Chapter X. The Grass Party
 

Standing at the foot of the stairs was the little burglar. He was waiting while the big, bad man went upstairs to see if he could get any jewelry. And when the big burglar touched the White Rocking Horse, and it toppled over on him, and when both of them fell down the stairs together, making a loud noise, they fell right on top of the little burglar.

"Oh! Oh, dear! Oh, dear me!" cried the little burglar when he was struck by the big bad man and the White Rocking Horse. "Oh, what is all this? What are you doing, Jake?" he cried.

"Me? I'm not doing anything!" exclaimed the big burglar, as he went bumpity-bump along the lower hall, turning over and over in somersaults, just as the little burglar was doing.

"Not doing anything? Why, you came tumbling downstairs right on top of me!" cried the little burglar. "Why did you do that?"

"I--I couldn't help it," answered the big burglar. "That white thing you saw was a Rocking Horse, and there was a Sawdust Doll near it. I reached out to get the Doll, and the Horse stuck out his hind legs and kicked me down the stairs. That's what he did!"

"Nonsense!" exclaimed the little burglar. "A White Rocking Horse didn't kick you! A wooden horse can't kick!"

"Well, this one did," declared the burglar. "Oh, my back!"

The father and mother of Dick and Dorothy heard the noise out in the hall. So did Martha, the maid, and Mary, the cook. Dick's father sat up in bed.

"I heard a noise," said his wife.

"So did I," said Daddy. "I think everybody in the house must have heard it. Somebody, or something, fell downstairs."

"You had better look and see," said his wife. "Maybe it was burglars."

So Dick's father went out into the hall to look, and there, surely enough, were the two bad burglars. They had been all tangled up in the legs and rockers of the White Horse, and they were just getting untangled. And they were so sore and lame from having been bumped around that they did not know what to do. They were so dazed and surprised that they stood still.

And just then Patrick, the big, strong gardener, came running in from the garage, where he slept. He, too, had heard the noise in the house. And Patrick and Dick's father soon captured the two burglars, and tied them with ropes. Then a policeman came and took the two bad men away and they were locked up for a long, long time. I don't believe they are out of prison yet.

But after the two burglars had been taken away by the police, Dick's father and mother looked at the White Rocking Horse where it lay on its side in the lower hall, after having fallen downstairs.

"How do you suppose it got here?" asked Mother.

"Well, either the burglars tried to carry it off, and they slipped and fell with it, or else they stumbled over it in the dark, and it toppled downstairs with them," replied Daddy. "But it made a great racket and woke us up. If it hadn't been for the White Rocking Horse we would have been robbed of our jewelry and silver."

"What a brave Horse!" said Mother. "Wouldn't it be strange if he really kicked the burglar downstairs?" she asked her husband.

And when the burglars had been taken away, and the Horse stood up on his rockers again, Dorothy and Dick were awakened by hearing so many sounds in the house.

"What's the matter?" asked Dick, coming to the head of the stairs, and rubbing his sleepy eyes. "What's my Rocking Horse down there for?" he wanted to know.

"He fell down with the burglars," said Daddy.

"And, oh, look! Here is my Sawdust Doll out here in the hall!" cried Dorothy. "I had her in my room when I went to sleep. How did she get out here?"

"Maybe the burglars took her and were carrying her away with them when they slipped and fell downstairs with the Horse," said Daddy.

But we know that is not just how it happened, don't we? We know that the Sawdust Doll came out to talk to the White Rocking Horse, and she could not get back when the burglars came, for she dared not move as long as they were looking at her.

For many days Dick and Dorothy had fun playing with the White Rocking Horse and the Sawdust Doll. And though, at times, the Horse and Doll wished they could see their friends in the toy store, still the two toys were very happy.

"I think something is going to happen to-morrow," said the old Jumping Jack one night, when, in the playroom, he was talking to the Horse and Doll. It was spring now, and the grass was green.

"What do you mean--something going to happen?" asked the White Rocking Horse, as he looked at Jack. The old jumping chap had been allowed to stay in the playroom since he had been brought from the attic on Christmas Eve.

"Dick and Dorothy are going to have a Grass Party, and you are both going to it!"

"A Grass Party!" cried the Sawdust

"What is that?" asked the White Rocking Horse.

"Well, you know what a party is," said Jack. "And a Grass Party is one out on the grass. The boy and girl from next door are coming, and there will be good things to eat, games to play and all things like that. Isn't that jolly?"

"I should say so!" cried the Rocking Horse.

"I love parties!" said the Sawdust Doll.

And the next day, when the sun was shining brightly, Dick and Dorothy had their Grass Party. Not only the little girl from next door came, but other children also. Dorothy brought out her Sawdust Doll, for whom a new apple-green dress had been made.

Dick brought his Rocking Horse to a smooth place under the trees, and he and the other boys took turns riding on the brave steed.

"Let's see where his leg was broken," asked one boy.

"Oh, you can hardly see it," Dick answered. "The toy hospital doctor fixed it so it's as good as new. But this is the leg my Horse broke when Carlo tumbled him down the steps."

"And tell us about how the two bad burglars rolled downstairs with your horse on top of them," begged Arnold, the boy from next door.

"Well, I guess only one burglar rolled down," said Dick. "But he made noise enough for two."

Then he told the story, as best he could.

While Dick and the boys rode the White Rocking Horse Dorothy and the other little girls played with their dolls. And the Sawdust Doll with the brown eyes was the most beautiful of all.

"You children do get such nice presents on your birthdays and for Christmas," said one little boy guest to Dorothy and Dick.

"I'm going to have a nice present for my birthday," said Mirabell, who lived next door to Dick and Dorothy.

"Oh, tell us!" begged the other children.

"I--I can't, for I don't know," said Mirabell. "But my mother is going to take me down to the toy store next week, and I'm going to have a nice birthday present."

And if you wish to know what the present was you may find out by reading the next book in this series. It is called "The Story of a Lamb on Wheels," and it is the same Lamb whom the Sawdust Doll and the White Rocking Horse knew in the toy store.

After having fun at the Grass Party for some time, the children went into the house to get cake and ice cream. The Sawdust Doll and the White Rocking Horse, as well as some other dolls, were left out on the lawn by themselves.

"Oh, now we can talk," said the White Rocking Horse. "Do you think this Grass Party is any fun?"

"I had rather it were night and we could be by ourselves upstairs with the Jumping Jack," said the Sawdust Doll. "Then we could move about and have some fun."

"Well, it will soon be dark," said the Rocking Horse.

And when night came, and Dick and Dorothy were in bed, the Sawdust Doll had a fine ride on the back of the White Rocking Horse.

THE END