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    Chapter 18

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    Chapter 18
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    HOME AGAIN

    Mother Brown and Aunt Lu went into the back room of the police station. Around the room, at a table, sat many policemen, most of them with their coats off, for it was rather a warm day. These were the policemen who were waiting for something to happen--such as a fire, or some other trouble--before they went out to help boys and girls, or men and women.

    But, besides these policemen, there were some little children, three little boys, and two little girls, all rather ragged, all quite dirty, and at least one boy and one girl were crying.

    "Oh, where did you get them all?" asked Mother Brown.

    "They are lost children," said the policeman who looked like a soldier, with the gold braid on his cap. "Our officers find them on the street, and bring them here."

    "And how do their fathers and mothers find them?" asked Aunt Lu.

    "Oh, they come here looking for them, the same as you two ladies are doing. The children are never lost very long. You see they're so little they can't tell where they live, or we'd send them home ourselves. Are any of these the lost children you are looking for?"

    "Oh, no! Not one!" exclaimed Mother Brown. It took only one look to show her and Aunt Lu that Bunny and Sue were not among the lost children then in the police station.

    "Well, I wish some of these were yours," returned the officer. "Especially those two crying ones. They've cried ever since they came here."

    "Boo-hoo!" cried two of the lost children. They seemed to be afraid, more than were the others. The others rather liked it. One boy was playing with a policeman's hat, while a little girl was trying to see if she was as tall as a policeman's long club.

    "Will they stay here long?" asked Aunt Lu.

    "Oh, no, not very long," said the officer.

    "Their mothers will miss them soon, and come to look for them. So none of these are yours?" he asked.

    "No, but I wish they were," said Mother Brown. "Oh, what has happened to Bunny and Sue?" she asked, and there were tears in her eyes.

    "They'll be all right," said the officer in the gold-laced cap. "Maybe they haven't been found yet. As soon as a policeman on the street sees that your children are lost he'll bring them here. You can sit down and wait, if you like. Your little ones may be brought in any minute now."

    But Aunt Lu and Mother Brown thought they would rather be out in the street, looking for Bunny and Sue, instead of staying in the police station, and waiting.

    "If you leave the names of your children," said the officer to Mother Brown, "we'll telephone to you as soon as they are found. That is if they can tell their names."

    "Oh, Bunny and Sue can do that, and they can also tell where they live," said Aunt Lu.

    "Oh, then they'll be all right," the officer said, with a laugh. "Maybe they're home by this time. If they told a policeman where they lived he might even take them home, or send them home in a taxicab. We often do that," he said, for he could tell by looking at Aunt Lu and Mother Brown that the two ladies lived in a nice part of New York, maybe a long way from this police station.

    "Oh, perhaps Bunny and Sue are home now, waiting for us!" said Mother Brown. "Let's go and see!"

    "And if they're not, and if they are brought here, we'll telephone to you," the officer said, as he put the names of Bunny and Sue down on a piece of paper, and also Aunt Lu's telephone number.

    So Mrs. Brown and her sister left the police station, and, after another look in the street where they last had seen Bunny and Sue, hoping they might see them (but they did not), off they started for Aunt Lu's house.

    "Maybe they are there now," said Mother Brown.

    But of course Bunny Brown and his sister Sue were not. We know where they were, though their mother and aunt did not. The children were still in the animal store, laughing at the funny things the monkeys were doing.

    After a while, though, one monkey stopped pulling the other monkey's tail, and the other monkey stopped trying to pull the green feathers out of the parrot's tail, and it was quiet in the animal store, except for the cooing of the pigeons and the barking of the dogs.

    "So you don't think you want to buy a monkey or a parrot to-day, children?" asked the animal-man, with a smile.

    "No, thank you. We haven't the money," said Bunny. "But I would like a monkey."

    "And I'd like a parrot," added Sue. "But Henry, the elevator boy, wouldn't let us keep 'em, so maybe it's just as well."

    "We can come down here when we want to see any animals," said Bunny to his sister. "I like it better than Central Park."

    "So do I," said Sue.

    "Yes, come down as often as you like," the old man invited them. "Are you going?" he asked, as he saw Bunny and Sue open the door.

    "Yes, we're going to Coney Island with mother and Aunt Lu," Bunny answered.

    He and Sue stepped out into the street. They had forgotten all about their mother and their aunt until now, and they thought they would find them on the sidewalk, waiting. But, of course, we know what Mother Brown and Aunt Lu had done--gone to the police station, looking for the lost ones.

    So, when Bunny and Sue looked up and down the street, as they stood in front of the animal store, they did not see Mrs. Brown or Aunt Lu.

    "I--I wonder where they went?" said Sue.

    "I don't know," answered Bunny. "Maybe they're lost!"

    Sue looked a little frightened at this. The animal-man, seeing the children did not know what to do, came out to them.

    "Can't you find your mother?" he asked.

    "No," answered Bunny. "She--she's lost!"

    "I guess it's you who are lost," said the animal-man. "But never mind. Tell me where you live, and I'll have the police take you home."

    Bunny and Sue, when first they came to New York, had been told by their Aunt Lu that if they ever got lost not to be worried or frightened, for a policeman would take them home. So now, when they heard the animal-man speak about the police, they knew what to expect.

    "Where do you live, children?" asked the gray-haired animal-man. "Tell me where you live."

    But, strange to say, Bunny and Sue had each forgotten. Some days past their aunt and mother had made them learn, by heart, the number and the street where Aunt Lu's house stood. But now, try as they did, neither Bunny nor Sue could remember it. Watching the monkeys and parrots had made them forget, I suppose.

    "Don't you know where you live?" asked the animal-man.

    Bunny shook his head. So did Sue.

    "Our elevator boy is named Henry," Bunny said.

    The animal-man laughed.

    "I guess there are a good many elevator boys named Henry, in New York," he said. "I'll just tell the police that I have two lost children here. They'll come and get you, and take you home. Maybe your aunt and mother have already been at the police station looking for you."

    It took only a little while for the kind man to telephone to the same police station where Aunt Lu and Mother Brown had been. Of course they were not there then.

    But soon a kind policeman came and took Bunny and Sue to the police station, leading them by the hand. Bunny and Sue thought it was fun, and persons in the street smiled at the sight. They knew two lost children had been found.

    "What are your names, little ones?" asked the policeman behind the big brass railing, when the two tots were led into the station house.

    "I'm Bunny Brown, and this is my sister Sue," spoke up the little boy. "We're lost, and so is our mother and our Aunt Lu."

    "Well, you won't be lost long," said the officer with a laugh. "Your mother and aunt have been here looking for you, but they've gone home. I'll telephone them you are here, and they'll come and get you."

    And that's just what happened. Bunny and Sue sat in the back room, with the other lost children, though there were not so many now, for two of them--the crying ones--had been taken away by their mothers. And, pretty soon, along came Aunt Lu's big automobile, and in that Bunny and Sue were ready to be taken safely home.

    Then Aunt Lu rode past the kind animal-man's place, and she and Mother Brown thanked him for his care of the children.

    "We couldn't have a monkey and a parrot, could we, Mother?" asked Bunny, as they left the animal store.

    "No, dear. I'm afraid not."

    "I didn't think we could," Bunny went on. "But when we get back home, where Henry, the elevator boy, can't see 'em, Sue and I is going to have a monkey and a parrot."
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