Chapter XXII. Aunt Lu is Sad

Bunny Brown quickly slid down on his side of the hay-hill. He could see his sister Sue, who was sitting in a little hollow place.

"What--what's the matter?" Bunny asked, for Sue had a funny look on her face.

"I found Mrs. Gordon's hen's nest," answered the little girl, "and I'm right in it!"

"In what?" Bunny wanted to know.

"In the nest. I'm sitting in it--right on the eggs, just like a hen. Only," said Sue, and the funny look on her face changed into a sort of smile, "only I--I've broken all the eggs!"

And that is just what she had done.

Oh! how Sue was covered with the whites and yellows of the eggs!

She had slid down the haymow on a side where she and Bunny did not often play, and she had slid right into the hen's nest. The children had not thought of looking there for it.

But Sue had found it.

Slowly she stood up. She and Bunny looked into the nest And, just as Sue had said, all the eggs were broken.

"Oh, it's too bad!" the little girl exclaimed. "Mrs. Gordon will be so sorry."

"You couldn't help it," declared Bunny, "You--you just slid into 'em!"

"Yes," went on Sue. "I didn't see the nest at all, but I heard the eggs break, and there I was, sitting there on them just like a hen. Oh, dear! Look at my dress!"

"It will wash out," said her brother. "You might go down and wade in the brook. But we couldn't, without asking mother, and then she'd see you anyhow."

"Oh, I'll tell her!" exclaimed Sue. "We'd better go in, 'cause if egg- stuff dries on you it's awful hard to get off. Aunt Lu said so when she baked a cake yesterday."

"Well, we can come back and slide some more."

"Yes, after I get clean. And we'll have to tell Mrs. Gordon, too; won't we, Bunny?"

"Oh, yes. But she has lots of hens and eggs, so she won't care."

Mrs. Brown and Aunt Lu were much surprised when Bunny Brown and his sister Sue came in, Sue all white and yellow from the eggs. But Sue's mother knew it was something that could not be helped, so she did not scold. She changed Sue's dress, and then she said:

"Now you and Bunny run over and tell Mrs. Gordon."

When the grocery-store-keeper's wife saw Bunny and Sue coming over to her house she thought perhaps their mother had sent them on an errand, as Mrs. Brown often did. For the time Mrs. Gordon had forgotten about the hidden hen's nest. In fact, she had not thought that Bunny and Sue would really spend much time looking for it. So when Sue said:

"I--I found it, Mrs. Gordon!"

Mrs. Gordon asked:

"What did you find, Sue, a penny rolling up hill?"

That was the way Mrs. Gordon sometimes joked with Bunny and Sue.

"No'm. I found your hen's nest, and I sat in it and broke all the eggs," said Sue. "I--I'm sorry."

"And I'm sorry with her," added Bunny.

"Bless your little hearts! What's it all about?" asked Mrs. Gordon with a laugh. Then Bunny and Sue told her, and she laughed harder than ever. Bunny and Sue smiled, for now they knew Mrs. Gordon did not mind about the broken eggs.

"Well, I'm glad you found the nest, anyhow, if you did break the eggs," said the storekeeper's wife. "Maybe now my hen will not go over into your barn, but will make her nest in our coop, where she ought to make it. So it's all right, Sue, and here are some cookies for you and Bunny."

The two children were very glad they had gone to tell Mrs. Gordon about the eggs, for they liked cookies.

That afternoon, when Sadie West, Helen Newton, Charlie Star and Harry Bentley came over to play with Bunny and Sue, they had to be shown the place in the hay where Sue "found" the eggs. One of Mr. Brown's stable men had taken out the broken shells, for he did not want them to get in the hay that the horses ate. The inside of the eggs did not matter, for horses like them anyhow.

The children saw a hen walking around on the hay, near the place where Sue had slid into the eggs.

"I guess that's the hen that had her nest here," said Sadie.

"And she is wondering where it is now," added Bunny. "Go on away, Mrs. Hen!" he exclaimed. "Go lay your eggs in Mrs. Gordon's coop."

And the hen, cackling, flew away.

"Let's all slide down," said Charlie Star. "Let's slide in the hay."

"Oh, yes!" cried Sue. "And maybe we'll find some more nests. But I don't want to slide in any if we do find some," she said. "I don't want to get this dress dirty."

The children had great fun sliding down the hay-hill, but they found no more eggs. They played at this for some time, and then Charlie Star called:

"Let's go out and climb trees!"

"Girls can't climb trees," objected Sadie.

"Some girls can," answered Charlie. "I have a girl cousin, and she can climb a tree as good as I can. But she lives in the country," he went on.

"Oh, of course if a girl lives in the country she can climb a tree," Helen Newton said "But we live in a town. I don't want to climb trees."

"I like it," said Bunny Brown. "I'm glad I know how to climb a tree, 'cause if a dog chased after me I could climb up, and he couldn't get me. Dogs can't climb trees."

"Cats can," said Sadie. "I saw our cat climb a tree once."

"But cats don't chase after you," remarked Charlie.

"Our cat chased a mouse once," observed Sue. "Can a mouse climb a tree, Bunny?"

"No, a mouse can't climb a tree," answered Sue's brother. "But we fellows will go out and climb, though there aren't any dogs to chase us. Splash won't, but he'll play tag with us."

"Well, if you are going to climb trees, we'll play dolls," said Sue. "Come on," she added to her two little girl friends. "We'll get our dolls, and have a play party."

Sadie and Helen, who did not live far away, ran home and got their dolls. Sue brought out hers, and the girls had a nice time on the shady side of the porch. Mrs. Brown gave them some cookies, and some crackers, which were cut in the shapes of different animals, and with these, and some lemonade in little cups, Sue and her chums had lots of fun.

Bunny, Charlie and Harry went to the back yard, where there were some old apple trees, with branches very close to the ground, so they were easy to climb. Bunny had often done it, and so had his two little boy friends.

As they were near the trees George Watson passed through the next lot, on the other side of the fence from the Brown land.

"I can climb trees better than any of you," George said. "If you let me come into your yard, Bunny, I'll show you how to climb."

"Oh, don't let him in!" exclaimed Charlie. "He threw the box of frogs at us the time you had your party. Don't you let him in!"

"No, I wouldn't, either," added Harry.

"Oh, please!" begged George. "I won't throw any more frogs at you."

"Go on away!" ordered Charlie.

But Bunny Brown was kind-hearted. He had forgiven George for the trick about the frogs. And Bunny wanted to learn all he could about climbing trees.

"Yes, you can come in, George," said Sue's brother.

George was very glad to do so, for he liked to play with these boys, though he was older than they were. And since his trick with the jumping frogs, in the box, George had been rather lonesome.

"Now I'll show you how to climb trees!" he said.

"I can climb this one," declared Bunny, going over to one in which he had often gone up several feet.

"Oh, that's an easy one," said George with a laugh. "You ought to try and climb a hard one, like this."

Up went George, quite high, in a larger tree. Charlie and Harry also each got into a bigger tree than the one Bunny had picked out. And of course Bunny, like any boy, wanted to do as he saw the others doing.

"Pooh! I can climb a big tree, too," he said. He got down from the one he had picked out, and started up another. He watched how George put first one foot on a branch and then the other foot, at the same time pulling himself up by his hands. Bunny did very well until his foot slipped and went down in a hole in the tree, where the wood had rotted away, leaving a hollow place.

Down into this hollow, that might some day be a squirrel's nest, went Bunny's foot and leg. Then he cried out:

"Oh, I'm caught! I'm caught! My foot is fast, and I can't pull it loose!"

And that was what had happened. Bunny's foot had gone so deep down in the hollow place of the tree, and the hollow was so small, that the little boy's foot had become wedged fast. Pull as he did, he could not get it up. "Wait--I'll help you!" called George.

He scrambled from his tree, and ran over to where Bunny was caught. Bunny could not get down, but had to stand with one foot on a branch, and the other in the hole, holding on to the trunk, or body, of the tree with both hands.

"Oh!" exclaimed Charlie, "s'posin' he can't ever get loose!"

"We could chop the tree down," said Harry.

But George thought he could get Bunny loose easier than that. George got a box, so he could stand on it and reach up to Bunny's leg without getting up in the tree himself. Then George pulled and tugged away, trying to lift up Bunny's foot.

But it would not come. It was caught, as if in a trap, and the longer Bunny stood up, pressing down on his foot, the more tightly it was wedged.

"Now for a good pull!" cried George, and he gave a hard tug.

"Ouch! You hurt!" said Bunny, and George had to stop.

"Well, I don't know what to do," he said. "I'll have to get you loose some way. Come on," he called to Charlie and Harry. "You get hold of his leg and we'll all pull."

"Then you'll hurt me more," said Bunny. "Go tell mamma. She will know what to do!"

"Yes, I guess that's best," George said.

Mrs. Brown came running out when the three boys, who were a little frightened, told her Bunny was caught in a tree.

"Oh, is he hanging head down?" asked Aunt Lu, as she hurried out after Bunny's mother.

"No, he's standing up, but his leg is down in a hole," said George. "We can't get him out."

But Mrs. Brown easily set matters right.

She put her hand down in the tree-hole, beside Bunny's leg, the hole being big enough for this. Then, with her fingers, Mrs. Brown unbuttoned Bunny's shoe, and said:

"Now pull out your foot."

Bunny could easily do this, as it was his shoe that was caught, and not his foot. His foot was smaller than his shoe, you see.

Carefully he lifted his foot and leg out of he hole of the tree, and then his mother helped him to the ground.

"But what about my shoe?" Bunny asked, with a queer look on his face. "Has my shoe got to stay in the tree, Mother?"

"No, I think I can get it out," said Mrs. Brown. Once more she put her hand down in the hollow, and, now that Bunny's foot was out of his shoe, it could easily be bent and twisted, so that it came loose.

"There you are!" exclaimed Aunt Lu, as she buttoned Bunny's shoe on him again, using a hairpin for a buttonhook. "Now don't climb any more trees."

"I'll just climb my own little tree," Bunny said. "That hasn't any hole in it."

And while the tree-climbing fun was going on Bunny only went up his own little tree, where he was in no danger.

After a time the boys became tired of this play, and when Sue, Sadie and Helen invited them to come to the "play-party," Bunny and his friends were pleased enough to come.

"And we're going to have real things to eat, and not make-believe ones, Bunny," said Sue.

"That's good!" laughed George. "I'm glad you let me play with you."

The others were glad also, for George said he was sorry about the frogs, and would not play any more tricks.

Mrs. Brown gave the girls some more cookies, and Aunt Lu handed out some of her nice jam and jelly tarts. Then the girls set a little table, made of a box covered with paper, and the boys sat down to eat, pretending they were at a picnic.

On several days after this the children had good times in the yard of Bunny Brown and his sister Sue. It was now almost summer, and one morning Aunt Lu said:

"Well, children, this is my last week here."

"Oh, where are you going?" asked Bunny.

"Back home, dear. To New York. And I want you to come and see me there. Will you?"

"If mamma will let us," said Sue.

"I'll think about it," promised Mrs. Brown.

So Aunt Lu got ready to go back home. And as she walked about with Bunny and Sue, paying last visits to the fish dock, the river and the other nice places, Aunt Lu seemed sad. She looked down at the ground, and often glanced at her finger on which she had worn the diamond ring.

"Sue," said Bunny one day, "I know what makes Aunt Lu so sad."

"What is it?"

"Losing her ring. And I know a way that might make her glad, so she would smile and be happy again."

"What way?"

"Let's give a Punch and Judy show for her," said Bunny. "We'll get Sadie and Helen, and George and Charlie and Harry to help us. We'll give a Punch and Judy show!"

"Oh, what fun!" cried Sue, clapping her hands.