Chapter VII. A Sad Accident
 

If the big dog had not been so gruff and impolite, and if he had known how truly brave the Bold Tin Soldier was, the barking chap never would have tried to do what he said he was going to do--carry away the Sawdust Doll.

"Yes, I am going to take the Sawdust Doll home to my kennel, so my little puppies will have something to gnaw and to play with," went on the big dog.

"Oh, just fancy!" exclaimed the poor Doll. "Oh, I don't want to be gnawed and played with by any puppies! They may bite holes in me, and all my sawdust will run out I Oh dear!"

"Don't be afraid," replied the Bold Tin Soldier. "This dog shall not take you away."

"Bow wow! You just watch me!" barked the bad dog. He ran at the Sawdust Doll with wide-open mouth, but before he could pick her up to carry her away the Bold Tin Soldier thrust his sword at the dog and pricked him on the paw.

"Ouch! Oh, dear! I must have run a thorn into my foot!" howled the dog.

"No, it was not a thorn. It was my sword that pricked you," said the Bold Tin Soldier. "I only stuck you a little bit this first time, but if you keep on teasing my friend, Miss Sawdust Doll, I shall have to do something worse. You had better run away!"

"Yes, I think I had," howled the dog. "I didn't know your sword was so sharp. Ouch, my paw hurts!"

"Well, I am sorry I had to hurt you," said the Captain. "But if you had behaved yourself it would not have happened."

"I'll put a grass poultice on it," said the Sawdust Doll. "I know something about nursing, for once in a while Dorothy pretends I am in a hospital. I'll bind some grass on your foot, Mr. Dog, if you will promise to let me alone."

"Yes, I'll do that," was the barking answer. "And I am sorry I was so unkind to you. Please forgive me!"

The Sawdust Doll said she would. Then the Bold Tin Soldier, with the same sword that had pricked the dog, cut some grass, and it was bound on the dog's paw. The sword prick was not a very deep one, and would soon heal. Then, limping on three legs, the dog ran away, and the toys were left to themselves once more.

By this time Patrick had let the children do all the hose sprinkling he thought was good for them, so back came running Dick and Dorothy, Arnold and Mirabell, to play with their toys again.

"What shall we play now?" asked Dick of Arnold. "Shall we have another battle with the Tin Soldiers?"

"Let's go to the garage and play we're going on an automobile trip," said Arnold. "We have had enough battles today."

So the Captain and his men were put back in their box and the cover was closed down.

"Oh, dear!" thought the Lamb on Wheels. "Now if anything happens, such as a big dog coming again, the Captain can not save us. He can not get out of the box."

But the Lamb need not have worried, for she was taken into the house by Mirabell, and so was the Sawdust Doll and the Rocking Horse. The little girls went down the street to play with a friend named Madeline, leaving their own toys in Dorothy's house, while Dick and Arnold went out to the garage, and from there over to Arnold's house.

But though no big dog came into the home of Dick and Dorothy to carry away the Sawdust Doll, something else happened, almost as bad, at least for the Bold Tin Soldier.

He and his men had been put in their box, and the box was put on a table in the playroom, together with the Lamb on Wheels, the Sawdust Doll and the White Rocking Horse. When Arnold and Mirabell went home they would take the Soldiers and the Lamb with them.

But before this came about something happened. A lady came to call on Dorothy's mother, bringing with her a little boy named Tad. Now Tad was not a bad little boy, but he was always looking for something to play with and he was not careful.

When Tad reached the home of Dick and Dorothy and found neither of the children was in, and when he saw his mother and Dorothy's mother talking together, Tad wandered about by himself to find something with which he could have fun. And the first thing he saw was the box of Tin Soldiers.

"Oh, now I can have some fun!" cried Tad.

He opened the box and took out the Bold Tin Captain. Then he took out the other Soldiers, the Sergeant, the Corporal and all the men.

''Ha! Now I can have a battle!'' cried Tad, and he threw all the Soldiers in a heap on the floor.

"Oh, my, this little fellow is a dreadful chap!" thought the Captain. "If he isn't careful he will break some of us."

"I'm glad we don't belong to him!" thought the Sergeant.

Still the Soldiers could do nothing, nor could they say anything, as Tad was there looking at them with his big, blue eyes. And Tad did more than look. He handled the Tin Soldiers very roughly.

The carpet was so soft that when they were thrown out of their box they were not hurt, but as Tad grew rougher and rougher as he handled the Captain and his men, the Bold Tin Soldier began to be very much worried.

"Stand up there!" cried Tad, and he jabbed the Soldiers, one after the other, down very hard on the carpet. Now the carpet, being soft and thick, was not a very good place for the Soldiers to stand on. They fell over very easily, and, seeing this, Tad cried:

"Stand up there!"

And when the Soldiers kept falling over--since they dared not spread their legs and act as if they were alive when any human eyes were watching them--Tad cried impatiently:

"Oh, you're no good! I'm not going to play with you! I'm going to have some other fun!"

With a sweep of his hand he sent the Soldiers in a heap together. Some fell one way and some another, and the Captain bounced out to the middle of the floor where Tad let him lay.

"I guess I'll ride on the Rocking Horse!" cried this not-very-good little boy.

"Oh, dear me! now I am in for a time," thought the White Horse. "This little lad is as rough as the one who used to dig his heels into my sides when he jumped on my back in the store. Oh, there he comes!"

And, surely enough, Tad ran across the room and climbed up on the back of the White Rocking Horse. If the Horse could have had his way he would have turned and galloped out of the room. But he could not do this, and so he just had to stand there and take what came.

"Gid-dap, there! Gid-dap!" cried Tad, banging his heels against the sides of the White Rocking Horse.

Now, as I have told you, when the Horse was made to rock back and forth he traveled along, just as sometimes a rocking chair moves across the room. And the faster Tad made the horse sway to and fro, the more the wooden toy moved along.

"Oh, I'm really having a ride!" cried Tad. "This is fun! Gid-dap, White Rocking Horse!"

Over the room on the soft carpet rocked the Horse, straight toward the Bold Tin Soldier who was lying in the middle of the room. And in a few moments, unless Tad stopped rocking the Horse, he would run over his friend, the Captain.

"Gid-dap! Gid-dap!" shouted Tad.

The Horse saw what was going to happen, and so did the Captain.

"Oh, if I can only get out of the way!" thought the Bold Tin Soldier.

"Oh, if only I do not have to rock on my bold friend!" thought the White Horse.

"Gid-dap! Gid-dap!" cried Tad again, and he made the Horse go faster and faster.

Nearer and nearer the rockers went to the Bold Tin Soldier. He wanted to shout aloud, but that was against the rules. And the Horse wanted to stop and turn about, and that, also, was against the rules, as long as Tad was there. As for the boy himself, I don't really believe he would have done it if he had seen what was going to happen.

But he was so excited at being on the back of the Horse that he did not look down at the floor where the Bold Tin Soldier lay. And a moment later the Horse rocked, with a crunching sound, right over his friend!