Chapter VII. In the Toy Hospital
 

Dick made such a fuss out on the porch, crying, when he saw his toy lying at the foot of the steps, that the boy's mother hurried out to see what the trouble was.

"Dear me! Did you fall off?" asked Mother, as she saw the Horse lying on its side and Dick standing at the bottom of the porch steps near his toy. "Are you hurt, Sonny?"

"Oh, no, Mother. But my Horse is! My Christmas Horse is hurt."

"You can't hurt a wooden rocking horse," said Mother, as she went over to see what had happened.

"Oh, yes you can!" sobbed Dick, for he was so little a boy that he was not ashamed to cry. "My Horse's leg is broken! I can never ride him again! Oh, dear!"

Mother looked at the Horse lying on its side at the foot of the steps. If there had been no one there to look on, the Horse might have tried to get up, even with all his pain. But, as it was against the rules to move or say anything as long as human eyes were watching, the poor White Rocking Horse just had to lie there.

"Dear me, one of the legs really is broken," said Mother, as she set the Horse upright. And, being a wooden horse with rockers under him, such as some chairs have, the Horse could stand upright, even though one of his legs was cracked clear through.

"Yes, his leg is broken, and now I can never have a ride on him any more!" sobbed Dick. "Oh, dear!"

"Oh, it isn't as bad as all that," said Mother, with a kind smile as she patted her little boy's head. "I think we can have the broken leg mended. But how did it happen? Did you ride your Horse off the porch, Dick?"

"No, Mother," he answered. "I was playing with Arnold's train, and Carlo ran around the corner, barking, and he ran between my Horse's legs, I guess, and upset him. Oh, isn't it too bad?"

"Yes; but it might be worse," replied Mother. "If your leg had been broken, or Dorothy's or Mirabell's or Arnold's, it could not so easily be mended."

"Can you mend the broken leg of my White Rocking Horse?" asked Dick eagerly.

"I cannot mend it, myself," Mother answered. "But I will have Daddy take your Horse to the hospital."

"I was in the hospital once," put in Arnold, "and I had some bread and jelly."

"Will they give my Horse bread and jelly in the hospital?" asked Dick of Mother.

"Hardly that," she replied with a smile. "It is not the same kind of hospital. The one where I will have Daddy take your White Rocking Horse is a toy hospital, where all sorts of broken playthings are mended. There your Horse will be made as good as new."

"Oh, I shall be so glad if he is," said Dick.

And the White Horse himself, though he dared say nothing just then, thought how glad he would be to have his broken leg mended. Some of the splinters were sticking him, and though of course I do not mean to say that a wooden horse has the same pain with a broken leg as a boy or girl or a chicken or a rooster would have, still it is no fun.

Patrick, the gardener, came out and carried the broken-legged Rocking Horse into the front hall.

"We'll let him stand there until Daddy comes home with the auto and can take him to the hospital," said Mother.

And then it was that the White Rocking Horse had a chance to speak to the Sawdust Doll. Dorothy laid her Doll on a chair in the hall to help Dick, Mirabell and Arnold bring the toy train inside, as it was getting too cold to play out on the porch.

"I'm sorry," murmured the Doll.

"Oh, ho!" exclaimed Dick's Daddy, when he came home and heard the story. "A Rocking Horse with a broken leg! Of course I'll take him to the toy hospital."

And, not waiting for his supper, lest the hospital be closed, Daddy wrapped the White Rocking Horse in a sheet, put him once more in the back of the automobile and started off.

A little later the White Rocking Horse found himself in the toy hospital. It was not such a place as you have seen if you have ever been in the buildings where sick people are made well. There were no beds and no doctors and no queer smells. Yes, wait a minute, there were queer smells of glue and paste, but the White Rocking Horse rather liked them.

Instead of a doctor there was a jolly-looking man, with a long apron, and a square, paper cap.

"Can you mend the broken leg of this Rocking Horse?" asked Dick's father. The hospital toy doctor looked at the White Rocking Horse.

"I shall have to put a new piece in his leg," he said. "It is badly splintered half way down."

"Will it be as strong as before, so my little boy can ride?" asked Daddy.

"It will be even stronger," answered the hospital toy doctor. "I will have him ready for you in a few days; perhaps tomorrow."

"And will the broken leg show?" asked Daddy.

"Hardly any," was the reply. "I will paint it over so you will never know it."

"Then the Horse will be almost as good as ever," said Daddy.

"Just as good," said the toy doctor, and the Horse felt much better when he heard this. His leg did not pain him so much.

The hospital toy doctor set the White Rocking Horse over in one corner near a work bench. Dick's Daddy, after a look around the hospital started back home in his automobile.

"We'll soon have you fixed, my fine fellow!" said the toy doctor, as he again took up his work of putting a new pair of eyes in a wax doll. "We'll make as good a Horse of you as before."

"I certainly am glad of that," thought the Horse to himself.

It soon became too dark for the toy doctor to see to work any longer, even though he lighted the gas. So he took off his long apron, laid aside his square, paper cap, locked up the place and went home.

And then the White Rocking Horse took a long breath.

"Now that I am alone I'll move about, as well as I can on three legs, and talk to some of the broken toys here," said the White Rocking Horse aloud. "Are you badly hurt?" he asked a Jack in the Box, who was on the work-bench near by.

"My spring is gone," was the answer. "I was brought here to have a new one put in."

"Well, I hope you will soon be mended," said the White Horse. "I wonder if any of my friends are here in this hospital? I say, toys!" he cried, "let's all talk together and--"

All at once a big white paper spread out on the bench began to move, and out from under it came a toy, at the sight of which the Horse exclaimed:

"Well, I do declare! Who would have thought to find you here? What happened to you? Dear me, what a surprise!"