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- The Curlytops on Star Island - 4/32 -


"Why?" he asked.

"'Cause the tent part is under it," explained his sister. "That's the top of the tent where you are. You can't go to sleep on _top_ of a tent. You might fall off."

"I can fall off now!" announced Trouble, as he suddenly thought of something. Then he gave a wiggle and rolled off the seat, bumping into Ted, who had stooped down to put a rug under the couch-tent.

"Ouch!" cried Ted. "Look out what you're doing, Trouble! You bumped my head."

"I--I bumped _my_ head!" exclaimed the little fellow, rubbing his tangled hair.

"He didn't mean to," said Janet. "You mustn't roll off that way, Trouble. You might be hurt. Come now, go to sleep under the couch. That's inside the tent you know."

She showed him where Ted had spread the rug, as far back under the couch as he could reach, and this looked to Trouble like a nice place.

"I go to sleeps in there!" he said, and under the couch he crawled, growling and grunting.

"What are you doing that for?" asked Ted, in some surprise.

"I's a bear!" exclaimed Baby William. "I's a bad bear! Burr-r-r-r!" and he growled again.

"Oh, you mustn't do that!" objected Janet. "We don't want any bears in our camp!"

"Course we can have 'em!" cried Ted. "That'll be fun! We'll play Trouble is a bear 'stead of a dog, and I can hunt him. Only I ought to have something for a gun. I know! I'll get grandpa's Sunday cane!" and he started for the hall.

"Oh, no. I don't want to play bear and hunting!" objected Janet.

"Why not?"

"'Cause it's too--too--scary at night. Let's play something nice and quiet. Let Trouble be our watch dog, and we can be in camp and he can bark and scare something."

"What'll he scare?" asked Ted.

Meanwhile Baby William was crawling as far back under the couch as he could, growling away, though whether he was pretending to be a bear, a lion or only a dog no one knew but himself.

"What do you want him to scare?" asked Ted of his sister.

"Oh--oh--well, chickens, maybe!" she answered.

"Pooh! Chickens aren't any fun!" cried Ted. "If Trouble is going to be a dog let him scare a wild bull, or something like that. Anyhow chickens don't come to camp."

"Well, neither does wild bulls!" declared Janet.

"Yes, they do!" cried Ted, and it seemed as if there would be so much talk that the children would never get to playing anything. "Don't you 'member how daddy told us about going camping, and in the night a wild bull almost knocked down the tent."

"Well, that was real, but this is only make-believe," said Janet. "Let Trouble scare the chickens."

"All right," agreed Ted, who was nearly always kind to his sister. "Go on and growl, Trouble. You're a dog and you're going to scare the chickens out of camp."

They waited a minute but Trouble did not growl.

"Why don't you make a noise?" asked Janet.

Trouble gave a grunt.

"What's the matter?" asked Ted.

"I--I can't growl 'cause I'm all stuck under here," answered the voice of the little fellow, from far under the couch. "I can't wiggle!"

"Oh, dear!" cried Janet.

Teddy stooped and looked beneath the couch.

"He's caught on some of the springs that stick down," he said. "I'll poke him out."

He caught hold of Trouble's clothes and pulled the little fellow loose. But Trouble cried--perhaps because he was sleepy--and then his mother came and got him, leaving Teddy and Janet to play by themselves, which they did until they, too, began to feel sleepy.

"You'll want to go to bed earlier than this when you go camping, my Curlytops," said Grandpa Martin, as the children came out of the sitting-room.

"Are you really going to take them camping?" asked Mother Martin after Jan and Ted had gone upstairs to bed.

"I really am. There are some tents in the barn. I own part of Star Island and there's no nicer place to camp. You'll come, too, and so will Dick when he comes back from Cresco. We'll take Nora along to do the cooking. Will you come, Mother?" and the Curlytops' grandfather looked at his gray-haired wife.

"No, I'll stay on Cherry Farm and feed the hired men," she answered with a smile.

"Why do they call it Star Island?" asked Ted's mother.

"Well, once upon a time, a good many years ago," said Grandpa Martin, "a shooting star, or meteor, fell blazing on the island, and that's how it got its name."

"Maybe it was a part of the star shining that the children saw to- night," said Grandma Martin. "Though I don't see how it could be, for it fell many years ago."

"Maybe," agreed her husband.

None of them knew what a queer part that fallen star was to have in the lives of those who were shortly to go camping on the island.

Early the next morning after breakfast, Ted and Jan went out to the barn to get Nicknack to have a ride.

"Where is you? I wants to come, too!" cried the voice of their little brother, as they were putting the harness on their goat.

"Oh, there's Trouble," whispered Ted. "Shall we take him with us, Jan?"

"Yes, this time. We're not going far. Grandma wants us to go to the store for some baking soda."

"All right, we'll drive down," returned Ted. "Come on, Trouble!" he called.

"I's tummin'," answered Baby William. "I's dot a tookie."

"He means cookie," said Jan, laughing.

"I know it," agreed Ted. "I wish he'd bring me one."

"Me too!" exclaimed Janet.

"I's dot a 'ot of tookies," went on Trouble, who did not always talk in such "baby fashion." When he tried to he could speak very well, but he did not often try.

"Oh, he's got his whole apron _full_ of cookies!" cried Jan. "Where did you get them?" she asked, as her little brother came into the barn.

"Drandma given 'em to me, an' she said you was to have some," announced the little boy, as he let the cookies slide out of his apron to a box that stood near the goat-wagon.

Then Baby William began eating a cookie, and Jan and Ted did also, for they, too, were hungry, though it was not long after breakfast.

"Goin' to wide?" asked Trouble, his mouth full of cookie.

"Yes, we're going for a ride," answered Jan. "Oh, Ted, get a blanket or something to put over our laps. It's awful dusty on the road to- day, even if it did rain last night. It all dried up, I guess."

"All right, I'll get a blanket from grandpa's carriage. And you'd better get a cushion for Trouble."

"I will," said Janet, and her brother and sister left Baby William alone with the goat for a minute or two.

When Jan came back with, the cushion she went to get another cookie, but there were none.

"Why Trouble Martin!" she cried, "did you eat them _all?"_

"All what?"

"All the cookies!"

"I did eat one and Nicknack--he did eat the west. He was hungry, he was, and he did eat the west ob 'em. I feeded 'em to him. Nicknack was a hungry goat," said Trouble, smiling.

"I should think he was hungry, to eat up all those cookies! I only had one!" cried Jan.

"What! Did Nicknack get at the cookies?" cried Ted, coming back with a light lap robe.

"Trouble gave them to him," explained Janet. "Oh dear! I was so hungry for another!"


The Curlytops on Star Island - 4/32

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