Chapter VIII. Home Again
 

Many of the toys, which had been mended since having been brought to the hospital, stood up and looked at the White Rocking Horse as he called to them, and they wondered what had surprised him so.

"My goodness, that Horse is making a great deal of noise," said a large Wooden Soldier, one of whose legs was in splints. It had been broken in three places when the little boy, who owned the Soldier, had struck him with a drumstick.

"I should say that Horse was making a great deal of noise," agreed a Tin Poodle Dog, whose tail needed straightening. "What's it all about, Mr. Horse?" he barked.

"Excuse me, my toy friends, I did not mean to disturb you," said the White Rocking Horse kindly. "But I was so surprised to see an old friend of mine here that I just couldn't help calling out."

"Who is your friend?" asked a Double Humped Camel from a Noah's Ark.

"There he is," said the Horse, and he waved his tail toward the animal which had come out from under the big piece of white paper on the work bench of the toy hospital doctor.

All the other toys looked, and saw an Elephant. But the White Rocking Horse did more than look. He cried out:

"To think of seeing you here, my Elephant friend! Why, the last time we were together was in the toy store!"

"Yes, and I was trying to race with you on roller skates," said the Elephant, with a laugh. "Wasn't it funny when my skate came off?"

The other toys stared in interest.

"Very funny," agreed the Horse. "We must tell our friends here about it. But I am sorry to see what has happened to you, Mr. Elephant!" went on the Horse. "Did you get broken this way when you fell off the roller skates, or anything like that? You certainly do look queer--not at all like yourself!"

"And I don't feel like myself," said the Elephant.

Well might he say that, for his trunk was broken off short, and you know, as well as I do, that an elephant without a trunk doesn't look at all like himself. He might just as well, or even better, have no tail, as far as looks go.

"What happened to you?" asked the Horse.

"Oh, I have had many adventures," replied the Elephant. "After you were taken away by the man in the automobile, I was sold to a lady and a little boy and taken to their home."

"Was it a nice place?" the Horse wanted to know.

"The place was all right," the Elephant answered. "But that little boy! Dear me! I don't just know what to say about him, he certainly did not treat me very nicely. Why, do you know," he went on, speaking in rather a funny voice on account of his trunk being broken off, "he never gave me a single peanut all the while I was with him!"

"No! Really? Was he as unkind as that?" asked the broken Jack in the Box.

"But that wasn't the worst," continued the Elephant. "After the boy had dropped some bread and jam on me, he thought he'd wash me off in the bath room. He took me up to carry me there, but he dropped me on the hard, tile floor and--well, you see what happened to me. My trunk was broken off--broken off short!"

"What a sad accident!" exclaimed the Horse.

"You may well say so," returned the Elephant. "The little boy was sorry for me, I'll say that of him. He called his mother and she tried to fix me. She glued my trunk on, but she got it crooked and when I saw myself in the glass I was ashamed! I was glad none of the other toy animals could see me."

"What happened next?" asked the Horse, as the Elephant stopped to catch his breath. It rather made him out of breath to talk without his trunk.

"Well, after the boy's mother glued my trunk on he played with me for a while, but he dropped me again, and my trunk broke off again in the same place. After that the boy's father said I had better come to the hospital. So here I am."

"But where is your trunk?" asked the Horse.

"Back under that piece of paper where I was sleeping," the big animal answered. "It is to be fastened on me properly tomorrow. The toy hospital doctor first washed the jam off me. I was made clean again, and I was glad of that. Then, to keep the dust off me, he put me under that paper. But when I heard you speaking, White Rocking Horse, I just had to come out, trunk or no trunk."

"I'm glad you did," said the White Rocking Horse. "Really, when I look at you again, I get rather used to seeing you without your trunk, though at first I hardly knew you. Do you suffer much now?"

"Not as much as I did," was the answer. "But I shall be all right after to-morrow, when my trunk is to be put back on. Then I suppose I'll go back to that boy's house."

"I hope he treats you better," said the White Horse.

"I think he will," replied the Elephant. "When his father took me away he said the boy could not have me back after I was mended until he knew how to handle his toys. So I have hopes of being better off with my mended trunk than before."

"Let us all hope so," sighed the Tin Poodle Dog. "It's queer how cruel some children are to us. They think, because we are toys, we have no feelings."

"Yes, that is so," said the White Horse. "But Dick, the boy who owns me, is very kind. It was an accident that my leg was broken. Carlo, a poodle dog something like you, my tin friend, only real, ran too close to me and knocked me down the steps," said the Horse to the Tin Poodle Dog.

"Oh, so you are injured, too, are you?" asked the Elephant. "I have been talking so much about myself, Mr. Horse, that I never thought to ask what your trouble was. Will you kindly pardon me?"

"Certainly," neighed the Horse, politely. "And now, as we are here by ourselves, and no one can see us, suppose we have a little fun-that is, as much fun as we can, broken and twisted as we are."

"Hurray! That's it! Let's have some fun!" cried the Tin Poodle Dog, with a funny little bark.

So the Elephant with the broken trunk told about his queer race on roller skates, the Horse spoke of the Christmas tree, and the other animals related their adventures. They had a good time together until morning came. Then, when it was time for the toy hospital doctor to come to his shop, the Elephant got back under the paper that was to keep him clean until he was mended, the Horse slowly hobbled back to his place, the Tin Poodle Dog leaned up against the broken Jack in the Box, and all the toys became as quiet as though they had never spoken or moved about.

"Hum, lots of work for me to-day!" said the toy hospital doctor, as he put on his apron and his square, paper cap. "I must mend the broken leg of that Rocking Horse as soon as I fix the Elephant's trunk."

Then the toy doctor took the Elephant from under the paper and, after blowing off a little dust, began work. He made a new piece of trunk out of wood and cloth, and painted it until it looked just like part of the Elephant. Then the two pieces were fastened together with wooden pins, and also some glue.

"There! Now you are stronger than you were before," said the toy hospital doctor, putting the Elephant on a shelf. "And now for the broken leg of the Rocking Horse. Dear me, that is quite a bad break," said the toy doctor. "I think I shall have to make him a whole new wooden leg."

The White Rocking Horse felt glad when he heard this. For he was rather a proud chap, and when he had seen part of the Elephant's old trunk put back on that animal, the Horse thought of how he would look with part of his old broken leg glued fast.

"I had much rather have a whole new leg," he said to himself.

And that is exactly what he had. Out of a piece of wood the toy doctor made a new leg for the Rocking Horse. He took off the old, splintered one, that had been broken in the fall off the porch. Then the new leg was put in place.

"There! When it's painted no one will ever know one of his legs was broken," said the toy doctor.

The new leg was smoothed with sandpaper, and then painted just the color of the other legs.

"I'm glad he painted my new leg," thought the Horse. "I would look very funny with three white legs and one brown or red one. Yes, this toy doctor is a very smart man. I feel quite myself now."

The toy hospital doctor was busy in his shop all day, mending things that children break in their play, and toward evening Dick's father came in.

"Is my boy's White Rocking Horse mended?" the man asked.

"Yes, all ready for you," answered the toy doctor. "I finished him sooner than I expected to. The paint is hardly dry, but it will be by morning. I made him a new leg."

"That's good!" exclaimed the man. "My little boy wants to ride his Rocking Horse. He misses him very much."

Back home went the White Rocking Horse. And when Dick saw him he clapped his hands and cried:

"Oh, how glad I am! May I take a ride?"

"If you are careful of the newly-painted leg," his father answered. "I'll lift you up into the saddle."

And when Dick sat in the red leather seat and pulled on the red reins and shouted to his Horse he was a very happy boy, and the White Rocking Horse felt glad also.

"Gid-dap!" called Dick. "Gid-dap, my Rocking Horse!" And the Horse galloped across the room.

All of a sudden Dorothy came running into the playroom where Dick sat on his Horse.

"Oh, Dick! Dick!" cried the little girl. "Come on down to the kitchen, quick! Carlo has something under a chair! Maybe it's a big mouse! Come and see!"