The Story of a Candy Rabbit/Chapter 6
THE PEDDLER'S BASKET
Slowly down the street walked the organ grinder, turning the crank and making music. His little girl, an Italian child, after putting the Candy Rabbit under her apron, looked around the house where Madeline lived to see if any one might be coming out with pennies. But no one came.
Madeline and Dorothy and Mirabell were in the back yard where they had gone to play in the sand pile, after leaving the Sawdust Doll and the Candy Rabbit on the front veranda. Madeline's mother was not at home, and the cook was too busy in the kitchen to bother with giving pennies to organ grinders, though she might have done so if she had had time and had had plenty of pennies.
As for Madeline and Dorothy and Mirabell, they had given one look down the street when they heard the hand-organ music. Then, as they saw he had no monkey with him, Madeline said:
"Oh, a hand-organ isn't any fun unless it has a monkey. We don't want to bother waiting to see this one. Come on and play."
So, as I have told you, they were in the back yard, leaving the Doll and the Rabbit on the veranda. And then the hand-organ man's little girl had come along and taken the Rabbit.
"I'll take him home with me. Nobody wants him," she said to herself as she went down off the veranda with the candy chap under her apron. And she really thought the Rabbit had been put out because no one wanted him. She slipped the Bunny into a large pocket in the skirt of her drees and hurried on after her father, who had walked down the street grinding out his tunes.
The organ grinder's little girl did not tell her father about the Candy Rabbit until that night when they reached their home after their day's travel.
With the organ man lived his brother, who was a peddler. He had a big basket in which he carried pins, needles, pin cushions, little looking glasses, court plaster and odds and ends, called "notions." This peddler man went about from house to house selling notions to such as wanted to buy them.
He, too, had been about all day, peddling with his basket, and he reached home about the same time as did his brother, the organ grinder, and the little girl.
The family had supper, and, after that, Rosa brought out the Candy Rabbit. All the while the Bunny had been in her pocket, and the sweet chap did not like it very much.
"I want to be out where I can see things," murmured the Rabbit. "I want to see what is happening. It is dreadful to be kidnapped like this and carried away from home!"
For that is what really had happened—the Candy Rabbit had been kidnapped by Rosa, the organ girl, though, really, she did not mean to do wrong in taking him.
But when the Bunny was taken out of Rosa's pocket and set on the supper table in the light, he looked around him. It was quite a different home from Madeline's— not nearly so nice, the Candy Rabbit thought, but of course he dared say nothing.
"Ah, what a fine Rabbit! Where did you get him?" asked Rosa's father.
"He was thrown away on a veranda of a house where I got no pennies," she answered. "No one wanted him, so I took him."
"He is a fine Candy Rabbit," said Joe, the peddler, looking at the Bunny. "He is almost new. I guess he came from an Easter novelty counter. Once I sold Easter toys, but now I sell only pins and needles. Yes, he is a fine Rabbit, Rosa. Are you going to eat him? He is made of candy."
"Eat him! Oh, no! I am going to keep him, always!" said the little girl, hugging the Rabbit in her arms.
The Bunny liked to be hugged and petted, and, though he would rather have been in Madeline's house, still he was glad the little organ girl liked him.
"Nobody wanted the Rabbit, so I took him," said Rosa, and she really thought this was so.
But of course Madeline wanted her Candy Rabbit very much. And when she and Dorothy and Mirabell came back to the veranda after their play in the sand pile and found the Sawdust Doll there and the Bunny gone, poor Madeline felt very bad indeed. She cried, and she looked all over for her Easter toy, but he was not to be found.
At first Madeline thought perhaps her brother or one of the other boys had taken the Bunny to tie to the kite again, but Herbert said that he and his chums had not seen the toy.
Then Madeline thought perhaps Carlo, the little dog, had carried the Bunny away, as once he carried off the Sawdust Doll, but this could not have happened, as Carlo had been kept chained in his kennel all that day.
"Well, my Candy Rabbit is gone, and I wish I could find him, and I'm awful lonesome without him," sobbed Madeline, and she was not happy even when her mother said she or Aunt Emma would buy her another.
And all the while the organ grinder's little girl had the Candy Rabbit. And that night, when the time came for Rosa to go to bed, she looked for a safe place to put the Easter toy. The little girl saw the big basket of the peddler in a corner of the room.
"I'll put the Candy Rabbit on one of the pin cushions in Uncle Joe's basket," said Rosa to herself. "He can sleep there all night. To-morrow I will make a little nest for him."
And the Candy Rabbit was so tired after all the adventures he had met with that day that he fell asleep almost at once, and passed a very pleasant night in the basket on the pin cushion, which was stuffed with sawdust, just like Dorothy's doll.
Peddler Joe was up early the next morning. He was up before either his brother, Tony, or the little girl, Rosa. Joe cooked himself some breakfast on an old oil stove, and then, taking his basket, he went out. He did not even turn back the oilcloth cover to see that his pins, needles, cushions and other notions were all in place. He felt sure that they were. And of course he did not know the Candy Rabbit was in his basket.
But there the Candy Rabbit was, in the peddler's basket, on the cushion.
"Dear me! what is happening now?" thought the Candy Rabbit, as he was suddenly awakened by being jiggled and joggled about in the basket. "Am I at sea? Have I been taken on a ship, and am I crossing the ocean?" For that is what the motion was like—just the same as the Lamb of Wheels felt when she was on the raft.
And Joe, the peddler, not knowing the Bunny was in the basket, carried the sweet chap farther and farther away.
We must now see what happened to him.