Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue at Camp Rest-a-While/Chapter 17

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CHAPTER XVII


A NOISE AT NIGHT


When Mr. Brown, Bunny, Sue and Bunker Blue came back from their little fishing trip, they saw Mother Brown walking about the camp, in and out among the tents, looking here and there.

"Have you lost something, Mother?" asked Bunny.

"Well, yes, I have—sort of," she said, smiling. "I've lost a pie!"

"Oh, a pie!" cried Sue. "Did you drop it, Mother, and did it fall down a crack in the board walk, like my penny did once?"

"No!" laughed Mrs. Brown. "It wasn't that way."

Then she told of having made four pies, setting them on the table to cool while she went to the spring for a pail of water.

"And when I came back, a whole pie was gone!" she said.

"Well, we certainly didn't take it, for we weren't here," said Daddy Brown. "And you were all alone in camp, Mother?"

"Yes, even Uncle Tad was gone."

"Oh, maybe he came back and took it!" exclaimed Bunny.

"No, he wouldn't do that," said his mother. "Some animal, perhaps a big muskrat, like the one Splash tried to catch, came up out of the lake and carried away my pie. I was just looking to see if I could find any marks of the rat's paws in the soft ground, when you came along. But I couldn't see any."

"I don't believe it was a rat, or any other animal, that took your pie," said Mr. Brown, as he, too, looked carefully on the ground around the table where the pie had been placed. The three other pies were there, but the fourth one was gone.

"There isn't a sign of any four-legged animal having been here," Mr. Brown went on. "I think it was some animal with only two legs who took the pie."

"Oh, you mean a—a man!" cried Mother Brown.

Daddy Brown nodded his head for yes.

"Do you mean a tramp?" asked Bunker Blue.

"Well, yes, it might have been a tramp, though we haven't seen any around here since we've been in camp. However, if a pie is all they took we don't need to worry."

"Perhaps the poor man was hungry," said Mrs. Brown. "I'm sure I hope he enjoys my pie."

"He couldn't help liking it," said Bunny Brown. "Your pies are always so good, Mother!"

"I'm glad to hear you say that," exclaimed Mrs. Brown. "Well, we have enough for the next two days, anyhow, and I'll bake again to-morrow."

"Splash didn't take the pie," said Sue, "'cause he was with us in the boat."

"Then it must have been the tramp," Mrs. Brown said. "Never mind, we won't worry any more about it. Did you have a nice time?"

Then they told about their little fishing trip. When Uncle Tad came back from his walk in the woods, he, too, had to be told of the missing pie. Uncle Tad shook his head.

"We'll have to lock up everything around our camp if tramps are going to come in and take our pies, and the other good things Mother Brown makes," he said with a smile. "Or else one of us will always have to stay here to keep watch."

"I wish we had Tom Vine back," said Bunny. "I wonder where he is?"

Of course no one knew, and Mr. Brown began to think that, after all, Tom had done just as Mr. Trimble had said—had run away.

The next day, after breakfast, Sue, who was changing the dress of one of her dolls, saw brother Bunny walking along the path that led toward the spring. Bunny carried a small wooden box.

"What are you going to do. Bunny?" she asked him. "Get a box full of water?"

"Nope. This box won't hold water. It's got holes in."

"But what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to make a trap to catch a fox."

"Oh, Bunny! Can I help you?"

"Yes. Come on. But you must keep awful still, 'cause foxes are easy scared."

"I will, Bunny. And may I bring my doll with me? I can put her to sleep on some soft dried leaves when you want me to help you."

"Yes, you may bring one doll," said Bunny. "But don't bring one of the kind that cries when you punch it in the stomach, or it might make a noise and scare the fox. I'm going to catch one and train him to do tricks."

"How are you going to catch him, Bunny?"

"In this box. Come on, I'll show you."

"I guess I won't bring any of my dolls," said Sue, after thinking about it for a minute. "A fox might bite her."

"Yes, that will be better," said the little boy.

So, carrying the box, and some other things, which Sue helped him with. Bunny and his sister went a little way into the wood.

"Don't go too far!" their mother called after them.

"We won't!" they promised. Since coming to Camp Rest-a-While Bunny and Sue had not been lost, and they did not now want to have that trouble if they could help it.

"Are there any foxes in here?" asked Sue, looking around as she and Bunny came near the spring.

"Hush! Don't speak so loud," whispered her brother. "You might scare 'em."

"Is they any here?" asked Sue, this time in a very soft whisper.

"I guess so," answered Bunny. "They must come to the spring to get a drink of water, same as we do. I'm going to put my trap near the spring."

There was a large flat stone, near the place where the water for the camp was found. On this stone Bunny put the box, bottom side up. It had no cover to it. One edge of the box Bunny held up by putting a stick under it, and to the stick he tied a long string.

"Is that a trap?" asked Sue.

"Yep," Bunny answered. "Now I'm going to put sometiiing under the box that foxes like. They'll crawl under to eat it, and when they're there I'll pull the string. That will make the stick come out and the box will fail down, and cover up the fox so it can't get away."

"Oh, that'll be fine!" cried Sue. "But what're you going to give the foxes to eat, Bunny?"

"I'll show you," said the little fellow. From his pocket he took some bits of bread, a few crumbs of dried cake, a little piece of pie wrapped in paper, and half an apple.

"There!" Bunny exclaimed as he put these things under the raised-up box. "Foxes ought to like all that. Now we'll hide back here in the bushes, Sue, and I'll have hold of the long string. As soon as we see a fox, or any other animal, go under the box, I'll pull away the little stick, and we'll catch him!"

"All right," said Sue. So, the trap having been set, Bunny and Sue hid themselves in the bushes to wait. But for a long time no fox, or any other animal, came along. Bunny and Sue grew tired of sitting in the bushes and keeping quiet. They could only whisper, and this was not much fun.

"I—I guess I'll go home," said Sue, after a bit.

"Oh, no, stay with me!" Bunny begged. "Maybe I'll catch a fox pretty soon. Oh, look, Sue!" he cried, this time aloud, he was so excited. "There's a bird going into the box. I'll catch the bird, to show you how my trap works."

"You won't hurt the bird; will you, Bunny?" begged Sue.

"No, I won't hurt it a bit," Bunny replied.

A sparrow was hopping along the flat stone, toward the upraised box, under which were the bread and cake crumbs, and other good things that birds like. Closer and closer to the box went the bird, and finally it was all the way under, picking up the crumbs.

"Now watch me catch him!" cried Bunny.

He pulled the string, out came the stick, down came the box, and the bird was caught,

"I've got him! I've got him!" cried Bunny. "That's the way I'd catch a fox!"

He and Sue ran to the box trap. Bunny lifted it up and out flew the bird, not at all hurt, and only a little frightened. Bunny raised the box up again, and held it there with the stick. Then he and Sue went back among the bushes to wait; all ready to pull the string again.

But though Bunny's trap would catch a sparrow, there did not seem to be anything else he could catch. No foxes or other animals came to get a drink, and later Bunny's father explained to him that nearly all wild animals wait until after dark to get water, for fear of being caught.

After a while Bunny and Sue grew tired of waiting in the bushes.

"I'll just leave the trap here," said Bunny, "and maybe a fox will go in and knock the stick down himself. Then he'll be caught."

"But a fox could easy upset the box," said Sue.

"Maybe he could," agreed Bunny. "I'll put a stone on top of it." And he did.

Bunny and Sue reached camp in time for dinner. In the afternoon they went with their mother to pick huckleberries, and helped fill two pails.

"I'll make pies of these berries," said Mother Brown.

"And I hope nobody takes any of the pie," said Bunny. "'Cause I like huckleberry pie myself an awful lot."

That evening Daddy Brown built a campfire, and Bunny and Sue, with Bunker Blue, sat about it roasting marshmallows.

"I wish Tom Vine was here to help eat them," said Sue.

"So do I," agreed Bunny.

But Tom Vine was not there. Where was he? No one at Camp Rest-a-While could tell.

Bunny Brown did not sleep well that night. Perhaps he had eaten too many marshmallow candies. At any rate, he awoke soon after he went to bed. He was wishing he had a drink of water, and he was thinking whether he would best get up for it himself, or awaken his father, when the little fellow heard a noise outside the tent. It was a noise as if someone were walking around. At first Bunny thought it was Splash, but, looking over in the corner of the sleeping-tent. Bunny saw his dog there. Splash, too, had heard the noise, for he was getting up and growling deep in his throat.

Then, all at once, came a loud bang, as if someone had knocked down five or six tin pans.