The Story of a Lamb on Wheels by Laura Lee Hope
Chapter VII. The Lamb Carried Away
Mirabell and Arnold were so surprised for a moment at what had happened that they could only stand, looking at the hole in the sidewalk down which the Lamb on Wheels had fallen. Carlo, the fuzzy little dog, seemed to know he had done something wrong in getting tangled in the string, breaking it off, and so sending the Lamb wheeling along until she slid into the coal hole. And the dog gave a howl and ran back toward the house, having finally managed to get his legs loose from the cord.
"Bow-wow!" barked Carlo, as he ran.
Perhaps he feared that he, too, might slip down that black, dark hole which led into the coal bin of Dorothy's house. Then as Mirabell and Arnold stood, looking with wide-opened eyes at the place where they had last seen the Lamb, the man on the wagon threw another shovelful of coal down the hole.
"Wait a minute! Stop! Oh, please stop!" begged Mirabell.
"Whut's dat? Whut's de mattah?" asked the coal-wagon driver.
He was a colored man, and that was the very best shade for him, I think. No matter how much coal dust got on his face and hands it never showed.
"Her little Lamb fell down the coal hole," explained Arnold. "Carlo got tangled in the string, it broke and she fell down the hole. Don't throw any more coal on her until we get her out."
"Does you-all mean dat Carlo fell down de hole?" asked the colored coal- wagon driver.
"No, Carlo is a dog," explained Mirabell. "He got tangled up in my Lamb's string, and she fell down the hole. I haven't named my Lamb yet. She's on wheels."
"On wheels?" cried the man. "A Lamb on Wheels? Well, I 'clar to goodness dat's de fustest time I ebber done heah ob a t'ing laikdat!"
"Oh, she isn't a real, live lamb," explained Mirabell. "She's a toy, woolly one from the store, and my Uncle Tim, who's a sailor, gave her to me."
"Well now, honey, I suah is sorry to heah dat!" said the colored man. "Your toy Lamb down de coal hole! Dat is too bad!"
"Can we get her out?" asked Arnold. "I'll crawl down the hole and get the Lamb if you won't throw any more coal."
"Oh, I won't frow any mo' coal--not fo' a while--not when I knows whut de trouble is," said the kind-hearted driver. "But I doan believe, mah li'l man, dat you'd better go down de coal hole."
At that moment the door of Dorothy's house opened, and her mother came out on the porch.
"What is it, Mirabell?" she asked. "What has happened?" She saw the children from next door talking to the coal driver, and she wondered at it.
"Oh, my Lamb is down the coal hole!" said Mirabell.
"Oh, that's too bad!" exclaimed Dorothy's mother. "I saw you holding a toy Lamb up to the window, before Dorothy was taken ill. How did your toy get down the coal hole?"
Mirabell and Arnold told by turns, and the driver said:
"I suah is sorry, lady. But it w'an't mahfaulta-tall!"
"I know it wasn't," said Dorothy's mother. "But do you think you could get the little girl's Lamb's back?"
"Well, dat coal hole isn't so very big," was the answer, as the driver scratched his kinky head. "But I might squeeze mahse'f down in it."
"Oh, I think a better way would be to go down in our cellar, crawl over the bin, and get the Lamb that way," Dorothy's mother said.
"Yes-sum, I could do it dat way!" the colored man said. "I'se been down in yo' cellar befo'. I'll get de Lamb on Wheels."
Dorothy's mother waited on the front porch, and Mirabell and Arnold waited on the sidewalk near the coal hole. A little while after the colored man had gone in the side entrance, through the cellar and into the coal bin, the two children heard him calling, as if from the ground beneath them.
"I got de Lamb!" said the driver, in a voice that sounded far-off and rumbly. "Watch out, now! I'se gwine to frow it up de hole!"
"All right!" said Arnold. "I'll catch her!"
"No, don't throw my Lamb!" objected Mirabell. "She might fall on the sidewalk and break."
"All right--den I'll hand her up out ob de hole," called the colored man, who was now in the partly filled bin under the sidewalk. "Watch out fo' her!"
Mirabell and Arnold could hear him walking around on the coal under the sidewalk. In another half minute a black hand was thrust up through the hole, and in the hand was a white, woolly Lamb on Wheels. Wait a minute! Did I say white? Well, I meant to have said a black Lamb.
For Mirabell's white, clean Lamb on Wheels was now covered with black coal dust.
"Oh, that isn't my Lamb on Wheels at all!" cried Mirabell, and there were real tears in her eyes as her brother took the coal-dust covered toy from the colored man's hand. "That isn't my Lamb at all!"
"Oh, yes, it must be, Mirabell," said Dorothy's mother. "No other Lamb has fallen down the coal hole."
"But my Lamb was white, and this one is black," sobbed the little girl.
"Well, bring her in here and we'll wash her nice and clean and white again," said Dorothy's mother. "Bring your Lamb in, Mirabell. Dorothy is better now, though she cannot be out yet, and she will be glad to see you. Come in and I'll wash your Lamb!"
"And I certainly do need a bath!" thought the Lamb to herself, when she heard this talk. She could look down at her legs and see how black they were. "Oh, what a terrible adventure it is to fall into a coal hole! I wonder what will happen next!"
And she soon found out. For when the colored man had come out of the cellar, and was again shoveling the coal down the hole, Mirabell and Arnold took the black Lamb on Wheels into Dorothy's house. Dorothy and her brother Dick were glad to see the children from next door.
"Now to give Mirabell's Lamb a bath," said Dorothy's mother.
"I wonder if I'll be put in the bathtub, as the Wooden Lion was," thought the Lamb.
And she was, though she was not dipped all the way in, for fear of spoiling the wooden, wheeled platform on which she stood. With a nail brush and some soap and water, Dorothy's mother scrubbed the coal dust out of the Lamb's wool.
"There, she is nice and clean again," said Dorothy's mother, as she held the Lamb on Wheels up for the four children to see.
"But she is all wet!" cried Mirabell.
"I'll set her down by the warm stove in the kitchen, and she will soon dry," said the mother of Dick and Dorothy.
"And I'll put my Sawdust Doll down there with the Lamb so she won't be lonesome," said Dorothy.
And then the four children played games in the sitting room, while waiting for the Lamb to dry. And as Mary, the cook, was not in the kitchen just then, the Lamb and the Sawdust Doll were left alone together for a time.
"Oh, my dear, how glad I am to see you again!" exclaimed the Sawdust Doll when they were alone. "But, tell me! what happened? You are soaking wet!"
"Yes, it's very terrible!" bleated the Lamb. "I fell down a coal hole and had a bath!"
Then she told her different adventures, and the Sawdust Doll told hers, so the two toys had a nice time together. Soon the warm fire made the Lamb nice and dry and fluffy again. And she was as clean as when jolly Uncle Tim, the sailor, had bought her in the store.
"How is the White Booking Horse?" asked the Lamb of the Doll, when they had finished telling each other their adventures.
"Oh, he's just fine!" exclaimed the Sawdust Doll. "Did you hear about his broken leg, how he went to the Toy Hospital, and how he scared away some burglars by kicking one downstairs?"
"No, I never heard all that news," said the Lamb. "Please tell me," and the Sawdust Doll did. Then the two toys had to stop talking together as Mirabell, Arnold, Dorothy and Dick came into the kitchen.
"Oh, now my Lamb is all nice again!" cried Mirabell, when she saw her toy. "Oh, I am so glad."
"So am I," said Dorothy.
For many days Mirabell had jolly good times with her Lamb on Wheels. Sometimes the Lamb was taken to Dorothy's house, and then there was a chance for the woolly toy to talk to the Sawdust Doll and the White Rocking Horse.
And one day the Lamb had another strange adventure.
Mirabell had been out in the street near Dorothy's house drawing her Lamb up and down by means of a string. And Mirabell kept watch to see that Carlo did not run along and get tangled in the string. The little girl also made sure that no sidewalk coal holes were open. She did not want the Lamb to fall into another one.
"Oh, Mirabell, come over here a minute!" called Dorothy to her friend. "Mother got me a new trunk for my Sawdust Doll's things."
"Oh, I want to see it!" cried Mirabell, and she was in such a hurry that she let go of the string by which she had been by herself on the sidewalk for a little way, and finally rolled out toward the gutter. For once in her life Mirabell forgot all about her toy. pulling her Lamb. The Lamb rolled along
[Illustration: Lamb On Wheels Tells Sawdust Doll of Her Troubles]
And while Mirabell was looking at the new trunk for the Sawdust Doll's clothes, a big dog came running along the street. He saw the white, woolly Lamb near the curbstone.
"Oh, ho! Maybe that is good to eat!" thought the dog. And before the Lamb on Wheels could say a word, that dog just picked her up in his mouth and carried her away as a mother cat carries her little ones. Yes, the big dog carried away the Lamb on Wheels!