Chapter VIII. A Bunch of Sweetness

The Bold Tin Soldier wanted to shout aloud and yell when he felt the rockers of the White Rocking Horse going over him. But he was a truly brave chap, and he knew it would never do to let that careless boy Tad know a Tin Soldier could pretend to be alive.

"I must not say a word!" thought the Soldier to himself.

And you can just imagine how the White Rocking Horse felt when he was made to run over his dear friend from the toy store!

"Oh, dear me," said the White Rocking Horse to himself, when he heard the crunching sound, "something dreadful has happened! But it was not my fault! It was that boy's!"

For you know, as well as I do, that if the White Rocking Horse had had his way he would have turned out, and not have gone over his friend, the Captain.

But Tad did not stop rocking, even when he heard the crunching sound. He swayed backward and forward in the saddle and cried:

"Gid-dap! Go faster!"

And he made the White Rocking Horse keep on. I don't know what else would have happened. Maybe that careless boy would have rocked over the rest of the Tin Soldiers for all I know, only he happened to see the Lamb on Wheels.

"I'll pull her around. That will be fun," said Tad, springing off the back of the horse.

As the boy leaped from the back of the White Rocking Horse he turned that wooden chap half around so the animal could look at the Bold Tin Soldier lying on the carpet.

"Oh, my poor friend!" thought the White Rocking Horse, not daring to speak out loud, of course. "I hope you are not killed."

And I am glad to say that the Tin Soldier Captain was not. He was not even hurt, for the rocker of the horse had gone over his sword, instead of over one of the legs or arms of the toy chap. The Soldier's sword had been run over and broken off, scabbard and all. And the scabbard, or case in which the sword was kept, and the sword itself were lying on the floor, not far from the Captain.

"Dear me, what a sad accident!" thought the White Rocking Horse.

And the Bold Tin Soldier was thinking to himself:

"Well, it is lucky I am not hurt, but it is dreadful to have my sword broken off. My men may think I am no longer their captain, and they may not obey me. Oh, dear, I am no good any more!"

"I wonder if the rough boy will break me?" thought the Lamb on Wheels, as Tad dragged her around the room.

But Tad seemed more gentle with the Lamb, or else perhaps he was tired of playing with the toys. For all he did was to drag the woolly plaything around the room a few times, and then he let go the string.

"I'm hungry!" said Tad out loud. "I'm going to get my mother to ask Dorothy's mother to give me something to eat!"

Out of the room ran the boy, and all the toys breathed easier when they saw him go.

"My poor, dear friend!" exclaimed the Rocking Horse, as he slowly made his way over to where the Tin Soldier lay on the carpet. "I hope you will forgive me!"

"It was not your fault at all!" said the Soldier. "It could not be helped. It is the fortune of war, as we men of the army say. My sword is broken, that is true, but it is much better to bear that than to put up with a broken arm or leg. Perhaps I can be mended."

He picked up the sword which had been broken off from his tin side where it had been soldered, or fastened. He tried to make it stick on, but it was of no use.

"Never mind, Captain," said the Corporal from the floor where he lay in a heap with the other soldiers, "we think just as much of you as before. You are still our commander, sword or no sword!"

"I am glad to have you say that," returned the Bold Tin Soldier. "Dear me, what a day it has been!"

He was still holding the broken sword in his hand when the door opened again and some one came rushing in. The Soldier had to drop back on the carpet, letting his broken sword fall where it would, and neither the Horse nor the other toys could speak again for a time.

And then a voice said:

"Oh, look at my nice Soldiers on the floor!"

"And the Captain's sword is broken!" said another voice. "Oh, who do you suppose did it?"

It was Dick and Arnold who had come into the room.

"What is the matter?" asked Dick's mother, coming up to the playroom just then. "Has anything happened?"

[Illustration: "It Was Not Your Fault," Said the Soldier.]

Then the boys showed the sword broken from the side of the brave Captain.

"Tad must have done that!" said Dick's mother. "He was up here while his mother and I were talking downstairs. Oh, I am so sorry! But I will have your Soldier mended, Arnold."

"Do you think you can?" he asked.

"Oh, yes," was the answer. "Patrick, our gardener, is very good at soldering things. Once he soldered a hole in my dishpan. I will get him to fasten on the sword which is broken from your Tin Captain."

Patrick was called in. The gardener, who did many things around the big house besides watering the lawn and looking after the flowers, took the Bold Tin Soldier and the broken sword up in his hands.

"Can he be mended?" asked Dick's mother.

"Oh, yes, I think so," answered Patrick.

"And may we watch you mend him?" asked Arnold.

"May we, Patrick?" echoed Dick.

"Yes," answered the good-natured gardener. "Come along!"

Back to the garage he went where he had been mending something that was broken on the automobile, taking the Tin Soldier with him and followed by the two boys. Patrick heated a soldering iron in a little furnace in which burned glowing charcoal. Then Patrick took some shining metal that looked like silver, but which was really soft lead.

Solder melts easily, and when some is placed on two pieces of broken tin and heated, it holds together the two pieces of tin just as glue holds together pieces of cardboard or paper.

In a little while the Bold Tin Soldier was mended, and there he stood, straight and stiff, with his sword at his side as before. And where the sword had been soldered on a tiny spot of bright lead showed.

"I can paint that spot over for you tomorrow, when I have some red paint," said Patrick to Arnold.

"Oh, I know what I can do!" cried Arnold, looking at the shiny spot of lead. "I can pretend that is a medal my Captain got in the battle when his sword was broken."

"Yes, you can do that," agreed Dick.

So the toy was mended again, and was almost as good as before, and very glad the Captain was.

"For no matter what your men may say," he thought to himself, "a Captain without a sword is like an elephant without a trunk--he doesn't look himself."

Thanking Patrick very much for what he had done in mending the toy, Arnold went home, taking his set of Soldiers with him. A little later his sister, Mirabell, followed, bringing with her the Lamb on Wheels. And when the two toys were left alone, the children having gone to supper, they talked together--did the Soldier and the Lamb.

"You are certainly having plenty of adventures," said the Lamb, in her bleating voice.

"Yes. And for a time, when I saw the White Rocking Horse bearing down on me, I thought all my adventures were over," replied the Bold Tin Soldier.

"I hope that careless boy never comes around where we are again," said the Lamb, and the Soldier hoped the same thing.

And now I must tell you another adventure that happened to the Bold Tin Soldier. It was about a week after the White Rocking Horse had run over him, and he was getting used to the shiny "medal," as Arnold called it, that one day when the boy was having a make- believe battle with his Tin Soldiers Mirabell called from the kitchen:

"Oh, Arnold, come on down! Susan has baked some lovely cookies!"

"I'm coming!" cried Arnold, and, as he happened to have the Bold Tin Soldier in his hand just then, he took the Captain along when he ran down to the kitchen.

"Where are the cookies?" asked Arnold, who was feeling hungry.

"Right here on the table," replied Susan. "Put your Soldier down, Arnold, and sit up and eat."

Now, as it happened, there was an open barrel of sugar in the kitchen. The cook had taken some sugar out to use in making the cookies, and had forgotten to put the cover back on. And Arnold, being in a hurry, put his Captain down on a little shelf just over this barrel.

How it happened no one seemed to know, but perhaps in eating his cookie Arnold struck the Captain with his elbow. Anyhow, down into the sugar barrel fell the Bold Tin Soldier.

"Oh my! Now I am a bunch of sweetness!" thought the Captain, as he felt the grains of sugar rolling all over him. "Oh this is certainly a strange adventure! What a sweet time I shall have!"