PACKING THE TRUNK
AUNT BESSIE sat on the floor of Mother's room, with pencil and paper in her lap. She was Mrs. Horton's sister, and though she did not live with them, Sunny Boy and Mother saw her nearly every day.
"I wonder if you will need that extra coat?" Aunt Bessie was saying, as Sunny Boy came into the room.
For the two weeks were nearly gone and it was time to get ready to go to see Grandpa Horton. Early that morning Daddy had brought down the big trunk from the store- room, and ever since breakfast Mother and Aunt Bessie had been busy packing clothes into it. Aunt Bessie kept a list of the things they put in so that Mother would be able to tell when the trunk was full whether she had left out anything she needed.
"I'll go and get my things," announced Sunny Boy, and Aunt Bessie blew him a kiss and went on with her work.
Upstairs Sunny Boy looked a long time at his toys before he could decide what to do about them. He couldn't leave his kiddie-car, that was certain. And there was the woolly black dog he took to bed with him at night, and a Teddy Bear that he was almost too old to play with, but not quite, and the wooden blocks. Then he would be sure to need his fire-engine and the roller skates. He must take all those with him. He made three trips down to Mother's door with the toys, and then, going down for the third time, he remembered the wind-mill out in the sandbox and ran out after that and brought it in.
"Bless the child, what is all this?" cried Aunt Bessie, as he came into Mother's room, bringing as many of the treasures as he could carry at one time.
"I'm helping," explained Sunny Boy. "There's more out in the hall."
He put down his load and ran out to bring in the rest.
"But, precious," said Mrs. Horton, looking from the kiddie-car to her little son, "we can't take all these things with us. Why, Mother wouldn't have a place to put your socks and blouses, to say nothing of the cunning bathing-suit we bought yesterday." "You won't need them, you know," urged Aunt Bessie. "You'll be so busy playing with the new things you'll find up at Grand- pa Horton's that you'll probably never re- member the toys at home. Then when you come back they will seem like new ones." Sunny Boy was disappointed. His kid- die-car was the hardest to give up. The woolly dog, too, was very dear to him. Mrs. Horton understood, and she sat down in her low rocking chair and took her little boy on her lap.
"The kiddie-car wouldn't be any fun in the country," she said. "There are no stone pavements, you see, dear, and it wouldn't run on the grass. As for the woolly dog, why you will have a real dog to play with— a collie dog that will run after sticks and bring them to you and take walks with you. That will be fun, won't it?"
Sunny Boy slid to the floor and stood up. He was excited.
"I am simply crazy to have a real dog," he declared.
Mrs. Horton stared at him, but Aunt Bessie, bending over the trunk, sat down on the edge and laughed.
"Where in the world did you hear that, Sunny Boy?" asked Mother. "Who talks like that?"
Aunt Bessie swooped down upon her nephew.
"I do," she told her sister. "But I'll have to be more careful when little pitchers with big ears are about. Why don't you copy the nice things I say, Sunny?"
"Isn't that nice?" puzzled Sunny. "Shouldn't I say it? Why not, Mother?"
"It isn't wrong, dear," Mrs. Horton assured him. "Aunt Bessie only means that speaking that way is rather a bad habit to get into. We call it exaggeration. Let me see, how shall I make you understand? Well, if I say 'I'm starving to death,' when I mean that I am hungrier than usual for dinner, that's exaggeration. I couldn't be Starving, unless I had had nothing to eat for several days."
"And though some people think I'm crazy, I'm really not," concluded Aunt Bessie gayly. "You think I'm rather nice, don't you. Sunny? And now I wonder if there's a young man about who would be kind enough to take this skirt down to Harriet and ask her to please press the hem?"
"I will," offered Sunny Boy. "And then I'll come back and put my things away."
"While you are down in the kitchen, I wish you'd ask Harriet if the oven is ready for me to make some biscuits for lunch," said Mrs. Horton. "And tell her I said you might have a glass of milk and one of the sponge cakes without any pink icing."
Harriet pressed the skirt while Sunny Boy sat at one end of the ironing board and watched her and ate his sponge cake—which was almost as good as the kind with pink icing which were only for dessert—and drank his milk. Then Harriet gave him the skirt to carry back to Aunt Bessie and he remembered to ask about the oven. Harriet said to tell Mother that it was just right for baking biscuits.
"That means I must go down right away," said Mrs. Horton, when Sunny Boy told her. "We've about finished anyway, haven't we, Bessie? The man is to come at three this afternoon for the trunk."
"I've left a few chinks and corners, in case you want to tuck in some little trifles at the last minute," replied Aunt Bessie, "but otherwise it's ready to be strapped and locked."
"Let me lock it," said Sunny Boy eagerly. "I can stand on the top, too. I did for Cousin Lola when hers wouldn't shut."
Mrs. Horton was tying on a nice clean white apron.
"Thank you, dearest," she said. "Mother isn't quite ready to have the trunk locked. If we've packed it so full it won't close, why of course I'll call on you to stand on the top and make it shut."
Sunny Boy hoped the trunk wouldn't close, for he wanted to dance on the top. Then Mrs. Horton went down to Harriet's kitchen to make puffy white biscuit for lunch and Aunt Bessie went off to give a music lesson.
Sunny Boy, left to put away his toys, explained matters to the woolly dog as he carried him upstairs.
"There will be a real dog for me to play with at Grandpa's," he said. "And little calves and lambs—Harriet said so. Maybe you might get broken in the trunk, anyway. But I won't like the real dog one bit more than I do you, and when we come back you can sleep with me every single night."
The woolly dog seemed to think this was all right, and he took it so cheerfully that Sunny Boy felt better immediately.
Mr. Horton came home to lunch, which was unusual, and after lunch he and Mrs. Horton had to go downtown to see about the tickets and the parlor car seats for the trip the next day. Sunny Boy was to take his nap and be wide awake again by three o'clock, when the man was coming to take their trunk to the station.
Sunny Boy did not see how they were to find the trunk again if they once let it go, for surely no trunk could go all alone to Brookside. He resolved to ask Daddy. While he was wondering if there would be a piano in the parlor car—and he rather hoped there would and that he might be al- lowed to play on it—Sunny Boy fell asleep. Harriet, coming upstairs with a pile of clean clothes, woke him.
"Is it three o'clock?" he asked, afraid that he had missed the trunk man.
"Only half-past two," answered Harriet. "Your mother will be back any minute now to lock the trunk. You can dress yourself, can't you? I've another tablecloth to iron yet."
Sunny Boy could dress himself, of course. Wandering into Mother's room to borrow her hairbrush, he saw the little nickel alarm clock on the table. Mother must have meant to pack that, and in her hurry had forgotten. Sunny Boy remembered that Daddy had told him all country folk "rose with the chickens," and upon inquiry he had learned that the chickens rose very early indeed—almost as soon as the sun. Sunny Boy thought it would be dreadful if he and Mother should oversleep their first morning at the farm and come downstairs to find the chickens up and the farmer people laughing at them. Yes, the alarm clock certainly must go.
He had not a very clear idea of how one went about it to set an alarm clock, but Daddy, he remembered, always wound the little pegs in the back. So Sunny Boy trustingly wound all the pegs he saw, as tight as they would turn,
and tucked the clock away down deep in one of the corner holes Aunt Bessie had left in the trunk.
He had hardly packed it in when Mother came running breathlessly up the stairs crying that the express wagon was at the door. Hurriedly she put down the trunk lid, locked it, and tied on the tag that Daddy had written for her.
"That tells the train folks what to do with it," explained the trunk man to Sunny, swinging the heavy trunk to his shoulder as though it weighed no more than the kiddie-car and trotting downstairs with it.
Sunny Boy watched him put it in the wagon and drive away.
"Now we're almost ready," said Mrs. Horton smilingly. "We have to pack our bag and go to bed early, and then, in the morning, we really will be on our way to Grandpa Horton's."
"But there's the canary," Sunny Boy re- minded her hesitatingly. "Can I carry him?"
"The train would frighten him so he might never sing any more," said Mrs. Horton. "No, Aunt Bessie is going to keep him for us till we come back."
"Well, let's go now," urged Sunny. "Why can't we go this minute? Let's, Mother."
"And have Daddy come home to dinner to-night and find us gone?" said Mother reproachfully. "Why, Sunny!"
"Well—then perhaps we'd better wait," admitted Sunny Boy. "But one whole night's an awful long time, isn't it?"
On to chapter four
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