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- The Curlytops on Star Island - 3/32 -
"Well, where in the world have you children been!"
"Didn't you know we'd be worried about you?"
"Did you get lost again?"
Mother Martin, Grandpa Martin and Grandma Martin took turns asking these three questions as Ted and Jan drove up to the farmhouse in the darkness a little later.
"You said you wouldn't stay late," went on Mother Martin, as the Curlytops got out of the goat-wagon.
"We didn't mean to, Mother," said Ted.
"Oh, but we're so scared!" exclaimed Jan, and as Grandma Martin put her arms about the little girl she felt Jan's heart beating faster than usual.
"Why, what is the matter?" asked the old lady.
"Me wants a wide wif Nicknack!" demanded Baby William, as he stood beside his mother in the doorway.
"No, Trouble. Not now," answered Ted. "Nicknack is tired and has to have his supper. Is there any supper left for us?" he asked eagerly.
"Well, I guess we can find a cold potato, or something like it, for such tramps as you," laughed Grandpa Martin. "But where on earth have you been, and what kept you?"
Then Ted put Nicknack in the barn. But when he came back he and Jan between them told of having stayed playing later than they meant to.
"Well, you got home only just in time," said Mother Martin as she took the children to the dining-room for a late supper. "It's starting to rain now."
And so it was, the big drops pelting down and splashing on the windows.
"But what frightened you, Jan?" asked Grandma Martin.
"It was a queer blue light on Star Island."
"A light on Star Island!" exclaimed her grandfather. "Nonsense! Nobody stays on the island after dark unless it's a fisherman or two, and the fish aren't biting well enough now to make anyone stay late to try to catch them. You must have dreamed it--or made-believe."
"No, we really saw it!" declared Ted. "It was a fliskering blue light."
"Well, if there's any such thing there as a 'fliskering' blue light we'll soon find out what it is," said Grandpa Martin.
"How?" asked Ted, his eyes wide open in wonder.
"By going there to see what it is. I'm going to take you two Curlytops to camp on Star Island, and if there's anything queer there we'll see what it is."
"Oh, are we really going to live on Star Island?" gasped Janet.
"Camping out with grandpa! Oh, what fun!" cried Ted. "Do you mean it?" and he looked anxiously at the farmer, fearing there might be some joke about it.
"Oh, I really mean it," said Grandpa Martin. "Though I hardly believe you saw a real light on the island. It must have been a firefly."
"Lightning bugs aren't that color," declared Ted, "It was a blue light, almost like Fourth of July. But tell us about camping, Grandpa!"
"Yes, please do," begged Jan.
And while the children are eating their late supper, and Grandpa Martin is telling them his plans, I will stop just a little while to make my new readers better acquainted with the Curlytops and their friends.
You have already met Theodore, or Teddy or Ted, Martin, and his sister Janet, or Jan. With their mother, they were spending the long summer vacation on Cherry Farm, the country home of Grandpa Martin outside the town of Elmburg, near Clover Lake. Mr. Richard Martin, or Dick, as Grandpa Martin called him, owned a store in Cresco, where he lived with his family. Besides Ted and Jan there was Baby William, aged about three years. He was called Trouble, for the reason I have told you, though Mother Martin called him "Dear Trouble" to make up for the fun Ted and Jan sometimes poked at him.
Then there was Nora Jones, the maid who helped Mrs. Martin with the cooking and housework. And I must not forget Skyrocket, a dog, nor Turnover, a cat. These did not help with the housework--though I suppose you might say they did, too, in a way, for they ate the scraps from the table and this helped to save work.
In the first book of this series, called "The Curlytops at Cherry Farm," I had the pleasure of telling you how Jan and Ted, with their father, mother and Nora went to grandpa's place in the country to spend the happy vacation days. On the farm, which was named after the number of cherry trees on it, the Curlytops found a stray goat which they were allowed to keep, and they got a wagon which Nicknack (the name they gave their new pet) drew with them in it.
Having the goat made up for having to leave the dog and the cat at home, and Nicknack made lots of good times for Ted and Jan. In the book you may read of the worry the children carried because Grandpa Martin had lost money on account of a flood at his farm, and so could not help when there was a fair and collection for the Crippled Children's Home.
But, most unexpectedly, the cherries helped when Mr. Sam Sander, the lollypop man, bought them from Grandpa Martin, and found a way of making them into candy. And when Ted and Jan and Trouble were lost in the woods once, the lollypop man--
But I think yon would rather read the story for yourself in the other book. I will just say that the Curlytops were still at Cherry Farm, though Father Martin had gone away for a little while. And now, having told you about the family, I'll go back where I left off, and we'll see what is happening.
"Yes," said Grandpa Martin, "I think I will take you Curlytops to camp on Star Island. Camping will do you good. You'll learn lots in the woods there. And won't it be fun to live in a tent?"
"Oh, won't it though!" cried Ted, and the shine in Jan's eyes and the glow on her red cheeks showed how happy she was.
"But I'd like to know what that blue light was," said the little girl.
"Oh, don't worry about that!" laughed Grandpa Martin. "I'll get that blue light and hang it in our tent for a lantern."
I think I mentioned that Jan and Ted had such wonderful curling hair that even strangers, seeing them the first time, called them the "Curlytops." And Ted, who was aged seven years, with his sister just a year younger (their anniversaries coming on exactly the same day) did not in the least mind being called this. He and Jan rather liked it.
"Let's don't go to bed yet," said Jan to her brother, as they finished supper and went from the dining-room into the sitting-room, where they were allowed to play and have good times if they did not get too rough. And they did not often do this.
"All right. It _is_ early," Ted agreed. "But what can we do?"
"Let's pretend we have a camp here," went on Jan.
"Where?" asked Ted.
"Right in the sitting-room," answered Jan. "We can make-believe the couch is a tent, and we can crawl under it and go to sleep."
"I wants to go to sleeps there!" cried Trouble. "I wants to go to sleeps right now!"
"Shall we take him back to mother?" asked Ted, looking at his sister. "If he's sleepy now he won't want to play."
"I isn't too sleepy to play," objected Baby William. "I can go to sleeps under couch if you wants me to," he added.
"Oh, that'll be real cute!" cried Janet. "Come on, Ted, let's do it! We can make-believe Trouble is our little dog, or something like that, to watch over our tent, and he can go to sleep--"
"Huh! how's he going to _watch_ if he goes to _sleep?_" Ted demanded.
"Oh, well, he can make-believe go to sleep or make-believe watch, either one," explained Janet.
"Yes, I s'pose he could do that," agreed Teddy.
Baby William opened his mouth wide and yawned.
"I guess he'll do some _real_ sleeping," said Janet with a laugh. "Come on, Trouble, before you get your eyes so tight shut you can't open 'em again. Come on, we'll play camping!" and she led the way into the sitting room and over toward the big couch at one end.
Many a good time the children had had in this room, and the old couch, pretty well battered and broken now, had been in turn a fort, a steamboat, railroad car, and an automobile. That was according to the particular make-believe game the children were playing. Now the old couch was to be a tent, and Jan and Ted moved some chairs, which would be part of the pretend-camp, up in front of it.
"It'll be a lot of fun when we go camping for real," said Teddy, as he helped his sister spread one of Grandma Martin's old shawls over the backs of some chairs. This was to be a sort of second tent where they could make-believe cook their meals.
"Yes, we'll have grand fun," agreed Jan. "No, you mustn't go to sleep up there, Trouble!" she called to the little fellow, for he had crawled up on top of the couch and had stretched himself out as though to take a nap.
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