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    Chapter 9

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    Chapter 9
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    THE WRONG HOUSE

    For a second or two Bunny Brown and his sister Sue did not know what to say. They stood on the sidewalk, at the door of the automobile, which was one of the closed kind, staring at the little colored girl, with her kinky wisps of hair.

    "Well, what do you think of Wopsie?" asked Aunt Lu again. "Don't you like my surprise, Bunny--Sue?"

    "Is--is this the surprise?" asked Bunny.

    "Yes, this is Wopsie. I'll tell you about her in a little while. Get in now, and we'll soon be at my house."

    Wopsie, the colored girl, smiled to show even more of her white teeth, and then she asked:

    "Is yo' all de company?"

    "Yes, this is the company I told you about, Wopsie," said Miss Baker, which was Aunt Lu's name. "This is Bunny," and she pointed to the little boy, "and this little girl is Sue. They are going to be my company for a long time, I hope."

    Wopsie gave a funny little bow, that sent her black topknots of hair bobbing all over her head, and said:

    "Pleased to meet yo' all, company! Pleased to meet yo'!"

    Bunny and Sue thought Wopsie talked quite funnily, but they were too polite to say so. They looked at the little colored girl and smiled. And she smiled back at them.

    "Home, George," said Miss Baker to one of the two men on the front seat of the automobile. The man touched his cap, and soon Bunny, Sue and their mother were being driven rapidly through the streets of New York in Aunt Lu's automobile.

    "It's almost as big as the one we went in to grandpa's, in the country," said Bunny, as he looked around at the seats, and noticed the little electric lamp in the roof.

    "But you can't sleep in it or cook in it," said Sue. "And there's no place for Splash or Bunker Blue."

    "No," said Bunny. "That's so."

    The children had had to leave Splash, the dog, home with Daddy Brown, and of course Bunker Blue did not come to Aunt Lu's.

    "No, we can't sleep in my auto, nor eat, unless it is to eat candy, or cookies, or something like that," said Aunt Lu. "And I have some sweet crackers for the children, if you think it's all right for them to eat," said Aunt Lu to Mother Brown.

    "Oh, yes. I guess it will be all right. They must be hungry, though they ate on the train."

    "And Bunny stopped the train, too!" cried Sue. "He pulled on the whistle cord, with mother's parasol, and we stopped so quick we slid out of our seats; didn't we, Bunny?"

    "Yep!"

    "My! That was quite an adventure," said Aunt Lu, laughing.

    "And we went in the choo-choo engine," went on Sue. "I ringed the bell, I did, and so did Bunny. Was you ever in a train, Wopsie?" Sue asked the little colored girl.

    "Yes'm, I was once."

    "Wopsie came all the way up from down South," said Aunt Lu. "She is a little lost girl."

    "Lost!" cried Bunny and Sue. They did not understand how any one could be lost when in a nice automobile with Aunt Lu.

    "Yes'm, I'se losted!" said Wopsie, shaking her kinky head, "an' I suttinly does wish dat I could find mah folks!"

    "I must tell you about her," said Aunt Lu. "Wopsie, which is the name I call her, though her right name is Sallie Jefferson, was sent up North to live with her aunt here in New York. Wopsie made the trip all alone. She was put on the train, at a little town somewhere in North Carolina, or South Carolina--she doesn't remember which--and sent up here."

    "All alone?" asked Bunny.

    "Yes, all alone. She had a tag, or piece of paper, pinned to her dress, with the name and house number of her aunt. But the paper was lost."

    "De paper was losted, and now I'se losted," said Wopsie.

    "I'll tell them all about you, Wopsie," said Aunt Lu.

    Then she told Bunny and Sue how the little colored girl had reached New York all alone, not knowing where to go.

    "A kind lady, in the same station where you children just came in, looked after Wopsie," said Aunt Lu. "This lady looks after all lost boys and girls, and she took Wopsie to a nice place to stay all night. In the morning she tried to find Wopsie's aunt, but could not. Nor could Wopsie tell her aunt's name, or where she lived. She was lost just as you and Sue, Bunny, sometimes get lost in the woods."

    "And how did you come to take her?" asked Mother Brown.

    "Well, Wopsie was sent to a society that looks after lost children," said Aunt Lu. "They tried to find her friends, either up here, in New York, or down South, but they could not. I belong to this society, and when I heard of Wopsie I said I would take her and keep her in my house for a while. I can train her to become a lady's maid while I am waiting to find her folks."

    "Are you trying to find them?" asked Mrs. Brown.

    "Yes, I have written all over, and so has the society. We have asked the police to let us know if any one is asking for a little lost colored girl. But I have had her nearly a month now, and no one has claimed her."

    "Yep. I suah am losted!" said Wopsie, but she laughed as she said it, and did not seem to mind very much. "It's fun being losted like this," she said, as she patted the soft cushions of the automobile. "I likes it!"

    "And are you really going to keep her?" asked Mrs. Brown of her sister.

    "Yes, until she gets a little older, or until I can find her folks. I think her father and mother must have died some time ago," said Aunt Lu in a whisper to Mrs. Brown. "She probably didn't have any real folks down South, so whoever she was with sent her up here."

    "Well, I'm glad you took care of her," said Mrs. Brown. "She looks like a nice clean little girl."

    "She is; and she is very kind and helpful. She is careful, too, and she will be a help with Bunny and Sue. Wopsie has already learned her way around that part of New York near my apartment, and I can send her on errands. She can take Bunny and Sue out."

    While Mrs. Brown and Aunt Lu were talking together Wopsie had given Bunny and Sue some sweet crackers from a box she took out from a pocket in the side of the automobile. Aunt Lu had told her to do so. So Bunny and Sue ate the crackers as they rode along, and Wopsie sat near them.

    "Don't you want a cracker?" asked Bunny.

    "No, sah, thank you," answered the little colored girl. "I don't eat 'tween meals. Miss Baker say as how it ain't good for your intergestion."

    "What's in--indergaston?" asked Sue.

    "Huh! Dat's a misery on yo' insides--a pain," said Wopsie. "I t'ought everybody knowed dat!"

    Bunny was silent a minute.

    "Do you know how to stop a train by pulling on the whistle cord?" he asked.

    "No," said Wopsie.

    "Huh! I thought everybody knew that!" exclaimed Bunny. Then he laughed, as Wopsie did. It was a little joke on her, when Bunny answered her the way he did.

    The automobile came to a stop in front of a large building. Bunny and Sue looked up at it.

    "My! What a big house you live in, Aunt Lu!" said Bunny.

    "Oh, this isn't all mine!" laughed Aunt Lu. "There are many others who live in here. This is what is called an apartment house. I have my dining room, kitchen, bath room and other rooms, and other families in this building have the same thing. You see there isn't room in New York to build separate houses, such as you have in Bellemere, so they make one big house, and divide it up on the inside, into a number of little houses, or apartments."

    Bunny and Sue thought that very strange.

    "But you haven't any yard to play in!" exclaimed Bunny, as he and his sister got out of the automobile, and found that the front door of Aunt Lu's apartment was right on the sidewalk.

    "No, we don't have yards in the city, Bunny. But we have a roof to go up on and play."

    "Playing on a roof!" cried Bunny. "I should think you'd fall off!"

    "Oh, it has a high railing all around it. Wopsie may take you up there after a bit. Then you can see how it seems to play on a roof, instead of down on the ground. We have to do queer things in big cities."

    Bunny Brown and his sister Sue certainly thought so.

    As they entered the apartment house the children found themselves in a wide hall, with marble floor and sides. There was a nice carpet over the marble floor and bright electric lights glowed from the ceiling.

    "Right in here," said Aunt Lu, leading the children toward what seemed to be a little room with an iron door, like the iron gate to some park. A colored boy, with many brass buttons on his blue coat, stood at the door.

    "Jes' yo' all wait an' see what gwine t' happen!" said Wopsie.

    "Why, what is going to happen?" asked Bunny.

    "Oh, ho! Yo' all jes' wait!" exclaimed Wopsie, laughing at her secret.

    "What is it? I don't want anything to happen!" cried Sue hanging back.

    "Oh, it isn't anything, dear. This is just the elevator," said Aunt Lu. "Get in and you'll have a nice ride."

    "Oh, I like a ride," Sue said.

    In she stepped with Bunny, her mother, Aunt Lu and Wopsie. The colored boy, who was also smiling, and showing his white teeth as Wopsie was doing, closed the iron door. Then, all of a sudden, Bunny and Sue felt themselves shooting upward.

    "Oh! Oh!" cried Bunny. "We're in a balloon! We're in a balloon! We're going up!"

    "Just like a skyrocket on the Fourth of July!" added Sue. She was not afraid now. She was clapping her hands.

    Up and up and up they went!

    "Oh, what makes it?" asked Bunny. "Is it a balloon, Aunt Lu?"

    "No, dear, it's just the elevator. You see this big house is so high that you would get tired climbing the stairs up to my rooms, so we go up in the elevator. It lifts us up, and in England they call them 'lifts' on this account."

    "Oh, I see!" Bunny cried, as he looked up and saw that he was in a sort of square steel cage, going up what seemed to be a long tunnel; standing up instead of lying on the ground as a railroad tunnel lies. "I see! We're going up, just like a bucket of water comes up out of the well."

    "That's it!" said Aunt Lu. "And when we go down we go down just like the bucket going down in the well."

    "It's fun! I like it!" and Sue clapped her hands. "I like the elevator!"

    "Yes'm, it sho' am fun!" echoed Wopsie.

    "Wopsie would ride up and down all day if I'd let her," said Aunt Lu. "But here we are at my floor. Now wasn't that better than climbing up ten flights of stairs, children?"

    "I guess it was!" cried Bunny. "Do you live up ten flights?"

    "Yes, and there are some families who live higher than that."

    They stepped out of the elevator into a little hall, and soon they were in Aunt Lu's nice city apartment, or house, if you like that word better.

    "Now, Wopsie," said Aunt Lu, "you tell Jane to make Mrs. Brown a nice cup of tea."

    "And can we go up on the roof?" asked Bunny.

    "Not right away--but after a while," said his aunt.

    "Let's go out into the elevator again," suggested Sue.

    "No, dear, not now," said Mrs. Brown.

    Bunny and Sue thought they had never been in such a nice place as Aunt Lu's city home. From the windows they could look down to the street, ten stories below.

    "It's a good way to fall," said Bunny, in a whisper.

    "But you musn't lean out of the windows, and then you won't fall," his mother told him.

    The children were given their supper, and then Wopsie took them up on the roof. This was higher yet. It was a flat roof, with a broad, high railing all around it so no one could fall off. And from it Bunny and Sue could look all over New York, and see the twinkling lights far off, for it was now getting on toward evening, though it was not yet dark.

    A little later Wopsie took them down in the elevator again, to the street. There they saw other children walking up and down, some of them playing; some babies being wheeled in carriages, and many men and women walking past.

    "My! What a lot of people!" cried Bunny. "Is it always this way in a city, Wopsie?"

    "Yes'm," answered the little colored girl, who seemed to mix up "Yes, ma'am," and "Yes, sir." But what of it? She meant all right. "It's bin dis way eber sence I come t' New York," she went on. "Allers a crowd laik dis. Everybuddy hurryin' an' hurryin'."

    Wopsie stood still a moment to speak to another colored girl, who came out of the next house, and Bunny and Sue walked on ahead. Before they knew it they had turned a corner. Down at the end of the street they saw a man playing a hand-piano, or hurdy-gurdy, as they are called.

    "Oh, Bunny!" cried Sue. "Let's go down and listen to the music."

    "All right," Bunny agreed. "And maybe he has a monkey, like Wango."

    Hand in hand the two children ran on. They saw other children about the hurdy-gurdy. Some of them were dancing. Bunny and Sue danced too. Then the music-man wheeled his music machine away, and Bunny and Sue turned to go back. They walked on and on, and finally Bunny, stopping in front of a big house said:

    "This is where Aunt Lu lives."

    "But where is Wopsie?" asked Sue. "Why isn't she here?"

    "Oh, maybe she went inside," replied Bunny. "Come on, we'll go in the elevator and have a ride."

    They went into the marble hall. It looked just like the one in Aunt Lu's apartment. And there was the same colored elevator boy in his queer little cage. Bunny and Sue went to the entrance.

    "Where yo' want to go?" asked the elevator boy.

    "To Aunt Lu's," answered Bunny.

    "What floor she done lib on?" the boy asked.

    "I--I don't know," Bunny said. "I--I forgot the number."

    "What's her name?"

    "Aunt Lu," said Sue.

    "No, I mean her last name?"

    "Oh, it's Baker," said Bunny. "Aunt Lu Baker."

    The colored elevator boy shook his head.

    "They don't no Miss Baker lib heah!" he said. "I done guess yo' chilluns done got in de wrong house!"
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