Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue on Grandpa's Farm/19

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CHAPTER XIX


THE TRAMPS


Bunny Brown and his sister Sue watched their mother and grandmother put in the baskets the good things they were to eat on the picnic, which was to be held in a woodland grove about two miles away.

"Oh, what a big cake!" exclaimed Sue, as she saw a cocoanut-custard cake being taken from the shelf by her mother.

"Do you like that kind?" asked Grandma Brown.

"I just love it!" cried Sue, standing on her tip-toes to look over the table.

"So do I," added Bunny.

"Yes, it is their favorite cake," said Mother Brown. "I always make it when they have a birthday, and on Christmas and New Year's day."

"But I don't know where we're going to put it," said Grandma Brown. "It is a fine, big cake, but all the baskets are filled. If we crowd it in it will crush, and—"

"Oh, don't squash our cocoanut cake!" begged Sue. "Don't spoil it, Mother!"

"I'll not, my dear. Perhaps we had better not take it along," she said to Grandma Brown. "We have enough to eat without it."

"And we can eat it when we come home!" exclaimed Bunny. "We'll be hungry then. I'm always hungry after a picnic; aren't you, Sue?"

"Yes, Bunny. But, Mother, maybe we could take along some of the cake."

"Oh, we have enough without that," her grandmother told Sue. "We'll save that until we get home. I'll put it in the pantry. Now all the baskets are packed. Get ready, children. Grandpa will soon be here with the wagon, and we'll ride off to the picnic grounds. It's a lovely day."

It was. The sun was shining down from the blue sky, and there was a nice, cool wind, so that it was not too hot. There had been a little rain the night before, and the roads were not dusty. It would be cool and fresh in the woods. No better day for a picnic could be wished for. Bunny and Sue were very happy.

So was Splash, the big dog, for he ran about, here and there, barking and wagging his tail. To look at him you would have thought that he had gotten up the whole picnic, all by himself.

Clean napkins were put over the lunch baskets. Lemon juice had been squeezed into glass jars, with sugar, so that only water from a spring, or well, would have to be put in to make lemonade.

Bunny and Sue were washed, combed and dressed, all ready for the picnic. They did not wear their best clothes, for they wanted to romp about and play in the woods. Bunny said he was going to climb trees, and you can^t do that if you wear your best clothes.

"But if you climb a tree," remarked Sue, "don't get your foot caught in one, as you did before. Bunny, and have to have your shoe taken off."

"I won't do that," promised the little boy. "I'll only climb easy trees."

"I'm going to take two of my dolls," said Sue. "Then if I see a little girl that hasn't any, I can lend her one of mine, and we can play together."

"That will be nice," said Grandma Brown. "Here comes grandpa with the horses."

Grandpa Brown drove up to the side door with a wagon that had three seats in it. He and Papa Brown would sit on the front one, where grandpa could drive the horses. Bunny and Sue were to sit on the middle seat, and on the last one grandma and Mother Brown would sit.

"But what about Bunker Blue?" asked Bunny. "Isn't he coming, too?" For both Bunny and Sue liked the big red-haired boy very much, and he liked them.

"Oh, yes. Bunker is coming," said Mother Brown.

"He is going to sit on a box in back of the last seat, and hold the lunch baskets, so they won't bounce out of the wagon," explained Grandpa Brown.

"And I'll hold 'em good and tight!" laughed Bunker. "I won't let 'em go overboard."

To go "overboard," means, of course, to fall out of a boat.

Now the wagon, in which Bunny Brown and the others rode to the picnic, was not a boat But you see Bunker Blue was so used to being in and about boats that he always talked of them, speaking as sailors do. If anything is lost out of a boat, it goes "overboard," and that was what Bunker was not going to let happen to the lunch baskets on the picnic trip.

"For if the lunch goes overboard we'd go hungry," he said, "So I'll hold the baskets."

"These horses can't go as fast as my nice team, that the Gypsies took," said Grandpa Brown, when they were all ready to start.

"Well, we're in no hurry." said Grandma Brown. "The picnic will last all day."

As grandpa drove out on the road Bunny and Sue saw many wagons, from other farms, coming along. It seemed that all who could were coming to the Sunday-school picnic, which was held every year. In many of the farm-wagons were boys and girls. Bunny and Sue looked at them, wondering if any of the little folks would play with them.

Even if grandpa's second team of horses did not go very fast, they were soon at the picnic grounds, in a grove of trees, near a pretty little lake. Grandpa put his wagon and horses under a shed, with many others. The baskets of lunch were left there in the shade, and while the older folk found some benches to sit on, and talk, Bunny and Sue, with other boys and girls, walked off through the woods to see what they could find.

They found a pump, where they had a drink of water. Then they tossed sticks into the lake, to make believe they were boats. There were also swings in the shade, and in these Bunny and another boy had a fine time.

Sue said she did not care to swing just then. She had two dolls, one under each arm, and she walked about, looking for some little girl to whom she might lend one, so they could "play house" together.

Finally Sue saw a little girl in a blue dress, who seemed to be all alone. This little girl stood by herself, watching the others play "Ring-around the Rosey."

Sue went up to her and said, kindly:

"Wouldn't you like to play dolls?"

"Yes—yes, I would, but I haven't any doll."

"I'll let you take one of mine." Sue held out her best doll to the little girl. It is always polite, you know, to give company, and your friends, the best that you have, instead of keeping it yourself, no matter how much you want it."

"Oh, what a lovely doll!" exclaimed the little girl, her eyes shining bright.

"Her name is Ethel," said Sue.

"Why, that's my name!" exclaimed the little girl in the blue dress. "Did you know that?"

"No," answered Sue. "I didn't, but I'm glad it is your name. Now we'll find a place to play house."

Sue found a spot where some vines grew over an old stump, making a sort of green tent, or leafy bower, like the one on the island where she and Bunny had played Robinson Crusoe. In that Ethel and Sue had a fine time with the dolls.

When it was time to eat the lunch from the baskets. Bunny and Sue asked if they could not take theirs, and eat it with some of the other children, who were going off by themselves. Sue wanted to be with Ethel, and Bunny had found a boy named John, at one of the swings. He brought John to eat with him.

"Yes, you children may take your lunch off by yourselves," said Mother Brown. "I thought you would want to do that, so I put it up in a separate basket for you."

Bunker Blue carried the lunch for Bunny and Sue to a nice place in the woods where a number of children were going to eat the good things their fathers and mothers had brought for them.

The children had nearly finished eating, when, all at once, the bushes near where Bunny was sitting were pushed to one side, and two rough-looking men, one large and one smaller, with ragged clothes, and red handkerchiefs tied around their necks in place of collars, stepped out.

And then one of the tramps, for that is what the men were, made a grab for the lunch basket that was near Bunny Brown.