Chapter XXV. The Lobster Claw

"Don't, Sue, don't!" begged Bunny Brown. "I must have the doll. You said I could take her," and he tried to pull the doll away from his sister.

But Sue did not want to give up even an old doll.

"You mustn't knock out all her sawdust," she said. "She'll get sick."

Bunny did not know what to do. It seemed as if his Punch and Judy show would be spoiled, and he did so want to make Aunt Lu feel jolly about it.

Sue had really said, at first, that he could beat her old doll with a stick, just as Mr. Punch does in the real show, but now Sue had changed her mind.

"Oh, dear!" said Bunny, and he said it in such a funny way that everyone laughed again.

"Let him take your doll, Sue dear," said her mother, from where she sat on a box in the barn. "If he spoils it I will get you a new one. It's only in fun, Sue," for Mrs. Brown did not want to see Bunny disappointed.

"All right. You can take her, but don't hit her too hard," said Sue.

"I won't," promised her brother. And then the little show went on.

Mr. and Mrs. Punch had great times with the "baby," which was the sawdust doll. Then Sue stooped down, out of sight, and turned herself into a make-believe policeman, by putting on a hat, made out of black paper, with a golden star pasted on in front. George Watson had made that for her. Up popped Sue, the pretend policeman, to make Mr. Punch stop hitting the sawdust doll baby.

"Go 'way! Go 'way!" cried Bunny Punch, in his squeaky voice, as he tossed the doll out on the barn floor. "That's the way to do it! That's the way I do it!"

Then Sue sang a little song, that Bunker had made up for her, and he played the mouth organ. And next Bunny and Sue sang together. The children thought it was fine, and the grown folks clapped their hands, and stamped with their feet, which is what people do in a real theatre when they like the play.

When Bunny and Sue made their bow, after singing the song together, they both bobbed out of sight behind the curtain.

"Is that--is that all?" asked Tommie Tracy, in his shrill little voice, from where he sat in the front row.

"Yep. That's all," answered Bunny. "The show is over, and we hope you all like it; 'specially Aunt Lu."

"Oh, I just loved it," she answered. "And to think you got it all up for me! It was just fine!"

"Do it all over again!" said Tommie. "I liked it too, but I want some more. Do it again, Bunny!"

"I--I can't," Bunny answered, as he came out from inside the box that Bunker Blue had made into a theatre. Bunny had taken off his lobster claw nose, and held it dangling from the strings by which it had been tied around his head.

Suddenly one of the planks, across two boxes, broke, and some of the boys, who had been sitting on it, fell down in a heap. But no one was hurt.

Then all the children crowded around Bunny and Sue to look at the funny things the two children were wearing--old clothes, pinned up, and with make-believe patches on them.

"Let me take your funny nose, Bunny," begged Charlie Star. "I want to see how it looks on me."

Bunny handed over the lobster claw, but it dropped to the barn floor, and before either he or Charlie could pick it up, some one had stepped on it.

"Crack!" it went, for it was made of thin shell, not very strong. And there it lay in pieces on the floor.

"Oh, dear" cried Charlie. "I've broken your nose, Bunny!"

"Well, I'm glad it wasn't my real one," and Bunny put his hand up to his face, while Charlie stooped over to pick up the pieces of the lobster claw, hoping there was enough left to make a little nose for the next time.

And then suddenly Bunny, who was watching Charlie, gave a cry, and reached for something that glittered among the pieces of the red lobster claw.

"Oh, look! look!" fairly shouted the little fellow. "It's Aunt Lu's diamond ring. It was in the lobster claw, and it came out when the claw broke. Oh, Aunt Lu! I've found your diamond ring!"

Aunt Lu fairly rushed over to Bunny. She took from his hand the shiny, glittering thing he had picked up from the barn floor.

"Yes, it is my lost diamond ring!" she cried. "Oh, where was it?"

"Down inside the lobster claw, that I had on my nose," Bunny said. "Only I didn't know it was there."

"And no one would have known it if it had not broken," said Mrs. Brown. "How lucky to have found it."

Aunt Lu slipped the diamond ring on her finger. It glittered brighter than ever.

"I see how it all happened," she said. "That day when I was helping pick the meat out of the big lobster, my ring must have slipped from my hand, and fallen down inside the empty claw. It went away down to the small end, and there it was held fast, just as Bunny's foot was caught in the hollow tree one day."

"Are you glad, Aunt Lu?" asked Bunny.

"Glad? I'm more glad than I ever was in my life!" and she hugged and kissed him, and Sue also.

And everyone was glad Aunt Lu had found her ring. The show was over now, and the children and grown folks went out of the barn. They all said they had had a fine time.

That night Aunt Lu gave Bunny and Sue each a dollar, for she said Sue had done as much to find the ring as Bunny had.

"Oh, what a lot of money!" cried Sue, as she looked at her dollar. "We're rich now; aren't we, Bunny? As rich as Old Miss Hollyhock?"

"We're richer!" answered Bunny.

"Well, save some of your money, and when you come to New York to visit me you can spend part of it in the city," said Aunt Lu.

"We will," promised Bunny Brown and his sister Sue.

But, before they visited Aunt Lu, the two children had other adventures. I will be glad to tell you about them in the next book, which will be named: "Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue on Grandpa's Farm." In that you may read what the two children did in the country, how they had a long automobile ride, and how they saw the Gypsies.

Aunt Lu went home the day after the Punch and Judy show.

"Did you like it?" asked Bunny, as she kissed him and Sue good-bye at the station.

"Indeed I did, my dear!" she answered.

"I said we'd find your diamond ring, and we did," declared Sue.

"Yes," agreed Bunny, "but we didn't know it was in the lobster's claw."

"No one would ever have dreamed of its being there," said Aunt Lu. "But oh! I am so glad I have it!"

And then, with the diamond ring sparkling on her finger, Aunt Lu got on the train and rode away, waving a good-bye to Bunny Brown and his sister Sue. And we will say good-bye, too.