XIV. A Lucky Accident

It was really no wonder that Johnnie Green's grandmother screamed, when she and Johnnie and Sandy Chipmunk were on their way to the miller's to get the wheat ground into flour.

This was what made the good old lady scream: The ancient horse, Ebenezer, was picking his way slowly down a steep hill, placing one foot carefully in front of another, and taking pains not to step on the stones in the road, so he wouldn't fall.

What happened was not Ebenezer's fault at all. You see, he was wearing an old harness. And just as he was on the steepest part of the hill a strap broke and the wagon rolled right upon his heels.

Now, many horses would have kicked and run, if such a thing had happened to them. But even when Johnnie's grandmother screamed, old Ebenezer was not at all frightened. And even when Johnnie cried "Whoa! whoa!" Ebenezer did not stop. He thought he knew a good deal more about what he ought to do than Johnnie Green did, for he had been pulling a wagon for almost twenty years before Johnnie Green was born.

Johnnie tugged hard upon the reins. But still old Ebenezer went on picking his way even more slowly. And he never stopped until he reached the bottom of the hill. Then he stood stock still; and he looked around at Johnnie Green, as if to say, "There, young man! I've brought you and your grandma safe down that hill. And now I'll let you get out of the wagon, if you want to."

Well, Johnnie Green jumped down from his seat and looked at the harness.

"Dear me!" his grandmother said. "If we only had a piece of string you could mend the harness so we could get to the miller's, at least."

Johnnie felt in all his pockets. And probably that was the first time he had ever found himself without plenty of string. There were enough other things in his pockets--a jackknife and nails, an apple and a lump of maple sugar, an old broken watch and a willow whistle. But not a single piece of string could Johnnie Green find.

Then he happened to think of the string his father had used to tie up the sack of wheat. Johnnie stood the sack on end, tipped it against the back of the seat, so the wheat wouldn't fall out, and unwound the string from the mouth of the bag.

He had hardly begun to tie the harness together when Grandmother Green screamed again.

The horse Ebenezer looked around once more, as if to say, "I wonder what's come over the old lady."

And Johnnie Green turned his head, too.

"My goodness!" his grandmother said. "Did you see that? Something ran right up my back and jumped off my shoulder. There it goes now!" She pointed at a small object which was scurrying through the roadside fence. "Why, it was a chipmunk, I do believe!" she cried. "Now, where do you suppose he came from?"

Johnnie Green didn't know. And to tell the truth, he didn't much care. You see, he felt very proud, mending the harness with nobody to help him. And he was not interested in chipmunks just then.

So Sandy escaped. To be sure, he was so far from home that he didn't know where he was. But he was so glad to get out of the sack of wheat that he didn't worry about being lost. He thought he could find some one who would know where Farmer Green's pasture was.