A LITTLE SHOPPING
"He made a grab for Brownie" [image appears between pgs. 64-65]
THE foolish little puppy crouched down directly in the path of the lumbering motor-truck. The children could feel the ground quivering as the weight of the heavy wheels jarred at every turn. Brother forgot that he had promised to be careful about automobiles. He forgot that, bad as it would be for a motor-driver to run over a puppy dog, it would be twenty times worse for him to run down a little boy. He forgot everything except the fact that his dog was in danger!
"Look out!" shrieked Nellie Yarrow. "Roddy, come back!"
A huge red touring car, filled with laughing girls, whizzed past him, and after that a light delivery car that had to swerve sharply to avoid striking him. As Brother reached the dog he thought the motor-truck was going to roll right over him, and he closed his eyes and made a grab for Brownie. When he opened them, the truck was standing still, two wheels in the ditch, and three men were climbing down and starting toward him.
"Are you hurt, Roddy?" cried Sister, skipping into the road, followed by Nellie. "My, I thought that truck was going to run over you sure!"
"Come out of the road, you kids!" ordered one of the men roughly, pushing the three children not unkindly over in the direction of the ditch. "This is no place to stand and talk— hasn't your mother ever told you to keep out of the streets?"
The driver of the truck, who was a young man with blue eyes and a quick smile, patted Brownie on the head gently.
"I saw the dog," he explained to Brother. "I wouldn't have run over him, anyway. Next time, no matter what happens, don't you run into the road. Cars going the other way might have struck you, and I didn't know which way you were going to jump after you got the dog. No driver wants to run over a dog if he can help it, and you children only make matters worse by dashing in among traffic."
"I didn't mean to," said Brother sorrowfully. Only I didn't want Brownie to get hurt. I hardly ever dash among traffic, do I, Sister?"
"No, he doesn't," declared Sister loyally while Nellie stood silently by. "Mother always makes us promise to be careful 'bout dashing."
The three men laughed.
"Well, as long as you don't make it a practice we won't count this time," said the man who had told them not to stand talking in the road. "Now scoot back to the sidewalk—or, here George, you take them over. That's a nice dog you have."
George, it proved, was the driver, and he took Sister by one hand and Brother by the other. Nellie held Sister's other hand and Brother carried Brownie, and in this order they made their way safely back to the pavement on the other side of the street.
"Good-bye, and don't forget about keeping out of the street," said the truck-driver cheerfully, when he had them neatly lined up on the curb.
They watched him run back to his machine— as Brother observed, he didn't look to see whether any motor-cars were likely to run him down, but then, of course, he was grown up and used to them—saw him mount to the high seat, and waved good-bye to all three men. Then they walked on, for the sand-toys were still to be bought.
Brother and Sister were the most careful of shoppers, and with Nellie to help them by suggestions, they managed to find a set of tin sand-dishes, a windmill that pumped sand, - a little iron dumpcart that would be very useful to carry loads, and a string of tin buckets that went up and down on a chain and filled with sand and emptied again as long as anyone would turn the handle.
"Come over after lunch and we'll play," said Sister as Nellie left them at her own hedge.
Nellie did come over and the three children had a wonderful time with the new toys and the clean white sand, while Brownie slept comfortably under the tree. Before Nellie was ready to go home, however, a thunder storm came up and her mother called her to come in. Mother Morrison came out and helped Brother and Sister to carry their box into the barn, where the sand would not get wet.
"You don't want to play with the sandbox all the time, dearies," she said, leading the way back to the house. "If you play too steadily with anything, presently you will find that you are growing tired of it. Now play on the porch, or find something nice to do in the house, and tomorrow Jimmie will put the box under the tree again for you."
It was very warm and sticky, and Sister tumbled into the comfortable porch swing meaning to stay there just a few minutes. She fell asleep and slept all through the storm waking up a little cross, as one is apt to do on a hot summer afternoon. The rain had stopped and Brother had gone over to see Grandmother Hastings.
"Hello, Sister," Louise greeted her when she raised a flushed, warm face and touseled hair from the canvas cushions. "You've had a fine nap. Want me to go upstairs with you and help you find a clean dress?"
"No," said Sister a bit crossly.
"You'll feel much better, honey, when your face is washed and you have on a thinner frock," urged Louise, putting down her knitting. "Come upstairs like a good girl, and I'll tell you what I saw Miss Putnam doing as I came past her house this afternoon."
Sister toiled upstairs after Louise, feeling much abused. She had not intended to take a nap, and now here she had slept away good playtime and was certainly warmer and more uncomfortable than she had been before she went to sleep.
But after Louise had bathed her face and hands in cool water and had brushed her half and buttoned her into a pretty white dress with blue spots, Sister was her own sunny self. She had not been thoroughly awake, you see, and that was the reason she felt a little cross.
"What was Miss Putnam doing?" she asked curiously, watching Louise fold up the frock she had taken off.
"She was out in her yard nailing something on the fence," said Louise. "I saw her when I was a block away, hammering as though her life depended on it. A crowd of boys were watching her—at a safe distance—and when I came near enough I saw she had a roll of wire in the yard. She was nailing barbwire along the fence pickets!"
"How mean!" scolded Sister. "No one wants to climb over her old fence, or swing on her gate."
"Well, I think it is a shame the way the boys torment her," declared Louise severely. "Jimmie says he caught a little red-headed boy the other day throwing old tin cans over her fence. You know what Daddy would say if he ever thought you or Brother did anything like that."
"We don't," Sister assured her earnestly. "We never bother Miss Putnam."
On to chapter 13
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