said the old man. "I have a touch of that myself now and then, but I haven't any battery. But now you'd better run along with your milk, or your father and mother may be worried about you. Do you know your way back to camp all right?"

"Oh, yes, thank you," said Bunny.

"And we're much obliged to you for letting us have the milk," added Sue.

"Oh, you paid me for it, and I was glad to sell it. I need the money because I can't earn much any more. I should thank you as a store keeper thanks his customers. And I'll say 'come again,'" and with a smile and a wave of his hand the ragged man said good-bye to the children.

"Now we mustn't set our pail down again," said Bunny; "not even if we see a squirrel."

"That's right," agreed Sue.

In a little while they were safely back at camp again, just as Uncle Tad was about to set off in search of them.

"What kept you so long, children?" asked Mrs. Brown, anxiously.

"Oh, we saw a squirrel," said Bunny.

"And we set the milk pail down and chased it-chased the squirrel I mean," added Sue.

"And then a dog drank up the milk," went on Bunny.

"And we couldn't get any more at the farmhouse," said Sue, speaking next.

"But the r

agged man, who lives in a cabin in the woods, and has a cow with the crumpled horn though she didn't jump over the moon-he gave us more milk for six cents," said Bunny, all in one breath.

"What's this about a ragged man?" asked Mr. Brown quickly, "and where does he live?"

The children explained. Mr. and Mrs. Brown looked at one another and then Mr. Brown said:

"Well, the ragged man meant all right, and he was very kind. But I wouldn't go off into the woods with strangers again, Bunny and Sue. They might get lost, or you might, and there would be a dreadful time until we found you again. After this don't set your milk pail down, and you won't have to hunt around for milk for supper. Now wash and get ready to eat the surprise."

"Can't I play with my electric train a little while?" asked Bunny.

"And can't I play with my Teddy bear?"

"Yes, I guess so," answered Mrs. Brown.

"I've got your train in running order," said Mr. Brown. "You can play with it outside, near the campfire. But at night we'll have to take it into the tent, for there might be rain."

Mr. Brown soon showed Bunny how to start and stop the electric train by turning a switch. The train was pulled by a little locomotive made of steel and tin. Inside was a tiny electric motor, which was worked by a current from the dry battery cells, such as make your door bell ring, except that they were stronger.

"All aboard for the city, on track five!" cried Bunny, as he had heard the starter in the railroad station cry.

"Wait a minute! Wait a minute!" cried Sue. "I want to get on the train with my Teddy bear that makes her eyes all light."

"Make-believe, you mean; don't you?" asked Bunny.

"Of course make-believe," answered Sue. "I couldn't sit on your little cars.

"Maybe the Teddy bear could," she added.

"Oh, let's try," said Bunny. "Then we could give him a truly, really ride."

The Teddy bear was quite large, but not very heavy, and by stretching it along three cars it could get on the train very nicely. It was even too long for three cars, but hanging over a bit did not matter, Sue said.

So she put it on top of the train, turned on its electric eyes, and then Bunny turned on the switch that made the current go into the motor of his engine. At first the train would not start, for the bear was a bit heavy for it, but when Bunny gave the engine a little push with his hand away it went as nicely as you please, pulling the bear around and around the shiny track, which was laid in a circle.

"Whoa!" called Sue. "Stop the train I Here is where my Teddy gets off."

"You mustn't say whoa when you stop a train," objected Bunny. "Whoa is to stop a horse."

"Well, how do you stop a train?" Sue asked.

"Just say 'ding!' That's one bell and the engineer knows that means to stop."

"I thought bells stopped trolley cars," said Sue.

"They do, but they stop trains too, 'specially as mine is an electric train."

"All right. Ding!" called Sue sharply.

Bunny turned the switch the other way to shut off the current, and the train stopped. Sue took off the Teddy bear and said "Thank you" to Conductor Bunny Brown.

Then the little boy played with his toy train by himself, while Sue pretended her Teddy bear was visiting in Sue's Aunt Lu's city home and kept winking its electric-light eyes at Wopsie, a little colored girl Bunny and Sue had known in New York, where Aunt Lu lived.

"Supper!" suddenly called Mother Brown, and the two hungry children hurried into the dining tent where Mr. Brown and Uncle Tad were waiting for them.

"Well, how did your electric train go?" asked Bunny's father.

"Fine! It's the best ever."

"And my Teddy is just lovely," said Sue.

"Well, be careful of your toys," said Mr. Brown. "Better bring in the tracks and the engine and cars right after supper."

"I will," Bunny promised, "after I've played with them a bit."

It was dusk when he and Sue took up the shiny track and carried the batteries and other parts of the toy railroad into the sleeping tent, for Bunny said he wanted it near him.

The children sat up a little later than usual that night, as they always did when their father had come to the camp from the city. Bunny talked of nothing but his railroad, planning fun for the morrow, while Sue said she was going to get some little girls, who lived in a near-by farmhouse, and have a party for her Teddy bear.

"Time to go to Slumberland now," called Mrs. Brown, when it was nearly nine o'clock. "Go to bed early and you'll get up so much the earlier."

So off to their little cots, behind the hanging curtains, went Bunny and Sue, and soon after saying their prayers they were asleep, one to dream he was a conductor on a big electric train, while the other dreamed of carrying a big, crying Teddy bear upside down through the woods with a milk pail hanging to its nose.

Just what time it was Bunny and Sue did not know, but they were both suddenly awakened by feeling the tent, on the side nearest to which they slept, being pushed in. The canvas walls bulged as though some one were trying to get through them.

"Oh, Daddy!" cried Sue, as she saw the tent move in the light of a lantern that burned dimly beyond the curtains behind which she and Bunny slept. "Oh, Daddy, something is after us."

"Yes, and it's an elephant!" cried Bunny, as he, too, saw the tent sway. "It's an elephant got loose from the circus, and he's after us!"

With that he bounded out of bed, and, waiting only long enough to clasp each other by the hand, the two children burst into that part of the tent where Mr. and Mrs. Brown slept.

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