Chapter XXIII. An Automobile Ride

Bunny Brown and his sister Sue had often talked about giving a Punch and Judy show. They had often seen one, at picnics or at church sociables, and Bunny knew by heart a few of the things Mr. Punch had to say. He did not stop to think that perhaps he could not get behind the curtain, and make the little wooden figures do the funny things they were supposed to do. And he did not know where he could get the queer little doll-like figures.

"But I can do something, anyhow," said Bunny, who was a very ambitious little boy. Ambitious means he was always willing to try to do things, whether or not he was sure he could really do them.

"What can I do?" asked Sue. "I want to make Aunt Lu happy."

"Well, you can be Mrs. Judy part of the time," her brother answered, "and you can pull the curtains over when Mr. Punch has to change his clothes, and things like that. I'm going to be Mr. Punch."

"And wear the lobster claw?" asked Sue.

"Yes, on my nose. That's what I got it for. I can make little holes in each side, and put strings in them, and tie the lobster claw on my nose with the string around my head."

"It will be fun, Bunny. I wish it were time for the show now."

"Oh, we've got lots to do," said the little boy. "We've got to tell Sadie and the rest of 'em, and we've got to get tickets, and put up a tent."

"A tent!" cried Sue. "Where is a tent?"

"That's so," admitted Bunny, looking puzzled, "We haven't got a tent. But we can have the Punch and Judy show in our barn," he went on quickly, "and you can stand at the door and take the money, and sell tickets--that is, when you aren't being Mrs. Punch."

"Aunt Lu won't have to buy a ticket, will she?" Sue wanted to know.

"Course not!" Bunny cried. "She's company. 'Sides, we're making the show for her, so she won't be so sad about her ring."

"I wish we could find it for her," Sue sighed.

"So do I," came from Bunny. "But I guess we never shall. Now we must go and tell Sadie and Helen and the others about the show."

"Are they going to be in it?" asked his sister.

"No, they won't be Mr. or Mrs. Punch, but we want them to buy tickets and come."

"How much are tickets?"

Bunny thought for a moment.

"We'll charge pins and money--money for the big folks, pins for children."

"That will be nice," said Sue, "'cause children can always get pins off their mothers' cushions, but they can't always get money. What will we do with the pins, Bunny?"

"Sell 'em. Mother will buy 'em, or maybe Aunt Lu will. No," he said quickly, "Aunt Lu is company, and we don't want her to buy pins. We'll give her all she wants for nothing."

"And what will we do with the money, Bunny?"

"We'll give it to Old Miss Hollyhock, same as we did the lemonade money. Then she'll sure be rich."

"That will be nice," Sue murmured.

The first thing to do was to tell the other children about the coming Punch and Judy show. This Bunny and Sue did, going to the different houses of their playmates. Everyone thought the idea was just too fine for anything.

"I'll lend you some of my old dresses, Sue, so you can look real funny, like Mrs. Punch," said Sadie.

"And I have a red hat I got at a surprise party," said Helen. "You can have that."

"Thanks," laughed Sue. "Oh, I know we'll have fun."

Harry and Charlie said they would help Bunny.

"But making the box-place, like a little theatre, where Mr. Punch stands, is going to be hard," Harry said, shaking his head.

"I'll get Bunker Blue to help us," said Bunny. "We could ask Uncle Tad, but we don't want any of the folks to know what it is going to be until it's time for the show."

"Oh, Bunker can make the little theatre, all right," Charlie said. "And we can help him."

"George Watson would like to help," suggested Harry. "He has been real nice since he let the frogs loose on us."

"We'll ask him, too," decided Bunny.

Bunker Blue was very glad to help the children build a Punch and Judy show.

"And I won't tell anyone a thing about it," he promised. "We'll keep it for a surprise."

Bunker was just the best one Bunny could have thought of to help. For Bunker worked around Mr. Brown's boats, and could get pieces of wood, boards, nails and sail-cloth, to make a little curtain for the tiny theatre where Bunny would pretend to be Mr. Punch.

The day after Bunny and Sue had thought of the plan to make Aunt Lu not so sad, by giving a little entertainment for her, the children went out in the barn to practise. Their playmates came over to help, though there was not much for them to do, since Bunny and Sue (and more especially Bunny) were to be the "whole show."

Banker had not yet made the tall, narrow box, inside of which Bunny was to stand, and pretend to be Mr. Punch, but they did not need it for practice.

Bunny and Sue had told their mother they were going to have a "show" out in the barn, but they did not say what kind, nor tell why they wanted it. But they had to say something, so Mrs. Brown would let them play there, and also let them take some of their old clothes, in which to "dress-up."

"Have as much fun as you like," said Mrs. Brown, "but don't slide down in any hens' nests with eggs in them," she added to Sue.

"I won't, Mother."

Bunny fixed the hollow lobster claw, with a string in a hole on either side of it, so he could tie it on his nose. Bunker bored the holes for him with a knife, and cut the claw so it would fit, and when Bunny put the queer red claw, shaped just like Mr. Punch's nose, on his face, the little boy was so funny that all his playmates laughed.

Then, too, when Bunny talked, his voice sounded very different from what it did every day. If you will hold your nose in your hand, and talk, you will know just how Bunny's voice sounded.

"Oh, it's too funny!" laughed Sadie. "I know it is going to be a lovely show! Your Aunt Lu will be very much surprised."

When Bunny practised in the barn he did not wear the lobster claw on his nose, except the first time, to see how it looked.

"It's too hot to wear it all the while," he said, "and it makes me want to scratch my nose, and when I do that I can't talk. So I'll put the claw away, and I'll only wear it the day of the show."

Of course Bunny and Sue could not give a Punch and Judy play like the real one, which, perhaps, you have seen. They did not have the wooden figures, like dolls, to use, and they were too small to know all the things the real Mr. Punch says and does.

But Bunny knew some of them, and really, for a little boy, he did very well. At least all his playmates said so.

In a few days Bunker Blue had the little theatre made, and as he brought it up to the Brown barn in a wagon, carefully covered over, no one could see what it was. George Watson had been asked to help, and he had made tickets for the play. The tickets, which George printed with some rubber type, read:

                FINE BIG SHOW
                In Their Barn
        Five Pins or Five Cents To Come In
             Pins Are for Children
                   PLEASE COME

"They're fine tickets," said Bunny, when George showed them to him. "I hope we sell a lot."

And several persons did buy them, paying real money for them. Bunny and the others said they were trying to help Old Miss Hollyhock, which was one reason for giving the show. The other was to make Aunt Lu feel more happy. And when the people heard what Bunny and Sue planned to do, they gladly bought one ticket, and some even more. Though not all of them would really go to the show.

One day Bunny and Sue went down to Mrs. Redden's toy shop. She bought a ticket from them, and Sue and Bunny each bought a penny's worth of candy. Coming out of the store, the children saw an automobile, belonging to Mr. Reinberg, who kept the dry-goods store. He was just getting out of the automobile.

"Oh, Mr. Reinberg, please give us a ride!" begged Bunny.

"All right," answered the store-keeper. "Get in, and I'll give you a ride; that is if your mother will let you go," and he hurried into the post-office, which was near Mrs. Redden's store.

"Get in, Sue," said Bunny. "We'll have a fine ride."

"Oh, but he said if mamma would let us. We'll have to ask her."

"Well, we can ask him to ride us up to our house, and we can tell mamma, there, that we're going," said Bunny. "Then it will be all right."

So he and Sue got in the back part of the automobile, the door of which was open. The children sat up on the seat, waiting for Mr. Reinberg to come out of the post-office, but he stayed there for some time. Bunny and Sue thought it would be fun to sit down in the bottom of the car, and pretend they were in a boat. Down they slipped, making a soft nest for themselves with the robes, or blankets, which they pulled from the seat.

Mr. Reinberg came out of the post-office. He was in such a hurry that he never thought about Bunny and Sue's having asked him for a ride. He just shut the door of the car, took his place at the steering wheel and away he went. He did not see the children sitting down in the bottom, partly covered with the robe. For Bunny and Sue, just then, were pretending that it was night on their make-believe steamer, and they had "gone to bed."

And there they were, being given an automobile ride, and Mr. Reinberg didn't know a thing about it. Wasn't that funny?