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    Chapter 18

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    Chapter 18
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    TOBY IS GONE

    Three or four of the Sunday-school teachers gathered around the boys and girls who had come back from the spring and were so excited about having seen a dark man asleep under a bush.

    "What did he look like?" asked one teacher.

    "Oh, he--he was terrible!" said one little girl.

    "He looked like an organ grinder only he was--was--sort of nicer," observed a little boy.

    "And he had gold rings in his ears," added another.

    "Maybe he was an organ grinder," suggested Miss Mason, who was the superintendent in charge of the infant class of the Sunday school.

    "But he didn't have an organ or a monkey," objected a little girl.

    "Maybe the monkey was up in a tree," said Bunny Brown. "That's where monkeys like to go. Mr. Winkler's monkey, named Wango, goes up in trees. Let's look and see if this monkey is climbing around while the man's asleep."

    "Oh, yes, let's!" exclaimed Sue, always ready to do what her brother suggested.

    "Oh, let's!" cried all the other boys and girls, who thought it a fine idea.

    Miss Mason smiled at the other teachers, but, as Bunny, Sue and some of the boys and girls started toward the spring, they were called back by the superintendent.

    "Better not go unless some of us are with you," she said. "You can't tell what sort of man that might be. Wait a minute, children."

    The children turned back, and Bunny said:

    "I guess I know who that man is."

    "What makes you think so?" asked Miss Mason.

    "I can't tell until I see him," went on Toby's little master.

    "Well, we'll go and look," Miss Mason said. "But I think I'll call one of the men teachers. It might be better to have a man with us."

    Some of the men who taught the Sunday-school classes came up at this moment, wanting to know what was going on, and Miss Mason told them:

    "Some of the children saw a dark-complexioned man, with gold rings in his ears, asleep by the spring. We thought perhaps we had better see who it is. Bunny Brown, who has been giving pony rides for the Red Cross, thinks he might know who he is."

    "Oh, ho!" cried Mr. Baker, a very jolly teacher, "so it's a dark man, with gold rings in his ears, is it?"

    "And a red handkerchief around his neck," said a little boy who had seen the sleeping person.

    "Oh, ho! once again then I say!" cried the jolly teacher. "This man must be a pirate; don't you think so, Bunny Brown? Pirates always have gold rings in their ears and red handkerchiefs on their necks, or on their heads, don't they? Do you think you know this pirate, Bunny?"

    "No, sir," answered the little boy, shaking his head. "But I don't guess he's a pirate, 'cause pirates are always on ships. Anyhow, in all the pictures I ever saw of them they were always on ships."

    "I believe Bunny is right," said another man. "Pirates are only on ships. And though there may be some land-pirates, they are not regular ones, and can't be counted. And surely there can't be a ship in these woods."

    "There are boats on the lake," said a little girl.

    "Yes, my dear, but they're not regular pirate-boats," went on Mr. Baker. "No, I don't believe we can count this sleeping man as a regular pirate. But we'll go and see who it is."

    "I wish you would," said Miss Mason. "You men are laughing, I know, but we don't want the children frightened by a tramp, and probably that's what this man is."

    "Perhaps," said Mr. Baker. "Well, we will go and have a look at him. Come, gentlemen, we'll go and capture the man with the gold rings in his ears."

    The men Sunday-school teachers walked on ahead, and after them came the women. Then marched Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue, and a number of other boys and girls. Toby, the Shetland pony was left tied to a tree.

    In a little while the party came to the spring. Mr. Baker pushed aside the bushes and looked in. At first he could see nothing, but soon the sun came out from behind a cloud, making the little glen light, and then the Sunday-school teacher could see a big man, his face very dark, as though tanned by years of living at the seashore. In his ears were gold rings, and around his neck was a red handkerchief.

    "Hello, there!" suddenly exclaimed Mr. Baker.

    And, just as suddenly, the man awakened and sat up. For a moment he stared at the circle of men, women and children standing about him, and then, as he caught sight of Bunny and Sue, he smiled at them, showing his white teeth.

    "Hello, pony-children!" he called to them, "Have you come to sell me your little horse?"

    "We're never going to sell Toby! Are we, Bunny," asked Sue.

    "No;" said Bunny, "we never are."

    "Oh, then you children know this--this----" and Mr. Baker did not seem to know just what to call the dark man.

    "He's a gypsy," said Bunny. "But I don't know him very well. His wagon stopped in front of our house one day, and he wanted to buy our pony. He's a gypsy."

    "Ah, that's what makes him look so much like a pirate," said Mr. Baker in a low voice to one of his friends.

    "Yes, I am a gypsy," said the man, as he shook the leaves out of his clothes and stood up. "My name is Jaki Kezar, and my camp is over near Springdale. We have permission to camp there, and have done so for a number of years. I was walking about the country, looking for horses to buy, as that is our business, and when I reached here I felt tired. So I took a drink from the spring, sat down and must have fallen asleep before I knew it."

    "Yes, you--you were asleep an'--an' you snored," said one little girl, who felt quite brave, now that so many Sunday-school teachers were near her.

    "Oh, I snored, did I?" asked Jaki Kezar with a smile, and some of the men smiled, too. This gypsy did not seem at all cross or ugly, and his face was pleasant when he smiled.

    "I hope I didn't scare any of the little ones," the gypsy went on. "I wouldn't have done that for anything. I thought this was a quiet place to rest."

    "Oh, you didn't scare them very much," said Mr. Baker. "They just saw you asleep and we didn't know who you might be. This part of the woods is not the picnic ground, and you have a perfect right here."

    "But I must be walking on," said Jaki Kezar. "I must try to find some horses to buy. You are sure you will not sell me your pony?" he asked Bunny again.

    "We will never sell Toby!" exclaimed the little boy.

    "Never!" added Sue. "He is a trick pony."

    "And he was in a circus," added Bunny, "but he is never going there again because they did not treat him nice, Mr. Tallman said."

    "Well, if you won't sell me your pony I must go and see if I can find another to buy," said Jaki Kezar, the gypsy. "Good-bye, boys and girls, and ladies and gentlemen," he added, as he walked away. "I hope I didn't frighten any of you. And if ever you come to our camp at Springdale we will tell your fortunes."

    Then, taking off his hat and making a bow to Miss Mason and the others, the gypsy walked off through the woods.

    "There! I'm glad he's gone!" exclaimed one of the older children. "He made me nervous!"

    "But he was a polite gypsy," said Mr. Baker. "I think he would have made a nice pirate, too. Don't you, Bunny?"

    "I guess so," agreed the little boy. "But he can't have my pony."

    "I should say not!" cried Mr. Baker. "You want that pony for yourself, and to make money for the Red Cross."

    This reminded Bunny that he ought to start in again giving rides to the picnic children. Toby had had his dinner and a good rest, and was once more ready to trot along the shady paths of the picnic lake.

    Not so many took rides in the afternoon as did in the morning, for some of the children went home. But Bunny, who did most of the driving, though Sue did some also, took in a little over a dollar after lunch. And this, with the dollar and eighty-five cents which he had taken in during the morning, made almost three dollars for Red Cross.

    "My, you did well," cried Miss Mason, when Bunny and Sue told her they were going, and showed her their money.

    "I should say they did!" said Mr. Baker. "No wonder that gypsy wanted their pony. He could start in business for himself. Be careful you don't lose that money, Bunny."

    "I will," promised the little boy.

    Calling good-byes to their friends, the Sunday-school teachers and the children, Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue started off through the woods on their way home. They were a little tired, but happy.

    "Did you think we'd make so much money for the Red Cross, Bunny?" asked Sue, as they drove along.

    "No," said Bunny, "I didn't. But I knew this Sunday-school picnic was in the woods. And it was a good place for us, wasn't it?"

    "Fine," agreed Sue.

    And when they got home they found their father and mother waiting for them, as it was late in the afternoon.

    "And you made three dollars! That's fine!" said Daddy Brown.

    During the rest of the week Bunny and Sue made another dollar by giving children rides in the pony cart. And they drove on an errand for Uncle Tad who gave them a quarter, so they had a nice sum to turn over to the Red Cross Society when the time was up.

    It was about a week after the picnic, when one morning, Bunny, who was up first, ran out to the barn to see Toby, as he often did before breakfast. But, to the surprise of the little boy, the pony was not in his stall, though the barn door was locked, Bunny having to open it with a key before he could get in.

    Greatly excited, when he did not see his pet in the box-stall, Bunny ran back to the house.

    "Oh, Mother! Mother!" he cried. "Toby's gone!"

    "What?"

    "Toby's gone!" cried Bunny again. "He isn't in his stable! Oh, come out and look!"

    And I wonder where the Shetland pony was?
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