Chapter III. A Nice Man
 

"Dear me!" thought the White Rocking Horse to himself, as he felt the boy banging hard, leather heels into his side. "This is quite dreadful! I hope I am not sold to this boy! He would be a very unpleasant master to have, I am sure!"

Just because the White Rocking Horse and the other toys could not talk and move about when human eyes were watching them, did not stop them from thinking things to themselves, or from having feelings. And you may be very sure the White Rocking Horse felt that his feelings were very much hurt when the boy banged his heels so hard into the sides of the steed.

"I certainly hope I am not going to belong to this boy," thought the White Rocking Horse, and he looked toward the toy counter. He saw the Calico Clown glancing sadly at him, and he noticed the Monkey on a Stick making funny faces at the boy.

"I wish I could make that boy come over here and look at me," thought the Monkey. "Then he would let my friend, the White Rocking Horse, alone."

But the rude boy seemed to like being in the red leather saddle on the back of the Rocking Horse.

"Grid-dap! Go 'long there!" cried the boy, and again he clapped his heels against the wooden sides of the Horse, chipping off bits of paint. With his hands the boy yanked on the reins until he nearly pulled them off the head of the White Rocking Horse.

A young lady clerk, who worked In the toy department, came along just then.

"Please do not be so rough on the Horse, little boy," she said in a gentle voice.

"I'm going to have this Horse!" shouted the rude boy, as he rocked to and fro. "I'm going to make my mother buy him for me for Christmas. Go 'long! Gid-dap!"

"Oh, I never could stand belonging to this boy!" thought the poor White Rocking Horse. "I should want to run away!"

While the unpleasant boy was still in the saddle, swaying to and fro and banging his heels, a lady came walking down the aisle of the toy department.

"Here's the Horse I want!" the boy cried to her. "He's a dandy! He has real hair in his tail and mane, and the saddle is real leather! Buy me this Horse!"

"No, Reginald, I cannot buy you this Horse," said the lady. "It costs too much, and you have a rocking horse at home now."

"Yes, but that one has no ears, his leg is broken, and he has no saddle or bridle," cried the boy. "I want this horse!"

"Your horse was as good as this one when it was new," said the boy's mother. "If you had taken care of it, it would be a good horse yet."

"Well, I couldn't help it 'cause his ears pulled off! I wanted him to stop rocking and he wouldn't!" grumbled the rude boy. "I had to pull his ears!"

"Gracious! Think of pulling off the ears of a rocking horse because he wouldn't stay quiet!" said the Bold Tin Soldier to himself. "I hope our White Horse doesn't get this boy for a master."

"I want this Horse! I want this one!" cried the boy, again banging his heels on the side of the toy.

"No, Reginald, you cannot have it," said his mother,

"Then I want this Calico Clown!" the boy exclaimed, jumping off the horse so quickly that the toy animal would have been knocked over, only the young lady clerk caught it and held it upright.

The boy caught the Clown up in his hands, and began punching the toy in the chest to make the cymbals bang together.

"Dear me, what a dreadful chap this boy is!" thought the Calico Clown. "So rough!"

As for the White Rocking Horse, he began to feel better as soon as the boy was out of the saddle. True, his wooden sides were somewhat dented, but the young lady clerk said to her friend at the doll counter:

"I'll get a little oil and rub the spots out. They won't show, and the Horse will be as good as ever. It's a shame such boys are allowed in the toy department."

"Buy me this Calico Clown!" cried the boy, who was punching the gaily dressed toy, and making the cymbals clang. "I want this, if I can't have the Rocking Horse!"

"No, you can't have anything until Christmas," said his mother. "Put it back, Reginald!"

The boy frowned and tossed the Calico Clown back on the counter so hard one of the cymbals struck the Candy Rabbit and chipped a little piece of sugar off one ear.

And all the toys were glad when the boy's mother finally took him away.

"I must get you a pair of shoes, Reginald," she said.

"I hope she gets him a pair that pinches his toes!" thought the Bold Tin Soldier. "Such boys should be taught not to break toys, and they never, never should be allowed to pull the ears off a rocking horse."

And if the White Rocking Horse could have spoken, he would have said the same thing, I am sure.

Other boys came in to try the White Rocking Horse, and they were all good boys. They took their place in the red saddle very quietly, and did not bang with their heels. Nor did they yank and seesaw on the reins that were fastened on the head of the Rocking Horse.

"I would rather belong to two, or even three, of these good, kind boys, than to that one rude chap," said the White Rocking Horse to himself, as he swayed backward and forward on the floor in the toy department. He and the Lamb on Wheels were too large to be set on the counter with the Calico Clown, the Monkey on a Stick, the Candy Rabbit and the Bold Tin Soldier and other smaller toys.

Slowly the day passed, and night was again coming on. Lights began to glow, for the days were short and evening came quickly--even before the store was closed.

"I wonder if the Rocking Horse and the Elephant will finish their race tonight?" thought the Bold Tin Soldier, as he felt himself being taken out of his box to be looked at by a lady who was doing her Christmas shopping.

It was almost closing time in the store when the White Rocking Horse, who felt much better since his sides had been rubbed with oil, heard a gentleman's voice speaking near him.

"This is about what I want for Dick's Christmas," said the man to the young lady clerk. "Is this a good Rocking Horse?"

"The best in the store; yes, sir," was the answer. "The tail and mane are real hair, and the saddle and bridle are real leather. The rockers, too, are nice and smooth, so the Horse will go fast."

"Well, I don't want it to go too fast," said the man, smiling down at the White Rocking Horse as he patted its neck, "My son Dick is too small to ride even a rocking horse very fast. I think, though, that I will have Santa Claus bring him this one. And, as it is so near Christmas, and as you are so very busy, if you will have this wrapped up for me, I will take it home in my auto. I will help Santa Claus that much."

"I'm sure he'll be glad to have you help him," replied the young lady, with a smile. "And I hope Dick will like this Horse. I am glad our Horse is going to a boy who will be kind to him."

"Oh, Dick takes good care of his toys," said the man.

"Well, thank goodness for that!" thought the White Rocking Horse. "Now like the Sawdust Doll, my adventures are going to start."

And, if you will turn to the next chapter, you may read what happened.