Chapter IX. On a Load of Wood
 

Now while the Lamb on Wheels was being carried away by the dog, and after she had been dropped in the lot, where she was picked up by the boys and put on a Noah's Ark raft--while all this was happening to the toy, Mirabell, the little girl who owned the Lamb, was almost heart- broken. After she had admired the trunk Dorothy had had given to her for the Sawdust Doll, Mirabell ran back to get her pet toy.

"Oh, where is my Lamb on Wheels?" cried Mirabell, looking up and down the street. "Where is she?"

"Where did you leave her?" asked Dorothy, who had gone back with her friend.

"I left the Lamb right here by the fence," answered Mirabell. "She had a string on. I was pulling her along the sidewalk, and when you called me I let go the string and ran. Oh, where is my nice Lamb?"

"Maybe Dick took the Lamb," suggested Dorothy to Mirabell, when they had looked up and down the street, in front of and behind the fence, and even in the yard, and had not found the toy. "Dick sometimes takes my things and hides them just for fun," Dorothy said.

"Or Arnold, maybe," added Mirabell.

Just then Dick and Arnold came out of Mirabell's house, each with a slice of bread and jam, and there was some jam around their mouths, too, showing that they had each taken a bite from their slices of bread.

"Oh, Arnold, did you take my Lamb!" cried Mirabell.

"Or did you take it, Dick?" asked his sister.

"Nope!" answered both boys, speaking at the same time.

"But where is she?" asked the little girl over and over again. "Where is my Lamb on Wheels?"

"Oh, I know!" suddenly cried Dick.

"I thought you said you didn't!" exclaimed his sister. "You said you and Arnold didn't hide her away."

"Neither did we," went on Dick. "But I think I know where she is, just the same."

"Where?" asked Arnold, as he finished the last of his bread and jam, having given his sister a bite, while Dick gave Dorothy some. "Where is the Lamb on Wheels?" asked Arnold.

"Down in our cellar!" went on Dick. "Don't you remember how she rolled down there once, when the man was putting in coal? Maybe she's there again."

"Oh, let's look!" cried Mirabell.

So the children ran to Dorothy's mother, who said she would have Patrick, the gardener, look down in the coal bin for the lost Lamb on Wheels.

But of course the Lamb on Wheels was not in Dorothy's cellar, and Mirabell felt worse than ever.

"I guess some one must have come along the street when you weren't looking, Mirabell," said Dorothy's mother, "and carried your Lamb away."

"I--I guess so," sobbed Mirabell. "Oh, but I wish I had her back. Uncle Tim gave her to me, and now he is away far out on the ocean! Oh, dear!" and the little girl felt very bad indeed.

She did not give up the search, and Dorothy, Dick and Arnold also helped. They looked in the two yards, across the street, and in other places, but the Lamb could not be found.

[Illustration: The Boys Leave Lamb on Wheels on the Raft]

The reason Mirabell could not find her toy, as you and I know very well, was because the Lamb on Wheels was riding down the brook on a raft with the two boys.

At first the Lamb was much frightened when she looked over the edge of the flat boat of planks and boards, and saw water on all sides of her.

"I really must be at sea, as that jolly sailor was," thought the Lamb. "I am on a voyage at last! Oh, I hope I shall not be seasick! Oh, how wet the ocean is!" she thought, as some water splashed up near her, when the little boy shoved the raft along with his pole.

The Lamb, not knowing any better, thought the brook was the big ocean. But as the raft sailed on down and down and did not upset and as the Lamb grew less frightened and was not made ill, she began to feel better about it.

"Perhaps I am more of a sailor than I thought," she said to herself. "I never knew I would be brave enough to go to sea. I wish the Bold Tin Soldier and the Calico Clown could see me now. I'm sure they never had an adventure like this!"

So the Lamb on Wheels stood on her wooden platform in the middle of the raft and looked at the water of the brook. Now and then little waves splashed over the edge of the raft, but only a little water got on the toy, and that did not harm her.

"Isn't this fun!" cried the little boy who had first thought of playing Noah's Ark with the raft.

"It is packs of fun!" agreed the older boy. "Let's make believe we are going on a long voyage."

So the raft went on and on down the brook, and the Lamb on Wheels was having a fine ride.

"Though I wish some of the toys were here with me," she thought to herself. "I wonder if the Sawdust Doll would get seasick if she were on board here. I don't believe the Bold Tin Soldier would, and the Calico Clown would be trying to think of new jokes and riddles, so I don't believe he would be ill. But I wonder what is going to happen to me? What will be the end of this adventure?"

The two boys poled their raft down to a broader part of the brook, where it flowed at the bottom of a garden. At the upper end of the garden was a large house, and not far away was another house. The Lamb on Wheels could see the houses from where she stood on the raft, and she wondered if any little boys or girls lived in them.

"Having adventures is all right," thought the Lamb, "but one can have too many of them. I have been on a voyage long enough, I believe. I wish I could get back home to Mirabell."

A few minutes after that the big boy cried:

"Oh, come on, Jimmie! There's Tom and Harry! We can have a game of ball," and he pointed to some boys who were running around the lots, through which the brook was now flowing.

"What shall we do with the Lamb?" asked the small boy.

"Leave it here on the raft," answered the older boy. "Maybe we'll want to play Noah's Ark again, and we can find the raft here. Now we'll go and play ball!"

They shoved the raft over toward the shore of the brook, and then the two boys jumped off. They left the Lamb behind them.

"Dear me! how fast things do happen," said the Lamb, speaking out loud to herself, as there was no one near just then. "A little while ago Mirabell was pulling me along the sidewalk with a string. Then she left me and the dog ran off with me. Then he left me, and the boys carried me off on the raft. Now they have left me. I wonder who will take me next?"

The raft was smooth in places, and the Lamb was just going to start to roll along a board toward shore when, all at once, she heard a noise, and a voice cried:

"Whoa!"

"My goodness!" thought the Lamb, coming to a stop almost as soon as she had started along on her wheels, "what's that? I wonder if some one is driving the White Rocking Horse along here!"

She looked through the weeds growing on the edge of the brook and saw a real horse and wagon and a real man driving down to the water through the vacant lot. And as the man was real the Lamb dared not move while he was in sight.

"Whoa!" called the real man, and it was to his real horse he was speaking, and not to the White Rocking Horse. "Whoa now, Dobbin!" went on the man, "and I'll let you have a drink here if the water is clean. I know you are thirsty, and there is a brook here somewhere."

So that is why the man was driving his horse down through the lot--to give his horse a drink. The man climbed down off his wagon and walked toward the brook, right at the place where the raft had gone ashore with the Lamb on board.

"I wonder if this can be the junkman who carried the Sawdust Doll away in his wagon," thought the Lamb. "If it is I am in for another adventure!"

As the man came to look at the brook, to see if the water was clean enough for his horse to drink, the man saw the raft.

"Oh, ho! There are some good boards and planks I can carry home to break up for kindling wood," said the man. "That's what I'll do. I'll have some good firewood from these boards! Or maybe I can sell some." Then he came nearer and saw the Lamb.

"Well, I do declare!" the man cried. "There is a white woolly Lamb toy! I must take that, too, though I don't know what I can do with it. Maybe I can sell it. I am in luck to-day, getting a load of wood and a toy. Now come on, Dobbin!" he called to his horse. "The brook is nice and clean for you to drink from, and while you are drinking I will load the wood on my wagon and take the Lamb on Wheels. Come on, Dobbin!"

The horse walked toward the water, for he was thirsty. And while he was drinking the man laid aside the Lamb, placing her on some soft grass.

Then he piled the boards and planks on his wagon, and next he took up the Lamb again, putting her on top of the load of wood.

"I'll give the Lamb a ride!" said the man.