SUNNY BOY IN THE COUNTRY

CHAPTER XV

SUNNY'S GOOD LUCK


Scanned by Deidre Johnson for her Josephine Lawrence website; please do not use on other sites without permission



"THERE!" Grandma, a pretty picture in her white dress that matched her white hair, closed the side door. "Now we're really started."

She and Grandpa and Mother and Sunny Boy were going for their long-talked-of picnic in the woods. Araminta had the day for a holiday and had gone merrily off to town to buy herself a new frock. Sunny had wanted Jimmie to come to the picnic, but Jimmie, too, was away. He had gone down to the city to sell hay for Grandpa. So it happened that just the four were to spend the day in the woods.

"What we'll do without you. Sunny," said Grandpa, as they walked ahead, "I'm sure I don't know."

"But I'll send you some of the sand," urged Sunny cheerfully. "And a seashell, Grandpa."

For this was Aunt Bessie's plan. She had written Mrs. Horton that she and a friend, a teacher, had taken a cottage at the seashore for the month of August, and they wanted Sunny Boy and his mother to come and spend that month with them. The cottage was near enough to the city for Mr. Horton to go down every night and stay with them.

"And two weeks from to-day," Mrs. Horton had told Sunny Boy as he brushed his hair that morning, "you will be going down to the beach with a tin pail and shovel I expect, to play in the sand."

Grandpa, carrying two boxes of lunch and a little camp chair that folded up—'because Grandma had aches in her joints if she tried to sit on the ground—smiled down at his grandson.

"Oh, well, we shall just have to have as much fun as we can while you're here," he said firmly. "Let's have a perfectly fine picnic with all the sandwiches we can eat to-day."

"Yes," agreed Sunny enthusiastically. "Let's."

"Sunny, what have you found there?" asked Grandpa after a while.

"It's a bird," said Sunny pitifully. "A poor, little dead bird. Grandpa. See?"

He brought back the little feathered body he had found at the foot of a tall oak tree, and showed them.

"It's a baby robin," said Grandma, touching the little thing gently. "It must have fallen out of the nest. Don't grieve, lambie, nothing can hurt the little bird now."

"I want to bury it," insisted Sunny, tears running down his face. "I don't want to leave it on the ground. Grandma."

"All right, you shall bury it," said Grandpa soothingly. "I'll help you. Mother, you and Olive walk along slowly and we'll catch up to you."

So Grandma and Sunny's mother walked ahead, and Grandpa began to help Sunny bury the baby robin.

First, they found a wide, smooth green leaf that grew in the woods and wrapped this about the dead bird and fastened it with the sharp little thorns that grew on another plant and which were every bit as good as pins.

"Now you gather the prettiest fern leaves you can find," directed Grandpa. "And I'll dig him a little grave."

When Sunny Boy came back with his hands full of soft fern leaves, Grandpa had a little square hollowed out in the earth, under a Jack in the Pulpit plant.

"We'll line it with ferns, so," he said, arranging the leaves Sunny Boy brought him, "and then we'll put the bird in so, and cover him up carefully. There! Now we'll leave him in his nice, green bed, dear, and not be sorry for him any more.

"I see Bruce just ahead. Grandma and Mother must be near."

They came up to them in a minute, and Sunny Boy suddenly discovered that he was hungry.

"But it isn't time for lunch yet, precious. Take this apple and try to wait a little longer, do," said his mother.

"Feels like a thunderstorm," declared Grandma, sitting down on her camp-stool to get her breath after the walk. "Well, Bruce will tell us in time, won't you, old fellow?"

"How?" asked Sunny curiously.

"He's afraid of thunder," explained Grandma. "Years ago when he was a young dog he was out hunting rabbits or squirrels one summer night and a big thunderstorm came up. We always think he must have seen a tree struck, or been stunned by a flash, for he came home dripping and shivering. And ever since—though that was a long time ago—he begins to shake and wants to hide whenever he hears thunder."

The woods did not seem dark and still, now that Sunny had company with him, and he took Grandpa over to the place where he and Daddy had gone fishing. They decided not to try to catch any fish that day, but Sunny took off his shoes and stockings and went wading.

When he came out, and had his shoes and stockings on again, Mrs. Horton spread a white cloth on a flat rock and she and Grandma began to get the lunch ready.

"Sunny, which would you rather have," Grandpa asked him, "white cake or black cake?"

"White, I guess," said Sunny. "Or no— chocolate, I think."

"Well, well, if that isn't lucky!" cried Grandpa, pretending to be much relieved. "Grandma has put in both kinds!"

Indeed there were all kinds of goodies in those boxes—chicken and ham sandwiches, eggs, potato salad, white cake and black, a vacuum bottle of cold milk for Sunny and one of hot coffee for the others.

"There's a spider!" shouted Sunny Boy as they sat down to eat. "Look, Grandpa, he going right into the cake."

"Oh, spiders and ants and little creatures like that like to come to a picnic," answered Grandpa, scooping up the spider on a bit of cardboard and putting him down carefully on a bush near by. "Mr. Spider'll go home to-night and tell the folks all about the little boy he saw in the woods to-day with his mother and his grandmother and his grandfather having a picnic. And little Sallie Spider will say, 'What were they eating, Daddy? Did you bring me any? "

"I'll sprinkle crumbs for him to get afterward," planned Sunny. "The fishes had them last time, and now it is Mr. Spider's turn."

Presently, when no one could eat another bite. Mother and Grandmother folded up the cloth and put the sandwiches left over in one box. All the odds and ends were put down on a paper plate for Bruce to eat, and then Grandpa dug a hole in the ground and he and Sunny Boy buried the papers out of sight.

"For I won't let any one build a fire in my woods in July when we're needing rain so badly and every stick is like tinder," said Grandpa sturdily. "And we won't leave a messy picnic ground, even if it is our own, shall we?"

Mrs. Horton had her knitting, and she and Grandma sat and worked and talked quietly while Grandpa and Sunny Boy went off together to try to find a sassafras bush. Just as they had found one and Grandpa had taken out his knife to cut a twig for Sunny to taste, Bruce ran into him and nearly knocked him down.

"Grandpa! Grandpa! Something's the matter with Bruce! Is he sick?" Sunny Boy was a little frightened at the strange . way the dog acted. "Look at him! He's trying to walk on me."

"He hears thunder," said Grandpa quietly. "He's trying to get you to hide him. Funny, I haven't heard a rumble. But you can trust Bruce. He never fails to tell us. We must hurry and get Mother and Grandma back to the house before it rains."

They walked back as fast as they could to where they had left the others, and found Mrs. Horton folding up her knitting.

"We thought we heard thunder," she said, as they came up to her. "I think it is clouding up, too. Why how funny Bruce acts! Is he sick?"

"He's trying to tell us a storm is coming," replied Grandpa. "There, there, Bruce, don't be so silly. We're going home, and you can hide under the barn floor and never even see the lightning."

The sun, which had been shining down through the trees, had gone under a cloud, and the branches about them began to rustle as the wind swayed them.

"I'm afraid we'll have a heavy storm," said Grandma anxiously. "We have had such a long dry spell and it's been so hot. I'd hate to be caught among these trees in a heavy wind."

"Don't worry. Mother," replied Grandpa. "We'll be home before the first drops come. Shall I carry you, Sunny?"

Sunny, who was running to keep up with them, shook his head. He did not want to be carried like a baby. Soon it grew darker and darker and the wind began to blow in earnest. He pressed closer to Grandpa.

"Don't be afraid," said Grandpa kindly. "We'll be out of the woods in another minute and then we'll scoot across the brook and be home."

He put out a hand to help Grandmother, when with a tremendous blast a gust of wind made them all stop to catch their breath. They saw it bend a tree at the edge of the clearing and heard the tree snap loudly as it broke and fell across the path. Bruce howled—he was nervous, poor animal.

"Mercy!" gasped Grandma. "I said we'd have a bad storm. There! I felt a raindrop. My father always said the worst was over when the rain began."

They hurried on, anxious not to get wet, and Sunny Boy was the first to reach the fallen tree.

"We have to go over it," he shouted back, and began to scramble up, holding on to the branches.

"Grandpa," they heard him scream a moment later. "Hurry! Come quick! Here's my kite! The Lib'ty Bonds kite!"

Sure enough, there it was, just as it had caught in the tree—the missing kite. And still pasted to the strips of wood were Grandpa's two five-hundred-dollar Liberty Bonds!

"No wonder we couldn't find 'em!" cried Sunny Boy, dancing with excitement. "I knew I saw it fall in a tree! Won't Daddy be glad!"

"We're all glad," declared Mother, kissing him warmly. "Isn't it just wonderful to think that the same little boy who lost the bonds should also find them?"

"It's been a lucky picnic, surely," said Grandpa. "After a hard rain those bonds wouldn't have been worth much to any one."

"Well, they won't be worth much now if we all stand here and get soaked," announced Grandma practically.

At that they all took hold of hands and ran across the meadow, over the bridge of stones, and up to the porch. And the moment they were safely under shelter, how the rain did pour down! Just as if, Sunny said, it had been waiting for them to get home before it showed what it really could do.

"Mother," asked Sunny Boy that night, as he sat on the foot-board of the bed in his blue pajamas and watched her brush her hair. They were all tired after the excitement of the picnic and the finding of the bonds, and every one was going to bed at Sunny's bed time, even Grandpa. "Mother, will I take my sand-box to the seashore ?"

"Oh, no, precious," she assured him. "Why you'll have a whole beach of sand to play in. And the bathing suit I bought for you to wear here and which you haven't had on because the brook water is so cold! Perhaps Daddy will teach you to swim."

"Yes," agreed Sunny Boy absently. And he tumbled back on the pillows, thinking about the seashore and the ocean which he had never seen.

It was not very long after the picnic that Mother and Sunny Boy left Brookside and went to visit Aunt Bessie in her white cottage that faced the ocean. And if you want to hear about the good times Sunny Boy had there and what he thought the waves were saying to him when he got up in the night to listen, you'll have to read "SUNNY BOY AT THE SEASHORE"


THE END



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