Chapter III. Bought by a Boy
 

The toys were very much excited when they saw the Calico Clown beginning to burn, because he had swung too near the gas jet.

"Oh, I can't bear to look at him!" cried the Rag Doll, covering her eyes with her hands.

"He'll be all right! The Bold Tin Soldier is going to save him," said the Monkey on a Stick.

"But how can he?" asked the Jumping Jack." How can the Captain get up there and save our Clown? The string will not hold two!"

And, indeed, the Bold Tin Soldier himself was beginning to wonder how he could save his toy friend. He could not scramble up the string, as the Clown had done, and, if he did, the Bold Captain might catch fire himself.

Of course a tin soldier will not burn as quickly as a Clown with a suit of cloth, but the gas flame was very hot and dangerous.

"Come down! Come down!" cried the Rag Doll. "Come down, Mr. Calico Clown!"

And that, you would have thought, would have been the easiest way for the comical chap to save himself--just to slide down the string to the counter. But something had happened.

"I can't get down!" the Clown exclaimed. "The string is twisted around my leg and caught on one of my cymbals! I can't get loose to come down!" And that is what had happened.

"But still I will save him!" cried the Bold Tin Soldier. He looked around the toy counter and saw a sofa cushion that belonged to a large doll's parlor set. "Quick!" shouted the Captain. "Put that cushion right under the Clown who is dangling by the string. Then when he falls he will not hurt himself. Over with the cushion!"

"But he can't fall!" said the Jack in the Box. "He's all tangled up in the string. He can't get loose!"

"I'll get him loose!" declared the Captain. "Some of you shove that soft cushion over under our Clown!"

The two Jacks, the Candy Rabbit and the Monkey on a Stick pulled and hauled until the cushion was just where the Clown would land if he let go of the string and fell. But he was still tangled in the string, and every time he swung, like the pendulum of the clock, he came close to the burning gas jet. And each time he did this his red and yellow trousers were scorched.

"Oh, will no one save me?" cried the Clown.

"Yes, I will!" shouted the Bold Tin Soldier. "I am going to cut the string with my sword. Then you will fall down, but you will not be hurt because you will fall on the sofa cushion. I'll cut the string with my shiny tin sword, and then you won't be burned."

Near the string which dangled from the ceiling was a Japanese Juggler with a long ladder, which he could climb, balancing a ball on the end of his nose. Just now the Juggler was resting at the foot of the ladder that stood upright. The Juggler did not speak English very well, and that is why he did not understand all that was going on. He had not said a word since the Clown had climbed the string and had swung too near the blazing gas jet.

"Will you allow me to use your ladder, Mr. Japanese Juggler?" called the Bold Tin Soldier to the chap with the ball on the end of his nose.

"Without waiting for an answer, which he hardly expected, the Captain sprang up the ladder, holding his sword ready. In an instant he stood near the swaying, swinging Clown who waved to and fro on the string.

"Swish! Swash!"

That was the shiny tin sword sweeping through the air. The string was sliced in two pieces.

The Clown was cut loose, and down he fell on the soft sofa cushion, not being hurt at all. He was saved from burning.

"Hurray! Hurray for our brave Captain!" cried all the toys, clapping their hands, and the China Cat clapped his paws, which were just the same as hands.

"Are you all right?" asked the Bold Tin Soldier after he had climbed down the ladder and hurried over to where the Clown was getting up off the sofa cushion.

"Yes, thank you! I am all right," was the answer. "I should not have tried to swing by that string so near the burning gas. But I did not think. Now, oh dear! Look at my trousers!"

Well might the clown say that, for his fine yellow and red trousers were scorched and burned. It was lucky the Clown himself was not burned, but it was too bad his suit was spoiled.

"Oh dear me! no one will ever buy me now," said the Clown sadly, looking at his legs. "I am damaged! I'll be thrown into the waste- paper basket!"

"Perhaps I could make you a new suit," said the Rag Doll. "I can sew a little, and if I had some cloth I might at least put a patch over the burned places if I shouldn't have time for a whole suit."

"Thank you," answered the Clown. "But I would never look the same. And thank you, Captain, for cutting me down before I was burned," he went on to the Bold Tin Soldier. "It was very brave of you."

"Oh, it was nothing," the Captain modestly said. "We soldiers are here to do just such things as that."

"Hush!" suddenly called the Monkey on a Stick. "Here come the clerks. The store is going to open!"

And so all the toys had to be quiet and go back to their places. They could not make believe be alive until night should come again.

One by one the girl clerks took their places behind the toy counters near the shelves on which the different playthings were stored. One girl picked up the Calico Clown.

"Well, I do declare!" exclaimed this girl. "Look at my fancy Clown, will you, Mabel?"

"What's the matter with him, Sallie?" asked the clerk whose name was Mabel.

"Why, his red and yellow pants are scorched," answered Sallie. "I wonder what happened to him. Some customer who was smoking must have dropped a match or some hot cigar ashes on him. I must tell the manager about this. I can't sell a damaged toy like that."

"No, you can't," agreed Mabel, after she had looked at the poor Calico Clown.

"Oh, but I know what we can do!" the girl clerk suddenly exclaimed. "What?" asked Sallie.

And "what?" wondered the Clown.

"We can make him a new pair of trousers," was the answer. "Up in my locker I have some pieces of silk I had left over when I dressed my little sister's doll for Christmas. I'll get my needle and thread and the pieces of silk, and this noon, at lunch hour, we'll make a new suit for the Clown. Then he won't be damaged, and you can sell him."

"Oh, that will be fine!" cried the other girl, and the Clown, hearing this, felt much better.

By this time customers were coming into the store to buy toys and other things, and the toy counters and shelves were busy places. The Bold Tin Soldier had gone back to his box with his men, and there he and they stood, straight and stiff as ramrods, waiting for what might happen to them.

All the toys wished to talk about the brave rescue of the Calico Clown by the Captain, but of course they had to keep still.

"But we can talk about it to-night," thought the Candy Rabbit to himself. "We'll have a grand time when the store is once more closed. But I hope the Clown does no more of his tricks. The next time his jacket might burn, as well as his trousers."

The girl who had promised to make a new pair of gay silk trousers for the Clown was kept very busy that morning waiting on customers. She had just sold a little Celluloid Doll to a small girl when a boy and a man came walking past the counter behind which she stood.

"There's what I want, right over there!" said the boy, pointing.

"What is it?" asked the man, who seemed to be his father.

"That set of soldiers," went on the boy. "I want that Bold Tin Soldier Captain, who carries a sword, and I would like a set of his tin men. Then Dick and I can play war and battle and have lots of fun."

"I'm afraid that set of toy soldiers will cost too much," replied the man. "You know I said you could have a toy, but not one that is too expensive."

"Well, let's ask how much the tin soldiers cost," suggested the boy.

"That set costs two dollars," answered the girl behind the counter.

"And I said you could have only a dollar, Arnold," said the man.

"I have a dollar of my own pocket money that I have been saving," said the boy. "If I put that with your dollar I'll have two! Then couldn't I get the Captain and his men?"

"Yes, I suppose you could," answered the man slowly.

"Then I'm going to buy them!" exclaimed the boy. "Hurray! I'm going to have a Bold Tin Soldier and his men."

"Well, now I suppose my adventures will begin," thought the Captain, for he heard all that was said. "Like the Sawdust Doll, the White Rocking Horse, and the Lamb on Wheels, I am to be sold and taken away. Yes, now my adventures will begin!"

The girl clerk went to get a piece of wrapping paper in which to do up the box of soldiers. The boy and his father stepped aside for a moment to look at some other toys. As they were out of sight of the counter for a few seconds, and as no one was watching, the Calico Clown had a chance to whisper to the Captain.

"So you are going away from us?" asked the Clown.

"Yes," answered the Captain. "But I am sorry I shall not see the new trousers the girl is going to make for you. I would like to see them."

"Perhaps you may come back and visit us," suggested the Candy Rabbit.

"Perhaps," agreed the Captain, and then he had to stop talking for the boy and his father came back.