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- The Curlytops on Star Island - 2/32 -


yet," said Grandpa Martin. "I'm going to have a few weeks now with not very much to do until it's time to gather the fall crops, and I think I'll try to find some way of giving your Curlytops a good time. Yes, that's what I'll do. I'll keep the Curlytops so busy they won't have a chance to think of pulling dolls' legs or taking Nicknack, the goat, away from his wagon."

"What are you planning to do, Father?" asked Grandma Martin of her husband.

"Well, I promised to take them camping on Star Island you know."

"What! Not those two little tots--not Ted and Jan?" cried Grandma Martin, looking up in surprise.

"Yes, indeed, those same Curlytops!"

It was easy to understand why Grandpa Martin, as well as nearly everyone else, called the two Martin children Curlytops. It was because their hair was so tightly curling to their heads. Once Grandma Martin lost her thimble in the hair of one of the children, and their locks were curled so nearly alike that she never could remember on whose head she found the needle-pusher.

"Do you think it will be safe to take Ted and Jan camping?" asked Mother Martin.

"Why, yes. There's no finer place in the country than Star Island. And if you go along--"

"Am I to go?" asked Ted's mother.

"Of course. And Trouble, too. It'll do you all good. I wish Dick could come, too," went on Grandpa Martin, speaking of Ted's father, who had gone from Cherry Farm for a few days to attend to some matters at a store he owned in the town of Cresco. "But Dick says he'll be too busy. So I guess the Curlytops will have to go camping with grandpa," added the farmer, smiling.

"Well, I'm sure they couldn't have better fun than to go with you," replied Mother Martin. "But I'm not sure that Baby William and I can go."

"Oh, yes you can," said her father-in-law. "We'll talk about it again. But here come Ted and Jan now in the goat-cart. They seem to have something to ask you. We'll talk about the camp later."

Teddy and Janet Martin, the two Curlytops, came riding up to the farmhouse in a small wagon drawn by a fine, big goat, that they had named Nicknack.

"Please, Mother," begged Ted, "may we ride over to the Home and get Hal?"

"We promised to take him for a ride," added Jan.

"Yes, I suppose you may go," said Mother Martin. "But you must be careful, and be home in time for supper."

"We will," promised Ted. "We'll go by the wood-road, and then we won't get run over by any automobiles. They don't come on that road."

"All right. Now remember--don't stay too late."

"No, we won't!" chorused the two children, and down the garden path and along the lane they went to a road that led through Grandpa Martin's wood-lot and so on to the Home for Crippled Children, which was about a mile from Cherry Farm.

Among others at the Home was a lame boy named Hal Chester. That is, he had been lame when the Curlytops first met him early in the summer, but he was almost cured now, and walked with only a little limp. The Home had been built to cure lame children, and had helped many of them.

Half-way to the big red building, which was like a hospital, the Curlytops met Hal, the very boy whom they had started out to see.

"Hello, Hal!" cried Ted. "Get in and have a ride."

"Thanks, I will. I was just coming over to see you, anyway. What are you two going to do?"

"Nothing much," Ted answered, while Jan moved along the seat with her doll, to make room for Hal. "What're you going to do?"

"Same as you."

The three children laughed at that. "Let's ride along the river road," suggested Janet. "It'll be nice and shady there, and if my Red Cross doll is going to the war she'll like to be cool once in a while."

"Is your doll a Red Cross nurse?" asked Hal. "If she is, where's her cap and the red cross on her arm?"

"Oh, she just started to be a nurse a little while ago," Jan explained. "I haven't had time to make the red cross yet. But I will. Anyhow, let's go down by the river."

"All right, we will," agreed Ted. "We'll see if we can get some sticks off the willow trees and make whistles," he added to Hal.

"You can make better whistles in the spring, when the bark is softer, than you can now," said the lame boy, as the Curlytops often called him, though Hal was nearly cured.

"Well, _maybe_ we can make some now," suggested Ted, and a little later the two boys were seated in the shade under the willow trees that grew on the bank of a small river which flowed into Clover Lake, not far from Cherry Farm. Nicknack, tied to a tree, nibbled the sweet, green grass, and Jan made a wreath of buttercups for her doll.

After they had made some whistles, which did give out a little tooting sound, Ted and Hal found something else to do, and Jan saw, coming along the road, a girl named Mary Seaton with whom she often played. Jan called Mary to join her, and the two little girls had a good time together while Ted and Hal threw stones at some wooden boats they made and floated down the stream.

"Oh, Ted, we must go home!" suddenly cried Jan. "It's getting dark!"

The sun was beginning to set, but it would not really have been dark for some time, except that the western sky was filled with clouds that seemed to tell of a coming storm. So, really, it did appear as though night were at hand.

"I guess we'd better go," Ted said, with a look at the dark clouds. "Come on, Hal. There's room for you, too, Mary, in the wagon."

"Can Nicknack pull us all?" Mary asked.

"I guess so. It's mostly down hill. Come on!"

The four children got into the goat-wagon, and if Nicknack minded the bigger load he did not show it, but trotted off rather fast. Perhaps he knew he was going home to his stable where he would have some sweet hay and oats to eat, and that was what made him so glad to hurry along.

The wagon was stopped near the Home long enough to let Hal get out, and a little later Mary was driven up to her gate. Then Ted and Jan, with the doll between them, drove on.

"Oh, Ted!" exclaimed his sister, "mother'll scold. We oughtn't to have stayed so late. It's past supper time!"

"We didn't mean to. Anyhow, I guess they'll give us something to eat. Grandma baked cookies to-day and there'll be some left."

"I hope so," replied Jan with a sigh. "I'm hungry!"

They drove on in silence a little farther, and then, as they came to the top of a hill and could look down toward Star Island in the middle of Clover Lake, Ted suddenly called:

"Look, Jan!"

"Where?" she asked.

"Over there," and her brother pointed to the island. "Do you see that blue light?"

"On the island, do you mean? Yes, I see it. Maybe somebody's there with a lantern."

"Nobody lives on Star Island. Besides, who'd have a blue lantern?"

Jan did not answer.

It was now quite dark, and down in the lake, where there was a patch of black which was Star Island, could be seen a flickering blue glow, that seemed to stand still and then move about.

"Maybe it's lightning bugs," suggested Jan.

"Huh! Fireflies are sort of white," exclaimed Ted. "I never saw a light like that before."

"Me, either, Ted! Hurry up home. Giddap, Nicknack!" and Jan threw at the goat a pine cone, one of several she had picked up and put in the wagon when they were taking a rest in the woods that afternoon.

Nicknack gave a funny little wiggle to his tail, which the children could hardly see in the darkness, and then he trotted on faster. The Curlytops, looking back, had a last glimpse of the flickering blue light as they hurried toward Cherry Farm, and they were a little frightened.

"What do you s'pose it is?" asked Jan.

"I don't know," answered Ted. "We'll ask Grandpa. Go on, Nicknack!"

CHAPTER II

WHAT THE FABMER TOLD


The Curlytops on Star Island - 2/32

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