SUNNY BOY IN THE COUNTRY
SUNNY BOY found himself looking into two dark eyes so much like Daddy's that he almost jumped. But the rest of the old gentleman was not like Daddy—no indeed. He was short and round instead of tall, and he had the curliest white hair and beard Sunny Boy had ever seen. Sunny Boy knew this must be Grandpa Horton, and when he was lifted up in a pair of strong arms and given a tre- mendous hug before being gently set down, he decided that he loved him very much.
"Grandma couldn't come," explained Grandpa, leading the way to an old-fashioned carriage and pair of horses drawn up at the other end of the station. "There's only Araminta to help her with the supper, and Grandma's heart was set on having the biscuits just right. In you go, Olive. Wait a minute, though, what about your trunk?"
"I have the check, Father," Mrs. Horton answered. "I thought Jimmie would be coming down in the morning to the creamery. He can get it then."
"An' Mother brought her nightie in the bag an' my pajamas," contributed Sunny Boy, waiting while Mother and the bag were stowed away on the back seat.
"Want to ride up with me and help driver" said Grandpa, turning to him suddenly.
Poor Sunny Boy was sorely tempted, but he decided quickly.
"I have to take care of Mother," he said. "She might be lonesome all alone in the back."
"No, indeed," cried Mother instantly. "You ride up there with Grandpa, precious. You were so good not to tease about the taxi. I'll lean over the seat and talk to you both."
So Sunny Boy and Grandpa got into the front seat, and Sunny learned that the horses' names were Paul and Peter, and that they were not afraid of automobiles, and that he could drive them whenever some older person was with him. Paul and Peter trotted briskly along, and Grandpa said they knew they were going home to supper.
They drove through the town, and Sunny Boy thought it looked very cool, and clean, and pretty, after the warm and dusty train. The grass was bright green, and, as Sunny Boy wrote Harriet, "millions and dozens" of robins were singing among the trees. A great red sun was going to bed back of a high dark hill, and Sunny Boy, sitting beside Grandpa and holding the reins while Paul and Peter trotted steadily, thought that the country was the nicest place he had ever been in.
Then, where the road divided, Grandpa took the reins and turned the team to the left. They entered a lane with white-washed fences on either side and tall waving trees like soldiers, which Mrs. Horton said were elms.
"Now, Sunny Boy," she told him softly, "here's Brookside."
Sunny Boy saw an old red brick house with a great white porch across the front and a green lawn all about it. A white picket fence went all around the lawn, and as Grandpa stopped the horses before the gate, three people came out. There was a tall, thin young man who went to the horses' heads, a little girl with flaming red hair who looked about fourteen years old, and a tall, thin old lady with hair as white and curly as Grandpa's, who came out to the carriage and took Mother and Sunny Boy both in her arms at once.
"You're Grandma," said Sunny Boy. It was Grandma Horton, and she remem- bered Sunny Boy without a bit of trouble; though, as he had been only two weeks old the last time she had seen him, he could not be expected to remember her.
"And this is Araminta," said Grandma, drawing the little red-haired girl forward. "She is my right hand in the house. You recall Jimmie, Oliver"
Jimmie was the young man holding the horses. He came and shook hands with Mrs. Horton, blushing a little, and chucked Sunny under the chin. Then he took the team away to the barn, and Mother and Sunny Boy and Grandpa and Grandma Horton and Araminta went in to supper.
They had wonderful fresh foamy milk to drink, and hot biscuits and cold ham for the grown-ups. Sunny Boy was not expected to eat those—not at night. There were baked apples, too, and honey and cookies. Sunny, seated before a bowl of bread and milk, held a cookie in his hand and wondered what was the matter with the hanging lamp with the pretty red shade. It swung up and down like a train lantern.
"He's sleepy," he heard some one say. It sounded like Araminta.
He opened his eyes as wide as he could make them go, tried to take another bite of cookie and made one last desperate effort to smite. The smile ran into a yawn, and Sunny Boy gave up and tumbled, a tired little ball of weariness, into Mother's lap.
He never knew who carried him upstairs, or when he was undressed. So, waking in the morning to find the sun shining in four windows at once, and Mother in her blue dressing gown brushing her hair, he was a bit surprised.
"Hello!" said Mother gayly. "How do you think you are going to like the country?" "Are the chickens up?" asked Sunny Boy.
"Hours ago. Mr. Rooster crowing under our window woke me up at five o'clock," replied Mrs. Horton. "I heard Jimmie bring in the milk a few minutes before you sat up. And if you want to ride into town with him after the trunk—"
Sunny Boy jumped out of bed and fairly galloped with his dressing. He insisted on using the wash bowl and pitcher, though there was a nice white bathroom down the hall, because a wash bowl and pitcher were new to him. Just as he had finished brush- ing his hair, Araminta rapped at the door to tell them breakfast was ready.
In the dining room Sunny Boy met another member of the family. Lying on a rug in the corner was a shaggy brown and white collie that rose as they came in and, coming over to Mrs. Horton, laid a beautiful pointed nose in her lap.
"We shut him in the barn last night, because we thought you'd be too tired to stand his barking," said Grandma. "His name is Bruce, and he is very gentle. Don't be afraid of him, Sunny Boy."
The collie went back to his rug while they were at breakfast, but when Jimmie and Sunny Boy started for the door he got up to follow them.
"Is he going, too?" asked Sunny Boy.
"He never goes off the farm," answered Jimmie. "He'll follow us to the end of the lane and then go back. Hop in lively, now, for we're late as it is."
Jimmie had harnessed Peter to a wagon that had only one high seat. In back of this were two cans of milk which Jimmie explained, in answer to Sunny's questions, would be made into butter at the creamery in Cloverways.
"Is Araminta your sister?" Sunny Boy asked him as they jogged along.
"No, she's the tenant farmer's daughter— the man who does the farming for your Grandpa, you know. I work Spring and Summer for him and in Winter I go to the agricultural school. That's where they teach you to be a farmer."
After they left the milk at the creamery they drove down to the station and got the trunk. Sunny Boy told Jimmie about the alarm clock, and he laughed. Then, after stopping at a yellow store with high white steps, where Jimmie bought some groceries for Grandma, they turned Peter's head toward home.
"What are you going to do first?" asked Jimmie, smiling down at his small companion.
"I don't know—what are you?"
"Oh, I have work to do—have to weed the garden this morning. But you have the whole farm to get acquainted with. I'll tell you—if I were you, I'd go down to the brook and play."
"I guess I will," decided Sunny Boy.
Mrs. Horton wanted to unpack the trunk, and when Grandma assured her that the brook was not deep and Sunny Boy promised not to go wading until she should be there, she kissed him and told him to run along and have a good time.
On his way to the brook, Sunny Boy passed Grandpa and Jimmie in wide straw hats working in the garden. Grandpa pointed out the brook to him. It ran through a meadow that came right up to the garden.
"I'll be down and play with you myself as soon as we get this lettuce transplanted," said Grandpa.
Sunny had never had a brook to play in before, and he thought it fine. It was not a very wide brook, but it was very clear, and Sunny Boy could see the pebbles on the bottom. Little darting fish went in and out, hiding under the long grasses that leaned over the edge. Bruce came panting down as Sunny Boy looked at the water, and took a long drink. Then he lay down in the grass, his brown doggie eyes fixed watchfully on his new friend.
"Wonder what that is?" said Sunny Boy to himself.
"That" was a wooden wheel that turned in the water with slow, even jerks, sending out a little spray of rainbow drops that fell back into the water. Sunny Boy got down on his knees to watch it. Quite suddenly, without warning, the wheel stopped turning. Sunny Boy waited, but it did not turn again. He blew on it gently, and still it did not move. Then he ran over to the big tree nearest him and picked up a stick.
"I'll fix it," he said aloud. "Grandpa'll be surprised if I get it mended 'fore he comes."
Well, as it turned out, Grandpa was surprised, but not as much as Sunny Boy. He leaned over, and jabbed the obstinate wheel with his stick; the dry end of the stake snapped, and Sunny Boy, stick and all, tumbled head-first into the water. In after him leaped a flash of brown and white—good old Bruce!
The water was very cold, and when Sunny had swallowed some of it and shaken some from his eyes, he scrambled to his feet crying bitterly. He thought he was freezing to death. Bruce pulled at his coat and tried to drag him back, and it was his frantic barking that attracted Jimmie's notice. He came tearing across the meadow, followed by Grandpa.
'There—there—you're all right," said Jimmie, as he pulled the little boy out in a
jiffy. "Don't cry so, Brother, you're only frightened. How'd it happen?"
"The wheel stopped!" sobbed Sunny Boy. "An' I tried to fix it. I was going to s'prise Grandpa."
"So you did," admitted Jimmie, while Bruce circled around them, barking madly. "Now we'll have to look out that you don't surprise us more by catching cold from this ducking."
On to chapter seven
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