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    Chapter 3

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    Chapter 3
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    MR. TALLMAN

    Mr. Brown, followed by Bunker Blue and the two children, went down the road toward the little, short man who was standing with the Shetland pony. For, after walking back with him a little way, the man had stopped to let the pony drink from a brook that ran beneath the willow trees.

    "I'm afraid we caused you some trouble, my friend," said Mr. Brown, politely.

    "Trouble?" repeated the short man. "You say you caused me trouble?"

    "Yes. We were riding in the big auto which we have left just around the turn of the road. Was it our auto that frightened your pony and made him run away?" asked Mr. Brown, while Bunny and his Sister Sue looked with eager eyes at the pretty pony, which did not seem frightened now.

    "Oh, yes, I guess your big moving van of an auto did scare my pony," answered the man. "I waved my hand, and tried to call to you to stop, so we could drive past, but I guess you didn't hear me."

    "No," said Bunker Blue, "we didn't. The engine made so much noise, I guess."

    "And then my pony ran away before I could stop him," went on the little man, who, as Bunny and Sue could now see, was not as tall as Bunker Blue. "You see, he is a trick pony, and used to be in a circus. But the men there did not treat him kindly, so I heard. I guess maybe he thought your big auto was a circus wagon, and when he remembered those wagons he thought of the unkind men and wanted to run away."

    "I'm sorry for that," said Mr. Brown. "We surely would not hurt your pony. In fact, my children would love him. Did he break the harness when he turned to run away?"

    "I guess he did," answered the short man. "But it was an old harness, and easily broken. In fact, part of it was tied with bits of string. I knew it was strong enough for Toby unless he should cut up a little, and that's just what he did, and broke some of the straps and strings."

    "Is Toby the name of your pony?" asked Sue.

    "Yes, little girl, Toby is his name. And he is a nice little Shetland pony," and he stroked the fluffy mane and rubbed the velvety nose of the little animal, that seemed to be all right now.

    "Oh, Daddy! will you?" suddenly exclaimed Bunny.

    "Will I what?" asked Mr. Brown, rather surprised and puzzled.

    "Will you buy that pony for us?" eagerly begged Sue. "Bunny whispered to me that we could have a lot of fun with him if you would buy him."

    So that was what Bunny whispered to his Sister Sue!

    "Buy this pony for you?" exclaimed Mr. Brown. "Is that what you mean?"

    "Yes, please," said Bunny. "We--we'd love it!"

    Bunker Blue went up to the little horse and patted its back. The Shetland pony seemed to like the fish boy.

    "Is he tame?" asked Bunny.

    "Very tame," answered the short man.

    "Could I pat him?" Sue questioned.

    "Of course you could!" said the man. "Come right up to him, Toby loves children. It's only big autos, which remind him of circus wagons, that scare him."

    "We had a circus once," went on Bunny, as he and Sue approached the pony. "But we didn't have any little horses in it."

    "We had our dog, Splash," added Sue.

    "Well, I guess that was nice," the man said.

    The children patted Toby, who rubbed his velvety nose against them.

    "I'm sorry your harness broke," said Mr. Brown. "You must let me pay for having it fixed, since it was the fault of my big auto that your pony ran away, Mr.----" and the children's father waited for the other man to tell his name. "I am Mr. Brown," went on the fish and boat dealer, after a moment of silence.

    "Oh, yes, I have heard of you," replied the other. "Well, I guess you'll laugh when you hear my name."

    "Why?" asked Mr. Brown. "Why should we laugh?"

    "Because it's so different from what I am. You see, I am very short, do you not?"

    "You are certainly not a very tall man," said Mr. Brown, with a smile.

    "And yet I am," observed the other.

    "You are what?"

    "I am Vera Tallman," was the answer. "That really is my name, strange as it may sound," he went on, smiling at Mr. Brown, who was smiling at him. "Vera is the last name of my grandfather, and I am called after him. Tallman is my own last name, and I had to be called that though I am very short. It is quite a joke with my friends. I say to them I am a short Tallman or a short man who is Vera Tallman."

    "Oh, I see!" laughed Mr. Brown. "Well, it's a good thing you can be so jolly about it."

    "There is no good in finding fault with what can't be helped," said the man with a kind smile, as he patted the pony. "I can't make myself tall by wishing, even though I have a long name. So I let it go at that. And, when any one says to me, 'You are not very tall,' I answer, 'Oh, yes, I am Vera Tallman,' and then I have a joke on them."

    "Yes, I should think you would," said Mr. Brown. "But let us get back to the broken harness. How much shall I pay you?"

    "Nothing at all," answered Mr. Tallman. "It was my fault for driving Toby in a harness mended with bits of string. I should have known better, but I did not think Toby would meet with a moving van, that would make him think of the circus where he was so badly treated. You need not pay me anything."

    "But perhaps the cart is broken also," said Mr. Brown.

    "I hardly think so," returned Mr. Tallman, who was such a short man. "Toby just twisted around and tore himself loose out of the harness. Then he ran back along the road and I ran after him. He did not run far, as soon as he was out of sight of your big auto he stopped."

    "I am glad of that," said Mr. Brown. "Now I will tell you what we had better do."

    "What?" asked Mr. Tallman, still patting the pony, a thing which Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue were also doing. "What had we better do?"

    "One of us had better go back and get the pony cart," went on Mr. Brown. "Bunker Blue can easily haul it here, and you can hitch Toby to it out of sight of our big auto. Then he won't be frightened any more. And perhaps you had better drive him around another road, or wait until we can take the auto another way. I wouldn't want to have Toby break loose again."

    "Well, maybe that would be a good plan," agreed Mr. Tallman. "If you will let Bunker, as you call him, bring the pony cart here, I will harness Toby to it. Then I'll drive over the short-cut road and get past your auto without letting my pony see it."

    Bunker ran back, and soon came trotting along the road with the basket cart, pretending he was a pony himself, which made Bunny and Sue laugh. It was found that only the string part of the harness was broken, and as Bunker had some strong fish cords in his pocket, the straps were soon mended.

    "It is better than before," said Mr. Tallman, when Toby was once again hitched to the basket cart. "I don't believe Toby could break loose now."

    "And won't you let me pay you for the damage?" asked the fish merchant.

    "Oh, no, indeed!" cried Mr. Tallman. "You have done more than your share now."

    Bunny and Sue were again whispering together. Then Bunny stepped forward and said:

    "Daddy, we'll give you all the money in our banks."

    "All the money in your banks, Bunny? What do you mean?" asked Mr. Brown.

    "To help you buy the pony for us," went on the little boy. "Please, Daddy, buy Toby for us. Sue and I would like him awful much!"

    "Well, he certainly is a nice pony," said Mr. Brown, "and I remember, once I did half promise to get you a Shetland pony. Is Toby for sale?" asked Mr. Brown.

    Mr. Tallman shook his head, while Bunny and Sue looked anxiously at him.

    "No," said the owner of Toby, "I don't want to sell my trick pony. I am going to take him to the fair, and I think I shall win prizes with him, and get a lot of money when I show what tricks he can do. I wouldn't sell Toby--not for anything!"

    "Oh, dear!" sighed Bunny Brown.

    "Oh, dear!" sighed his Sister Sue.

    And just then, along the road came driving a man in a light carriage. The man had a dark face and a very black beard. He scowled as he looked at Mr. Tallman and the Shetland pony. Then the black-bearded man said:

    "Well, I've found you, have I? Now, I want you to give me that pony! Give him to me at once and have no more nonsense about it! I want that pony!"
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