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   Chapter 25 THE MISSING TOYS

Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue in the Big Woods By Laura Lee Hope Characters: 17838

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03


"Gentlemen," began Mr. Brown, "I have asked you all to come to my camp to-night to settle some questions, and, if possible, to find out what has been going on around here.

"As I have told you, two rather costly toys, belonging to my children, have been stolen. Eagle Feather's horse has been taken away. I know my children's toys have not been found. And I think, Eagle Feather, your horse is still missing?"

"Him no come back long time," said the Indian. "Stable all ready for him-good bed straw, hay to eat. He no come home. Me t'ink somebody keep him for himself."

"That's what we think, too, Eagle Feather," said Mr. Brown.

"Now there is one person I asked to come here to-night who is absent," he went on.

"The hermit," said some.

"Bixby," said others.

"I think we all mean the same man," said Mr. Brown.

"Now I have told you about this boy Tom, who was found by my children in a cave near the lake shore," he continued. "He was found crying, saying he was being stuck full of needles. I have not been able to get more than that out of him. He says Bixby made him take hold of two shiny balls, and then the needles pricked him. I have my own opinion of that, but I'll speak of that later.

"I asked Bixby here to-night, that we might talk to him. I find that he has a right to hire this boy to work for him, and under the law to keep him all Summer. So it seems that unless we can show that Bixby has treated Tom harshly he will have to go back."

"Unless we can prove that this needle-business was queer," said one man.

"Yes, and that is what I hoped to prove to-night. But since Mr. Bixby is not here to talk to us--"

"Suppose we go and talk to him!" cried an officer.

"He may hear us coming, and run away," said another.

"Not if we go through the cave," suggested Tom. "I got into the cave, where Bunny and Sue found me, by going through a hole in Bixby's stable."

"Then you'd better lead us through the cave," said Mr. Brown. "We may surprise the man at his tricks."

The party was soon going along the lake shore toward the cave.

The cavern was dark and silent when they entered it, but their lights made it bright.

On they went, all the men, with Mrs. Brown, Uncle Tad and the children coming at the rear of the procession. After they had gone far into the cave the whinny of a horse was heard.

"Ha!" exclaimed Eagle Feather. "Him sound like my horse!"

They went on softly through the cave and were soon near the place where Tom had entered it from the stable.

"Be very quiet now, everybody," said Mr. Brown.

"Sh-h-h," said Bunny to his mother and Sue, putting his finger on his lips.

"I'll take a peep and see if any one's in sight," said Tom.

He went forward a little way and came back to whisper:

"There are two horses and a cow in there, and one horse looks like Eagle Feather's."

"Let Indian see!" exclaimed the red man, and when he had peeped through a hole between two stones in the stable wall, while Tom flashed a flashlight through another hole, Eagle Feather cried:

"That my horse! Me git him back now!"

"Go a bit slow," advised Mr. Brown. "We want to see what else this Bixby is up to. How can you get to the house from here, Tom?"

"Right through the stable, by the hole I got out of. His back door is near the stable front door. Come on!"

On they went through the stable, Eagle Feather pausing long enough to pat his horse and make sure that it was his own animal and grunting "Huh!" in pleasure.

"Softly now," whispered Tom. "We are coming to where we can look into one of the two rooms of Mr. Bixby's hut. It is there he sits at night and where he gave me the needles."

In silence the party made its way to where all could look through the window. Bunny's father held him up and Mrs. Brown took Sue in her arms.

What they saw caused them all great surprise. For there, on a table in front of Bixby, the hermit, was Bunny's toy engine, and Sue's Teddy bear. But the bear was partly torn apart, and from it ran wires that joined with other wires from Bunny's electric locomotive and batteries. At the other ends of the wires, were round, shiny balls, like those on the ends of curtain rods.

On the other side of the table sat an Indian, and at the sight of him Eagle Feather whispered:

"Him name Muskrat. Much good in canoe and water."

They saw the hermit put the two shiny knobs on the Indian's hands. Then Mr. Bixby turned a switch and the Indian let out a wild yell and sprang through the open door, crying:

"Thorns and thistles! He has stung me with bad medicine! Wow!"

"I think I begin to see the trick," said Mr. Brown.

"That's what he did to me," explained Tom, "but I didn't see a Teddy bear or a toy locomotive."

This time the hermit, disturbed by the sudden running away of the Indian, and by the voices outside his window, started toward the latter.

"Quick! Some of you get to the door so he can't get away," called Mr. Brown, but Bixby did not seem to want to run away. He stood in the middle of the room until Mr. Brown, Bunny, Sue and the others had entered.

"Oh, there's my toy engine!" cried Bunny making a grab for it.

"And my Teddy bear!" added Sue.

"Look out, don't touch them!" called Mr. Brown. "He has fixed the dry batteries in the toys to a spark coil, which makes the current stronger, and he's giving shocks that way. Aren't you?" he asked, turning to the hermit.

"Since you have found me out, I have," was the answer. "I admit I have been bad, but I am sorry. I will tell you everything. I used to be a man who went about the country with an electric machine, giving people electrical treatments for rheumatism and other pains. I made some money, but my wife died and her sickness and burial took all I had. Then my electrical machine broke and I could not buy another.

"However, I did manage to get a little one, run with dry batteries, and I began going about the country making cures.

"Then this place was left me by a relative. I thought I could make a living off it with the help of a hired boy, so I got Tom.

"I found some Indians lived here, and, learning how simple they were and that they thought everything strange was 'heap big medicine,' as they called it, I thought of trying my battery on them. First I tried it on Tom, and he yelled that I was sticking needles into him. He did not understand about the electricity, and I did not try to explain.

"I remembered what your children had told me about having a toy train of cars that ran by electricity, and a Teddy bear with two lamps for eyes. I knew these batteries, though small, would be strong, and just what I needed with what electrical things I had. So I stole the toy train of cars and the Teddy bear.

"I was sorry to do it, but I thought if I could make enough money from the Indians I could buy new batteries for myself and give the children back their toys.

"But most of the Indians were afraid of the electrical current which felt like needles, and I could not get many of them to come back after they had once tried it. So I made no money.

"Tom ran away, and then I stole Eagle Feather's horse. I thought maybe if I could sell the horse and get money enough to get a new machine that did not sting so hard, I could make money enough to buy the horse back.

"But everything went against me, and now I have nothing left. I am sorry I had to rip your Teddy bear apart, little girl, to get the wires on the batteries. And as for your cars, little boy, I hid them in farms and various places. I don't know where they are now, but the engine is all right and in running order."

He quickly loosened the wires, and the toy locomotive ran around the table on part of the stolen track.

"But my poor dear Sallie Malinda is dead!" cried Sue.

"No, I can sew her together again, if the batteries are all right," said Mrs. Brown.

"And the batteries are all right," said the hermit, who had heard what was said. "See, I'll make the eyes shine!"

He quickly did something to the wires and again the eyes of Sue's Teddy bear shone out bravely.

"I realize how wrong I was to take the children's things," went on the hermit, "but I knew no other way to get the batteries I needed. I only had my cow to sell, and I dared not part with her, for she gave me milk to live on. All the while I kept hoping my luck would be better.

"When Tom ran away I did not know what to do. I did not imagine the little electricity I gave him would hurt him. A few of the Indians seemed to like it."

"Yes, me hear um talk of heap big medicine that sting like bees," said Eagle Feather. "But me no think hermit did it, what has my horse."

"I'm sorry I took it," said Bixby. "I'll give up my cow to pay for all I took. Then I'll go away."

"Wait a minute," said Mr. Brown. "We'll decide about that later. You have done some wrong things, but you have t

ried to do what was right. We'll try to find a way out of your troubles. Stay here for a few days."

Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue took with them that night their toys so strangely found, and in a few days the playthings were as good as ever, for Mrs. Brown sewed up the ripped Teddy bear and Bunny had some new cars for his electric engine. The track the hermit had kept, so that was all right.

"Does electricity feel like pins and needles?" asked Bunny Brown one day.

"I'll show you," said his father, and he did by a little battery which he owned. This was after their return from camp.

"Is it like needles, or your foot being asleep," said Bunny.

But before this Mr. Brown had talked with some of his neighbors, and they decided to give the hermit another chance. Tom would go back to work for him on condition that no more electricity be used. The hermit had a good garden and he could sell things from that. Eagle Feather was given back his horse, and Mr. Bixby was not arrested for taking it. And the mystery of the electrical toys being solved, life at Camp Rest-a-While went on as before for a time.

Bunny and his sister had fine times, and once in a while Tom had a day's vacation, and came over to see them.

"But I s'pose we can't stay here forever," said Bunny to Sue, one day. "I wonder where we'll go next?"

"I heard father and mother talking something about a trip," said Sue.

And what that journey was may be learned by reading the next volume of this series to be called: "Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue on an Auto Tour."

"Say, we ought to have some fun on that!" cried Bunny.

"So we ought!" cried Sue. "I'm going to take my fixed-over Sallie Malinda."

"Well, I'll take my flashlight instead of my locomotive and cars," said Bunny. "We may have to travel at night."

And while the two children are thus planning good times together we will say good-bye to them.

THE END

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Transcriber's Notes: Punctuation normalized.

The remaining corrections made are indicated by dotted lines under the corrections. Scroll the mouse over the word and the original text will appear.

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