Chapter IX. The Rescue Dog
 

Bunny Brown and his sister Sue had often been in the water bathing. They had even been allowed to go in the ocean, a little way, when their father or mother was with them, and they were just beginning to learn to swim.

But to fall suddenly into the water, with all one's clothes on, is enough to frighten anybody, even someone older than Sue; so it is no wonder she began splashing about, instead of trying to swim, as her father had told her to do,

Bunny, for a moment, did not know what to do, but he had one great thought, and that was that he must help his sister. He was a little distance away from her, and he called out:

"I'm coming, Sue! I'll get you out! Don't be afraid!"

But Sue was afraid. Her head went under water, and she had swallowed some, for she had forgotten another thing her father had told her, and this was:

"When your head goes under water, hold your breath--don't breathe--and then the water won't get in your mouth and nose."

But Sue forgot this, and she was choking and gasping in the river. Luckily it was not deep, and he might easily have stood up at the place where she had fallen in. The water would not have been quite up to her waist.

"I'll get you out, Sue! I'll get you!" cried Bunny.

He ran toward Sue, but before he reached her there was heard a loud barking, and a big, shaggy dog rushed down to the edge of the island. Right into the water the dog jumped, and, getting hold of Sue's dress, he pulled her up on the shore.

For a moment Sue lay there, still choking and gasping, while the dog stood over her, wagging his tail, and barking as hard as he could bark. He seemed to know that everything was all right now.

"Oh, Sue! Sue!" cried Bunny, rushing up to his sister, and putting his arms around her. "You aren't drowned now; are you, Sue?"

"I--I don't--don't know--Bun-Bunny!" she stammered. "I--I guess I'm 'most drowned, anyhow. Oh, take me home! I want my mamma!"

"I'll take you home right away!" Bunny promised. "But wasn't the dog good to pull you out?"

The dog shook the water from himself, and wagged his tail harder than ever. He jumped about, barking, and then, with his big red tongue, he licked first Sue's face, and then Bunny's.

Sue was much better now. She could sit up, and, as the river water was not salty, as is the water of the ocean, what she had swallowed of it did not hurt her.

"I guess the dog will lick all the Friday-mud off my face," she said, smiling at Bunny through her tears.

"The mud's all off anyhow," said her brother. "Falling in the river washed you clean."

"But it got my dress all wet. I don't care, it's an old one."

"That's good," said her brother. "Now we'll go home. Maybe you will be all dry when we get there," he added hopefully, "and your dress won't show any wet at all."

"But I'll have to tell mother I fell in."

"Oh, of course!"

"But it was a--a accident," Sue said, speaking the big word slowly. "Now take me home, Bunny. I don't want to play Friday any more, and I'm hungry."

The dog jumped about the children, but he kept nearer to Sue. Maybe he thought she belonged to him, now that he had pulled her from the water. Perhaps he had saved Sue's life, though the little girl might have gotten out herself, or Bunny might have pulled her from the water.

"He's a nice dog," said Sue. "I wish we could keep him."

"Maybe we can. He doesn't seem to belong to anybody, and nobody lives on this island."

"He was shipwrecked too," said Sue. "Or maybe he wanted to play Robinson Crusoe with us."

"Robinson didn't have a dog--anyhow, mother didn't read about any in the story," replied Bunny. ''But he had a goat."

"We can pretend this dog is a goat," remarked Sue, as she patted the big shaggy fellow, who barked in delight, and wagged his tail.

"We'll take him home in the boat with us," decided Bunny. "I hope mother lets us keep him."

Getting into the boat was easy enough for Bunny and Sue, for they only had to step over the side, the boat being partly on shore. And the dog jumped in after them. He seemed very glad Indeed that he had found two such nice children to love, and who would love him.

But when Bunny tried to push the boat away from the island, as he had seen his father and Bunker Blue often do, he found it was not easy. The boat was stuck fast in the soft mud of the edge of the island.

"I--I can't do it," Bunny said, puffing, as he pushed on the oar, with which he was trying to shove off the boat. "I can't do it, Sue."

"Will we have to stay here forever?"

"No, not forever. Maybe papa, or somebody will come for us. But I can't push off the boat."

"I'll help you," offered Sue. The oar was too heavy for her, however, so Bunny got her a long stick. But, even with what little help Sue could give, the boat would not move.

"Oh, dear!" sighed Bunny, sitting down on a seat. He looked worried, and so did Sue.

"If we had a harness for our new dog we could hitch him to the boat, and maybe he could pull it into the water," remarked Bunny, after a bit.

"Oh, that would be fine!" cried the little girl. "And maybe he could swim, and pull us all the way home."

"But we haven't any harness," said Bunny with another sigh.

"Couldn't we use the fish line? I've got another piece of string."

"We can try."

With the string, which he knotted together, Bunny made a sort of "harness," putting one end around the dog's neck, and tying the other end to the bow, or front of the boat.

"Now pull us, Towser!" Bunny cried.

"Is his name Towser?" Sue wanted to know.

"Well, we'll call him that until we can think of a better name. Go on, pull!" ordered Bunny.

But the dog only barked and stood still. He did not seem to mind being "hitched up." It seemed as though he had often had children play with him.

"Oh, I know how to make him pull us!" Sue exclaimed.

"How?"

"Throw a stick in the water, and he'll chase after it."

"Fine!" cried Bunny, and he tossed a chip out into the river. With a bark the dog rushed after it. But I think you can guess what happened. Instead of the dog's pulling the boat, the string broke, and, of course, that was the end of the harness.

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Sue. "We'll never get home, Bunny!"

The little boy did not know what to do next. But, all at once, as he and his sister looked at each other, quite worried and anxious, they heard a voice shouting:

"Bunny! Sue! Are you there? Where are you? Bunny! Sue!"