SUNNY BOY IN THE COUNTRY
SUNNY BOY FORGETS
WHEN they reached the horses and the machine, the Something was around on the other side.
"Here, Sunny Boy, here's a sight for you," said Mr. Hatch mysteriously. "What do you think of this?"
Sunny Boy bent down to look. There, in a hole in the ground, half-hidden by the tall grass all about it, were four little furry baby rabbits!
"Bunnies!" and Sunny plunged his two hands down into the middle of that furry bunch.
They snuggled closer, and their soft eyes looked frightened, but they did not try to run away.
"Where's their mammal" demanded Sunny Boy.
"The mower scared her off," said Mr. Hatch. "Pick one up—you won't hurt it— see, like this."
He lifted one of the baby rabbits and placed it in Sunny's hands. It wriggled uneasily, and he let it fall back into the nest. Mr. Hatch and Grandpa laughed.
"We'll leave them right here," declared Mr. Hatch kindly. "I'll mow around the nest, but not very near, and I guess the mother rabbit will come back to-night. Funny creatures, aren't they? Every year they have a nest in a grass field, and every year I come within an ace of cutting off their noses."
Sunny Boy and Bruce wandered back to the house alone. Grandpa was busy over- hauling more machinery with Mr. Sites, and Jimmie was still busy with cabbages. Sunny was used to so much attention that he felt rather put out when Araminta, sweeping the front porch, told him that Mother and Grandma had taken Peter and the buggy and had driven to Cloverways.
"They said I could go next time," grumbled Sunny Boy, not a bit sunnily. "Mother said so. Tain't fair."
"Don't say "tain't," corrected Araminta, who was very careful of Sunny's grammar. "Say it isn't fair. Only it is—how could you go when you were down in the field with your grandpa?"
Sunny Boy felt that if Araminta had deserted him, there was no friend left. He went on into the house and wept a little, curled up in the big leather chair in the sitting room. He felt very sorry for him- self.
But even a little boy whose mother and grandmother have gone away and left him can not feel sorry very long when a June breeze is ruffling the white curtains at the window and there is a whole farm ready and waiting for him to come out and play. After a few big rain-drop tears and a sniff or two, Sunny Boy wiped his eyes on his "hanky," and decided that he would be brave and cheerful and then perhaps his family would be sorry to think how they had treated him.
He decided to make a kite and go out and fly it, the wind at the window making him think of kite-flying and the sight of a mass of papers on Grandpa's desk in one corner of the room suggesting what to make the kite of. He went over to the desk and climbed upon the chair standing before it.
Ordinarily Sunny Boy had a good memory. He could remember things for Mother and he seldom forgot where he had left his toys. But this morning a strange thing happened—his memory did not work at all. He forgot completely that Mother had told him not to touch other people's things without permission and that books and papers were not to be opened or even unfolded unless one first asked.
Sunny Boy thrust a hand down among the papers on Grandpa's desk and pulled out two nice smooth brown pieces of paper that seemed strong and just exactly right for a kite. For good measure he took a letter or two, and then scurried out to the kitchen for string.
He had never made a kite, but he had often watched the boys in the park at home flying them, and he had a very good idea of how they were made. He had his own bottle of paste Mother had brought for him and he found the kind of sticks he wanted out in the yard. In half an hour he had the papers pasted smoothly over the sticks, a wiggly tail of crumpled papers from the waste-basket tied on, and yards and yards of string wound on a piece of wood. Sunny Boy was ready to sail his kite.
Araminta gave him a cookie and advised him to go down by the brook.
"There's more breeze there," she said. "But for mercy's sake don't fall in again. And come in when you hear me ring the bell."
Sunny Boy trudged down to the brook and started running with his kite as he had seen the boys do, to give it a good start. Up, up, it went, sailing high over his head, the crumpled paper tail wiggling in the wind.
"Jus' as good," said Sunny Boy to himself, "jus' as good."
He meant to say "Just as good as Archie Johnson's," Archie being one of the older boys who played in the park and who sailed elaborate kites. But Sunny had not tied the knots in his string tightly enough, and a strong puff of wind coming by, the cord parted and away sailed the kite, over the brook and into the woods!
"Ding-ling! Ding-ling! Ding-a-ling!" rang Araminta's bell.
It is often a good thing to be too busy to cry. Sunny Boy might have felt bad over the loss of his kite—indeed he watched it out of sight—but if he meant to cry the sound of the bell changed his mind. In- stead, he ran up to the house as-fast as he could go, and found Mother and Grandma waiting for him.
"Did you miss us?" asked his mother. "We knew you were having a good time, dear. Grandma has brought you a lolly-pop. What have you been doing to get so sun-burned?"
"Flying kites," stated Sunny Boy. "Thank you, Grandma. We found bunnies down in the field."
Grandpa came on the porch then, his glasses pushed up on his forehead.
"Mary, Olive, have either of you seen anything of those two five hundred dollar bonds I had on my desk?" he said anxiously. "They were there this morning, and when I came in from the mowing I couldn't find them. Have either of you used my desk?"
"No, Father," said Mrs. Horton.
"No, Arthur," said Grandma. "I'm sure Araminta hasn't been near the desk, either. Sunny, you weren't in the sitting room this morning, were you?"
"Yes, I was," chirped Sunny Boy.
"But you didn't see anything of Grandpa's bonds—his nice beautiful, Liberty Bonds, did you, dear?" asked Mrs. Horton.
"Well," Grandpa sighed, and turned to go in, "I'll look more thoroughly, of course. But they're gone—I'm sure of it. I had no business to be so careless. They should have been in the bank a week ago. They might have blown out of the window— I'll see that a screen goes in that window to-night."
Sunny Boy put down his-lolly-pop and followed Grandpa into the house. He found him seated at the desk, the papers in great confusion all about him.
"Well, Sunny, did you come to help me hunt?" asked Grandpa. "Don't bother your yellow head about it. When you grow up, try to be more careful than your grandfather."
Sunny Boy slipped a warm little hand into Grandpa's.
"I made a kite—with papers," he confessed bravely. "Not Lib'ty Bonds, Grand- pa, just papers on top of your desk. I was 'musing myself, and I had to have a kite."
"I see," said Grandpa slowly, and not a bit crossly. "What color paper, dear? White?"
"No, brown," replied Sunny Boy eagerly, sure now that he had not taken the missing bonds. "Just brown, Grandpa, and two old letters."
"Yes, I've copies of those—they don't matter," said Grandpa. "But we'd better get that kite. Namesake, because you've pasted my bonds on it, and a thousand dollars is a bit too expensive a kite even for my one and only grandson."
"But it flew off!" Sunny Boy began to cry. "The string broke, an' it went over the brook into the woods."
Mrs. Horton, coming into the sitting room to remind Sunny Boy to wash his face and hands before dinner, found her little boy crying as though his heart would break in Grandpa's arms.
"What in the world—" she began.
"There—there—it's all right," soothed Grandpa. "We're in a peck of trouble, Olive, because we took some papers from Grandpa's desk to make a kite with and now they turn out to be two Liberty Bonds. And the kite—like the pesky contrivance it is—got away and is hiding somewhere in the woods. But we're going out right after dinner and hunt for it, aren't we. Sunny Boy?"
Sunny Boy felt Mother's kind hand smoothing his hair.
"Oh, my dear little boy!" said Mother's voice. "My dear little son! How could you? Didn't you know how wrong it was to touch a single thing on Grandpa's desk?"
"I forgot," said Sunny Boy in a very little voice.
"Why I wouldn't have believed that my Sunny Boy could forget," grieved Mother. "And now Grandpa's money is lost! And Daddy coming next week! What will he say?"
"We're going to find it long before Daddy comes," said Grandpa stoutly. "Right after dinner we're going over to the woods. Sunny can remember about where he thinks the kite fell. Cheer up, Olive—we're sorry we didn't remember about 'hands off' when other people's property is about, but every one forgets once in a while. And I was care- less—I'm as great a sinner as Sunny. And now forgive us both before we're quite drowned in our tears."
Mother and Sunny Boy had another little cry all to themselves upstairs and he told her that never, never would he touch anything that did not belong to him again without first asking. Then they both bathed their faces in clear cold water and felt better. No one mentioned bonds at dinner, and there was strawberry short-cake which Sunny Boy declared was as good as his favorite chocolate ice cream. And right after dinner he and Grandpa went out to hunt for the lost kite.
On to chapter ten
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