Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue at Camp Rest-a-While/Chapter 14

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CHAPTER XIV


TOM IS GONE


"Daddy! Daddy!" cried Sue, from behind the curtain, in the part of the tent where she slept with her mother. "Daddy, do you think we'll blow away?"

"Oh, no," answered Mr. Brown. "Don't be afraid. Bunker and I fastened down the tent good and strong. It can't blow over."

"But I'm getting all wet!" cried Bunny. "The water's leaking all over my bed, Daddy!"

"Yes, I didn't know there was a hole in the tent. I'll fix it to-morrow," said Bunny's father. "You get in my bed, Bunny!"

"Oh, goodie!" Bunny cried. He always liked to get in his father's bed.

But as Bunny jumped out of his own little cot, and pattered in his bare feet across to his father's, he saw Daddy Brown getting up. Mr. Brown was putting on a pair of rubber boots, and a rubber coat over his bath robe, which he had put on when the storm began.

"Where you going, Daddy?" asked Bunny, as he crawled into the dry bed, and pulled the covers up over him, for the wind was blowing in the tent now. "Where you going?"

"I'm going out to see that the tent ropes are all right," said Mr. Brown.

"Going out? What for?" called Mrs. Brown. "You musn't go out in this storm. It's terrible!"

"Oh, but I must go!" answered Daddy Brown with a laugh. "I don't mind the thunder, lightning and rain. If some of the tent pegs come loose, the ropes will slip off, and the tent will blow over. Bunker Blue and I will go out and make sure everything is all right."

"I could go with you," said Uncle Tad from his cot. "Shall I?"

"No, you stay where you are," Daddy Brown said. "You might get the rheumatism if you got wet."

"I used to get wet enough when I was in the army," returned the old soldier. "Many a time, when it stormed, I used to get up to fix the tent."

"Well, Bunker and I will do it now, thank you," Mr. Brown went on. By this time Bunker Blue had on his rubber boots and coat. Then, taking a lantern with them, Mr. Brown and Bunker went outside.

"Fasten the tent door after us, Tom," called Mr. Brown to the city boy, "or everything will blow away inside. Tie the tent flaps shut with the ropes, and you can open them for us when we want to come in again."

Out in the storm went Daddy Brown and Bunker Blue. As they opened the flaps, or front door of the tent, a big gust of wind came in, and dashed rain in Bunny's face, so that he covered his head with the bed clothes. He had one look at a bright flash of lightning, and he could see the ground outside all covered with water.

"I'm glad I don't have to go out in the storm," he thought, and he felt sorry for his father and Bunker Blue.

But Mr. Brown had often been out on the ocean in worse storms than this, and so had Bunker, so they did not mind. With their lantern they walked all around the sleeping-tent, making sure that all the ropes were fast to the pegs, which were driven into the ground. Some of the wooden pegs were coming loose, and these Mr. Brown and Bunker hammered farther into the dirt.

All the while the wind blew, and the rain pelted down, while the lightning flashed brighter, and the thunder rumbled so loudly that it scared Sue.

"I—I don't like it!" she sobbed, and she crept into bed with her mother. "Please make it stop, Mother!"

"No one can make the thunder stop, Sue, dear," said Mrs. Brown. "But the thunder won't hurt you, and the storm is almost over."

Just then there came a very loud clap.

"Oh, dear!" cried Sue. "I'se afraid!"

Bunny heard his sister, and called out:

"That sounded just like Fourth of July; didn't it, Sue? When the big boys fired the cannon on top of the hill."

"Isn't you afraid, Bunny?" asked Sue.

"No, I—I like it," Bunny answered.

He tried to make himself believe he did, so Sue would not be so frightened.

"Well, if you isn't afraid I isn't goin' to be, either," said Sue, after a moment. And she stopped crying at once, and lay quietly in her mother's cot-bed. And then the storm seemed to go away. It still rained very hard, but the wind did not howl so loudly, and the lightning was not so scary, nor the thunder so rumbly.

The rain still leaked in through the hole in the tent, but Tom Vine moved Bunny's cot out of the way, and set a pail under the leak.

All at once there sounded a banging noise, as if a whole store full of pots and pans and kettles had been turned upside down.

"Oh, what's that?" cried Mother Brown.

"Sounded as if something blew away," said Uncle Tad. "I'll get up and look."

But he did not have to, for, just then, in came Daddy Brown and Bunker Blue, their rubber coats all shining wet in the lantern light.

"What made that noise? asked Mother Brown.

"The cook-tent blew over," said Daddy Brown, "and all the pots, pans and kettles fell in a heap. But we'll let them go until morning, I guess, as the worst of the storm is over. Now we'll all go to bed again."

"This tent won't blow over; will it, Daddy?" asked Bunny.

"No, it's all safe now. Go to sleep."

But it was some little time before they were all asleep again. Nothing more happened that night, and Bunny and Sue were up very early the next morning to see what the storm had done.

Camp Rest-a-While was not a pretty sight. Besides the cook-tent having been blown over, there were broken branches of trees scattered about. The tents were covered with leaves blown from the trees, and there were many mud puddles.

The oil stove, and the pots, pans and othet things, with which Mother Brown cooked, were piled in a heap under the fallen cook-tent. The tent itself was soaking wet, and one of the poles that had held it up was broken.

"Oh, we can't ever have anything to eat!" said Sue sadly, as she looked at the fallen tent.

"We can build a campfire," said Bunny. "Uncle Tad used to cook breakfast over one; didn't you?" and he turned to the old soldier.

"Yes, Bunny, I did. But I guess we won't have to this time. We'll soon have the oil stove working."

Then he and Daddy Brown, with Bunker Blue and Tom Vine, set to work. The blown-down tent was pulled to one side, and it was seen that though everything under it was in a heap, still nothing was broken.

Soon some milk was being warmed for the children, and coffee made for the older folk. Then Mother Brown even made pancakes on the oil stove, which was set up on a box at one side of the dining-tent. The day was a fine one, and there was not enough wind to make the stove smoke.

So they had breakfast after all, and then began the work of making Camp Rest-a-While look as it had before the storm. A new tent pole was cut, and the tent put up again, stronger than before. Bunny and Sue helped by picking up the scattered pieces of tree branches, and piling them in a heap. Then they swept up the torn-off leaves, and by this time the sun had dried up some of the puddles of water. By noon time the camp looked as well as it had before the storm.

"And don't forget to fix the hole over my cot," cried Bunny. "I don't want to be rained on any more. Daddy."

"I'll fix it," said Mr. Brown, and he did.

"I didn't hear any fire engines last night," Said Tom Vine as they sat at supper that evening, after coming in from a little sail around the lake, Bunker having fixed a sail onto the rowboat.

"Fire engines!" exclaimed Bunny. "Why should you hear fire engines, Tom?"

"Why, in the city, where I lived, before I went with that farmer, the fire engines used to come out after every storm. Places would be struck by lightning, you know. I've seen lots of fires. But I didn't hear any engines last night."

"There aren't any engines in these woods," said Daddy Brown. "Of course trees are often struck by lightning, and lightning often sets fire to houses in the country, but there aren't any engines out in the woods."

"And no policeman, either," added Tom. "It seems funny not to see a policeman, and have him yell at you to move on, or keep off the grass."

"Do you like it better here than in the city?" asked Mrs. Brown.

"Oh, heaps better, yes'm! I love it here. I hope I don't ever have to go back to the city—or to that mean farmer."

Nothing had been seen of the man who wanted to get Tom back, since that day when he had called at the camp. Bunny and Sue had almost forgotton him, but it seemed that Tom had not. He was always a little bit afraid, thinking that the cross man might come back.

One morning, two days after the big storm, when Bunny, Sue and all the others were gathered around the breakfast table, Daddy Brown asked:

"Where is Tom Vine?"

"He was here a minute ago," Bunny said.

"I think he went to the spring to get a pail of water," put in Uncle Tad.

"Yes, that's where he went," said Mrs. Brown. "I said we would need some fresh water, and he went after it."

"Well, we won't wait for him," said Daddy Brown. "We'll eat, and he can have his breakfast when he comes."

But the others had finished breakfast, and Tom Vine had not come back from the spring, though they waited for some time.

"I wonder what's keeping him," said Mrs. Brown.

"He couldn't have fallen in; could he?" asked Uncle Tad.

"No, the spring isn't large enough," Bunker Blue answered. "I'll go to look for him." Bunker ran off along the path that led to the spring. In a little while he came hurrying back. He carried a pail full of water, and he said:

"I found the empty pail by the spring, but Tom was gone!"