IN THE ARK
"Oh, Bunny! Here comes Bunker Blue!"
"Where is he? I don't see him!"
Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue were playing on the shady side porch of their house one morning, when the little girl, looking up from a cracker box which had been made into a bed--where she was putting her doll to sleep--saw a tall boy walking up the path.
"There's Bunker!" went on Sue to her brother, Bunny, at the same time pointing. "Maybe he's come to take us for a ride in one of daddy's fishing boats!"
"Have you, Bunker?" asked Bunny, standing up and brushing some shavings from his little jacket, for he had been using a dull kitchen knife, trying to whittle out a wooden boat from a piece of curtain stick. "Oh, Bunker, have you?"
"Have I what?" asked the tall boy, who worked on the dock where Mr. Brown, the father of Bunny and Sue, carried on a boat and fish business. "Have I what?" Bunker asked again, and he stood still and gazed at the two small children who were anxiously looking at him.
"Have you come to take us for a ride?" asked Bunny.
"In one of daddy's boats?" added Sue, who generally waited for her brother to speak first, since he was a year older than she.
"Not this time, messmates," answered Bunker Blue with a laugh, calling the children the name one sailor sometimes gives to another. "Not this time messmates. I've come up to get the ark."
"Oh, the ark!" cried Bunny. "Did you hear that, Sue? Bunker has come up to get the ark!"
"Oh! Oh!" and Sue fairly squealed in delight. "Then we'll have a nice ride in that. Wait, Bunker, till I put my doll away, and I'll come with you. Wait for me!"
"And I'll come, too," added Bunny. "I can bring my boat with me. 'Tisn't all done yet," he added, "but I can whittle on it when we ride along, and then I can sail it when we get to the dock."
"Now avast there and belay, messmates!" cried Bunker Blue with a laugh, using some more of the kind of talk he heard among the sailors that came to Mr. Brown's dock with boats of fish. "Wait a minute! I didn't say I had come to give you a ride in the ark. I just came to get it."
"But you will let us ride, won't you, Bunker?" asked Bunny, smiling at the tall boy.
"'Cause we'll sit just as still as anything," added Sue.
"And I won't touch the steering wheel--not once!" promised Bunny.
"I guess you'd better not--not after you once got almost run away with in the big ark," said Bunker. "I should say not!"
"Oh, please let us come with you!" begged Sue. "We want awful much to ride in the ark, Bunker!"
While the two children were talking to the tall boy another little girl had crawled under the fence from the street, and was now standing near Bunny and his sister. She was Sadie West, one of Sue's chums, and when she heard Bunny's sister begging for a ride in the "ark" Sadie said:
"Oh, Sue! is he going to take your Noah's ark away? I wouldn't let him if I were you!"
"It isn't Noah's ark at all," Sue explained. "We call the big automobile, that we had such a long ride in, the ark. It looks a little like a Noah's ark, but it's bigger, and we can all get in it," she added.
"Oh!" exclaimed Sadie. "I thought Bunker meant he was going to take your little ark, and all the wooden animals, away," she added.
"Not this time," said Bunker Blue. "Your father sent me up, Bunny, to get the big auto--the ark, as you call it. It's got to be fixed, and I'm to drive it to the shop
over at East Milford. That's why I came up. Where's your mother? I want to tell her I'm taking away the ark, so she won't think some tramps or some gypsies have run off with it."
"I'll call her," Sue said, while Bunny kept on brushing the tiny whittlings from his jacket and short trousers. And there was a queer look on the face of Bunny Brown.
"What are you making, Bunny?" asked Bunker, as he waited for Sue to go into the house and give her mother the message.
"Boat," Bunny answered.
"Pretty small one, isn't it?" inquired Bunker, who knew a lot about boats and fish, from having worked at Mr. Brown's dock a number of years. "Awful small boat."
"It's a lifeboat that I'm going to put on my big sailboat," explained Bunny, for he had a large boat, with a real sail on it that could be raised and lowered. It was not a boat large enough for him and Sue to ride on, though Sue sometimes gave one of her dolls a trip on it. "I have to have a lifeboat on my sailboat," Bunny went on, "'cause maybe a scrumbarine might sink my big ship."
"That's so," agreed Bunker. "Well, Bunny, you go in and tell your mother I'm going to take the ark, will you? I'm in a hurry, and I guess Sue forgot what she went after. You go in and tell your mother."
"Yes, I'll do that," Bunny promised. "But can't we have a ride in the ark with you, Bunker?"
"Not this time, Bunny!"
"No, your father didn't say anything about taking you over to the East Milford auto shop
with me, and I don't dare do it unless he says so."
"Well, we can ask him," went on Bunny eagerly.
"No, I haven't time to run down to the dock again, and your father is busy there. A big load of fish came in, and he has to see that they get iced, so they won't spoil. Hurry and tell your mother--Oh, here she comes now!" exclaimed Bunker Blue, as Mrs. Brown came to the door. Sue and Sadie West stood behind her.
"Did you want to see me, Bunker?" asked Mrs. Brown.
"Yes'm," answered the boy. "Mr. Brown sent me up to get the ark. He wants me to drive it over to Simpson's garage, in East Milford, to have it looked over and fixed. I thought if I went into the barn and took the machine out without telling you, maybe you'd think some gypsies ran away with it."
"Why! are there any gypsies around now, Bunker?" asked Mrs. Brown.
"Yes, I heard the other day that a band of them was camping up along the creek. But I guess they won't come bothering around here."
"If they do I'll sic Splash, my dog, on 'em," said Bunny.
"Yes, I guess Splash will scare off the gypsies," agreed Bunker Blue with a laugh. Then he added: "So, now I've told you what I'm going to do, Mrs. Brown, I'll go and get the ark and drive it over."
"All right, Bunker," said Mrs. Brown. "Is my husband very busy?"
"Yes'm. A big boatload of fish just came in, and he's seeing to having 'em iced."
"Oh, then he can't come up. I was just going to telephone that I want the sideboard moved to the other end of the room, and it's too heavy for Uncle Tad to manage alone. I thought Mr. Brown might run up and help, but if he's so busy with the fish----"
"I'll help," offered Bunker. "I'm not in such a hurry as all that. I'll help Uncle Tad move the sideboard, and then I'll get the auto."
"Can't we go with you?" begged Sue. "Can't we have a ride in the ark, Mother?"
"Oh, my, no!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown. "Bunker can't be bothered with you children."
"I wouldn't mind taking them, ma'am," said the fish boy. "In fact, I'd like to, but their father didn't say anything about it. Besides, I'll have to walk back from East Milford after I leave the ark there to be fixed. It'd be too far for them to walk back."
"Of course it would. Run along now, Bunny and Sue, and have some fun by yourselves. Don't bother Bunker."
Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue stood on the side porch looking at one another as Bunker went in the house to help Uncle Tad move the sideboard. Uncle Tad was an old soldier who lived with the Brown family. He was Mr. Brown's uncle, but Bunny and Sue thought they owned just as much of the dear old man as did their father. Sadie West, who had crawled in under the fence instead of going around by the gate, ran home again, leaving Bunny and Sue by themselves.
"Say, Sue," began Bunny in a low voice, looking toward the house to make sure his mother and Bunker Blue had gone inside.
"What, Bunny?" asked the little girl.
"I know what we can do," went on Bunny.
This time Bunny whispered.
"We can go out to the barn," he said in a low voice, his lips close to his sister's ear, "an' get in the ark when Bunker doesn't see us. He can't see us 'cause he's in the house helping Uncle Tad move the sideboard. We can easy get in the ark."
"What for?" Sue wanted to know. "Bunker said he wouldn't give us a ride."
"Yes. But if we're in there he'll have to!"
"Why?" asked Sue.
"'Cause," whispered Bunny, "he won't know we're in there at all, Sue!"
"Won't he?" asked Sue, her eyes shining.
"Nope! While Bunker's in the house helping Uncle Tad move the sideboard, we'll crawl in the back end of the ark. And we'll keep awful still, and we'll have a nice ride over to East Milford, and Bunker won't know a thing about it!"
"Oh, let's do it!" cried Sue, always ready to take part in the tricks Bunny thought of. "Let's do it! I'll take my doll!"
"And I'll take my little lifeboat. 'Tisn't all made yet, but that won't hurt! Come on!"
Quietly the two children tiptoed down off the side porch. Through the open dining-room windows they could hear Bunker Blue and Uncle Tad moving the sideboard.
Out to the barn went Bunny Brown and his Sister Sue. In the barn was the ark--the big auto--as large as a moving van. In it the whole Brown family had made a tour the previous summer. It really was like an ark, for it had rooms in it where the children and grown-ups could sleep, and a place to cook and eat meals.
"Now don't make any noise!" whispered Bunny to his sister. "We'll just crawl inside the ark and cover up with blankets, and Bunker won't know we're here. Then he'll start off and when we get to East Milford we can----"
"Oh, we can jump out and holler 'boo!' at him an' scare him!" laughed Sue, clapping her chubby hands in delight.
"Yes, we can do that. But not now!" whispered Bunny. "Hurry up an' crawl in, an' don't make any noise!"
So the two children entered the ark by the rear door, and found some blankets with which they covered themselves in two of the bunks, built on the sides of the big auto.
What would happen next?