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    Chapter 17

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    Chapter 17
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    AT THE POLICE STATION

    Bunny Brown, and his sister Sue, standing in front of the window where the monkeys and birds were, in cages, had forgotten all about Mother Brown and Aunt Lu. All the children thought of was watching the funny things the monkeys did, for there were three of the long-tailed animals in one cage, and they seemed to be playing tricks on one another.

    "Oh, Bunny!" said Sue, "this must be where the hand-organ men get their monkeys."

    "Maybe," Bunny agreed. "But hand-organ monkeys have red caps on, and wear green coats, and these monkeys haven't anything on."

    "Maybe they make caps and jackets for them from the birds' feathers," Sue said.

    "Maybe," agreed Bunny. Certainly the feathers of the birds were red and green, just the colors of the caps and jackets the monkeys wore.

    "I wonder if the man would give us a monkey?" Sue said, as she pressed her little nose flat against the window glass, so she would miss nothing of what went on in the store.

    "Maybe he would, or we could save up and buy one," Bunny answered.

    "Monkeys don't cost much I guess. 'Cause hand-organ mens isn't very rich, and they always have one. I'd like a parrot, too," said Sue.

    "Yes, a parrot is better than a doll, for a parrot can talk."

    "A parrot is not better than a doll!" Sue cried.

    "Yes it is," said Bunny. "It's alive, too, and a doll isn't."

    "Well, I can make believe my doll is alive," said Sue. "Anyhow, Bunny Brown, you can't have a parrot or a monkey, 'cause Henry, the elevator boy, won't let 'em come inside Aunt Lu's house."

    "That's so," Bunny agreed. "Well, anyhow, we can go in and ask how much they cost, and we can save up our money and buy one when we go home. We aren't always going to stay at Aunt Lu's. And our dog, Splash, would like a monkey and a parrot."

    "Yes," said Sue, "he would. All right, we'll go in and ask how much they is."

    Hand in hand, never thinking about their aunt and their mother, Bunny and Sue went into the animal store, in the window of which were the monkeys and the parrots. Once inside, the children saw so many other things--chickens, ducks, goldfish, rabbits, squirrels, pigeons and dogs--that they were quite delighted.

    "Why--why!" cried Sue, "it's just like Central Park, Bunny!"

    "Almost!" said the little boy. "Oh, Sue. Look at the squirrel on the merry-go-'round!"

    In a cage on the counter, behind which stood an old man, was a bushy-tailed squirrel, and he was going around and around in a sort of wire wheel. It was like a small merry-go-'round, except that it did not whirl in just the same way.

    "What do you want, children?" asked the old man who kept the animal store.

    "We--we'd like a monkey, if it doesn't cost too much," said Bunny.

    "And a parrot, too. Don't forget the parrot, Bunny," whispered Sue. "We want a parrot that can talk."

    "And how much is a parrot, too?" asked Bunny.

    The old man smiled at the children. Then he said:

    "Well, parrots and monkeys cost more than you think. A parrot that can talk well costs about ten dollars!"

    Bunny looked at Sue and Sue looked at Bunny. They had never thought a parrot cost as much as that. Bunny had thought about twenty-five cents, and Sue about ten.

    "Well," said Bunny with a sigh, "I guess we can't get a parrot."

    "Does one that can't talk cost as much as that?" Sue wanted to know.

    "Well, not quite, but almost, for they soon learn to talk, you know," answered the nice old man.

    "How much are monkeys?" asked Bunny. It was almost as if he had gone into Mrs. Redden's store at home, and asked how much were lollypops.

    "Well, monkeys cost more than parrots," said the old man.

    "Oh, dear!" sighed Bunny. "I--I guess we can't ever save up enough to get one."

    "No, I guess not," agreed Sue.

    The old man smiled in such a nice way that Bunny and Sue felt sure he would be good and kind. He was almost like Uncle Tad.

    "Where did you get all these animals?" asked Bunny, as he and his sister looked around on the dogs, cats, monkeys, parrots, guinea pigs, pigeons and goldfish, that were on all sides of the store.

    "Oh, I have had an animal store a long time," said the old man. "I buy the animals and birds in different places, and sell them to the boys and girls of New York who want them for pets."

    "We have a pet dog named Splash," said Bunny. "He's bigger than any dogs you have here."

    "Yes, I don't keep big dogs," said the old man. "They take up too much room, and they eat too much. Mostly, folks in New York want small dogs, because they live in small houses, or apartments."

    "My Aunt Lu can't have a dog or a parrot or a monkey in her house," said Sue. "Henry, the colored elevator boy, won't let her. Bunny and me, we found a dog, and Henry made us tie him down in the hall to feed him."

    "Yes, I suppose so," said the old man.

    "And we found a ragged man," went on Bunny, "and I had to lead him up stairs--ten flights--'cause Henry maybe wouldn't let him ride in the elevator."

    "That was too bad," said the old animal store-keeper. "But where do you children live? Is your home near here, and do your folks know you are trying to buy a monkey and a parrot?"

    Then, for the first time since they had looked in the window of the animal store, Bunny and Sue thought of Mother Brown and Aunt Lu. They remembered they had started for the seashore.

    "Oh, our mother and aunt are with us," said Bunny. "We had our dinner, and we're going to Coney Island. I guess we'd better go, too, Sue. Maybe they're waiting for us."

    Bunny and Sue started out of the animal store, but, just then, one monkey pulled another monkey's tail, and the second one made such a chattering noise that the children turned around to see what it was. Then the monkey whose tail was pulled, reached out his paw, through the wires of his cage, and caught hold of the tail of a green parrot. Perhaps he thought the parrot was pulling his tail.

    "Stop it! Stop it!" screamed the parrot. "Polly wants a cracker! Oh, what a hot day! Have some ice-cream! Stop it! Stop it! Pop goes the weasel!"

    Bunny and Sue laughed, though they felt sorry that the monkey's and parrot's tails were being pulled. The animal-store man hurried over to the cages to stop the trouble, and Bunny and Sue stayed to watch.

    So it happened, when Mother Brown and Aunt Lu turned around, to find the missing children, Bunny and Sue were not in sight, being inside the store. So, of course, their mother and their aunt did not see them.

    "Oh, where could they have gone?" cried Mother Brown.

    "Perhaps they are just behind us," said Aunt Lu. "We'll find them all right."

    "But suppose they are lost?"

    "They can't be lost very long in New York," Aunt Lu said. "The police will find them. Come, we'll walk back and look for them."

    But though Mother Brown and Aunt Lu walked right past the store, they never thought that Bunny and Sue were inside.

    "Oh, dear!" cried Aunt Lu, "I don't see where they can be!"

    "Nor I," said Mrs. Brown. "Oh, if my children are lost!"

    "If they are we'll soon find them," asserted Aunt Lu, looking up and down the street, but not seeing Bunny or Sue. "Here comes a policeman now," she went on. "We'll ask him."

    But, though the policeman had seen many children on the street, he was not sure he had seen Bunny and Sue.

    "However," he said, "the police station is not far from here. You had better go there and ask if they have any lost children. We pick up some every day, and maybe yours are there. Go to the police station. You'll find 'em there."

    And to the police station went Mother Brown and Aunt Lu. They walked in toward a big, long desk, with a brass rail in front. Behind the desk sat a man dressed like a soldier, with gold braid on his cap.

    "Have you any lost children?" asked Mother Brown.

    "A few," answered the police officer behind the brass rail. "You can hear 'em crying."

    Aunt Lu and Mother Brown listened. Surely enough, they heard several little children crying.

    "They're in the back room," said the officer. "I'll take you in, and you can pick yours out."
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