The children had succeeded better than they had dared dream. Outside the crowd was getting larger and larger all the while, and men were saying:
"That's a pretty good dog!"
The women said:
"What a pretty picture!"
Little girls said:
"I wish I had that pussy!"
The boys wished they owned Splash. Many of them knew him, for they had often seen the dog with Bunny Brown. But the kitten was new, and few knew that Charlie Star owned it.
And then happened just what Uncle Tad had told the children would take place if they could draw a crowd outside the store. Some began to look at the special display of oatmeal in the other window, and a few came in to buy. Some bought not only oatmeal but other things as well, happening to remember that they were needed at home.
Mrs. Golden, who felt much better after her sleep, was kept very busy waiting on customers, and Bunny and Sue helped her, as did Charlie.
Splash and the kitten did their share, too, in drawing trade. For soon the kitten awakened and began playing with a spool which Charlie had hung up on a string in the window. The little white cat struck at the spool with her paws as she stood up on the back of the big dog. Splash did not seem to mind it in the least. In fact, he looked as if he enjoyed it, and this amused the crowd all the more.
"Well, I do declare! You children beat anything I ever saw!" exclaimed Mrs. Golden, when she had time to look and see what was going on in the special display window. "You've made my store into a regular circus!"
"But it's good for business, isn't it?" asked Bunny.
"Indeed it is!" said the old lady, with a smile. "I never was so busy. That oatmeal is selling fine. I wish I'd had a special sale of it before."
Besides the boxes in the window there were packages of oatmeal piled on shelves ready to be sold. And as the price was lower than oatmeal could be bought for at other stores, Mrs. Golden did a good trade.
After a while things became a little quieter in the store, after the first surprise had worn off. But now people were constantly passing in the street, and many of them stopped to look at the dog and cat, which were now playing together, Splash gently pawing at the white kitten which climbed all over him.
Bunny had just finished selling a man a package of oatmeal, and Sue was getting out a paper of pins for a lady when Uncle Tad came into the store.
"Hello, children!" he cried in his jolly way. "I see you took some of my advice and advertised by your show windows," he added to Mrs. Golden.
"Bunny and Sue did it for me," she said, "with the help of Charlie Star. It is wonderful."
"If you'll get me a white piece of cardboard and a pen and some ink I'll make you a sign to put in that oatmeal window," offered the old soldier. "Those signs are all right, Bunny," said Uncle Tad. "But for a special sale you want a special sign. Let me see now," he went on, as Mrs. Golden got him what he had asked for. "You have made those oatmeal boxes into the shape of a fort with guns. Now I must make a sign to go with it. Let me see. Ah, I have it!"
He was busy with the ink for several minutes, and then he held up a sign which read:
FORT-IFY YOUR CONSTITUTION WITH THIS OATMEAL
"There!" exclaimed Uncle Tad, "this ought to bring more customers!"
"Ha! Ha!" laughed Mrs. Golden. "That's a pretty good joke!"
Bunny, Sue, and Charlie could not see anything funny, or like a joke, in the sign. But then it was not intended for children, so it did not matter.
But men and women passing in the street and pausing to read what Uncle Tad had printed, seemed to think it was odd, for they stopped, read it, laughed or chuckled, and then either passed on or came in and bought some oatmeal. And quite a few came in, so that by night Mrs. Golden had sold nearly all of the cereal.
"My goodness!" she said, when it was time for Bunny, Sue, and Charlie to go home. "This has been a wonderful day. Could you come over to-morrow?" she asked. "I don't mean to work," she added quickly. "For I'm afraid your mothers will think you're doing too much for me. But I mean could you come over and bring your dog and cat to put in the window. They certainly brought the crowd."
"Yes, we'll bring Splash," said Bunny.
"And I'll bring my kitten," offered Charlie.
"And we'll come and help you sell things!" laughed Sue. "We like it, don't we?" she asked the boys, and of course they said they did.
The first attempt of Bunny and Sue to advertise Mrs. Golden's store had been very successful. Of course Uncle Tad had told them how to do it, and Charlie Star had helped by bringing his kitten and training her with Bunny and Sue. So the special oatmeal sale made quite a bit of talk in that section of Bellemere near the little corner store.
Of course Mrs. Golden did not make a great deal of money, for the profit on each thing she sold, even the many boxes of oatmeal, was small. But it brought new customers to her store, and she was well pleased with what had happened.
"And if Philip can only get that legacy," she murmured to herself that night, "things will be easier for me. But I owe a lot of money to Mr. Flynt, and I don't know where I'm going to get it to pay—not even if those dear children help me with a lot more special sales, bless their hearts! Well, I'll do the best I can."
The next day Bunny, Sue, and Charlie again came to Mrs. Golden's store. Charlie could not stay, however, as he had to rake up the leaves around his home, but he brought his kitten, and again the dog and the white pussy drew crowds to the store window.
Besides oatmeal Mrs. Golden also had a special sale on notions, and she did a fairly good business in them, so that she and Sue were kept busy behind the counter. Not that Sue could do as much as Mrs. Golden, but she did all she could.
Bunny waited on some customers who came in to buy groceries, and when one lady wanted some flour an accident happened. Bunny was leaning over to scoop the white stuff out of the barrel, and as it was near the bottom he had to stand up on a box to reach it.
Suddenly the lady on whom he was waiting, and who was watching him, gave a startled cry.
"What's the matter?" asked Mrs. Golden.
"That little boy has fallen into the flour barrel!" was the answer.
SUE COULDN'T STOP IT
There was a banging, kicking sound and several cries of "Oh, dear!" The cries were faint and muffled, as if they came from the cellar. Then the lady who had ordered three pounds of flour, which Bunny was trying to scoop out for her, ran behind the counter.
Sue followed. So did Mrs. Golden. All they saw were Bunny's heels sticking out of the barrel, waving in the air, and now and then banging against a low shelf near which the flour barrel stood.
"Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" cried Bunny, from inside the barrel.
For that is where he was. He had fallen into the flour barrel!
"Pull him out!" begged Sue.
"I can't. I'm not strong enough to pull him up!" panted the customer, but doing her best.
"We must all pull!" exclaimed Sue. "Bunny pulled me out of the brook, and I'll pull him out of the flour barrel!"
"Yes, we must all pull!" said Mrs. Golden.
Together they all grasped Bunny by the heels and lifted him out of the flour barrel.
Oh, but he was a queer sight! Luckily he had stuck out his two hands when he felt himself falling head first into the nearly empty barrel, and had landed on his outstretched palms. And as there was not much flour in the barrel his head had not gone into the fluffy white stuff, or he might nearly have smothered. As it was his face was completely covered with the white particles.
And when Mrs. Golden, the customer and Sue had pulled the little boy from the barrel, and set him on his feet, Sue could not help laughing.
"Oh, Bunny!" she cried, giggling. "You look—you look just like the clown in the circus!"
And truly Bunny did, for his face was plastered as white as the face of any funny man that ever made jokes beneath the canvas.
"You poor boy," said the customer.
"Oh, Bunny, I'm so sorry!" exclaimed Mrs. Golden.
"I—I'm all right," declared Bunny, blowing out a white cloud of flour as he talked. "I—I didn't spill any!"
"No, you spilled yourself more than anything else," said Mrs. Golden. "I guess I'd better get the flour, Bunny, after we brush you off. It's too low in the barrel for you to reach. I don't want you falling in again."
"All right," agreed Bunny. "I guess I'm not quite big enough for flour barrels."
He was dusted off out in the side yard, so no great harm resulted from his accidental dive into the barrel, and Mrs. Golden waited on the flour customer.
"What did you think, Bunny, when you were falling into the flour barrel?" asked Sue, when the excitement was over and business was going on as before in the little corner store.
"What did I think?" he repeated. "Why, I guess I didn't have time to think anything. I just felt myself slipping, and then I fell in. I stuck out my hands, and I'm glad the flour wasn't deep in the barrel."
"It was like the time when I fell into the brook!" said Sue, with a little laugh. "Only I fell in feet first and you went in head first."
"Yes," laughed Bunny, "I went in head first all right!"
Mrs. Golden told the children they must not try to do things that were too hard for them, even though they meant to be kind and help her.
The second day of the special sale of oatmeal and notions was not quite as busy as the first. The novelty of the cat and dog in the window wore off and Bunny brought some of the little pet alligators to show. Still quite a number of people came in to buy, and Mrs. Golden was well pleased, thanking Bunny, Sue, and Charlie many times. She also wanted to thank Splash and the white kitten and the best way to do this was to feed them, which she did, as well as the alligators.
"We'll come and help you tend store to-morrow," said Bunny as he and Sue went home that night, Sue carrying Charlie's kitten in a basket and Splash following at Bunny's heels. The alligators were left till next day.
"I'm afraid your mother will think you are doing too much for me," said the old lady, as she said good-bye.
"Oh, no!" exclaimed Bunny. "She told us to help you all we could."
"And we like it!" Sue exclaimed. "It's fun."
"Except when you fall into flour barrels!" added Bunny Brown, with a laugh at some white spots that still clung to his jacket.
Mrs. Brown did not mind how much Bunny and his sister helped Mrs. Golden, but she told the children they must not stay in the store too much.
"Your long vacation from school is given you so you may play out in the sunshine and fresh air," said Mother Brown. "And though it is all right for you to help Mrs. Golden in her store, I want you to have some fun also."
"It's fun in the store," said Bunny.
"Well, I mean other kinds of fun," added Mrs. Brown.
So there were days when Bunny and Sue only went to Mrs. Golden's grocery on some errand for their mother or Mary, but even on these short trips they often were able to help the storekeeper, sometimes making little sales, if she was busy in another part of the house, or by arranging goods on the shelves.
Having learned that she could do more business by having her windows clean and with things nicely piled in them, Mrs. Golden kept this plan up, Bunny and Charlie and Sue often stacking goods where they would show well.
But with all this even the children could see that Mrs. Golden was worried. Bunny often saw her adding up figures on bits of paper, and she would look at the sum and sigh.
"What's the matter?" Bunny once asked.
"Oh, I owe so much money I'm afraid I'll never be able to pay," she said. "And it seems to be getting worse, even with all the help you children give me. If only Philip would get that legacy!"
"Hasn't he got it yet?" asked Bunny.
"No, not yet," was the answer. "And I'm afraid he never will. I miss him so, too. If he were here to help me things might go easier. But there! I mustn't complain. I'm much better off than lots of folks!" she added, trying to be cheerful.
"If more people would come to buy here you'd have more money," said the little boy. And that gave him an idea that he did not speak about just then, but turned over and over in his busy little head.
Heeding their mother's advice, Bunny and Sue played out of doors with their boy and girl chums, sometimes going on picnics and excursions or on walks through the woods and over the fields. Bunny and Charlie often played at boats in the brook, and more than once they fell in. Sue and her friends often waded in the water of the brook.
Bunny did not again, though, topple into any flour barrels. It was Sue who had the next accident at the corner grocery, and this is the way it happened.
The little girl had been sent by her mother to get a yeast cake at Mrs. Golden's, and when Sue reached the store she found the old lady busy with two women who were matching sewing silk. At the same time a little boy had come in for some molasses.
"I'll get the molasses for you," Sue offered, for she knew where the barrel was kept, and once Mrs. Golden had allowed her to raise the handle of the spigot and let the thick, sticky stuff run out into the quart measure. Sue was sure she could do this again. So, taking the boy's pail, she went to the molasses barrel.
It was kept in the back part of the store, and perhaps if Mrs. Golden had seen what Sue was about to do she would have stopped the little girl. But the two customers were very particular about the sewing silk they wanted, and kept Mrs. Golden busy pulling out different trays.
Sue reached the molasses barrel, set the quart measure under the spout, as she had seen Mrs. Golden do, and raised the handle. The next thing the storekeeper knew was when Sue came running up to her in great alarm crying:
"I can't stop it! I can't stop it!"
"Can't stop what, my dear?" asked Mrs. Golden.
"I can't stop the molasses from running out!" cried Sue. "I got it turned on, but I can't turn it off, and it's running all over the floor!"
"Oh, my goodness!" cried Mrs. Golden, hurrying to the back of the store.
A SHOWER OF BOXES
Sister Sue, as soon as she had told Mrs. Golden what had happened also started to run back to the molasses barrel. In fact she ran ahead of the storekeeper, and Sue's hurry was the cause of another accident.
For the molasses, running out of the spigot which Sue had not been able to close, had overflowed the quart measure, and was now spreading itself out in a sticky pool on the floor.
It was a slippery puddle, as well as a sticky one, and Sue's feet, landing in it as she ran, slid out from under her.
Bang! she came to the floor with a thud.
"Oh, my dear little girl!" cried one of the customers, who had been buying the sewing silk. "Are you hurt, child?"
Sue, sitting in the molasses puddle—yes, she was actually sitting in it now—looked up, thought about the matter for a moment, and then answered, saying:
"No, thank you, I'm not hurt. But I'm stuck fast. I can't get up."
It was very sticky molasses.
Mrs. Golden, thinking more about the waste of her precious molasses than about Sue for the moment, reached over and shut off the spigot. It had caught and was hard to close, which was why Sue could not do it.
Fortunately, however, the little girl had nearly closed it before the quart measure was quite full, and not so much of the molasses had run out on the floor as might have if the spigot had been wide open all the while. But, as it was, there was enough to make Sue fall, and to hold her there in the sticky mess after she had sat down so hard.
"Dear me, what a mess!" exclaimed one of the customers.
"Isn't it!" said the other.
"I—I'm awful sorry," faltered Sue. "My father will pay for the molasses I let run out, Mrs. Golden!"
"Oh, don't worry about that," said the old lady, though she was a bit worried over the loss, for nearly a pint of the sweet stuff had run away. "It's you I'm thinking of," she said. "Are you sure you aren't hurt?"
"No," answered Sue. "But my dress is. Oh, how am I going to get home?" she went on, as she pulled up the edge of her skirt and saw how dirty and sticky it was.
"You'll have to get into the bath tub, clothes and all," said one of the customers.
"It's like when I fell in the brook," half sobbed Sue.
"There, never mind!" said Mrs. Golden kindly. "Here, little boy," she said, reaching over and lifting up the brimming measure of sweet stuff, "take your molasses and run along. Then I'll clean up here."
Leaning over, to keep her feet out of the puddle, Mrs. Golden helped Sue to rise, though it was a bit hard on account of the sticky molasses. Then the little girl's dress was taken off and she was sent into Mrs. Golden's bedroom.
"I'll wash this dress and your petticoat out for you, Sue," said Mrs. Golden, when her thread customers were gone. "But it will hardly be dry for you to wear home before dark."
"If you should see Bunny, you could send him home to get another dress for me," Sue suggested.
"Yes, I could do that," agreed Mrs. Golden. "I'll see if Bunny is coming after I put your clothes to soak."
But Bunny was off playing ball that day, and did not come to the corner store. However, fat Bobbie Boomer happened to pass, and Mrs. Golden sent him to Sue's house.
He rather frightened Mrs. Brown at first, for Bobbie twisted the message and said Sue had fallen into a barrel of molasses, instead of just into a puddle on the floor, so that Mrs. Brown came hurrying to the store, imagining all sorts of things had happened.
She had to laugh when she heard the real story, and then she went back to get a clean dress for Sue, leaving the other to be washed and dried by Mrs. Golden.
"I'm afraid the children are more of a bother to you than a help," said Mrs. Brown, as she started home with Sue.
"Oh, bless their hearts, I don't know what I'd do without them!" said the storekeeper. "They are a great help. My store business is much better than before they began coming here. That special oatmeal sale brought me new customers, and Bunny and Sue are a great help."
As it would be rather hard work for Mrs. Golden to clean up the sticky puddle, Mrs. Brown sent Bunker Blue up from the boat dock to help. For this Mrs. Golden was very glad, as she could hardly have handled the broom and pails of water as well as Bunker did.
"This is easier than cleaning out boats," declared the fish boy as he "swabbed" the floor, as he called it.
Soon the store was scrubbed nice and clean and ready for more customers the next day. As Bunny and Sue had nothing special to do they went to the corner grocery to see if they could do anything to help. And Sue was told by her mother to bring home the washed dress and petticoat.
"We've come to help," Sue announced, as she entered the store. "But I'm not to draw any more molasses! Mother said I wasn't to!"
"Well, perhaps it will be as well for me to do that," said Mrs. Golden, with a smile. "That spigot is sometimes hard to close."
"And I'm not to dip up any more flour," added Bunny.
"Yes, I suppose it will be as well for me to do that, too," said the storekeeper. "But since you like to help me tend store there are many other things you can do."
Bunny and Sue found them, for it was afternoon now, and many families in the neighborhood sent children to buy things for supper.
"Hello, Sue!" called George Watson as he came into the store, whistling. "I told my mother about that special sale of oatmeal you had here last week. Got any more?"
"Yes, a few boxes left," said Mrs. Golden, who was behind the grocery counter with Sue. Bunny was out in the storeroom opening a new box of prunes. "They're up on a high shelf, I'll get one down for you, Sue."
But as she was going to do this a man entered the store. He was Mr. Flynt, and Sue heard Mrs. Golden sigh when she saw him.
"You'll have to wait a minute about that oatmeal," said the storekeeper to George. "I'll get it down for you in a little while. I have to see this gentleman first."
George was willing to wait, but Sue was anxious to help in the store, and as she saw that Mrs. Golden was going to be busy talking to Mr. Flynt, the little girl decided she could get down the box of oatmeal herself. She felt sure that Mrs. Golden would have trouble with Mr. Flynt who would want money, and Mrs. Golden had very little to pay.
"I'll get the box of oatmeal for you, George," said Sue. "I know where it is."
She climbed up on the counter by means of a box, and stretched up her little hands and arms to the shelf on which the cereal was stacked. Sue reached for a box, managing to get hold of it by stretching as far as she could and standing on her tiptoes. But as she pulled the one box out it caught on several others standing in line on the shelf.
"Look out!" cried George, as he saw what was going to happen.
But it was too late. Sue could not get out of the way, and a moment later a shower of pasteboard boxes of oatmeal and other things fell all around her.
"What is happening?" cried Mrs. Golden, hearing the clattering sound. She came hurrying from the back of the store where she had gone to talk quietly to Mr. Flynt.
"Everything is going to fall!" cried George.
But it was not quite so bad as this. Sue kept her hands raised above her so nothing would hit her head, though one or two boxes did bump her a little.
Box after box slipped from the shelf, falling on the floor, on the counter, and all around poor little Sue!
THE PONY EXPRESS
Bunny Brown ran out of the storeroom, in his hand a hammer with which he had been opening the box of prunes. Mrs. Golden gave a cry of alarm as she heard the clatter of the boxes falling around Sue. Mr. Flynt joined Bunny in a rush to help the little girl. As for George, he was so frightened by the sudden toppling of things from the shelf that a tune he had started to whistle died away and he got ready to run out of the store.
"Mercy sakes! what is going on in here?" cried Mrs. Clark, entering the store as the boxes ceased falling. "Is anybody hurt?"
No one knew for a moment, as Sue had uttered no cry save the first frightened one. But by the time Bunny and Mr. Flynt reached her the shower of boxes was over and the little girl took down her hands from over her head.
"Did anything break?" asked Sue, looking about her. "Oh, dear, what a terrible mess!" she cried.
"Don't worry about that, child!" exclaimed Mrs. Golden. "What if a few boxes are broken open? It's you I'm thinking of."
"Oh, I'm all right!" Sue said, and she laughed a little.
And when they came to look her over nothing worse had happened than that she had a few bumps and bruises. And they were not very hard ones, for the boxes were of pasteboard and not wood.
And only one or two of the oatmeal packages were split open, so that not much was lost in that way. So, take it all in all, the accident was a very little one, though it made a great deal of excitement for the time being.
"You oughtn't to reach up for such high things, little girl," said Mr. Flynt, when he had helped pick up the packages.
"No, sir, I guess I oughtn't," agreed Sue. "But George wanted one and I thought I could get it."
"You call me when you want things from a high shelf," said Bunny, going back to the task of opening the box of prunes. "I'm a good climber."
"I wasn't climbing, I was reaching," answered Sue, as if that made a lot of difference. "Here's your oatmeal, George," she added, and the whistling boy came back to the counter and got it.
Bunny and Sue stayed in the store for an hour or more after the fall of the oatmeal boxes. Bunny finished opening the box of prunes, and he and Sue waited on several customers, for Mrs. Golden seemed to be quite busy talking to Mr. Flynt in the back room. And it was not a pleasant talk, either, as Bunny and Sue guessed when they caught glimpses now and then of Mrs. Golden wiping tears from her eyes.
Finally the grocery man came out of the back room with Mrs. Golden. He was saying, so that the children could hear:
"Now you'd better take my advice, Mrs. Golden, and sell out your store here. You'll never make it pay, and you keep on owing us more money all the while. I know you're trying to do your best, but you must either pay us or we'll have to take our things back and sell you out besides for the rest that you owe us.
"Take my advice and sell out before you're sold out. It will be better that way. We can't wait any longer. This is a good little store, but you don't make it pay."
"Maybe I could if my son Philip were to come back," sadly said the old lady. "He's gone after a legacy, and when he comes back——"
"There there, Mrs. Golden! It's of no use to talk that way!" exclaimed Mr. Flynt. "You've been telling me about that legacy a long time. Why doesn't it come?"
"I don't know, Sir."
"No. And I don't believe it ever will come. We've waited as long as we ought, but I'll give you a little more time, and that will be the last. If you don't pay we'll have to close your store. Think it over and sell out before you're sold out."
And then Mr. Flynt went out.
Bunny and Sue, who had been about to go home, looked at Mrs. Golden and felt sorry for her. They could see that she was feeling bad, and that she had been crying.
"What's the matter?" asked Bunny.
"Not enough money—that's the trouble," was her answer. "Oh, dear, I don't want to sell my store!" she said. "I want to keep it."
"Have you got to sell?" asked Sue.
"Mr. Flynt says so," came the reply, "because I owe him a lot of money I can't pay. If business was only better I might keep my store going until Philip comes back with the legacy. Once we get that we'll be all right! But if we don't——"
Mrs. Golden put her handkerchief to her eyes. Then, seeing that she was making Bunny and Sue sad, she added:
"There now! Run along. Maybe I can get the money somehow. At any rate you children have been most kind to me. Run along now, and don't mind a poor old woman."
But Bunny and Sue did mind. They talked matters over on their way home and decided that something must be done. They wanted to help more than they had been doing, and Bunny thought of a way. As usual Sue agreed with him, for she was willing to do anything her brother did.
That evening after supper Bunny brought his little tin savings bank from a shelf in his room, and Sue brought hers. There was a great rattling as the pennies, dimes and nickels in the tin boxes clattered against the sides.
"My goodness! what's going on?" cried Daddy Brown, looking up from the paper he was reading. "Are you two going to buy an automobile with all that money?"
"Will you please open my bank, Daddy, and see how much is in it?" asked Bunny.
His father, wondering what was "in the wind," as old Jed Winkler would say, did so. With Bunny's help the cash was counted. There was eight dollars and fifteen cents.
"I have more than that!" exclaimed Sue, and indeed she had, for Bunny had taken some of his money the week before to buy a top and a set of kite sticks. Sue had ten dollars and forty-six cents in her bank.
"What are you going to do with it?" asked Mrs. Brown, for she knew the children would not have gotten down their banks unless they had some plan in their heads.
"We're going to give it to Mrs. Golden," said Bunny.
"Mrs. Golden?" cried their father.
"You mean you're going to buy something at her store?" asked Mrs. Brown.
"No, we're going to give it to her," said Bunny gravely. "She owes money and Mr. Flynt will close up her store if she doesn't pay. So we're going to give her our money so she can pay Mr. Flynt and then the store will stay open."
"'Cause if it's closed," added Sue, "we can't have any more fun helping keep it."
"Oh, ho! I see!" laughed Mr. Brown. "Well, I must admit I forgot all about Mrs. Golden. I promised to see if I couldn't help her when you told me about Mr. Flynt before, but I forgot. Now, children, it wouldn't be right for you to take your bank money to help Mrs. Golden. She wouldn't want you to do that. Put away your pennies, and I'll see what I can do to help."
This made Bunny and Sue feel happier, and they went to bed more satisfied, for they felt sure their father could make everything right. But the next day, when they went in to see Mrs. Golden, to help keep store, they found her looking very sad and unhappy.
"What's the matter?" asked Sue.
"Oh, just the same old trouble," Mrs. Golden answered. "I need money to pay bills."
"Mr. Flynt's?" asked Bunny.
"Yes, his and another man's. I'm afraid, children, you won't be able to come here much longer and help keep store."
"Why not?" Bunny wanted to know.
"Because there won't be any store—at least I won't have it. I'm afraid I'm going to lose it. If I could only get some more customers and do more business I might manage to pull through until Philip gets back. But I don't know—I don't know!" and she shook her head sadly.
That afternoon, going home with Sue, Bunny had another idea.
"Sue!" he exclaimed, "if we can't give our money to Mrs. Golden maybe we can get her more customers."
"How?" asked the little girl.
"We can ask everybody we know to come and trade there," said Bunny. "I remember when the Italian shoemaker started down at the end of our street and I took my rubber boots there to have him fix a hole, he said for me to tell all the boys I knew to bring their boots and shoes to him to be mended."
"Did you?" Sue inquired.
"Yes. And the shoeman said I brought him good trade and he gave me a piece of beeswax. So maybe we could get customers for Mrs. Golden."
"Maybe we could!" cried Sue. "Let's tell the other boys and girls to get their fathers and mothers to let them buy things at Mrs. Golden's, and then she'll have a lot of customers!"
"Oh, let's!" cried Bunny Brown.
And they did. The next day, when Bunny and Sue were playing with Charlie, George, Mary, Sadie, Helen, Harry and Bobbie, the idea was spoken of again.
"Fellows and girls!" exclaimed Bunny, who got up to make a speech, "we have to help Mrs. Golden."
"You should speak of the girls first," said Sadie, who was a little older than the others.
"Well, anyhow, we ought to help Mrs. Golden," went on Bunny. "She needs customers. Now, if all of you would buy everything you could of her, like Sue and I do, maybe she wouldn't lose her store."
"My mother says she'd trade there if Mrs. Golden would deliver stuff," remarked Helen Newton. "But she says she can't cart heavy things from any store."
"My mother said the same thing," added Mary Watson.
"She can't afford to hire a delivery horse and wagon," said Charlie Star. "I know, 'cause I helped in her store."
"She needs an auto like Mr. Gordon," said Bobbie Boomer.
"Pooh, autos are only for big stores!" exclaimed Harry.
Bunny Brown seemed to be doing some hard thinking. He had a new idea.
"Fellows!" he suddenly cried, "I have it! I'll get a delivery wagon for Mrs. Golden!"
"A delivery wagon?"
These cries greeted what Bunny had said.
"I'll take our Shetland pony, Toby, and deliver things for her in the little cart!" cried Bunny Brown. "If all of you will promise to buy as much as you can from her, I'll deliver things in our pony cart!"
"Hurray for the pony express!" cried Charlie Star. "I'll help!"
The boys and girls, all of whom promised to buy as much as they could from Mrs. Golden and who also promised to tell their mothers at home that things could now be delivered from the little corner store, were bubbling over with fun and good-nature as they left the yard of Bunny and Sue where the "meeting" was held. But after his playmates had gone Bunny Brown began to do a little worrying.
"I know Toby will like to deliver groceries and be a pony express," said the little boy to his sister. "But maybe mother won't let us do it."
"Oh, I guess she will," said Sue.
"I'll ask her, anyhow," decided Bunny, and he did.
Mrs. Brown thought the matter over carefully when Bunny and Sue told her about it.
"Is Mrs. Golden really in such need of money?" asked Mrs. Brown.
"Oh, yes!" cried Bunny. "She feels so sad when Mr. Flynt comes and says he's going to close her store. And we'll feel sad if we don't have any place to go any more and learn how to work in it, Mother! Please let us take Toby and be a pony express!"
"I'll talk it over with your father," said Mrs. Brown.
The children waited anxiously for what their father should say, and they were glad when they heard him laugh after Mrs. Brown had spoken to him of the plan.
"Why, yes," he agreed. "I don't see any harm in it. Toby doesn't get enough exercise as it is. And Bunny and Sue can manage the little Shetland very well. The only thing is, I wouldn't want them to drive all over town delivering groceries—I mean out on the main street where there are so many autos now."
"Oh, we wouldn't go there!" promised Bunny.
"We might work it this way," went on Mr. Brown. "If there are things to be delivered on the other side of Main Street I'll let Bunker Blue do it. He can spare the time once a day. Bunny and Sue can do the rest of the delivery."
So it was decided, and you can imagine how delighted Bunny and Sue were when they hastened to tell the good news to Mrs. Golden.
"Why, that's perfectly wonderful!" exclaimed the old lady, and there were happy tears in her eyes. "Oh, you are two darling children to think so much of helping an old woman."
"You're not so old," declared Bunny politely. "Besides, we like to keep store; don't we, Sue?"
"Lots!" answered the little girl.
Bunny and Sue clerked in the store as much as they had time for, but as they were now to deliver things in the pony cart they could not spend so much time behind the counter. And Mr. Brown said that Bunny and Sue must both go in the pony cart, as it would be safer for them that way.
"Sue can hold Toby while you take the groceries into the houses," said Mr. Brown. "Only you mustn't lift too heavy boxes, Bunny."
"No, Daddy!" he promised. "If it's too heavy I'll lift it twice!" He meant he would make two trips of it.
Toby was almost as much help to Mrs. Golden as Bunny and Sue had been, for many housekeepers, when they found they could have groceries delivered from the corner store, took part of their trade there. And Bunny and Sue were quite proud to load up the basket cart with boxes and packages and start out to leave the orders at the different houses.
Mrs. Golden did not grow any younger or more active, and there were times when she could hardly get around the store. At such times, if Bunny and Sue had to be out with the pony cart, Charlie Star would come in and be a clerk.
When things needed to be delivered on the other side of Main Street, along which many automobiles were driven, then Bunker Blue was called on. He gladly drove the "pony express" as it was laughingly called, and many customers were served this way.
But in spite of this increase in trade the worried look did not leave Mrs. Golden's face, and, more than once, Bunny and Sue again saw her counting up her money and looking at bills she owed Mr. Flynt.
"Will you have to sell the place now?" asked Bunny one day, coming in with Sue to help tend store. The two previous days had been busy ones, when many customers had bought things.
"Well, I don't know about it, Bunny, my dear," was the answer. "More money is coming in, to be sure, but things cost so much I make hardly any profit. Things still look black. But don't worry. You and Sue are a big help. If Philip only gets that legacy, then I'll be all right!"
"I hope he does!" said Bunny Brown.
Several customers came in and the children helped Mrs. Golden wait on them. Then one woman wanted flour, sugar, and potatoes sent to her house on the other side of Main Street, a place where Bunny and Sue had never been.
"But we'll load the things in the pony cart," said Bunny to Sue, "and drive to our house. Bunker Blue is going to be there, for he's going to cut the grass, and he can drive across Main Street to Mrs. Larken's house."
"That will be all right," said Mrs. Golden. "It's very kind of you to help me this way."
The children started out with Toby, and they were almost at their own home when they heard a great shouting and racket behind them.
"Oh, Bunny!" cried Sue, "maybe we dropped something out of the cart and they're calling to us to pick it up."
Bunny gave one look back over the way they had come. Then he pulled hard on Toby's reins and shouted:
"No, we didn't drop anything, but here comes the fire engine!"
And, surely enough, dashing down the street was the shiny new engine that had lately been bought for Bellemere.
"Oh, pull over to one side!" cried Sue, clasping Bunny's arm. "Pull over to one side!"
"I—I'm trying to!" he answered. But Toby did not seem to want to go over near the curb, and out of danger. Once in a while the Shetland pony had a stubborn streak, and this was one of those times.
"Get over! Get over there!" cried Bunny, pulling on the reins.
But instead of swinging to the right Toby turned to the left, and down the street, clanging and thundering came the fire engine.
"Get out the way!"
"Look at those children!"
"Pull over! Pull over!" cried people along the sidewalk.
One or two men ran out to grasp the bridle of Toby and swing him over, for it seemed that all Bunny was doing had no effect. But before any of the men could reach the pony Bunker Blue came dashing along. He was on his way to the Brown house to cut the grass, and he saw the danger of Bunny and Sue.
"What's the matter with you, Toby? What's the matter?" cried Bunker Blue. The Shetland pony seemed to know the fish boy's voice, for he allowed himself to be swung over to the curb and out of danger just before the fire engine dashed by.
"Oh dear!" sighed Sue.
"Pooh! That wasn't anything!" declared Bunny Brown. "I could have got him over. And, anyhow, the fire engine would have steered out! But I'm glad you came, Bunker," he said, for this talk did not seem to show a kindly feeling toward the fish boy who had been so quick to act.
"Yes, I guess you'd 'a' been all right," said Bunker, with a laugh. "But that fire engine was going very fast. You've got to be careful of it."
And all the rush and excitement was for nothing, as there was no fire, the alarm being a false one. Bunker took charge of the pony cart and delivered the groceries before he cut the grass. Then Bunny and Sue drove back to the corner store.
They saw Mr. Flynt talking to Mrs. Golden as they entered.
"It's of no use!" the cross man was saying. "I have bad news for you. You'll have to give up the store, Mrs. Golden."
"Won't your company give me a little more time?" she asked.
"No," said Mr. Flynt. "We've been waiting and waiting, hoping you could pay. Of course things are better than early in the summer. I guess these children have helped you a lot," and he looked at Bunny and Sue. "But you don't take in enough money to pay your bills. If you could pay up you might get along, for you have a good trade now. But you can't pay your bills, and so we're going to sell you out!"
"Does that mean close up the store?" asked Bunny timidly.
"That's what it means, little man," was the answer, and Mr. Flynt did not seem so cross now. Perhaps he was sorry for what he had to do. "Mrs. Golden will have to give up her store."
Bunny Brown and his sister Sue looked at each other with sad eyes. After all their work it had come to this. The store would be closed! They would have no place to come and have good times during the long vacation days! It was too bad! What was to be done?
Sue waited for Bunny to speak, as she usually did, and Bunny, after thinking the matter over, asked:
"Are you going to close it up right away?"
"Within a day or so, unless Mrs. Golden can pay her bills," answered Mr. Flynt. "We have waited as long as we can. I'm going to begin now to close out her business, but it will take two or three days. If she can raise the money in that time——"
"There's no use waiting or hoping—I can't do it!" sighed the old lady, with tears in her eyes. "I've tried my best, but I can't do it, even with the help of these dear children and the pony express," and she looked out of the window at Toby, hitched to the little basket cart.
"It is too bad," said Mr. Flynt. "We know you've done your best, and if you didn't owe so much you might get along now, with the start you have. But it takes all you can make to pay your back debts. It's best that you should give up the store. My company is sorry for you, but we've waited as long as we can. You'll have to sell out, Mrs. Golden."
"Yes, I suppose so," she agreed. "But if I could only hear from Philip, and if he could bring the money from that legacy, I could pay all I owe and start a bigger store. But I don't suppose there's any use hoping for that."
"No, I believe not," agreed Mr. Flynt. "Your son Philip doesn't seem to have gotten that legacy. Have you heard from him?"
"Not lately," said Mrs. Golden, with a sad shake of her head. "I don't know why he hasn't written. Perhaps because he has no good news for me."
"Very likely," said Mr. Flynt. "Well, I must go. You had better arrange to sell everything by the end of the week, and pay us what you can. We'll have to wait for the rest, I reckon."
"Won't there be a store here any more?" asked Sue.
"Oh, some one else may start one. It isn't a bad place for a grocery and notion shop," answered the black-whiskered man. "But Mrs. Golden can't keep this store any more."
"Maybe she can if my father will help her!" exclaimed Bunny. "He said he would!"
"Well, if some one would pay what she owes, of course she could keep on with the store," agreed Mr. Flynt. "But we can't wait any longer. We've got to sell her out."
When Bunny and Sue told at home that evening what had happened, Mrs. Brown said:
"Walter, can't you do something for that poor old woman?"
"Yes, I must try," he said. "I meant to look into her affairs long before this, but I've had so many other things to do that I let it go. We'll save the store for her if we can."
"'Cause we like to help tend it," said Bunny. "Don't we, Sue?"
"Yes," answered the little girl.
Instead of going to his boat and fish dock the next morning, as he nearly always did, Mr. Brown called to Bunny to get ready and go down to the corner grocery with him.
"May I come?" asked Sue.
"Yes," her father answered. "You are in this as much as Bunny. We are going to help Mrs. Golden if we can."
They found the old lady sitting sadly in her easy chair near the back of the store where she generally could be found when no customers needed to be waited on.
"Good morning, Mrs. Golden," said Mr. Brown. "I understand you are in trouble."
"If owing a lot of money and not being able to pay it is trouble, then I'm in almost up to my eyes," she answered, with a shake of her head.
"Like I was in the brook!" said Sue.
"Yes, I suppose so," sighed Mrs. Golden. "I'm afraid I've got to lose my store."
"Tell me how much you owe," begged Mr. Brown.
And when he heard he shook his head, saying:
"It is more than I thought. If it had been only about a hundred dollars I might have lent it to you, or found some one who would, but now I'm afraid nothing can be done."
"Do you mean the store will have to close?" asked Bunny.
"I'm afraid so, Son," replied his father.
"Oh dear!" sighed Mrs. Golden! "If Philip were only here then I might——"
"Well, here I am, Mother!" cried a voice at the front door. "What's the trouble?" and in came big, strong, jolly Philip Golden. He had just arrived on a train. "What's wrong?" he asked, for he could see that his mother had tears in her eyes.
The trouble was soon told.
"Sell the store!" he cried. "I guess not much! Didn't you get my telegram, Mother?"
"The one telling about the legacy. We have it—several thousand dollars! It won't make us rich, but it will be enough to make you comfortable for life. I heard the good news yesterday, and I sent you a telegram telling about it so you wouldn't worry any more."
"I never got your message!" said Mrs. Golden, smiling through her tears. "But it doesn't matter. I suppose there was some mistake and it went to the wrong address. But it was better to have you bring the good news. Are you sure we're to have the legacy?"
"Sure, Mother! I brought some money with me and more will come. You'll be all right now. You can pay all your bills and have plenty left over."
"Oh, I'm so glad!" cried Sue. "Then you can have a real nice store, can't you?"
"Yes," answered Mrs. Golden with a happy smile on her face, "I suppose I can. Oh, how glad I am, and how thankful I am to you dear children. You've helped me more than I can tell you."
"And we're going to help more!" cried Bunny Brown. "When you get your new store I'm going to be a clerk in it; can't I, Daddy?"
"Maybe," said Mr. Brown, with a smile.
And so the good news came after the bad, which is always the best way to have it come, I think. Mrs. Golden paid all her debts, and later she and her son Philip opened a larger store and did very well. Sometimes Bunny and Sue went to see the new place, but it was too far from their home for them to "work" in it. And, anyhow, there were other things for Bunny Brown and his sister Sue to do.
But now we have come to the end of our story and must say good-bye.
THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES
By LAURA LEE HOPE
Author of the Popular "Bobbsey Twins" Books
Wrapper and text illustrations drawn by
FLORENCE ENGLAND NOSWORTHY
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12mo. DURABLY BOUND. ILLUSTRATED. UNIFORM STYLE OF BINDING
* * * * *
These stories by the author of the "Bobbsey Twins" Books are eagerly welcomed by the little folks from about five to ten years of age. Their eyes fairly dance with delight at the lively doings of inquisitive little Bunny Brown and his cunning, trustful sister Sue.
Bunny was a lively little boy, very inquisitive. When he did anything, Sue followed his leadership. They had many adventures, some comical in the extreme.
BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON GRANDPA'S FARM BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE PLAYING CIRCUS BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CAMP REST-A-WHILE BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT AUNT LU'S CITY HOME BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE IN THE BIG WOODS BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON AN AUTO TOUR BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AND THEIR SHETLAND PONY BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE GIVING A SHOW BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CHRISTMAS TREE COVE
* * * * *
GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK
THE BOBBSEY TWINS BOOKS
For Little Men and Women
By LAURA LEE HOPE
Author of "The Bunny Brown" Series, Etc.
* * * * *
12mo. DURABLY BOUND. ILLUSTRATED. UNIFORM STYLE OF BINDING
* * * * *
Copyright publications which cannot be obtained elsewhere. Books that charm the hearts of the little ones, and of which they never tire.
THE BOBBSEY TWINS THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE COUNTRY THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE SEASHORE THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SCHOOL THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SNOW LODGE THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON A HOUSEBOAT THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT MEADOW BROOK THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT HOME THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN A GREAT CITY THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON BLUEBERRY ISLAND THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON THE DEEP BLUE SEA THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE GREAT WEST
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GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK
SIX LITTLE BUNKERS SERIES
By LAURA LEE HOPE
Author of "The Bobbsey Twins Books," "The Bunny Brown Series," "The Make-Believe Series," Etc.
* * * * *
Durably Bound. Illustrated. Uniform Style of Binding
* * * * *
Delightful stories for little boys and girls which sprung into immediate popularity. To know the six little Bunkers is to take them at once to your heart, they are so intensely human, so full of fun and cute sayings. Each story has a little plot of its own—one that can be easily followed—and all are written in Miss Hope's most entertaining manner. Clean, wholesome volumes which ought to be on the bookshelf of every child in the land.
SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT GRANDMA BELL'S SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT AUNT JO'S SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT COUSIN TOM'S SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT GRANDPA FORDS SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT UNCLE FRED'S SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT CAPTAIN BEN'S SIX LITTLE BUNKERS AT COWBOY JACK'S
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GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS SERIES
By LAURA LEE HOPE
Author of the popular "Bobbsey Twin Books" and "Bunny Brown" Series.
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UNIFORM STYLE OF BINDING. INDIVIDUAL COLORED WRAPPERS.
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These tales take in the various adventures participated in by several bright, up to-date girls who love outdoor life. They are clean and wholesome, free from sensationalism, and absorbing from the first chapter to the last.
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS OF DEEPDALE Or Camping and Tramping for Fun and Health.
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT RAINBOW LAKE Or Stirring Cruise of the Motor Boat Gem.
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN A MOTOR CAR Or The Haunted Mansion of Shadow Valley.
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN A WINTER CAMP Or Glorious Days on Skates and Ice Boats.
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN FLORIDA Or Wintering in the Sunny South.
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT OCEAN VIEW Or The Box that Was Found in the Sand.
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS ON PINE ISLAND Or A Cave and What it Contained.
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN ARMY SERVICE Or Doing Their Bit for Uncle Sam.
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT THE HOSTESS HOUSE Or Doing Their Best for the Soldiers.
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT BLUFF POINT Or A Wreck and A Rescue.
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS AT WILD ROSE LODGE Or The Hermit of Moonlight Falls.
THE OUTDOOR GIRLS IN THE SADDLE Or The Girl Miner of Gold Run.
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GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK
Obvious punctuation errors repaired.
Page 10: "ironing-board" changed to "ironing board" to conform to rest of text. (on the ironing board counter) Also on page 20. (low ironing board shelf)
Page 51: "of" changed to "off". (long way off)
Page 57: "Bnnny" changed to "Bunny". ("All right," agreed Bunny.)
Page 74: "runing" changed to "running". (came running into)
Page 78: "step-ladder" changed to "stepladder" to conform to rest of text. (like a stepladder)
Page 122: Author says that the children ran through the streets of Lakeport. However they live in Bellemere, see page 15. The children in one of her other series, The Bobbsey Twins, live in Lakeport. This mistake was retained.
Page 211: "musn't" changed to "mustn't". (I mustn't complain)