Chapter XXIV. The Punch and Judy Show
 

Bunny Brown and his sister Sue, sitting down in the back part of the automobile, with the blanket around them, got through pretending they were asleep on a make-believe ship, and "woke up."

They had felt the car moving, but they thought nothing of this, for they imagined Mr. Reinberg was taking them to their house so they might ask their mother if they could go for a ride.

Bunny looked at Sue and said:

"It takes this auto a good while to get to our house."

"Yes," Sue agreed, "but maybe he is going around the block to give us a longer ride."

"Oh, maybe! That would be fun!"

Bunny stood up and looked over the side door of the back part of the car. He could not see his house, and, in fact, he could see no houses at all, for they were out on a country road.

"Why! Why!" exclaimed Bunny to his sister. "Look, Sue! We're lost again!"

"Lost?"

"Yes. We're away far off from our house. I don't know where we are; do you?"

"No," and Sue looked at the road along which they were moving in the automobile. "Oh, Bunny! Are we really lost again?"

Sue spoke so loudly that Mr. Reinberg, who was at the steering wheel, turned around quickly. Up to now Bunny and Sue had talked in such low voices, and the automobile had rattled so loudly, that the dry-goods man had not heard them. But when he did he turned quickly enough.

"Why, bless my heart!" he exclaimed. "You here--Bunny and Sue--in my automobile?" and he made the machine run slowly, so it would not make so much noise. He wanted to hear what Bunny and Sue would say.

"You here?" he asked again. "How in the world did you come here?"

"Why--why," began Bunny, his eyes opening wide. "You said we could have a ride, Mr. Reinberg. Don't you remember?"

"That's so. I do remember something about it," the man said. "I declare, I was so busy thinking about my store, and some post-office letters, that I forgot all about you. But I thought you were to ask your mother if you could have a ride."

"Why--why, we thought you would take us around to our house, in the automobile, so we could ask her," Bunny said.

Mr. Reinberg laughed.

"Well, well!" he cried. "This is a joke! You thought one thing and I thought another. After you spoke to me, and I went in the post-office, I supposed you had run home to ask your folks."

"No," said Bunny, "we didn't. We got in your auto 'cause we thought you wanted us to."

"Ha! Ha!" laughed the dry-goods-store man. "This is very funny! And when I came out of the post-office, and didn't see anything of you, I thought your folks wouldn't let you go, as you hadn't come back."

"And we were in your auto all the while!" exclaimed Sue, in such a queer little voice that Mr. Reinberg laughed again.

"And have you been in there ever since?" he asked.

"Yes," Bunny replied. "We were playing steamboat, and we lay down to go to sleep while we went over the make-believe ocean waves. Then, when we woke up, and couldn't see our house--"

"Or any houses," added Sue.

"Or any houses," Bunny went on, "why--why, we thought we were--"

"Lost!" exclaimed Sue. "We don't like to be lost!"

"You're not lost," Mr. Reinberg said, laughing again. "You're quite a way from home, though, for I have been going very fast. But I'll take care of you. Now let me see what I had better do. I have to go on to Wayville, and I don't want to turn around and go back with you youngsters. And if I take you with me your folks will worry.

"I know what I'll do. I'll telephone back to your mother, tell her that you're with me, and that I'll take you to Wayville, and bring you safely back again. How will that do?"

"Will you take us in the auto?" asked Bunny.

"Of course."

"Oh, what fun!" cried Sue. "We'll have a ride, after all, Bunny."

"Yes," agreed her brother. "Thank you, Mr. Reinberg."

The dry-goods man found a house in which there was a telephone, and he was soon talking to Mrs. Brown in her home. He told her just what had happened; how, almost by accident, he had taken Bunny and Sue off in his automobile. Then he asked if he might give them a longer ride, and bring them home later.

"Your mother says I may," Mr. Reinberg said, when he came back to the automobile, in which Bunny and Sue were waiting. "I'll take you on to Wayville."

"Our Uncle Henry lives there," Bunny told the dry-goods man.

"Well, I don't know that I shall have time to take you to see him, but we'll have a ride."

"We 'most went to Uncle Henry's once," said Sue. "On a trolley car, only Splash couldn't come, and we had to go back and we got lost and--and--"

"Splash found the way home for us," finished Bunny, for Sue was out of breath.

"Well, we won't get lost this time," Mr. Reinberg said. "Now off we go again," and away went the automobile, giving Bunny and Sue a fine ride.

They soon reached Wayville, where Mr. Reinberg went to see some men. Bunny and Sue did not have time to pay a visit to their Uncle Henry, but Mr. Reinberg bought them each an ice cream soda, so they had a fine time after all. Then came a nice ride home.

"Well, well!" cried Mrs. Brown, when Bunny and Sue, their cheeks red from the wind, came running up the front walk. "Well! well! But you youngsters do have the funniest things happen to you! To think of being taken away in an automobile!"

"But we didn't mean to, Mamma," protested Bunny.

"No, you never do," said Aunt Lu, smiling.

"Oh, Bunny!" Sue exclaimed a little later that day, "we didn't sell any tickets for the Punch and Judy show."

"Well, never mind," answered Bunny. "I guess enough will come anyhow."

You see he and Sue had such a good time on the automobile ride that they forgot all about the tickets they had set out to sell.

In three days more the Punch and Judy show would be held in the Brown barn. Everything was ready for it, Bunny had gone over his part again and again until he did very well indeed. Sue, also, was very, very good in what she did, so the other girls said. Sadie West, who was older, helped Sue.

By this time, of course, the grown folks knew that some sort of a show was going on in the Brown barn, and they had promised to come. And there were so many children who wanted to see what it was going to be like that Bunny and Sue did not know where they were all going to sit.

"And oh! what a lot of pins we'll have," said Sue, for all the children paid pins for their tickets.

But Bunker Blue and George Watson made seats by putting boards across some boxes, so no one would have to stand up.

Then came the day of the show. Bunny was dressed up in some old clothes, and so was Sue. She did not put hers on, though, until after she had helped take tickets, and sell them, at the barn door. Then Bunker Blue took her place, and Sue dressed to help Bunny.

Bunny was inside the little theatre that Bunker had made. It had a curtain that opened when Bunny pulled the string. He had his funny lobster claw with him.

"And am I to come in for nothing?" asked Aunt Lu, as she walked into the barn.

"Yes," said Bunny, putting his head out between the curtains, for he was not all dressed yet. "The show is for you, Aunt Lu. So you will not feel so sad."

"About your lost diamond ring," added Sue.

"Bless your hearts! What dear children you are!" said Aunt Lu, and something glistened in her eyes as bright as a diamond--perhaps it was a tear--but if so it was a tear of joy.

"All ready for the show now!" cried Bunker. "Please all sit down!"

Down they sat on the benches, some men and some ladies, but mostly children, friends of Bunny and Sue.

"Are you all ready, Bunny?" asked Bunker, going close to the little theatre.

"Yes, I'm all ready."

"Have you got your lobster claw on?"

"Yes. I'm going to open the curtain now."

The curtain opened in the middle, and there stood Bunny. You could only see down to his waist, but such a funny face as he had! The lobster claw, tied over his nose, made him look exactly like the pictures of Mr. Punch.

Bunny made a bow, and then, instead of saying some of the funny things that Mr. Punch in the show always says, Bunny sang a little song, while Bunker Blue played on a mouth organ. This is what Bunny sang:

"This little show is for Aunt Lu.
 Of course we're glad of others, too.
 We want to cheer, and make her glad,
 So she won't feel so very sad.
 We hope she finds her diamond ring,
 And this is all that I can sing!"

That was what Bunny sang, in his queer, "nosey" voice, to a queer little tune that Bunker played on the mouth organ. And, when Bunny had finished, he made a funny little bow, and said:

"I didn't make up that song. Bunker did!"

Then how everybody clapped their hands, and George Watson called out:

"Three cheers for Bunker Blue!"

Then began the real Punch and Judy show--that is, as much of it as Bunny and Sue could manage.

"I wonder where Mrs. Punch is?" asked Bunny, twisting his head around.

"Here I is!" cried Sue, and up she popped. She had been stooping down so she would not be seen until just the right time.

"And where is the baby?" asked Mr. Punch, looking first on one side and then the other, of his big lobster claw nose.

"Here she is!" and Sue held up one of her old dolls.

"Ah, ha! Ah, ha!" said Mr. Punch. "She is a bad baby, and I am going to whip her!"

And then, with a stick, he hit the doll until some of the sawdust came flying out.

"Don't do that!" begged Sue. "You mustn't spoil my doll, Bunny!"

"I've got to do it," said Bunny in a whisper. "I have to, Sue, it's part of the show." But Sue took her doll away from her brother.