THE "haunted" house continued to be an attraction to the children of the neighborhood even after Miss Putnam moved in, and the ghost might reasonably be supposed to have moved out. Alas, it was Miss Putnam herself who now supplied the thrills. Miss Putnam, you see, had never had much to do with children, and she thought she disliked them very much indeed. Boys, in her opinion, made a great deal of noise and girls always giggled and were silly. So whenever she saw a child hanging over her gate, or even stopping to glance at her house, she was apt to come charging out at them with a broom. The younger ones were afraid of her and the older, larger boys naughtily enjoyed provoking the poor old lady. So it was soon a common sight to see several boys flying up the street, Miss Putnam after them, waving her broom wildly.
Brother and Sister, mindful of Daddy Morrison's warning, never actually did anything to make Miss Putnam chase them. But it must be confessed that they used to walk through the street on which she lived, in the hope of seeing her chase someone. Ridgeway was a quiet place in summer time, and any excitement was welcome.
For several days after Sister's outburst because of the locked barn door, Jimmie worked away busily in his beloved gymnasium. He would not let either Brother or Sister as much as put their noses inside the door, and when they tried to find out from Molly what he was doing—for Molly could usually be depended upon to know what everyone in the family was up to —she simply shook her head and said she had promised not to tell.
"I wish," said Sister for the tenth time one warm morning, "I wish there was something new to do."
"So do I," agreed Brother. "There's Jimmie --he's beckoning to us."
Jimmie stood in the barn doorway, motioning the children to come in.
Brother and Sister jumped down the three back steps in one leap and raced toward the barn.
"Want to see what I've been making?" asked Jimmie proudly. "Come on in, and look-- there!"
The tools from the carpenter's bench which occupied one side of the barn were scattered about on the floor where Jimmie had been using them. All Brother and Sister could see was a wide, rather shallow box, painted a dark green.
"Is it—is it a boat?" ventured Sister doubtfully.
"What's it for?" asked Brother. "It's for you to play with," explained Jimmie. "I thought maybe you would help me carry it out under the horsechestnut tree in the side yard."
"But how do we play with it?" insisted Brother. "Is it a game, Jimmie?"
"Put your hand in that bag back of you," directed Jimmie. "Perhaps then you can guess."
A burlap bag, opened, stood close to Sister. She and Brother plunged their hands in and drew them out filled with something that trickled swiftly through their fingers.
"Sand!" they shouted. "Seashore sand! Oh, Jimmie, is it a sandbox?"
Jimmie nodded, smiling. He knew they had long wanted a sandbox, and like the dear, good brother he was, he had spent his mornings sawing and fitting and smoothing off boards to make a nice, strong box.
"What fun!" Sister bounced up and down with pleasure. "Can we play with it right away?"
"Don't know why not," said Jimmie. "You two take one end, and we'll carry it out under the tree. Mother thought that was the best place because it will be shady most of the day for you."
They carried the box out to the tree, and then Jimmie brought the bag of sand on the wheelbarrow and dumped it into the box.
"Just like the seashore!" beamed Brother. "Thank you ever so much, Jimmie."
"Yes, thank you ever so much, Jimmie," echoed Sister, jumping up and standing on tiptoe to kiss Jimmie. "It's the nicest box!"
Jimmie pretended that it wasn't much to do, but of course he was very much pleased that his little brother and sister should be so delighted. Big brothers often pretend that they don't want anyone to make a fuss over the presents they give or the nice things they do, but Just the same they are secretly glad when their efforts are appreciated.
"Here's fifty cents for each of you," announced Jimmie, pulling some change from his pocket and handing two quarters to Brother and a shiny half-dollar to Sister. "If Mother is willing for you to go downtown you can get some sand-toys."
Mother Morrison was willing they should go if they would remember to be careful about automobiles and if they would promise to be back within an hour.
The Morrison house was not very near the section of Ridgeway which contained the shops and stores, but the children often took the long walk alone. There were no trolleys to be careful about, except the one line that ran to the city, but the automobile traffic was rather heavy and one had to remember to stop and look both ways before crossing a street.
"Let's take Brownie with us," suggested Brother, when they were ready to start out to spend their wealth. "We can carry him if he gets tired."
The fat little collie puppy wagged his tail cordially. He loved to go walking and felt that too often he was neglected when he should have been invited. He always wore his silver collar, and Louise had given Brother a little leather leash that could be snapped on when he took the dog outside the yard.
"Want to go, Brownie?" asked Sister. "Want to go out?"
Brownie barked sharply. Indeed, he did want to go!
Brother and Sister took turns leading him, and before they had gone very far they met Nellie Yarrow. She offered to go with them and she was much interested to hear that there was a new sandbox in the Morrison yard.
"I'll come over and play with you this afternoon," she promised. "Let me lead Brownie, Roddy?"
Brother gave her the leash, watching her anxiously. Nellie was sometimes careless with other people's property, he had learned, though she was so generous with her own it was hard to refuse her anything."
"Don't let him get away," he cautioned.
Nellie opened her mouth to say "I won't," when with a sudden jerk Brownie tore the leather line from her hand and dashed into the road.
"Here comes a big motor-truck!" screamed Sister. "Brownie will be run over and killed!"
On to chapter 12