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    Chapter 21

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    Chapter 21
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    THE GYPSY CAMP

    Anxiously Bunny Brown waited for his father's answer. The little boy looked out of the cabin windows at the storm which was roughing-up the waters of Sandport Bay. But Bunny was very much concerned about losing Toby, or not going on to find the pony.

    "Well, I guess as long as we have come this far," said Mr. Brown, "we might as well keep on. You're not afraid, are you, Bunny?"

    "Not a bit, Daddy! I like it!"

    "You're a regular old sea-dog!" cried the fish merchant.

    "And maybe we'll find our dog, Splash, at the gypsy camp, too," Bunny added.

    "Maybe," agreed Mr. Brown. Then he asked Bunker Blue:

    "What do you think of it?"

    "Oh, I've seen it blow worse and rain harder," answered the boy who was attending to the motor. "I guess we can keep on."

    It was raining very hard now, and the big drops, mixed with the salty spray blown up from the water of the bay, were being driven against the glass windows of the cabin.

    "It's a good thing we brought the big boat," said Bunker Blue, as he put some oil on the motor.

    "Yes," said Mr. Brown. "I'm glad we didn't try to come in the small one. We surely would have had to turn back."

    Bunny Brown did not say anything for quite a while. He stood looking out of the cabin windows.

    "What are you thinking of, Bunny?" asked his father, as he steered the Spray to one side to get out of the way of a fishing boat and was coming in, to get away from the storm.

    "Oh, I was thinking of Toby," answered the little boy. "I hope he isn't out in the rain."

    "Well, it won't hurt him very much," returned Mr. Brown. "The rain is warm, and Toby has a good thick coat of hair. All ponies have. But I guess the gypsies have some sort of barn for their horses--the ones they own and the ones they take from other people."

    "I don't believe they have a barn," said Bunker. "They travel around so much they don't have time to build barns. All I ever saw 'em have was some wagons that looked as if they had come from a circus and a few tents."

    "Oh, well, maybe if they have Toby they'd let him stay in one of the tents," said Mr. Brown, for he did not want Bunny to feel bad about Toby being out in the storm.

    "Yes, they could do that," agreed Bunny. "Toby isn't much bigger than a great big dog, and he could get in a tent. Anyhow, I hope the gypsies will be nice to him."

    "I guess they will be," said Bunny's father. "Well, we'll soon know, for we'll be there shortly."

    Though the storm was a hard one, the motor boat kept on making her way over, or through, the waves toward the landing on the other side of the bay, where Mr. Brown, Bunny, and Bunker were to get out and walk to the place where the gypsies were camped.

    "Did you bring any umbrellas?" asked Bunny of his father.

    "Yes, there are some in one of the lockers. Also rain coats and rubbers. I put them in when I saw that it was likely to rain."

    Mr. Brown kept everything needed in stormy weather at his office on the dock, for often Mrs. Brown, or Bunny and Sue would go for a ride in one of the boats, and a storm would come up while they were out on the bay. Mr. Brown was always ready for all sorts of weather.

    At last, after some hard work on the part of the gasolene motor, the Spray got close to the other side of the bay. Here she was somewhat sheltered from the wind, and it was easier to get along.

    Mr. Brown headed for a public dock, and, a little later, the boat was made fast and the fish merchant, Bunker, and Bunny got out, ready to go to the gypsy camp. It was well that umbrellas, coats and rubbers were in the boat, or the little party would have soon been wet through. As it was, the wind blew so hard that one umbrella was turned inside out.

    "I guess we'd better leave them in the boat," said Mr. Brown. "I think if we wear our coats and sou'westers we'll be dry enough."

    A southwester, which is usually pronounced and sometimes spelled "sou'wester," is a hat made from yellow oilskin, waterproof, and it can be tied on under the chin so it won't blow off.

    And so, with yellow caps on their heads, with yellow coats which came almost to their feet, and with rubber boots, Bunny Brown, his father and Bunker Blue set off through the rain to find the camp of the gypsies, and, if possible, to get Toby. Bunny had a special set of "oilskins," as they are called, for himself. Sue had a set also, but, of course, she was not along this time.

    "And I'm glad we left her at home," said Mr. Brown. "She is a stout little girl, but this storm would have been too much for her. I'm afraid it is almost too much for you, Bunny."

    "Oh, no, it isn't," said Sue's brother. "I like it!"

    And I really believe he did.

    The Spray was left tied to the dock, and a watchman there said he would look after her until Mr. Brown and the others came back. The boat was dry inside, though the outside, like everything else around her, was dripping wet, for the rain still came down hard.

    "Hello!" exclaimed Mr. Brown, as he looked at his watch when they were walking up the dock. "It took us longer to come across the bay than I thought it would. It is almost noon. We had better stop in town and have some dinner. I don't believe the gypsies will feel like feeding us if we take Toby away from them."

    "Do the gypsies eat in the rain?" asked Bunny.

    "Of course," his father answered. "They have to eat then the same as a sailor does. And I suppose they know how to keep dry in their tents and wagons as well as we do in our boats. But we won't depend on them for our meal. We'll get it in the restaurant."

    There was a small one on the shore, at the end of the dock, where fishermen and boatmen, many of whom Mr. Brown knew, took their meals.

    There Bunny, his father and Bunker Blue had some hot clam chowder, with big crackers called "pilot biscuit," to eat with it. After they had eaten the chowder and the other good things the keeper of the restaurant set before them, they were ready to start out in the rain again.

    "The gypsy camp; eh?" remarked a farmer of whom they asked how to get to the place. "Well, you go along this road about a mile, and then turn into the woods at your right. You can't miss it, for you'll see their tents and wagons. But take my advice, mister, and don't buy any horses of the gypsies. You can't trust 'em."

    "I'm not going to buy any horses," said Mr. Brown with a smile. "We're only going to try to get back this little boy's pony which we think the gypsies may have taken."

    "Oh, that's different. Well, I wish you luck!"

    "Did you see my pony?" asked Bunny. "He was awful nice, and he could do tricks!"

    "No, little man, I'm sorry to say I haven't seen your pony," answered the farmer of whom Mr. Brown inquired the way. "I haven't been to the gypsy camp, but a friend of mine bought a horse and it was no good. I don't like gypsies."

    "Well, perhaps some of them are good," suggested Mr. Brown. "Did you happen to see, among them, one tall, dark man, who wears a red handkerchief around his neck, has gold rings in his ears and when he smiles he shows his white teeth."

    "A lot of the men are like that, and some of the women," said the farmer.

    "Is that so?" asked Mr. Brown. "I hoped you might know this particular man. He called himself Jaki Kezar, and he wanted to buy our pony."

    "Only I wouldn't sell Toby to him," put in Bunny.

    "And so," went on Mr. Brown, "we think this man may have come to our stable in the night and taken away the children's pet."

    "Well, that's too bad," said the farmer. "I hope you get the pony back. Just go on for about a mile, and then turn into the woods. You can't miss the place, but you'll find it terribly muddy and wet."

    "Well, we're ready for that sort of thing," said Mr. Brown with a smile from under his yellow hat.

    Bunny's father took hold of his little boy's hand on one side, and Bunker Blue on the other, and together the three plodded along through the storm, the mud, and the rain.

    It was rather hard walking for little Bunny Brown, but he was a brave, sturdy chap, and he was not going to complain or find fault, especially after he had begged to be taken. But his legs did get tired, for the rubber boots were heavy, and, at last, with a sigh, he said:

    "I'm glad we didn't bring Sue along."

    "Why?" asked Mr. Brown, with a smile at Bunker Blue.

    "Because she'd get awful tired, and she'd have to be carried," said Bunny. "I guess you or Bunker would have to carry Sue, if she was with us, Daddy."

    "Maybe we would," said Mr. Brown with another smile. "Maybe you would like to be carried yourself, Bunny?"

    "Me? Oh, no. I'm a boy!" said Bunny quickly.

    But, all the same, his father noticed that the little fellow's legs were moving more and more slowly, and finally Mr. Brown said:

    "I'll carry you a little way, Bunny boy! It will rest you!"

    And how glad Bunny Brown was to hear his father say that! Though he never, never would have asked to be carried. But, of course, if daddy offered to do it that was different; wasn't it?

    Picking his little boy up in his arms, Mr. Brown carried him along the road, perhaps for five minutes, and then Bunker Blue, peering through the mist, exclaimed:

    "I see some tents and wagons over in a field near some woods!"

    He pointed, and Mr. Brown said:

    "I guess that's the gypsy camp all right! Yes, that's what it is!"

    "Then please let me walk," said Bunny quickly. "I'm not tired now."

    He did not want the gypsies to see him in his father's arms.

    Mr. Brown, Bunker and Bunny turned into a field, and walked toward the tents. They could be seen more plainly now, with some wagons drawn up among them. As the three walked along they saw a tall man come from one of the tents toward them.

    "That's the gypsy!" exclaimed Bunny in a whisper. "That's the man that wanted to buy our pony!"

    It was, indeed, Jaki Kezar, and he smiled his pleasant smile.

    "Ah, ha!" he said, as he caught sight of Bunny. "It is the little boy who owns the trick pony! Have you come to sell him to me?" he asked.

    Bunny Brown did not know what to say. Was Toby in the gypsy camp?
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