Chapter I. Aunt Lu Arrives
 

"Bunny! Bunny! Wake up! It's time!"

"Wha--what's matter?" sleepily mumbled little Bunny Brown, making his words all run together, like molasses candy that has been out in the hot sun. "What's the matter, Sue?" Bunny asked, now that he had his eyes open. He looked over the side of his small bed to see his sister standing beside it. She had left her own little room and had run into her brother's.

"What's the matter, Sue?" Bunny asked again.

"Why, it's time to get up, Bunny," and Sue opened her brown eyes more widely, as she tried to get the "sleepy feeling" out of them. "It's time to get up!"

"Time to get up--so early? Oh, Sue! It isn't Christmas morning; is it, Sue?" and with that thought Bunny sat up suddenly in his bed.

"Christmas? No, of course not!" said Sue, who, though only a little over five years of age (a year younger than was Bunny), sometimes acted as though older than the blue-eyed little chap, who was now as widely awake as his sister.

"Well, if it isn't Christmas, and we don't have to go to the kindergarten school, 'cause it's closed, why do I have to get up so early?" Bunny wanted to know.

Bunny Brown was a great one for asking questions. So was his sister Sue; but Sue would often wait a while and find things out for herself, instead of asking strangers what certain things meant. Bunny always seemed in a hurry, and his mother used to say he could ask more questions than several grown folks could answer.

"Why do you want me to get up so early?" Bunny asked again. He was wide awake now.

"Why, Bunny Brown! Have you forgotten?" asked Sue, with a queer look in her brown eyes. "Don't you remember Aunt Lu is coming to visit us to- day, and we're going down to the station to meet her?"

"Oh yes! That's so! I did forget all about it!" Bunny said. "I guess it was because I dreamed so hard in the night, Sue. I dreamed I had a new rocking-horse, and he ran away with me, up-hill--"

"Rocking-horses can't run away," Sue said, shaking her head, the hair of which needed brushing, as it had become "tousled" in her sleep.

"Well, mine ran away, in my dream, anyhow!" declared Bunny.

"They can't run up hill, even in dreams," insisted Sue. "Horses have to walk up hill. Grandpa's always do."

"Maybe not in dreams," Bunny said. "And I really did dream that, Sue. And I'm glad you woke me up, for I want to meet Aunt Lu."

"Then let's hurry and get dressed," Sue went on. "Maybe we can run down to the station before breakfast. Aunt Lu will be hungry, and we can show her the way to our house."

"That's so," agreed Bunny. "But maybe we'd better take a piece of bread and butter down to the station for her," he added, after thinking about it for a few seconds.

"Or a piece of cake," added his sister.

"We'll take both!" exclaimed the blue-eyed, chubby little chap. Then he began to dress. Sue, who had gone back into her own little room, had almost finished putting on her clothes, but, as her dress buttoned up the back, she had to come in and ask Bunny to fasten it for her. This he was ready to do as soon as he had pulled on his stockings and little knickerbockers.

"Shall I start at the top button, or the bottom one, Sue?" he asked, as he stood behind his sister.

"It doesn't matter," said Sue, "as long as you get it buttoned. But hurry, Bunny. We don't want the train to get in, and Aunt Lu get off, with us not there to meet her. Hurry!"

"All right--I will," and Bunny began buttoning the dress. But soon a queer look came over his face. "Aren't you done?" asked Sue, as he stopped using his fingers.

"Yes, I'm done, Sue, but I've got two buttons left over, and there's only one buttonhole to put 'em in! What'll I do?" Bunny was quite puzzled.

"Oh, you must have buttoned me wrong, Bunny," Sue said. "But never mind. Nobody will notice so early in the morning. Now come on down stairs, and we'll get the bread and cake."

The children went to the dining room, where the table was set for breakfast, and Sue was cutting off a rather large slice from a cake she had found in the pantry, while Bunny was putting twice as much butter on a slice of bread as was needed, when their mother's voice exclaimed:

"Why, Bunny Brown! Sue! What in the world are you children doing? Up so early, too, and not properly dressed! Why did you get up? The idea!"

"We're going to the station," Sue said. It really was her idea. She had thought of it the night before, when their mother had told them her sister (the children's Aunt Lu) would arrive in the morning. "We're going to the station," said Sue.

"To meet Aunt Lu," added Bunny.

"And we're taking her some cake so she won't be hungry for breakfast," went on Sue.

"And bread," Bunny continued. "Maybe she don't like cake, so I'm taking bread."

"If she doesn't eat the cake, we can," Sue said, as if that was the easiest way out.

"Of course," Bunny echoed.

Mrs. Brown sat down in a chair and began to laugh. She had to sit down, for she laughed very hard indeed, and when she did that she used to shake in such a jolly fashion that, perhaps, she would have fallen if she had not been sitting in a chair.

"Oh, you children!" she said, when she had wiped the tears from her eyes with the corner of her apron. She was not exactly crying, you know. Only she laughed so hard that tears came into her eyes. "You queer, dear little children!" she said. "What are you going to do next?"

"Why, we're going to the station as soon as I get the bread buttered, and Sue puts the cake in a bag," Bunny said. He did not seem to feel that anything was wrong.

"Oh, my dears, Aunt Lu's train won't be in for some time--two or three hours," said Mrs. Brown. "And you know I've told you never to go down to the station alone."

"Couldn't you come with us?" asked Sue, eating a few of the cake crumbs.

"Or maybe papa," added Bunny. "If he can't Bunker can. Bunker knows the way to the station."

"And Bunker likes cake, too," Sue said. "We might give him a piece, if Aunt Lu doesn't want it."

"No, no! You musn't give away my cake like that," said Mrs. Brown. "Now listen to me. It will be hours before Aunt Lu will get here. Then, perhaps, I may take you to the station to meet her. But now I must dress you right and give you your breakfast. Papa had his some time ago, as he had to go down to the bay to see about some boats. I wondered why you were getting up so early. Now put back the bread and cake and wait until I give you something to eat."

A little later, rather disappointed at not being allowed to go off alone to meet their aunt, Bunny and Sue sat at the breakfast table.

"I wish the time would hurry up and come for Aunt Lu to be here," Bunny said.

"So do I," chimed in Sue. "What fun we'll have when Aunt Lu comes."

"Indeed we will!" Bunny exclaimed.

Bunny Brown and his sister Sue lived with their father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Brown, in the town of Bellemere. That town was on Sandport Bay, which was part of the Atlantic Ocean, and the bay was a good place to catch fish, lobsters, crabs and other things that live in salt water.

Mr. Brown was in the boat business. That is he owned many boats, some that sailed, some that went by steam or gasoline, and some that had to be rowed with oars. These boats he hired out, or rented, to fishermen, and others who had to go on the bay, or even out on the ocean, when it was not too rough.

Mr. Brown had a number of men to help him in his boat business; and one of the men, or, rather, an extra-large size boy, was Bunker Blue, of whom Bunny and Sue were very fond. And Bunker liked the two children' fully as much as they liked him. He often took them out in a boat, or went on little land-trips with them. Mr. and Mrs. Brown did not worry when Bunny and Sue were with Bunker.

The two Brown children were good company for each other. You seldom saw Bunny without seeing Sue not far away. They played together nearly all the while, though often they would bring other children to their yard, or would go to theirs, to play games, and have jolly times. Bunny was a boy full of fun and one who sometimes took chances of getting into mischief, just to have a "good time." And Sue was not far behind him. But they never meant to do wrong, and everyone loved them.

Uncle Tad lived with the Browns. He was an old soldier, rather stiff with the rheumatism at times, but still often able to take walks with the children. He was their father's uncle, but Bunny and Sue thought of Uncle Tad as more their relation than their father's.

In the distant city of New York lived Miss Lulu Baker, who was Mrs. Brown's maiden sister, and the Aunt Lu whom the children were so eagerly expecting this morning. She had written that she was coming to spend a few weeks at the seashore place, and, later on, she intended to have Bunny and Sue and their mother visit her in the big city. Bunny and Sue looked eagerly forward to this. But just now they wanted most to go to the depot, and watch for the train to come in, bringing dear Aunt Lu to them.

"Isn't it most time to go?" asked Sue, as she pushed back her chair from the breakfast table.

"Oh, no, not for a long while," said their mother. "You run out and play, and when it's time, I'll call you."

"And can't we take Aunt Lu anything to eat?" asked Bunny.

"Oh dear me, no!" laughed Mrs. Brown. "She won't want anything until she gets here. Run along now."

Bunny and Sue went out in the yard, where they had a little play-tent, made of some old pieces of sails from one of Mr. Brown's boats. It was a warm spring day, and, as Bunny had said, there was no kindergarten school for them to go to, as it had closed, to allow a new roof to be put on the school building.

"Let's go down and see Wango," suggested Sue, after a bit.

"No, because it's so far away that mother couldn't call to us," objected Bunny. "We'll stay here in the yard until it's time to go to the train."

"All right," agreed Sue.

Wango was a queer little monkey, belonging to Jed Winkler, an old sailor of the town. I'll tell you more about Wango later.

Bunny and Sue played a number of games, and, after a while, a boy named Charlie Star, and a girl, named Sadie West, came over from across the street and joined Bunny and Sue in their fun. Then, a little later, Mrs. Brown came to the door and said:

"Come now, Bunny--Sue! It's almost train time. I can't go with you, but I'll let Bunker take you. I telephoned down to the dock, and daddy is sending him up with the pony cart. You may drive down to meet Aunt Lu. But come in and wash first!"

"Oh, goodie!" cried Bunny, and he was so pleased at the idea of going to the depot in the pony cart that he did not make a fuss when his mother washed his hands and face.

"Hello, Bunker!" cried Sue, as the big, red-haired lad drove up.

"Hello, Sue! Hello, Bunny!" he greeted them. "Hop in and away we'll go!"

Off they started to the station. It was not far from the Brown home, and soon, with the pony safely tied, so he would not run away, Bunny, Sue and Bunker waited on the platform for the cars to arrive.

With a toot, a whistle and a clanging of the bell, in puffed the train. Several passengers got off.

"Oh, there she is! I see Aunt Lu!" cried Sue, darting off toward a lady in a brown dress.

"Here, come back!" cried Bunker, reaching out a hand to catch Sue. He was afraid she might go too near the train. But he was too late. Sue raced forward, and then, suddenly, she slipped and fell right into a puddle of water, left from a rain-storm the night before. Down into the muddy pool went Sue, all in her clean white dress.

"Oh--Oh!" gasped Bunny.

"I might a'knowed suthin' like that would happen," complained Bunker. "Now her ma'll blame me!"

Aunt Lu saw what had happened, and, before any one else could reach Sue, she had picked up the little girl, in whose eyes were tears all ready to fall. And with her handkerchief Aunt Lu wiped the tears away. As she did this Bunny saw a ring on his aunt's hand--a ring with a stone that sparkled like snow in the sun--red, green, golden and purple colors.

"There, Sue! Don't cry!" murmured Aunt Lu. "You're not hurt, and the mud will wash off."

"Oh, I--I'm not crying for that," said Sue. bravely keeping back her sobs. "I--I'm crying just--just because I'm--I'm so glad to see you!"