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    Chapter 19

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    Chapter 19
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    THE SEARCH

    Mrs. Brown hurried out of the house after Bunny, who ran back to the stable. Sue, looking out of the window of her room upstairs, saw her brother and called:

    "What's the matter, Bunny?"

    "Oh, Sue," he answered, not stopping even to look back, "Toby is gone! Our nice pony isn't in his stable!"

    "Oh! Oh!" cried Sue, and she could think of nothing else to say just then. But you can guess that she very quickly finished dressing in order to go down and look for herself to see what had happened to Toby.

    Meanwhile Mrs. Brown and Bunny reached the stable.

    "Are you sure Toby isn't here?" asked Bunny's mother.

    "I--I looked everywhere for him," answered the little boy, who was slightly out of breath from running. "I looked all over and I can't see him anywhere."

    Mrs. Brown looked, but no Toby was to be seen. The barn was not a large one, and there were not many places where a horse, or even a small pony, could be hidden. Bunny and his mother looked in all the places they could think of--in the harness room and wagon room, and they even went upstairs to the haymow.

    "For Toby is a trick pony, and he might have walked upstairs," said Bunny. "I didn't look there."

    "I hardly think he would climb up where the hay is, but still he might," said Mrs. Brown. But no Toby was to be seen. And, really, being a trick pony, he might have walked up the stairs, which were strong, and broad, and not very steep. I have seen a big horse, in a circus, go up a flight of steps, so why couldn't a pony go upstairs?

    But, anyhow, Toby was not in the haymow.

    "Was the barn door locked when you first came out to see Toby?" asked Mrs. Brown of Bunny.

    "Yes, Mother, it was," he answered. "I took the key from off the nail in the kitchen, and I opened the lock and the door. But Toby wasn't there!"

    "Are you sure you locked him in the stable last night?" went on Mrs. Brown.

    "Oh, yes, of course, Mother!" said Bunny. "Don't you 'member Bunker Blue was up here and looked at Toby, and said he'd have to take him to the blacksmith shop to-day to have new shoes put on--I mean new shoes on Toby."

    "Oh, yes, I do remember that!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown. "And that is just what has happened, I think."

    "What has happened, Mother?"

    "Why, Bunker Blue came up here early, and took Toby out of the stable and down to the blacksmith shop to have the new shoes nailed on. That must be it," said Mrs. Brown. "I'll telephone down to your father's office, and ask him if he didn't send Bunker up to get Toby. Daddy went down before breakfast this morning in order to get some letters off on the early mail."

    "Oh, I hope Bunker has our pony!" exclaimed Bunny with a sigh, and, though he very much wanted to believe that this was what had happened, still he could hardly think that it was so. Bunker Blue, thought Bunny, would have said something before taking Toby away, even if it was early.

    "Did you find Toby?" asked Sue, as she ran out, tying her hair ribbon on the way. She was in such a hurry that she had not waited to do that in her room.

    "No, he isn't in the stable," answered Bunny.

    "But Bunker must have taken him to the blacksmith's shop," said Mrs. Brown. "I'm going to telephone to find out."

    And just what Bunny feared would happen did happen. Mr. Brown said Bunker had not been up to the house, and he had not taken Toby away.

    "And is Toby really gone?" asked Mr. Brown over the telephone wire.

    "He can't be found," answered Mrs. Brown.

    "I'll come right up and see what I can do," said Bunny's father. And then the only thing to do was to wait.

    Bunny and Sue, with tears in their eyes, looked again in the barn and all around the house.

    "But where can Toby be?" asked Sue, over and over again.

    "Maybe he ran away," said Tressa, the maid.

    "He couldn't run away, 'cause the barn was locked," declared Bunny.

    "Well, maybe he could open the lock, being a trick pony," went on Tressa, who wanted to say something so the children would not feel so bad.

    "No, he couldn't do that," said Bunny. "Toby could do lots of tricks, but there wasn't any hole in the barn door so he could reach out and open the lock. Besides, the key was hanging in your kitchen all night, Tressa."

    "Yes, that's so. Well, maybe he jumped out of a window," went on the kind-hearted maid. "I see one of the barn windows is open, and it is near Toby's stall."

    "Oh, maybe he did get out that way, and he's off playing in the woods!" exclaimed Sue, who felt very sad about the pet pony's being gone.

    "Oh, but he couldn't," said Bunny, after thinking it over a bit. "There's a mosquito wire screen over the window, and if Toby had jumped out the screen would be broken."

    "Yes, that's so," admitted Tressa. "Well, I guess you'll find him somewhere. Maybe he'll come home, wagging his tail behind him, as Bo-Peep's sheep did."

    Bunny shook his head.

    "I guess somebody took our pony," he said.

    "But how could they when the door was locked?" asked Sue.

    Bunny did not know how to answer.

    Mr. Brown came up from the fish and boat dock, and with him was Bunker Blue.

    "Did you find him?" asked Mr. Brown, meaning Toby, of course.

    "No, he isn't to be found around here," answered Mrs. Brown. "We have looked everywhere, but there is no Toby!"

    "Oh, Daddy! do you think you can find him?" asked Sue, and there were tears in her eyes.

    "Of course I'll find him!" said Daddy Brown, and, somehow, it did the children good just to hear their father say that. "Now, we'll begin at the beginning," went on the fish merchant, "and have a look at the barn door. You know there's an old saying not to lock the stable door after the horse is stolen, but this time the door was locked before Toby was taken away. We are sure of that. Now, I'll have a look at the lock and key."

    Mr. Brown looked carefully at these and also at the door of the stable. There was nothing to show that any one had gotten in, and yet the lock must have been opened or the door could not have been swung back to let Toby out. And Toby was surely gone.

    "He couldn't have gotten out, or been taken out, any way but through the door," said Mr. Brown, as he walked around the stable. "The window is too small, even if there wasn't any wire screen over it to keep out the flies and mosquitoes."

    "What do you think happened?" asked Mrs. Brown.

    "Well," answered her husband, "I think some one, with another key, must have opened the lock and have taken the pony away in the night."

    "But who could it be?"

    "Oh, some thief. Perhaps a tramp, though I don't believe tramps would do anything like that. They are generally too lazy to go to so much work. And whoever took Toby did it very quietly. They took him out of his stable without waking any of us up, and then they carefully locked the door again."

    "I never heard a sound all night," declared Mrs. Brown.

    "Nor did I," added her husband. "It's funny, though, that Splash didn't bark. He sometimes sleeps in the shed near the stable, and if strange men had come around one would think the dog would be sure to make a fuss."

    "Unless it was some one he knew," added Mrs. Brown, "or some one that knew how to be friendly with a dog."

    "Yes, some horse thieves might be like that," admitted Mr. Brown. "They could make friends with our dog, and he wouldn't bite them or growl at them to make a noise. Then they could walk off with Toby."

    "I haven't seen Splash around this morning," said Tressa. "Generally he comes early to get his breakfast, but I haven't seen him this morning."

    "Oh, Daddy!" cried Bunny, "do you s'pose they stole Splash, too?"
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