The Story of a Lamb on Wheels by Laura Lee Hope
Chapter II. The Jolly Sailor
The noise which the toys had heard, and which had made them all stop talking, causing them to become as quiet as mice--this noise seemed to be coming nearer and nearer. It was a rolling, rumbling sort of noise.
"Can that be the watchman?" whispered the Calico Clown to the Bold Tin Soldier.
"I hardly think so," was the answer. "He tramps along differently, his feet making a noise like the beat of a drum. This is quite another sound. But we had better keep still until we see what it is."
So all the toys kept quiet, and the noise came nearer and nearer and nearer, and then, all of a sudden, there rolled along the floor a toy Elephant on roller skates.
"Hello! Hello there, my toy friends!" cried the Elephant through his trunk. "How are you all? And where is the White Rocking Horse? I'll have a race with him. I tried to the other night, but one of my roller skates jiggled off and then the watchman came and the race could not be run. Where is the Rocking Horse?"
"Why, didn't you hear?" asked the Clown, as he sat up, for the toys knew it would be all right now to move about and talk as they had been doing.
"Didn't I hear what?" asked the Elephant, sliding around on his roller skates. "I hear a lot of things," he went on, "but these skates make so much racket I can't hear very well when I have them on. They don't really belong to me," he said, looking at the Candy Rabbit. "I just borrowed them from the sporting section, as I did before, to race with the White Rocking Horse."
"Well, you might have saved yourself the trouble," said the Monkey on a Stick. "The White Rocking Horse isn't here any more. He was sold."
"Dear me!" exclaimed the Elephant. "That's too bad! Then I can't have a race."
"Unless you want to race with the Lamb on Wheels," said the Bold Tin Soldier. "She has wheels on her feet almost like your roller skates. Will you race with her?"
"Thank you, I don't believe I care to race," put in the Lamb. "I am not used to it. And I might break a leg, and then that nice little girl, who was petting me to-day, would not want to buy me. I had better not race."
"Just as you like," came from the Elephant. "But I am sorry that my friend, the White Rocking Horse, has gone. I wonder if I shall ever see him again."
And the Elephant did see the Rocking chap later on, as you may read in the book telling "The Story of the White Rocking Horse." It was in a Toy Hospital where they met, after each had had many adventures.
"Well, if we are not going to have a race, what shall we do?" asked the Calico Clown.
"Suppose you tell us another riddle," said the Bold Tin Soldier.
"Let the Monkey on a Stick, the Jack in the Box and the Candy Rabbit have a jumping race!" proposed the Lamb. "They are all good jumpers."
"Oh, yes!" cried all the other toys. "A jumping race would be fine!"
"I'm ready!" said the Jack in the Box, waving to and fro on the end of his long, slender spring.
"So am I," said the Monkey, as he climbed to the top of his stick.
"Well, I suppose I shall have to do my best," said the Candy Rabbit. "Clear a place on the counter, and we'll try some jumps."
The Bold Tin Soldier and his men soon cleared a place on the toy counter so that the Jack, the Monkey and the Rabbit would have plenty of room. The building blocks, the checkers and the dominoes were moved out of the way, and then the Calico Clown took his place, ready to count "One! Two! Three!" so the three toys would know when it was time to jump.
"I'm allowed to come out of my box, am I not?" asked the Jack.
"Oh, of course," said the Lamb on Wheels. "It would not be fair to have you jump and carry your box with you. You may come out."
So the Jack jumped out of his box and took his place next to the Monkey, who also came down off his stick. I wish you could have seen how nimble they were, but, really, it is not allowed. The minute you looked at any of the toys they stopped moving at once.
"Are you all ready?" asked the Calico Clown, banging his cymbals together. "If so--go!"
Away jumped the Candy Rabbit! Away jumped the Monkey! Away leaped the Jack who lived in a Box. At the far end of the toy counter the Bold Tin Soldier and his men had placed some sofa cushions from the upholstery department. That was in case either of the three might stumble and fall.
"Look at the Jack jump!" exclaimed the Calico Clown.
"And see the Monkey sail through air," remarked the Lamb on Wheels.
"But the Candy Rabbit is doing best of all," said the Bold Tin Soldier.
And really the Rabbit was the best jumper of the three. In fact, he jumped so far that he sailed over the edge of the counter. And only that a sofa cushion fell, at the same time, to the floor, so that the Candy Rabbit landed on the soft, feathery thing, he might have hurt himself.
"The Candy Rabbit wins! The Candy Rabbit wins the jumping race!" cried the Calico Clown, banging together his cymbals.
"Yes, he is the best jumper," agreed the Monkey and the Jack, who had jumped only to the end of the toy counter.
"Oh, I'm sure you two could do as well if you had only had more practice," said the Candy Rabbit, who was a nice, modest sort of chap.
"Shall we try it again?" asked the Jack, who really thought he was a fine jumper.
"There will not be time," said the Bold Tin Soldier. "I can see the sun coming up. Soon the store will begin to fill with clerks and shoppers, and we must lie as still and quiet as if we never had moved or talked. To-morrow night we shall have more fun."
A little later the girls and young ladies who worked at the toy counters and shelves came in to get ready for customers.
Soon the people began coming in to look at the toys. The Lamb on Wheels stood on the floor just under the counter. She was rather a large lamb, over a foot high--that is, she was large for a toy lamb, though of course real ones are larger than that when they grow up.
"I wonder if I shall see that nice little girl to-day," thought the Lamb, as she heard the hum and buzz of the shoppers. "I hope I may. And I hope I get as nice a home as the Sawdust Doll has."
She stood up straight and stiff, on her legs, did the Lamb. Her feet were fast to a wooden platform, and under that were wheels, so the Lamb could be rolled along from place to place. At night, when no one was looking at her, the Lamb could move along on the wheels by herself. But now she was very still and quiet, staring straight ahead as the dolls stared.
"I wonder what will happen to me to-day," thought the Lamb on Wheels again.
Through the toy department came striding a jolly-looking man who, when he walked, seemed to swing from side to side.
"What ho!" cried the jolly man, as he stopped at the toy counter. "I want to buy something!" he added. "I'm a sailor, just back from a long sea voyage, and I have plenty of money! I want to buy a toy!"
"What kind of toy?" asked the girl behind the counter. "We have many kinds here," and she smiled at the sailor. He was so jolly no one could help smiling at him. "We have Bold Tin Soldiers," went on the girl. "We have Calico Clowns, Candy Rabbits, a Monkey on a Stick, and a Lamb on Wheels, and lots of things."
"Hum! those are all very nice toys," said the jolly sailor. "But I think I'd like to look at the Lamb on Wheels."
"There she is, right in front of you, on the floor," said the girl.
"Oh, ho! So this is the Lamb on Wheels!" cried the jolly sailor as he picked her up. "Well, this seems just the toy I want. I'll take her! I'll buy this Lamb on Wheels!"
"Oh, dear me!" thought the Lamb, for she knew what was going on, even though she dared not move by herself, or speak, "if this sailor buys me he'll take me on an ocean trip and I'll be seasick! Oh, dear, this is going to be dreadful!"