Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue at Camp Rest-a-While/Chapter 7

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Something certainly seemed to be the matter with Splash. Bunny and Sue had never seen their dog act in such a funny way. He would dash into the water, not going far from shore, though, and then he would jump back, barking all the while.

Once or twice he tried to grab, in his sharp teeth, something that seemed to be swimming in the water. But either Splash could not get it, or he was afraid to come too close to it.

"Oh, Daddy! What is it? What is it?" asked Bunny and Sue.

Mr. Brown, who with Bunker Blue and Uncle Tad, was fastening the last ropes of the tent, hurried down to the shore of the lake.

"What is it? What's the matter. Splash? What is it?" asked Mr. Brown.

Splash never turned around to look at daddy. He again rushed into the water, barking and snapping his sharp teeth. Then Mr. Brown, taking up a stick, ran toward the dog.

"Let it alone, Splash! Let it alone!" cried Daddy Brown. "That's a big muskrat, and if it bites you it will make a bad sore. Let it alone!"

Daddy Brown struck at something in the water, and Bunny and Sue, running down to the edge of the lake, saw a large, brown animal, with long hair, swimming out toward the middle. Splash started to follow but Mr. Brown caught the dog by the collar.

"No you don't!" cried Bunny's father, "You let that muskrat alone. Splash. He's so big, and such a good swimmer, that he might pull you under the water and drown you. Let him alone."

Bunker Blue, who had come down to the edge of the lake, threw a stone at the swimming muskrat. The queer animal at once made a dive and went under the water, for muskrats can swim under the water as well as on top, and Bunny and Sue saw it no more.

Splash rushed around, up and down the shore, barking loudly, but he did not try to swim out. I think he knew Mr. Brown was right in what he said—that it was not good to be bitten by a muskrat.

"Is that what it was, Daddy—a rat?" asked Bunny.

"Yes," answered his father. "Splash must have seen the muskrat swimming in the water, and tried to get it. The muskrat didn't want to be caught, so it fought back. But I'm glad it got away without being hurt, and I'm glad Splash wasn't bitten."

"What's a muskrat?" Sue wanted to know.

"Well, it's a big rat that lives in the water," said Daddy Brown. "It is much larger than the kind of rat that is around houses and barns, and it has fine, soft fur which trappers sell, to make fur-lined overcoats, and cloaks, for men and women. The fur is very good, and some persons say the muskrat is good to eat, but I would not like to try eating it. But this muskrat was a big one, and as they have sharp teeth, and can bite hard when they are angry, it is a good thing we drove it away."

Bunny and Sue looked out over the lake. They could see the muskrat no longer, though there was a little ripple in the water where it had dived down to get away.

"Now we must finish putting up the tents," said Daddy Brown. "It will be night before we know it, and we want a good place to sleep in at Camp Rest-a-While."

"And are we going to have a fire, where we can cook something?" asked Bunny.

"Yes, we'll have the oil stove set up."

"I thought we would have a campfire," said the little boy.

"So we shall!" exclaimed Uncle Tad. "I'll make a campfire for you, children, and we'll bake some potatoes in it. We'll have them for supper, with whatever else mother cooks on the oil stove."

"I'll get some sticks of wood for the fire!" cried Sue.

"So will I!" added Bunny.

And while the older folk were finishing putting up the tents, and while Mother Brown was getting out the bed clothes, Bunny and Sue made a pile of sticks and twigs for the fire their uncle had promised to make.

Soon the big sleeping tent was put up, and divided into two parts, one for Sue and her mother, and the other for Bunny and the men folk. Cot-beds were put up in the tent, and blankets, sheets and pillows put on them, so the tent was really like a big bedroom.

"It will be nicer sleeping here than on the ground, like we did in the tent at home that night," said Bunny to Sue.

"Yes, I guess it will," she answered. "My dollie won't catch cold in a nice bed."

"Did she catch cold before?" Bunny wanted to know.

"Well, she had the sniffle-snuffles, and that's almost like a cold," Sue answered.

In the second-sized tent the dining table had been set up, and the chairs put around ready for the first meal, which would be supper. Mother Brown got the dishes out of the box, and called:

"Now, Bunny and Sue, let me see you set the table."

She had taught them at home how to put on the plates, knives, forks, spoons, cups, saucers and whatever was needed, and now Bunny and Sue did this, as their share of the work, while Bunker Blue, and the older folk, were busy doing different things.

In the cooking tent the oil stove was set up and lighted, to make sure it burned well. Then Camp Rest-a-While looked just like its name—a place where boys and girls, as well as men and women could come and have a nice rest, near the beautiful lake.

When everything was nearly finished, and it was about time to start getting supper, a man came rowing along the shore of the lake in a boat. He called to Mr. Brown:

"Hey, there! Is this where you want your boat left?"

"Yes, thank you. Tie it right there," answered Daddy Brown.

"Oh, is that going to be our boat?" asked Bunny, in delight.

"Yes," answered his father, "I wrote to a man up here that has boats to let, to bring us a nice one. We'll use it while we are in camp. But you children must never get in the boat without asking me, or your mother. You mustn't get in even when it's tied to the shore."

"We won't!" promised Bunny and Sue. Once they had gotten in a boat that they thought was tied fast, but it had floated away with them. They landed on an island in the river, and had some adventures, of which I have told you in the first book of this series.

Bunny and Sue remembered this, so they knew that sometimes it was not even safe to get in a boat which was tied fast, unless some older person was with them.

The man left the boat he had brought for Mr. Brown. It was a large one and would easily hold Bunny and Sue, as well as all the others at Camp Rest-a-While.

"Now for the roast potatoes!" cried Uncle Tad. "Come on, children! We'll start our campfire, for I see your mother getting the meat ready to cook, and it takes quite a while to roast potatoes out of doors."

The campfire was built between two big stones. Bunny and Sue bringing up the wood they had gathered. Uncle Tad lighted the fire, for it is not safe for children to handle matches, or even be near an open fire, unless some older person is with them. Bunny and Sue had often been told this, so they were very careful.

When the fire had blazed up good and hot, Uncle Tad let it cool down a bit. Then he raked away the red hot embers and put in them some nice, big, round potatoes. These he covered up in the hot ashes, and put on more wood.

"Now the potatoes are baking," he said. "They will be done in time for supper."

And what a fine supper it was—that first one in camp! Bunny and Sue thought they had never tasted anything so good. They all sat in the dining tent, and Mother Brown put the things on the table.

"Now where are your potatoes, Uncle Tad?" she asked.

"Here they are!" cried the old soldier, as he went to the campfire. He raked away the ashes and embers with a stick, and on a platter, made from a large piece of bark, off a tree, the old soldier poked out a number of round, black, smoking things.

"Why—why!" exclaimed Sue, in surprise. "I thought you baked potatoes, Uncle Tad!"

"So I did, Sue."

"They look like black stones," said Bunny,

"You wait—I'll show you," laughed Uncle, Tad. He brought the bark platter to the table. Taking up a fork he opened one of the round, black, smoking things. Though the outside was burned black from the fire, the inside was almost as white as snow.

"There's baked potatoes for you!" cried Uncle Tad. "Put some salt and butter on them, and you never tasted anything better! But be careful—for they're very hot!"

Supper over, the dishes were washed and put away. Then there was nothing to do but wait until it was time to go to bed.

"And I think we're all tired enough to go early to-night," said Mother Brown.

"But, before we go," said her husband, "I think we will have a little row on the lake in our boat. It is not yet dark."

It was beautiful out on the water, and the sun, sinking down behind the hills, made the clouds look as though they were colored blue, pink, purple and golden.

Bunny and Sue were almost asleep when the boat was headed back toward shore, and their eyes were tight shut, when daddy and mother lifted them out to carry them up to Camp Rest-a-While. The children hardly awakened when they were undressed and put to bed, and soon every one was sound asleep, for it was a dark night.

Bunny Brown was sleeping in the outer part of the bedroom-tent, in a cot next to his father's. Just what made Bunny awaken he did not know. But, all at once the little fellow sat up on his cot, and looked with wide-open eyes toward the entrance. There was a lantern burning in the tent, and by the light of it Bunny Brown saw a big shaggy animal, standing on its hind legs, and sniffing with its black nose. At first Bunny could not make a sound, he was so frightened, but finally he screamed:

"Oh, Daddy! Daddy! Wake up! It's a bear! A bear! A big black bear in the tent!"

Then Bunny slipped down between the blankets and covered up his head with the bed clothes.