Chapter X. The Soldier and the Rabbit
 

Arnold and Mirabell rode up in the store elevator with their mother to the floor where the toys were displayed.

"What did you say you wanted to get for Madeline?" asked Mirabell, as she walked along looking at the pretty things on the counters and shelves.

"A little Easter present," was the answer. "Perhaps I can find some pretty little bunny, or a novelty of some sort, that Madeline would like. You children may help me pick it out."

"I'm going to see if there are any more Tin Soldiers like mine," said Arnold.

The children and their mother came near the toy counter. On it were many playthings that boys and girls like. The Calico Clown was there, the Monkey on a Stick, a Jumping Jack, and others.

"Oh, I wish I had that Jumping Jack!" exclaimed Arnold.

"But you have plenty of toys," said his mother.

"Yes, I know," he answered. "But I wish--I er--wish--I er--a-ker- choo!" suddenly sneezed Arnold, and as he felt his nose tickling he took his handkerchief from his pocket with a jerk.

And with the handkerchief out came the Bold Tin Soldier which the boy had stuffed into his pocket when he hurried downstairs as his mother called him to go shopping with her and Mirabell.

Out popped the Bold Tin Soldier, and he bounced right over on to the toy counter, just the very same place where he had lived before he came to Arnold's house.

"Oh. look!" cried Mirabell. "How funny! I didn't know you had brought your Tin Soldier Captain with you, Arnold."

"I didn't know it myself! I guess I must have stuffed him into my pocket and forgotten about him," the little boy said. "But I am not going to leave him here. I like him too much."

As it happened, the Bold Tin Soldier, when he was pulled out with the handkerchief, landed on the toy counter right side up, standing on his feet. And, as it also happened, he landed near the Candy Rabbit.

"I didn't know, my dear, that you were going to bring any of your toys with you," said Arnold's mother, with a smile.

"I didn't know it either!" he answered, with a laugh. He reached out his hand to pick up his Soldier and put him back in his pocket when, down at the other end of the toy counter, one of the clerks suddenly began spinning a humming top, which showed different colors and played a little tune as it whirled around.

"Oh, I want to see that!" cried Arnold.

"So do I!" echoed Mirabell.

"Perhaps that would be an Easter toy for Madeline," thought Mother.

So all three of them moved down toward the end of the toy counter, Arnold, for the moment, forgetting about his Tin Captain, who was thus left standing among his old friends with no one to watch him or them.

"Oh, how glad we are to see you here again!" exclaimed the Calico Clown. "We have only a moment before the folks come back, but tell us all about your adventures."

[Illustration: Bold Tin Soldier Compliments Calico Clown.]

"Oh, it would take too long," said the Bold Tin Soldier. "I have had some remarkable ones, but falling into a sugar barrel was the queerest. But what a fine pair of trousers you have, Clown," he said.

The funny chap looked pleased at this.

"Yes, these are the new ones the girl made for me after I scorched mine climbing the string too near the gas--the time you saved me, you know," replied the Clown.

"My! you look gay enough for a circus," said the Soldier.

"I'd like to join one," the Clown went on. "But I don't suppose there is any chance. I've been on this toy counter so long I'm beginning to believe I shall always live here. But you--you have been out to see the world! You have had adventures!"

"Yes, I suppose you may say I have," admitted the Bold Tin Soldier. "But though my men and I have a fine home with Arnold, still I get lonesome for you toys once in a while. I have met the Sawdust Doll, the White Rocking Horse, and the Lamb on Wheels. Now I am glad to meet you all once more. And how is my friend the Candy Rabbit?" the Captain asked, as he saw the long-eared chap standing near him.

"I am quite well, thank you," the Rabbit answered. "It will soon be Easter, and then perhaps my adventures will begin."

"It certainly is good to see you again," said the Monkey on a Stick to the Captain. "I have been wishing I could get away from here for a time, to have some adventures, but, so far, I haven't had a chance."

"Your time will come," said the Captain. "You are such a lively chap that I should think you would have many things happen to you."

"Yes, I'm not slow, whatever else you may say about me," chattered the Monkey, and, with that, he turned a somersault on his stick, but of course none of the people in the store saw him, for that was not allowed, you know.

"Hush! The people are coming back!" suddenly called the Candy Rabbit, and, surely enough, Mirabell, Arnold and their mother came back after having seen the buzzing top.

"I think that would not be just the right kind of an Easter present I want for Madeline," said Mirabell's mother. "I'll look here, among the toys."

"Why don't you get her a Candy Rabbit?" asked Mirabell.

"I believe I will," said Mother. She picked the Candy Rabbit up and looked at him. He was a fine fellow, colored just like a real rabbit, and with pink eyes and a pink nose.

"Oh, now my adventures will soon begin," thought the Candy Rabbit.

"I think this will do very nicely for Madeline," said the mother of the two children. "I will come at Easter for it," she went on to the clerk. "Come, children."

And when Arnold had picked up his Bold Tin Soldier and put him back in his pocket, the children and their mother left the store.

The Captain wished he might have had another chance to speak to his toy friends, but it was not to be just then.

"I wonder if I shall see the Candy Rabbit again," he thought as he made himself comfortable in Arnold's warm pocket.

In a little while the children were back home again after the shopping trip.

"I am going to play with my Lamb on Wheels," said Mirabell. "I am going to take her over to Dorothy's house to see the Sawdust Doll."

"And I'll take my Soldiers over and have some fun with Dick and his White Rocking Horse," said Arnold.

And when the four toys in Dick's house had a chance to talk among themselves, as the children were out of the room for a while, the Captain said:

"Oh, I have such news for you!"

"What is it?" asked the Sawdust Doll.

"I think the Candy Rabbit is going to be sent to a little girl named Madeline for an Easter present," said the Captain.

"Why, that girl--Madeline--lives right across the street!" exclaimed the White Rocking Horse. "She is Mirabell's cousin, and she knows Dorothy."

"Oh, then maybe we shall see the Candy Rabbit again," said the Bold Tin Soldier. "I am glad of that!"

And as for what happened next--well, if you wish to know you may find out by reading the next book of this series, which will be called "The Story of a Candy Rabbit." In it you will again meet the Bold Tin Soldier and all his friends.

THE END