Chapter III. The Clown's Dance
 

Sidney stuffed the Calico Clown into his pocket and ran as fast as he could toward his sister. He saw her standing near a little fountain in the side yard of their home.

"What's the matter, Madeline?" asked Sidney, making sure the Calico Clown was not falling out of his pocket as he ran along.

"Oh, he's in the water!" said the little girl.

"Who is?" her brother wanted to know. "Who's in?"

"My Candy Rabbit. I set him on the edge of the fountain so he could watch the birds having a bath, and he fell right in."

Sidney looked toward the fountain. He saw nothing of the Candy Rabbit.

"You can't see him 'cause he's over the edge, down inside," went on Madeline. "I can't reach and get him, or I'd fish him out myself. And if he stays there very long he'll melt, as he almost did once when he fell into the bathtub. Oh, please get him out for me."

"I will!" promised Sidney.

"Oh, is it possible I am to see my dear old friend, the Candy Rabbit, again?" thought the Calico Clown, who, though stuffed into Sidney's pocket, had heard all that was said. The toys could hear and understand talk at all times, except when they were asleep. The broken leg of the gay red and yellow chap did not hurt him very much just now. "I shall certainly be glad to see the Candy Rabbit again," the Clown thought. "And Sidney had better hurry and get him out of the water, or he surely will melt, and that would be dreadful."

The fountain in the yard of the house where Herbert, Madeline and Sidney lived was rather a high one. The little girl could just reach up to the rim of the basin to set her Rabbit there, but, once he had toppled over and was down inside, she could neither see nor reach him.

"You'll have to stand on something or you can't get him," Madeline said to Sidney. "Shall I get you a box?"

"No, I'll stand on my tiptoes," he answered. And he did, thus making himself tall enough to reach over into the water and fish out the Candy Rabbit.

Out that sweet fellow came, dripping wet, but not much harmed.

"Oh, he didn't melt, did he?" asked Madeline. "I'm so glad!"

"He hasn't melted yet," answered Sidney, as he handed the Easter toy to his sister. "But you'd better put him in the sun to dry, or he may crumble away."

"I will," Madeline promised.

As Sidney turned to walk away, the Calico Clown fell out of his pocket.

"What's that? Where'd you get him?" cried Madeline. At the same time the Candy Rabbit saw the gay red and yellow chap from the toy store.

"Oh, there's my dear old Clown friend!" thought the Rabbit, all wet as he was. "How in the wide world did he get here?"

But of course he could not ask, any more than the Calico Clown could answer.

And when the Clown, lying on the grass where he had fallen from Sidney's pocket, saw the Candy Rabbit, the Clown said to himself:

"Yes, there he is! The same one I knew before. Oh, if we could only get together by ourselves and talk! How much we could say!"

Sidney picked the Calico Clown up off the grass.

"Where did you get him?" asked Madeline again. "He's awfully cute. I saw one like that in the store where Aunt Emma got my Candy Rabbit."

"Maybe this is the same one," Sidney answered. "I traded off my musical top to Archibald for the Clown. His leg is broken."

"Whose--Archibald's?" asked Madeline, in surprise.

"No, the Clown's," answered Sidney, with a laugh. "I'm going to fix it. Course a Calico Clown is worth more than a musical top, for the Clown is new and my top was old. But a Clown with a broken leg isn't worth so much."

"Is it worth anything?" asked Madeline. "I mean can you fix him?"

"Oh, yes," her brother answered. "He can still bang his cymbals, and he can jiggle both his arms and the leg that isn't broken."

Sidney punched the Clown in the chest, and the red and yellow fellow clapped his hands together and made the cymbals tinkle. Then Sidney pulled the strings and the two arms of the Clown went up and down, and one leg kicked out as nicely as you please. But the other leg did not move.

"That's the leg that's broken," Sidney explained. "He got broken when Pete made him do the giant's swing."

"He looks as though he was trying to dance on one leg!" laughed Madeline. "He's awfully cute, but he's funny!"

"I'll soon fix him, and he'll be as good as ever," declared her brother. "You'd better go and put your Rabbit in the sun to dry."

So Madeline did this, and very glad the sweet chap was to feel the warm sun on his back, for he had been made quite drippy and sticky by having fallen into the fountain.

Sidney, as I have told you, was a boy who could mend things. Once he had fixed Herbert's toy boat that was broken, and, another time, he had glued a head back on Madeline's Celluloid Doll.

"And I think I can glue my Clown's broken leg," thought Sidney, as he went toward the kitchen. There, he remembered, the cook always kept a tube of sticky glue.

"What are you going to mend now?" asked the cook.

"A broken leg," Sidney answered.

"Oh, you can't mend a broken leg with glue!" cried the cook. "You had much better call in the doctor. Whose leg is it?"

"I'm going to be the toy doctor," the little boy went on. "It's the wooden leg of a Calico Clown I'm going to mend."

"Oh, that's different," said the cook. "Well, here's the glue."

She handed Sidney the tube. He took it and his Clown over to a table. Pushing up the red trouser Sidney saw where the Clown's leg was broken. The wood was cracked and splintered, but the two pieces were there.

"I'll just glue them together," said the boy. And this he did. Then, as he knew that glue must set, or get hard, he put his Calico Clown away on a shelf in a closet, where the toy chap saw something that made him wonder.

At first, in the darkness, the Clown could not make out what or who it was on the shelf in the closet with him. Then, as his eyes became accustomed to the gloom, he noticed that it was a Cat.

"Oh, are you a toy, too?" asked the Calico Clown politely, for he wanted company and some one to talk to.

"No, I am not exactly a toy," answered the Cat.

"You look like one," the Clown said. "There was one just like you in our store, only that cat's head wobbled."

"Well, my head doesn't wobble--it comes off," said the Cat.

"Your head comes off!" cried the Clown in great surprise. "I should think that would hurt!"

"No, it's made to do that," the Cat explained. "You see I'm a match safe, and I also have a place inside me where burned matches may be put. To put them in me you have to lift off my head. It doesn't hurt at all--I'm used to it."

"Oh, that's different," said the Calico Clown. "Well, I am very glad to meet you. Do you know the Candy Rabbit?"

The Cat said she did, and very well, too.

"He sleeps here on the closet shelf with me every night," she added. "You'll see him, pretty soon!"

"I shall be very glad to," remarked the Clown. "Excuse me for not sitting up as I talk," he said, for Sidney had laid him down flat on his back. "The truth of the matter," went on the Clown, "is that my leg was broken a while ago, and the boy just glued it together."

"Oh, I'm so sorry!" mewed the Match-Safe Cat.

"I'm not--I'm glad," said the Clown. "If it wasn't glued I'd be a slimpsy lopsy sort of chap."

"Oh, I didn't mean I was sorry your leg was glued, I meant that I was sorry it was broken," went on the Cat. "Now let's tell each other our adventures."

So they did, talking until late in the evening when, suddenly, the closet door was opened by Madeline. Of course, then the Cat and the Calico Clown had to be very still and quiet.

"There, I guess you'll be best in the closet for the rest of the night," said Madeline to her Candy Rabbit Easter toy. "You'll be all dry in the morning, I hope," and she thrust the Rabbit back on the shelf and shut the door.

"Oh, my dear Calico Clown friend!" cried the Candy Rabbit, as soon as it was safe for the toys to speak, "how glad I am to see you again."

"And I am glad to see you," said the Clown. "I rather like it here with the Cat."

"But why are you lying flat on your back?" asked the Candy Rabbit. "You used to be such a lively, jolly fellow. Come, get up and give us one of your old-time jigs or dances."

"I'm very sorry, but I can't," answered the Clown. Then he told about his glued, broken leg, and how he would have to lie very stiff and straight and keep quiet.

"But maybe, toward morning, I'll be well again, and then I can dance for you," he promised.

"I hope so," mewed the Cat. "I have never seen a Calico Clown do a dance."

"You should see him--he is quite wonderful," whispered the Candy Rabbit behind his paw.

"Well, if I can't dance for you, I can ask a riddle," said the Clown, after a bit. "What makes more noise than a pig under--"

"Oh, please don't start that over again," begged the Candy Rabbit. "You used to ask it in the store, and none of us could think of the answer. Don't tell riddles! Let's just talk!"

So the toys talked together and told one another their different adventures. The night passed. Madeline, Herbert and Sidney slept, and Sidney dreamed of the fun he would have with his Calico Clown when the broken leg was firmly glued together again.

And as the night passed the glue dried and set, and the Clown, feeling his leg growing better, grew happier.

"I say!" he called out just before morning to the Rabbit and the Cat. "Are you asleep?"

"I was, but I am awake now," the sugar Bunny answered.

"And I am awake too," added the Cat.

"Then I will dance for you," went on the Clown. "My leg is better."

He stood up and he cut such funny antics by clapping his cymbals together, standing first on one leg and then on the other, jiggling his hands and feet, that the Cat went into mews of laughter and the Rabbit chuckled until his pink nose seemed to wrinkle all up like an accordion.