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    Chapter 12

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    Chapter 12
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    THE WRONG ROAD

    Toby, the Shetland pony, stamped his feet in the soft grass in front of the home of Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue. Then he "shivered" off some flies that were biting his legs, and switched some off his back with his long tail.

    "And now we're ready to start!" cried Sue, as she sat on the cushion near her brother, who was to drive the first part of the way.

    "And don't drop the butter when you're coming back," said Mrs. Brown, as she saw that the children's lunch was safely put in the cart, together with a few lumps of sugar and some sweet crackers for Toby.

    "We won't," promised Bunny. "Gidap, Toby!" he called, and away trotted the pony.

    Down the village street went Toby, and Bunny and Sue smiled and waved their hands to some of their boy and girl friends who watched them driving away, wishing they were going.

    "We'll give you a ride when we come back," promised Sue.

    She turned to wave her hand to Sadie West, and then Sue saw Splash, the big dog, trotting along behind the pony cart.

    "Oh, Bunny!" exclaimed Sue, "do we want to take Splash along?"

    "No, I don't guess we do," Bunny answered. "There's a big dog at the farm, and he might fight our dog like he did once before."

    This had happened. For once, when Mr. Brown took Bunny and his sister to the place to get some fresh eggs and butter, Splash had trotted along with them. And Splash and the other dog at the farm did not seem to be friends, for they fought and bit one another, and Mr. Brown and Mr. Potter, the man who owned the farm, had hard work to make the animals stop.

    "Whoa, Toby!" called Bunny to the pony, and he stopped. "Now you go on back, Splash!" ordered his little master.

    But Splash did not want to go back. He sat down on the grass, thumped his tail up and down, and then sort of looked off to one side, as though to see how tall the trees were. He didn't look at Bunny or Sue at all, and when their dog didn't do this the children knew he didn't want to mind them.

    "Go back home, Splash!" ordered Bunny.

    "'Cause we don't want you fighting with that other dog," added Sue. "Go home like a nice doggie."

    But Splash didn't seem to want to be a nice dog. He just sat thumping his tail and looking off at the trees.

    "Oh, dear!" exclaimed Bunny, with a sort of sigh. "What'll we do? I guess I'll have to get out and take him back."

    "If you do that," said Sue, "maybe Toby will walk away again."

    "You could stay in the cart and hold the lines," said Bunny.

    "I don't want to stay here if you're not going to," went on Bunny's sister.

    "Then we can both get out and take Splash home," decided the little boy, after a while. "He'll go back if we go back a little way with him. He likes to be with us. And we can tie Toby to something so he can't walk away."

    "What could we tie him to?" asked Sue.

    Bunny looked all around. There were no hitching posts near by--only some big trees.

    "We could tie him to one of them," he said. "Or to a stone."

    "Toby could pull a stone right along with him," objected Sue. "You'd better tie him to a tree."

    "Maybe he could pull up a tree, too," said Bunny. "Once I saw a picture of an elephant pulling up a tree."

    "Toby isn't as strong as an elephant," Sue said. Then she exclaimed: "Oh, Bunny, I know what we can do!"

    "What?"

    "We can throw a stick for Splash to run after. And when he goes back after the stick we can drive on with Toby and get so far away that Splash can't find us."

    "That's so! We can do that!" exclaimed Bunny. "I'll do it. I'll throw a stick for Splash to go after, and you hold the reins," and he passed the pony reins to his sister.

    As Bunny got down out of the pony cart Splash jumped up and ran toward his little master, wagging his tail.

    "No, I'm not going to play with you!" Bunny said, trying to speak crossly, but finding it hard work, for he loved Splash. "You've got to go on back home! Next time we'll take you with us, but now we're going to the farm, and there's a bad dog there that'll bite you. You've got to go back, Splash!"

    Of course, Bunny's dog did not understand all the little boy said. But Splash knew what it meant when Bunny stooped and picked up a stick. Splash was used to running after sticks and stones that the children threw, and he would bring them back, to have them thrown over again.

    "Now go and get this, Splash!" ordered Bunny, as he got ready to toss the stick. At the same time the boy looked to make sure he did not have to run too far to get back to the cart and drive off with Sue. "Go get it, Splash!" cried Bunny, as he threw the stick.

    "Bow-wow!" barked the dog, and away he ran as the stick sailed through the air. Then Bunny turned and raced back toward the cart, where Sue was waiting for him.

    "We must hurry," said the little girl. "Splash is a terrible fast runner."

    "Gidap, Toby!" cried Bunny, as he took the reins, and once more away trotted the little pony. Then Sue looked back, and she cried:

    "Oh, Bunny! It's no good! Here comes Splash after us!"

    And, surely enough, the dog was coming after them. He had found the stick Bunny had thrown, and then, taking it in his mouth, had started back after the pony cart.

    "You didn't throw it far enough," said Sue.

    "I threw it as far as I could," said Bunny.

    "Well, here comes Splash. What are we going to do now?" Sue asked. "I guess we've got to drive back and take him home."

    "That'll take a long time," Bunny said, "and we ought to be going after the butter. Oh, Splash! you're a bad dog!" he exclaimed.

    Splash sat down on the grass, near where Toby had come to a second stop, and flopped his tail up and down on the grass. That's what Splash did. And he dropped the stick at his feet and looked down at it, every now and then, as if he were saying:

    "Well, that was a pretty good throw, Bunny. But throw it again. I like to run after sticks and bring 'em back to you."

    "Oh, dear!" exclaimed Sue. "What are we going to do now?"

    "What's the matter?" asked a voice the children knew, and there was Bunker Blue, walking along with an axe over his shoulder. He was going to the woods to cut some stakes for the big fish nets. "What's the matter, Bunny and Sue?" asked the boat boy.

    "Oh, Splash is following us, and we're going to the farm, and there's a big dog there that bites him," explained Bunny. "We can't make Splash go back home."

    "And Bunny threw a stick and--and everything," added Sue.

    "Well, I'll take him with me," offered Bunker Blue. "He always likes to go to the woods. I'll take him with me and then he won't bother you. Here, Splash!" he called.

    With a bark and a joyful wag of his tail, Splash sprang up and ran toward Bunker.

    "Come on now! Off to the woods!" cried the fish boy.

    Splash turned once to look back at Bunny and Sue in the pony cart, and then he glanced at Bunker. It was as if he said:

    "Well, I like you both, and I don't know which one to go with."

    "Go on with Bunker!" said Bunny to his dog. And, with a final wag of his tail and a good-bye bark, Splash did.

    "I'll take care of him. He won't follow you any more," said Bunker, and then he marched off toward the woods, the big dog tagging after.

    "Now we can go to the farm," said Bunny, and he and Sue drove on.

    They knew the way to the farm, for they had been there many times before, though this was their first visit in the pony cart. Mr. Potter saw them coming up the drive, and called out:

    "My! you certainly are coming in style this time. Are you going to buy my place?"

    "No, only some butter, if you please," replied Bunny. And while it was being wrapped up he hitched Toby to a post, and then the little boy and girl went into the house, where Mrs. Potter gave them each a glass of sweet milk.

    "We have some cookies and things to eat that mother gave us," said Bunny, "but we're going to have a little lunch in the woods going home. We've a lump of sugar for Toby, too."

    "My! you're well off!" laughed Mrs. Potter. "Now, there's your butter. Don't spill it on the way home."

    "We won't," promised the children, and soon they were driving back again.

    "When are we going to eat our lunch?" asked Sue, after a bit.

    "We can eat it now," said Bunny. "I was just looking for a shady place."

    "There's some shade over there," went on Sue, pointing to a clump of trees a little distance away. "We can drive off on that other road and have a picnic."

    "All right," Bunny agreed. And then, forgetting that his mother had told him not to get off the straight road between the farm and home, Bunny turned the pony down a lane and along another highway to the wood. There, finding a place where a little spring of water bubbled out near a green, mossy rock, the children sat down to eat their lunch. But first they tied Toby to a tree and gave him his piece of sugar and the crackers. After that he found some grass to nibble.

    Bunny and Sue had a good time playing picnic in the woods. They sat under the trees and made believe they were gypsies traveling around.

    "I wonder if they is any gypsies around here?" asked Sue.

    "George Watson said there were some camping over near Springdale," answered Bunny.

    "Let's don't go there," suggested Sue.

    "No, we won't," agreed her brother. "And I guess we'd better start for home now. Mother told us not to be late."

    They fed Toby some cookie crumbs left in one of the boxes, and then started to drive out of the wood. But they had not gone very far before they came to a bridge over a noisy, babbling brook.

    "Why, Bunny," cried Sue, "this isn't the way we came! We didn't cross over this bridge before!"

    "Whoa!" called Bunny. He looked at the bridge and at the brook. Then he said: "That's right, Sue. We didn't. I guess we're on the wrong road."

    "Does that mean we--we're lost, Bunny?" asked Sue.
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