Chapter VIII. Sailing Down the Brook
 

The Lamb on Wheels was so frightened when the dog took her up in his mouth that she did not know what to do. If she could, she would have rolled away as fast as a toy railroad train, such a train as Arnold and Dick played with. But the dog had the Lamb in his mouth before she knew what was happening.

Besides, across the street was a man, and, as he happened to be looking at the Lamb, of course she dared not make believe come to life and trundle along as she sometimes did in the toy store. It was against the rules, you know, for any of the toys to do anything by themselves when any human eyes saw them. And so the Lamb had to let herself be carried away by the dog.

Now you might think that when the man saw the dog run away with the Lamb on Wheels in his mouth the man would have stopped the dog. But the man was thinking of something else. He was looking for a certain house, and he had forgotten the number, and he was thinking so much about that, and other things, that he never gave the Lamb a second thought.

He did see the dog take her away, but maybe he imagined it was only some game the children were playing with the toy and the dog, for Mirabell and Dorothy were there on the street, in plain sight.

But as the two little girls were just then thinking of the new trunk for the Sawdust Doll, neither of them thought of the Lamb, and they did not see the dog take her.

"Oh, what a nice trunk!" said Mirabell to Dorothy.

"I'm glad you like it," said Dorothy. She had her Sawdust Doll in her arms, and, as it happened, the Doll saw the dog running away with the Lamb on Wheels in his mouth.

"Oh! Oh! Oh, dear me! That is dreadful!" said the Sawdust Doll to herself. "Oh, the poor Lamb! What will happen to her?"

Away ran the dog with the Lamb on Wheels in his mouth down the street, over a low fence, and soon he was in the vacant lots where the weeds grew high. And then, as there were no human eyes in the vacant lots to see her, the Lamb thought it time to do something. She began to wiggle her legs, though she could not get them loose from the platform with wheels on, and she cried out:

"Baa! Baa! Baa!"

"Hello there! what's the matter?" barked the dog, and it made his nose tickle to have the Lamb, whom he was carrying in his teeth, give that funny Baa! sound in his mouth.

"Matter? Matter enough I should say!" exclaimed the Lamb on Wheels. "Why are you carrying me away like this, you very bad dog?"

For, being a toy, she could talk animal language as well as her own, and the dog could understand and talk it, too.

"Why am I carrying you away?" asked the dog. "Because I am hungry, of course."

"But I am not good to eat," bleated the Lamb. "I am mostly made of wood, though my wheels are of iron. Of course I have real wool on outside, but inside I am only stuffed."

"Dear me! is that so?" asked the dog, opening his mouth and putting the Lamb down amid a clump of weeds in the vacant lot.

"Yes, it's just as true as I'm telling you," went on the Lamb. "I am only a toy, though when no human eyes look at me I can move around and talk, as can all of us toys. But I am not good to eat."

"No, I think you're right about that," said the dog, after smelling of the Lamb. For that is how dogs tell whether or not a thing is good to eat--by smelling it.

"You looked so natural," went on the dog, "that I thought you were a real little Lamb. That's why I carried you off when that little girl left you and ran away. I'm sorry if I hurt you."

"No, you didn't hurt me, but you have carried me a long way from my home," the Lamb said. "I don't know how I am ever going to get back to Mirabell."

"Can't you roll along to her on your wheels?" asked the dog. "I haven't time now to carry you back."

"Not very well," the Lamb answered. "It is very rough going in this lot, full of weeds and stones. I can easily roll myself along on a smooth floor, in the toy shop or at Mirabell's home. But it is too hard here."

"Ill leave you here now," barked the dog, "and when it gets dark I'll come and get you. I'll carry you back to the porch of the house, from in front of which I carried you off. Then you can roll in and get back to Mirabell, as you call her. Shall I do that?"

"Well, I suppose that would be a good plan," the Lamb said. "I don't exactly like being carried in your teeth, but there is no help for it."

"Then I'll do that," promised the dog. "I'll come back here and get you after dark. You'll be all right here in the tall weeds."

"I suppose so," replied the Lamb. "Though I shall be lonesome."

"Please forgive me for causing you all this trouble," went on the dog. "I never would have done it if I had known you were a toy. And now I'll run along and come back to-night. I hear a dog friend of mine calling me."

Another dog, at the farther end of the lot, was barking, and the Lamb crouched deeper down in the weeds.

"Dear me! this surely is an adventure," said the Lamb on Wheels to herself, as she was left alone. "Being taken away in a rag bag, as the Sawdust Doll was, couldn't be any worse than this. And though none of my legs is broken, as was one of the White Rocking Horse's, still I am almost as badly off, for I dare not move. I wonder what will happen to me next!"

It was not long before something did happen. As the Lamb stood on her wheels and wooden platform among the weeds, all at once two boys came along. They were looking for some fun.

"Oh, look!" cried a big boy. "There's a little white poodle dog over in the weeds!" and he pointed to the Lamb, whose white coat was easily seen amid the green leaves.

"Oh, we can have some fun with it!" said the little boy. "Let's call it."

So they whistled and called to the white object they thought was a dog, but the Lamb did not move. Of course she couldn't, while the boys were looking at her.

"That's funny!" said the big boy. "What do you think is the matter with that dog? It doesn't come to us."

"Let's go up and see," said the smaller lad.

Together they tramped through the weeds until they were close to the toy. Then the big boy cried out:

"Why, it isn't a dog at all! It's a Lamb on Wheels!"

"So it is!" said the little boy. "But I know how we can have some fun with it, just the same!"

"How?" asked the big boy.

"We can play Noah's Ark over in the brook," explained the small boy. "There are some boards over there. I was making a raft of them the other day. We can make another raft now, and we can get on and sail down the brook. And we can take the Lamb on board with us and make believe we're in a Noah's Ark and that there's a flood and all like that! Won't that be fun?"

"Yes, I guess it will," said the big boy. "Come on! I'll carry the Lamb."

So, picking up the toy and tucking it under his arm, he led the way to the brook, which ran through the vacant lots. It was a nice brook, not too deep, and wide enough to sail boats on.

"Now we'll make the raft," said the smaller boy, as they came to a place on the bank of the brook where there were some boards and planks.

The big boy set the Lamb down near the water and then the two lads began to make a raft. A raft is like the big, wide, flat boat, without any house or cabin on it. It did not take long to make it.

"All aboard!" cried the big boy, when the raft had been finished. "All aboard! Come on!" He picked up the Lamb again, and walked out on the raft. The smaller boy went with his chum. With long poles, cut from a near-by tree, the boys shoved the raft out into the middle of the brook.

"Now we're a Noah's Ark!" laughed the small boy, "and we have one animal with us--a woolly Lamb on Wheels!"

And down the brook Mirabell's toy went sailing with the two boys on the raft.

"This is certainly surprising!" thought the Lamb. "I was bought by a sailor, and here I am making a voyage! I hope I shall not be seasick!"